The Dean was once a preacher-man

I graduated from highschool back in 1959, and went East to college. There I found the MIT Science Fiction Society. Ah, those days of yore! Of the epic clique battles in MITSFS I shall not speak, for it is better to let sleeping Cthulhu lie.

This was the time of Xero and "All in Color for a Dime". Bjo Trimble had just published Supersquirrel, a Justice League parody strip featuring Ron Ellik as the Squirrel of Steel. Bruce Pelz had published Tower Comics. And I had been visited in my dormitory by the Campus Crusade for Christ.

It was the middle of my Freshman year. I answered a knock on the door. There stood two upstanding young men. They wore suits, white shirts, and ties. They held little leather-covered books with zippers. And they wanted to know my relationship with Christ. Better I had said "second cousin" and tossed them out.

Instead, they came in. They spoke of the hollowness of the world, the unfulfilled longings, and the fellowship that came with belief in Christ and membership in the Church. How terrible to be lost and alone in a sinful world! But Christ stood ready to take me in, to rescue me from loneliness and peril of my immortal soul.

"And maybe give me a supersonic signal watch?" I said to myself. For this rescuing saviour they described bore an uncanny resemblance to Superman. (This was the Weisinger era of Superman, when Jimmy Olson was Superman's Pal.) Shielded by the vividness of this worldly image, I withstood their blandishments.

By next year I had built a life in the strange new world of college. Wrapped in this life I watched as the Christians returned once more in season like swallows to Capistrano. These Crusaders ignored the sophomores and upperclassmen. They headed straight for the freshmen -- who, only a few months from home, were most likely to be sunk in the depths of loneliness and despond. This bore a contemptible resemblance to shooting fish in a barrel. (I'm sure they saw it as throwing a lifeline to those most in need. Holy wars are made of such divergences in perception.)

However reality went, I was annoyed. The Visiting Christians and the Dorm Council were a smarmy batch: living in each others' pockets, doing favors for one another, spending dorm money and snubbing the proles. My circle already was publishing a Crusading Student Newspaper, taking on the larval politicians. Now for their henchmen.

I could hear the tiny ultrasonic voice of the signal watch in my ear. It was time for God Comics! Up, up and away!

I really couldn't draw -- but that didn't stop me. Soon the first issue was published, an amalgam of the New Testament origin stories and the Superboy origin stories. We saw the awesome birth of Jesus, and shuddered when the hard radiation from his first miracle invaded the womb of a passing woman. Eight months later, Jesus' nemesis Luthorfur was born. And so on, and so forth. It wasn't especially good, but there was nothing quite like it anywhere else. I printed up a hundred copies, and kept them in my dorm room. Occasionally somebody would knock and ask for a copy, which I would provide.

Cover for God Comics 1

One of the knocks was from the fist of Juri Toomre, the smarmiest Dorm Council member of them all, flanked by Christians. I gave them the copy they demanded -- that crew had no respect for search warrants or other such technicalities -- and they took it off to the Dean of Student Affairs. Soon I was summoned to an inquisition.

I had thought MIT was a secular school. But the new dean, one Kenneth R. Wadleigh, was said to be a former Southern Baptist preacher; and he was determined to prove a New Dean Sweeps Keen. There were long lines outside his office awaiting discipline. People who ordered pirated textbooks from Formosa were suspended. Others were expelled. He wanted to expel me.

He had to get a committee to agree, though. I pointed out that I had not been going around bothering people. Anybody who had a copy of God Comics had not only asked for it, they had climbed three flights of stairs to ask. I wasn't expelled, but for my remaining two years I had to pay monthly visits to an assistant dean / probation officer.

Of course this led to further issues of God Comics, created on time stolen from the 'Tute, printed on paper stolen from the 'Tute, and using a 'Tute office duplicator. They were, however, distributed with more discretion. My love for Kenneth Wadleigh knew no bounds.

Why, when I did a text comic story, I even used him as a villain. He attacked poor Rocketking, sent him into an ill-fitting parallel universe, tum de dum, deedle dee -- you know the routine. You want a villain, pick a villain you know. Life is so much more satisfying when the hero beats him up. I was as surprised as anybody when the two of them teamed up instead.

Which leads us to a number of the stories in Supers.