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Cover to Jon Sable Freelance #7. Art by Mike Grell.
|First appearance||Jon Sable, Freelance (June 1983) #1|
|Created by||Mike Grell|
|Full name||Jon Moses Sable|
Jon Sable Freelance is an American comic book series, one of the first series created for the fledging publisher First Comics in 1983. It was written and drawn by Mike Grell and was a fully creator-owned title. Beginning in November 2007, it was published as an online comic series by ComicMix.
At a convention in the late 1980s, Grell stated that his idea for Sable was heavily influenced by Ian Fleming's James Bond novels as well as drawing on pulp fiction crime stories saying "something like a cross between James Bond and Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer." Also, many of the stories of Sable's hunting exploits in Africa were influenced by Peter Hathaway Capstick's novels.
Jon Sable Freelance lasted 56 issues from June 1983 to February 1988 before being cancelled. While Grell wrote and drew all the covers, his last issue of interior art was #43. Late in this run Grell announced in the comic's own text pages that Tony DeZuniga would soon join him as the new artist. Just what happened to these plans is unclear, but soon the series was suspended, and after a few months, Marv Wolfman was writing and Bill Jaaska was drawing a new series called Sable, with Grell having no part. This lasted 27 issues before cancellation. Marv Wolfman abruptly left the series after issue #23 and comic book fan Steve Kaye took over the writing chores for the final four issues. Fan favorite artist Tim Vigil provided covers for the remaining issues.
A third First Comics series, Mike Grell's Sable, reprinted the first ten issues of the original Jon Sable Freelance series. There was also a tie-in miniseries featuring one of the semi-recurring characters, a thief called Maggie The Cat, at Image Comics in 1996. Only 2 issues were released and the series was never completed. In 1997 Grell announced that he would again be writing and drawing the character in a new black-and-white Jon Sable Freelance from Caliber Comics, debuting in October. However, the series never materialized.
After the title's cancellation (and First's ceasing operations), the character made some cameo appearances in some of Grell's other titles over the years. He did not receive his own series again until March 2005, when IDW Publishing released the first of a new six-issue mini-series titled Jon Sable Freelance: Bloodtrail (originally announced as Jon Sable, Freelance: Conspiracy) written and drawn by Grell. IDW have also been reprinting the entire original run in a series of trade paperbacks.
A new series, Jon Sable: Ashes of Eden, began publication as an online series in November 2007, and was published as a 5-issue mini-series beginning in 2009 and ending in 2010.
Fictional character biography
Jonathan Sable was a bounty hunter and mercenary who previously had been an athlete in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. After witnessing the terrorist outrages at those games, he married a fellow athlete and they relocated to Rhodesia, where Sable became an organizer of safaris for tourists, and later a game warden. It was during this time his family was murdered by poachers. After avenging his slain family, Sable returned to the USA and became a freelance mercenary.
He also has a double identity as a successful children's book writer under the name of "B.B. Flemm." Unlike many such characters, his literary agent is aware of his other identity's activities, but is most persuasive in enforcing his writing contract obligations as well.
- The Complete Jon Sable, Freelance (softcover):
- Volume 1 (collects #1-6, ISBN 1-932382-77-1)
- Volume 2 (collects #7-11, ISBN 1-932382-79-8)
- Volume 3 (collects #12-16, ISBN 1-933239-39-5)
- Volume 4 (collects #17-21, ISBN 1-933239-42-5)
- Volume 5 (collects #22-27, ISBN 1-933239-68-9)
- Volume 6 (collects #28-33, ISBN 978-1-933239-70-5)
- Volume 7 (collects #34-39, ISBN 1-60010-045-7)
- Volume 8 (collects #40-45, ISBN 1-60010-113-5 )
- Omnibus Volume 1 (collects #1-16, ISBN 978-1-60010-694-1)
- Omnibus Volume 2 (collects #17-33, ISBN 978-1-61377-109-9)
- Jon Sable, Freelance: Bloodtrail (collects Jon Sable, Freelance: Bloodtrail #1-6, ISBN 1-933239-72-7)
- Jon Sable Freelance: Ashes of Eden (collects Jon Sable Freelance: Ashes of Eden #1-5, ISBN 1-60010-677-3)
In other media
The TV series was notable only for its changes to the premise, and for introducing supermodel turned actress Rene Russo to audiences as one of the leads. In the TV series, instead of Sable being the public face and masquerading as a children's book author, "Nicholas Fleming" was the children's book author and Sable the mysterious masked do-gooder. Sable was wanted for murder in Africa, it was explained, and the vaguely effete Fleming persona was the only way he could live safely in Chicago. A new character for the TV series was "Cheesecake" Tyson, played by Broadway actor Ken Page as a hacker friend who inevitably supplied exposition.
Grell wrote a prose novel featuring the character, simply titled Sable, which was published in hardcover in 2000 and in paperback in 2001. The book was partly adapted from early issues of the comic series, with some changes in chronology.