Joe Wehrle Jr




Excerpt from my tribute, “The Creative Works of Joe Wehrle, Jr.” from The Digest Enthusiast No. 8, June 2018:

“One of the things I worked out [for Cartoon Trader] was a strip I called Stovepipe,” Joe wrote in 2010, “which mostly showed the positive but funny aspects of being the tallest kid in the neighborhood. It wasn’t until sometime after we’d ended the Cartoon Trader that I got the idea of doing a couple of adventure stories with Stovey as the hero.”

By 1993, Joe had completed two stories and published them in a handmade volume, an early, independently produced graphic novel. He submitted the project for publication to Kitchen Sink, who declined the offer with much regret. Editor James Vance wrote: “‘Heart’ is a quality that’s missing from most of the submissions we receive…” and despite not seeing it as commercially viable for Kitchen Sink “…I’d be very happy to see it in print and available…”


Joe’s bibliography appears on the Larque Press website.

The Digest Enthusiast No. 11

The Digest Enthusiast No. 11

The Digest Enthusiast No. 11 is now available in print and kindle editions—both in full color:

Jeff Vorzimmer

Janice Law
(Madame Selina series AHMM)
Paul D. Marks (Bunker Hill series EQMM)
Jeff Vorzimmer (The Best of Manhunt)

Manhunt 1954 part three

Peter Enfantino
summarizes 1954’s final issues of Manhunt.

Beyond Infinity

Vince Nowell, Sr. grapples with Beyond Infinity.

Leo Margulies

Richard Krauss spotlights Leo Margulies: Giant of the Digests.

A Classic Error

Steve Carper dissects a Classic error.

Astounding formats

Ward Smith quantifies Astounding’s formats.

Homicide Hotel from Gary Lovisi
Tough 2
Paperback Parade
No. 104

John Kuharik

John Kuharik
“Buckthorn Justice” art by Rick McCollum
Vince Nowell, Sr. “The Good Soldier” art by Marc Myers
Joe Wehrle, Jr.
“Zymurgy for Aliens” art by Michael Neno

Plus nearly 150 digest magazine cover images, News Digest, cartoons by Bob Vojtko, and first issue factoids. Cover “Madame Selina” by Rick McCollum, 160 pages.

Print $18.99 Kindle $4.99

Wehrle Comic Strips

Excerpt from my tribute, “The Creative Works of Joe Wehrle, Jr.” from The Digest Enthusiast No. 8, June 2018:

Cartoon Trader was monthly from October to December 1989. The fourth issue, dated March 1990, was the last I’ve seen. In addition to Joe’s covers, it included Classic Cartoonist Cards, paper dolls, and a page of comic strips with Joe’s Cat Burglar, Stovepipe, Night Radio, and Karen’s Litter Lane.

Night Radio

Night Radio offered a peek into another great interest of Joe’s—classic jazz. He collected 78s and played the saxophone, clarinet, and guitar. ‘I have fond memories of those few months we produced the Cartoon Trader, and still in my collection is a handful of very charming strips I prize which Karen drew for the zine about a feline couple living a zany suburban life. There will never be any more of those.’ In 2014, Joe published a 16-page mini comic collecting The Unknown Comic Art of Karen Wilson Wehrle. It includes her Litter Lane comic strips and eight color cartoons she drew fora proposed children’s book.”

Litter Lane

Joe’s bibliography appears on the Larque Press website.

Joe Wehrle, Jr. 1941–2017

It’s hard to believe that two years ago today Joe Wehrle, Jr. passed. Just days after completing his cover portrait of Rick Ollerman for The Digest Enthusiast No. 7.

Joe in his studio.

The photo shows Joe at the drawing board in his home studio surrounded by drawings of Fawn, reference material, and comic strip originals. The comic strips on his board are for “Houseboat Summer,” an unfinished project that first sparked his imagination in 2014. He wore the Mickey Mouse watch on his wrist every day, even between battery changes.

