One of the things I love about comics history is that no matter how much you research and read, the next surprise is waiting for you right around the corner. Talented artist Frank Thorne is best known for his formative work on Marvel's Red Sonja. His career has run the gamut from newspaper strips and Dell Comics to Heavy Metal and Playboy. And then there's his work on the short-lived series Far Out Green Super Cool. The comics themselves are incredibly hard to find, but in this week's 2021 February 7-8 Sunday & Monday Comics, Animation, Video Games & Art Weekly Online Auction from Heritage has a pair of pages of Frank Thorne's original artwork from this wonderfully weird series.
What on earth is Far Out Green Super Cool? It's social welfare comic published annually from 1971-74 by the Social Welfare Research Foundation of New Jersey, and created by then-New Jersey resident Frank Thorne. You can check out the entire series at the spectacular Comics with Problems site. As a 1975 article about the project in The Central New Jersey Home News explained:
"The Far Out Green," as he is otherwise known, is the comic creation of Frank Thorne, a freelance author-illustrator from Scotch Plains who is currently working on a piece for the National Lampoon.
Marion Rieman, president of the Monroe Board of Education, is a member of the board of trustees of the group responsible for Super Cool and, most recently, his sidekick, Super Cool Kid.
In each of the past four years, the Social Welfare Research Foundation (SWRF) has produced a new edition of [taking] the laws governing juvenile delinquents out of the textbooks and into the streets where they can do the most good.
Each year's edition deals with a new juvenile law — the first issue was dedicated to juvenile laws in general, followed by editions on stealing, mugging and arson.
The Social Welfare Research Foundation itself was a branch of the Council for Human Services in New Jersey, an organization founded in 1901 to "bring together the hundreds of men and women who are dealing at first hand with the problems of human affliction and distress," and to show "the points of contact, and the need of co-operation between private benevolent agencies and public relief officers." The branch foundation was created in 1954 to raise funds to research, create and distribute material on social welfare in New Jersey:
In order to further address the problem of its tax status, the Council founded a branch organization, the Social Welfare Research Foundation of New Jersey, in 1964. The purpose of the Foundation was to raise money to perform and disseminate research in the field of social welfare. It was governed by its own board of trustees, but shared headquarters with the Council; the two organizations had a joint steering committee and representation on mutual committees. The Foundation devoted much of its time to the planning of the Annual Institutes, workshops for social workers given at the Council's annual conference on issues such as juvenile justice, drug abuse, mental health, disabilities, and crisis intervention. The Institutes, which were partially underwritten by a grant from the Switz Foundation, attracted from 400 to 500 participants a year. The Foundation also undertook a study of New Jersey's laws relating to young people, which resulted in the publication of a pamphlet for teenagers, The Law—Get With It (1967), and a second edition, The Law—For Real (1970), which were distributed in schools and community organizations. The success of this project led to the publication of the Far Out Green Super Cool series of comic books aimed at grade school children.
But by 1975, the SWRF could no longer come up with the funds to keep Far Out Green Super Cool going. Frank Thorne expressed disappointment about the end of the project to The Central New Jersey Home News, and told them an issue took him about a month over the summer in his spare time. But Thorne would keep busy that summer regardless — that's likely around the time during which he began working on Red Sonja for Marvel Feature. This week's 2021 February 7-8 Sunday & Monday Comics, Animation, Video Games & Art Weekly Online Auction from Heritage has a pair of pages of Frank Thorne's original artwork from this wonderfully weird series.