This week, I’m looking at an independent comic book. So digging for something unusual, I’ve unearthed, Tex Benson # 1, published in 1986, from a little known comic book company called, Metro Comics. Metro Comics seems to be the comic book publishing arm of S.Q. Productions, Inc., owned by Sal Quartuccio. S.Q. Productions was mostly known for publishing inexpensive prints and portfolios during the 1970s and 80s.
Here is the cover to the first of a four issue mini-series that Metro Comics published in 1986 & ’87:
It’s a kind of strange comic book. Definitely a science fiction, rather than super-hero book. The whole thing is the brainchild of creator, Chuck Roblin. He provided both the pencils and inks for the cover above. He also wrote, pencilled and inked the story within. I even think he provided the lettering, as well. The only thing he didn’t do was color the cover, I believe.
Roblin was an unusual talent, to say the least. He may not be the best technical figure artist, but he more than makes up for it with his enthusiasm. His panels are crammed to the brim with backgrounds that look like they might have been influenced by Jack Kirby or maybe more likely Wally Wood. His men are not handsome, but his women are sexy. Well, he’s trying to make them sexy.
This issue number one (1) is the first of a four part mini-series that Metro published. The overall title to the storyline is; “The World Within The Mirror”. The first issue contains the first three (3) chapters of the storyline.
The tale begins on the star cruiser, Avenger, settling into orbit around the planet, Scorpia. The ship is piloted by Captain Tex Benson, who quickly lands and rushes to visit Princess Azora, who has legally proclaimed that Tex is her fiancee, much to his chagrin.
We, the reader, meet Princess Azora, or as she refers to herself, Zori J, on page three (3). She is lounging in bed with her sentient pillow (softie) pals, Phoo Phoo and Shylah watching the disc-a-vision. Don’t ask me to explain them, because I can’t!
Roblin then jumps to another planet, many light years away, where we find Hydra Van Flynt, director of the Hellfire Sanitarium, and the villain of the piece! We get to see just how rotten she is and witness her use of the dreaded Thought Enhancer. It seems that Benson had just returned from stopping one of her slaver ships and now she is out for revenge.
Then we’re back on Scorpia and get the lowdown on Zori J and Tex Benson’s relationship. She wants him for a husband and he doesn’t want anything to do with her. But since she the Princess, she’s used to getting what she wants.
As this first issue ends, we see Benson fleeing the Princess, but ultimately being caught. Also we see Hydra Van Flynt put here plan for revenge against Benson into place and she takes off from her planet to put her plan in motion. So the first issue, of the four issue mini-series ends with this cliffhanger. But the basic plotline of the hero, Tex Benson, finding himself between two luscious gals, who are out to get him is firmly put in place, with space as the backdrop.
Metro Comics only managed to published ten (10) comics. I think I own seven (7) of them. The four (4) issues of Tex Benson and three (3) issues of Wild Things. So they didn’t last long at all.
But Tex Benson resurfaced in 1990, when 3-D Zone published a second four (4) issue run. Again the whole thing was produced by Chuck Roblin. I’m not sure of any other comics he had published, but if you know of any, please let me know.
Thanks, as always, for taking the time to read my posts. I hope you learned something you didn’t know with this one! I’ll be back next week with a new Fabulous Find and again in two weeks for another RETRO REVIEW. Stay warm this winter and I’ll be seeing you …
I’ve often wondered whatever happened to Chuck Roblin. I thought he was a very talented and fun artist. There’s definitely a Wallace Wood/Williamson/E.C. influence visible in Roblin’s art, particularly on his TEX BENSON series. I’d also argue an Alex Raymond Flash Gordon influence. A plaayful adventure series with terrific good girl art, Roblin in the 1978-1993 era was doing material in the vein of Dave Stevens’ ROCKETEER/Betty Page work, mostly in the same era Stevens began doing it. Although I see Roblin as more in the Wood template than Dave Stevens.
Roblin’s first work to my knowledge is HOT STUF’ issue 8 (also an imprint of SQ Productions) a more amateur-looking Wood/EC type 5-page story titled “Star Blind”.
The Metro Comics 4-issue TEX BENSON series as far as I can tell is the next thing Roblin did, and I think his art made a great leap in quality in between. Published in 1986-1987, TEX BENSON is 24 pages per issue, divided into 12 segments of 8 pages, 3 segments per issue. It looks to me like they were intended to be serialized in an anthology 8 pages per issue, before being reformatted into the 4-issue series.
