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Delta Tenn

Delta Tenn #1, from 1987.

Delta Tenn #1, from 1987.

Believe it or not, pretty sure I bought this off the rack NOT at my comic shop, but at a local stationary store! Shows you how during the Black & White indie boom of the mid ’80s, even stuff like this found its way into “civilian” stores.

What caught my eye about Delta Tenn #1 was not the psuedo-sleazyness of the title character (well, it helped), but actually the cover coloring. It had a real cel animation look, with the figures colored-in simply, while the background had a more airbrushy grit to it. Really helped Delta, um, pop off that cover.

Okay, so, Delta Tenn: obscure indie book from the ’80s? Actually, maybe not. When doing research for this post, was amazed to read on Paul Howley’s (retailer / publisher) blog what was going on with this property at the time:

“In 1987, I was publishing a comic book series created by Mark Marderosian titled ‘Delta Tenn’ when we received an inquiry from Gene Simmons, the lead singer of the rock band KISS. He was interested in buying an ‘option’ to produce a feature film or television movie about Delta Tenn. Gene’s girlfriend was actress-model Shannon Tweed and he thought this would be a perfect role for her to play. An ‘option’ is purchased to acquire the exclusive right to use the character and ideas in a movie or television show for a specific period of time. The amount of money is negotiated between the owner of the property and the interested buyer. In the case of Delta Tenn I was merely the publisher.

Mark was the creator and our agreement was that he would own the film rights and merchandising rights to his character. Mark negotiated a reasonable six-month option fee with Gene Simmons and had an attorney draw up the legal documents. Through some smart negotiating, Mark was able to keep the merchandising rights for himself so that if this Delta Tenn project ever got made he’d be able to market trading cards, t-shirts, posters, toys and action figures and keep the money for himself. Initially, Gene wasn’t too happy with this but he finally agreed. I was eager to continue publishing the comic book series because I knew that sales would jump if there were a movie or television show of Delta Tenn.”

More info / resources:

Make sure you check out Paul Howley’s excellent, “My Life with Comic Books: A History of a Comic Store” blog right HERE. You can search it for “Delta Tenn,” to read about what ultimately happened with the option.

Mark Marderosian’s wikipedia entry is HERE, and if you’re lookin’ for Delta Tenn back issues, check with your local comic shop, or online retailers like mycomicshop.com!

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