Joe Wehrle, Jr. (pronounced “Wer-lee”) was a big part of The Digest Enthusiast right from the start. He wrote articles, contributed stories, and created illustrations—including five of our first seven covers. Just days after the last issue wrapped, Joe passed away, suddenly, the victim of a stroke.
He died at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh on Sunday, December 10, 2017. He was 76.

Joe was born February 16, 1941, to Ruth and Joe Wehrle, Sr. in Punxsutawney, where he grew up and lived his life. He taught school for a few years as a young adult but worked as a freelance artist for most of his career. He married Karen Wilson in 1967 and collaborated with her on many of his creative endeavors for nearly 44 years. She was the model for many of his illustrations, most notably Fawn the Dark Eyed, and assisted him with the Cartoon Trader adzine in 1989. An occasional cartoonist herself, Karen was an avid blogger and an active seller on eBay. She preceded Joe in death on September 6, 2010.

Joe’s fiction continues to appear in The Digest Enthusiast courtesy of Jillian Rouse. In January 2020, issue No. 11 will feature Joe’s “Zymurgy for Aliens” with an illustration by Michael Neno. Joe’s bibliography appears on the Larque Press website.

Cauliflower Catnip Merch

Cauliflower Catnip embroidered patch

Excerpt from the tribute: “The Creative Works of Joe Wehrle, Jr.” from The Digest Enthusiast No. 8, June 2018:

Shown here are the Cauliflower Catnip pinback button, embroidered patch, and plaster bust.

Joe stayed in touch with Harlan Ellison after Clarion, and in early 2017 sent him a copy of an H.P. Lovecraft portrait he’d drawn. Ellison responded, “What a hell of a portrait of Lovecraft! Still, I like the little pinback even more!”

Cauliflower Catnip pinback button

After casting a few of the CC busts, Joe found their production too time consuming, so only a handful were made. He tried hand-painting them but found the irregular surface of the plaster was too difficult to cover.

Cauliflower Catnip plaster bust

Joe’s bibliography appears on the Larque Press website.

Groundhog Files

Groundhog Files

Excerpt from the tribute: “The Creative Works of Joe Wehrle, Jr.” from The Digest Enthusiast No. 8, June 2018:

In 1991, Joe Wehrle, Jr. produced a mini comic loosely based on the famous Punxsutawney Groundhog, featuring a groundhog detective. “I think it was a bit too far off the beaten path for most of the local populace. Most would rather have had a coloring book,” said Joe. Groundhog Files was a 24-page comic that Joe produced in a limited run. In 2015, Joe reprinted the comic at about one-half of its original digest-size.

Most of Joe’s self-published works were hand-bound. Quantities were low, which makes them rare and highly collectible. If you’re lucky enough to find a copy of one, I advise you to grab it. His publications were always something truly special.

Joe’s bibliography appears on the Larque Press website.

Cartoon Trader

Cartoon Trader

Excerpt from my tribute, “The Creative Works of Joe Wehrle, Jr.” from The Digest Enthusiast No. 8, June 2018:

“In 1989, my wife Karen and I came up with the idea of producing a monthly Cartoon Trader, which would focus on the buying and selling of newspaper comic strips, the way the Comics Buyer’s Guide mainly concerns itself with comic books. Unfortunately, we were never able to get enough ads to make it a really substantial-looking monthly or to make it the self-supporting venture we’d hoped for, so we had to discontinue it after just a few issues. We did create several continuing features for the magazine, though—classic cartoonist trading cards, retrospectives, paper dolls (Trina Robbins sent us some outfits!) and a monthly page of original comic strips.”

Today, Cartoon Trader’s ads offer only a passing glance at yesterday’s prices, but Joe and Karen loaded each Trader with such charming original content it’s still fun to read today.

Joe’s bibliography appears on the Larque Press website.