Then the second 4-issue TEX BENSON series in 1990-1991, which again shows another great leap in art quality. These issues are harder to find than the first series. I currently only have issues 1, 2 and 4.
Roblin also did covers and/or art for other Ray Zone comics projects, such as DRACULA 3-D (1991, Roblin cover only, interior is reprint of 1950’s material). Also FORBIDDEN 3-D and ZORI J’s #-D BUBBLE BATH.
After Metro Comics, SQ Productions had another comics imprint, Quality Comics, that reprinted a lot of British material, including “Skizz” and “D.R. and Quinch” in 2000 AD MONTHLY. Roblin did a cover for 2000 AD MONTHLY 26 (July 1988) that somewhat resembles the characters in TEX BENSON.
Another SF anthology Quality Comic published was TIME TWISTERS, with early stories almost every issue by Alan Moore and Grant Morrison, that ran about 20 issues. Also STAINLESS STEEL RAT, that also has Moore material (as I recall, the ANNUAL issue).
Nicest of Roblin’s art is a TEX BENSON PORTFOLIO advertised in Metro’s TEX BENSON 3 and 4. These more than any others show off Roblin’s detailed Wood-esque linework and panoramic decorative style. I’m so glad I picked this folio up when I had the chance.
The only series I can think of in a similar good-girl-art mode is CAVEWOMAN: PANGAEAN SEA 1-11 (been waiting about 8 years for issue 12!) by Bud Root, as well as CAVEWOMAN: JUNGLE TALES 1-3, CAVEWOMAN: BEAUTIES AND BEASTS 1-2, and the earliest stories reprinted with about 10 new Root pages per issue CAVEWOMAN: RELOADED 1-6.
As well as Frank Cho’s LIBERTY MEADOWS and SHANNA 1-7 miniseries, about 10 years aago.
Thanks for all your thoughts and information on this “lost” artist, Dave! His style is a bit crude, but definitely shows talent. I wish he did more in the comic medium! I own Hot Stuf’ # 8, so I guess I better dig it out, as I do not remember his strip within!
Charles (“Chuck” to me) Roblin was my best friend at art school (the Chouinard Art Institute, aka California Institute of the Arts). Chuck and I were just about the only two artists at that school interested in comic art. He had an incredibly illustrious family. His grandfathers wrote Mutiny on the Bounty; his uncle Conrad Hall was an Academy Award winning cinematographer (In Cold Blood, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). His dad was English, his mom French Tahitian. Chuck was raised in Mexico City. He turned me on to Heinrich Kley (for sure) and Joseph Clement Coll (maybe). Elsie Segar, the creator of Popeye, was a Santa Monica neighbor. We both shared a love of Frank Frazetta’s and Wally Wood’s art. Chuck owned an extremely rare three-wheel Morgan in perfect condition which he rarely drove for fear of damaging it. He could also play some swell ragtime. At art school he practically lived on coffee and cigarettes, which I studiously avoided. I don’t know what happened to Chuck after Tex Benson (which was a syndicated strip in Europe and South America; according to the internet, the strip lasted from 1980 to 1989). We spoke rarely once he was involved in Tex (he found the work very demanding, as he did nearly everything on it). Most of that was my fault. His phone calls always lasted for hours and I eventually just couldn’t spare that kind of time. It has now been decades since we last spoke.
Mr. Stout, thank you for you comments on “Chuck” Roblin, from your first hand knowledge. Wow, that is some lineage indeed! Personally I loved his art, but most of my friends wouldn’t even give it a second look. Cool that you were such good friend during art school, but as usually happens unfortunately , we slowly lose touch with friends we held dear while growing up, due to family and business responsibilities, as time pulls us more and more into “the real world”, i.e. working and providing for our families.
I’m not sure which is worse, losing touch for whatever reason or losing you best friends to early death, as I did with my two best friends from high school days. Maybe the later, as there is always a slim chance of reconnecting with a “misplaced” friend, but none when they have past on too soon.
Thanks again for finding my post and taking the time to leave your memories of Tex Benson and Mr. Roblin. I did not realize that his Tex strip was syndicated in both Europe and in South America!
Wow! Thank you for sharing this.
You’re certainly welcome, Greg S. Gilday! I love sharing finds like this!