Last week while reading Frank Stack’s The New Adventures of Jesus—a satire strip done intermittently over 40 years about what Jesus would see in humanity if he returned to Earth—I noticed an (almost) familiar name that I was definitely surprised to see.
This particular scene takes place in a comic in which Jesus has been brought on as a guest lecturer at a big state university and he’s arrived at a big faculty party where the debauchery is in full effect. Frank Stack, who went by the pseudonym Foolbert Sturgeon at the time this comic was published, has been a professor of art at my alma mater—The University of Missouri—for many years. Naturally, the satirical staff party was even funnier for me as I could imagine all my old professors as the butts of Stack’s many jokes.
However, as this Jim Gibbon’s name was so close to mine, I—of course—overlooked the prodding nature of the comic and assumed he must be as awesome a fella as I am. Let’s check out Gibbon’s arrival at the party…
Sure, Jim Gibbon has a cool coat, but he doesn’t quite seem on the level. That howling baboon comment might have been right on, and as the party progresses, the reader sees that Jim Gibbon is the epitome of asshole.
It seems I’m pretty lucky to be “Jim Gibbons” and not “Jim Gibbon,” as I’d have a particularly awful fictional counterpart. Thank goodness for that “s!” Still, as it is, I do share my name with an extremely unpopular Nevada Governor…so, perhaps an ass from a legendary comic would be better.
Either way, reading this made me realize a potential misunderstanding not unlike the Billy Dee Williams set/sex snafu.
Back when I was a journalism student and local newspaper reporter at the University of Missouri, I tried briefly to pursue an interview with Stack. With what I know now, I think it’s quite possible he never got back to me because he thought he was getting prank calls—albeit prank calls extremely well-versed in his comic material. Just imagine him checking his voicemail, “Hi. Mr. Stack! This is Jim Gibbons from the Columbia Missourian. I was hoping to talk to you about The New Adventures of Jesus.” He must have just thought, “Who? That asshole from that comic I did years ago?! Nice try!”
Who knows? He was probably just busy, but this is my new story and I’m going to stick to it!