Cauliflower Catnip: Pearls of Peril

Cauliflower Catnip: Pearls of Peril

Excerpt from my tribute, “The Creative Works of Joe Wehrle, Jr.” from The Digest Enthusiast No. 8, June 2018:

I first became aware of Joe’s work in 1981 when he published the Big Little Book, Cauliflower Catnip: Pearls of Peril, advertised in Alan Light’s The Buyer’s Guide. The book remains one of the most impressive self-published productions I’ve ever seen. I asked Joe about the project’s evolution.

“I guess Cauliflower Catnip is kind of an amalgam of many influences.” The anthropomorphic dogs of Thomas Aloysius Dorgan (TAD) comic strips, the hardboiled detective fiction of Nero Wolfe, and the sound of Thomas “Fats” Waller’s voice.

“I began to explore who Cauliflower Catnip was in a series of one-panel cartoons. I’ve long suspected that I’m too slow to do a regular daily strip unless I get an assistant or the concept is extremely simple. I enjoyed turning out the panels, but I could see they’d go nowhere. Besides, I wanted a detective story continuity with Cauliflower. How could I progress the suspense by drawing single panels? Had anyone ever done something like that? Of course they had—and called the results Big Little Books!

“So—how to get other people interested in Cauliflower, too? The character cavorted, full-blown, inside my head, and I felt I could sense the mood of the story and the type of cronies and adversaries he would encounter. But I hadn’t yet written a word of it.

The Buyer’s Guide had fairly inexpensive ad rates at the time, and I had some old comic stuff to sell. So I created a block ad, with my sale items at the bottom, and a single-panel cartoon above, to scale with the old Big Little Book pages, with short text paragraphs to the right. For several weeks, I don’t know how many, a comic panel and corresponding text appeared in every issue of TBG, andI started to get encouraging mail from fans. As we approached the end of the story, I began to solicit advance orders for the actual book.”

Joe’s bibliography appears on the Larque Press website.

Wehrle and Warren

"Monster Bait" splashpage

Excerpt from “The Creative Works of Joe Wehrle, Jr.” from The Digest Enthusiast No. 8, June 2018.

“Around that time [early 1970s] I also illustrated one script for Warren Publications’ Vampirella, and wrote one for them which was beautifully delineated by Esteban Maroto. I found Warren Pubs hard to deal with, though, slow with the money and critical of the work, although I thought I did a fairly good job for my first pro comics work. They ran the Wehrle/Maroto story over and over, but I never saw a nickel after the $12.00 or so they originally paid for the script.”

Joe’s first story, “Monster Bait,” written by Don Glut, appeared in Vampirella No. 9 (Jan. 1971). “Wolf Hunt” written by Joe and illustrated by Esteban Maroto first appeared in Vampirella No. 14 (Nov. 1971).

Joe’s bibliography appears on the Larque Press website.

Fawn the Dark Eyed comic strip

Joe Wehrle Jr, The Digest Enthusiast, Clarion, Sense of Wonder, Fawn the Dark Eyed, The Menomonee Falls Gazette No. 42

Joe Wehrle, Jr.’s story “The Bandemar” appeared in the first Clarion anthology and the comic version in Bill Schelly’s Sense of Wonder No. 12.

“Several years later,” Joe explained, “I resurrected the idea, and Fawn, with a slightly different storyline, was published for 36 weeks in The Menomonee Falls Gazette from Wisconsin, an all-comic newspaper.

“Toward the end [of Fawn’s run], I got those commissions from Lava Mt. Records to do H. P. Lovecraft portraits for their record jackets, and those took a lot of time, so the Gazette guys were alternating Fawn with something else on a bi-weekly basis. Then their paper just sort of fizzled out. They continued to run a handful of strips that they had al- ready paid for in their Comic Reader, but they were completely broke as far as the Gazette was concerned. It’s probably a wonder they were able to publish as many issues as they did.”

The cover of The Menomonee Falls Gazette No. 142, September 1974, featured the debut of the Fawn the Dark Eyed comic strip. The strip appeared in issues 142–161, 163–171, 173–176, 178, 179, 181, 183, and 188.

Joe’s bibliography appears on the Larque Press website.