If you can’t figure out the influences that led Don Secrease to create Colt, the Weapons Mistress, then you haven’t been paying attention. You might say, the sexy spy in the customized cavalry officer’s jacket wears her inspiration on her lapel. A fan of the Old West and enamored with detective and spy thriller genres, Don couldn’t help but instill a little bit of himself into his most famous character. How she ended up in her familiar costume, however, is a little less clear.
Don can’t really remember how he came up with the design of her costume, or, more specifically, where he got the idea to put Valencia Kirk in that sexily customized version of an old west cavalry officer’s jacket that transforms her into Colt, but he says, “I wanted something somewhat revealing, yet practical (practical?).” Certainly, the jacket distinguishes Colt from the typical comic book character clad in spandex, but, as Don explains, the idea was tied into her origin.
“As the story goes, Val creates a variation on the costume that her husband wore. His outfit differed in that he wore wrist gloves, a visored cap, and his shirt actually tucked into his pants, no bare midriff for him, but you might notice that she buttons her tunic to the right, like a man, instead of to the left. For the very first appearance it was an oversight on my part until I realized, perhaps Val would button it this way in remembrance of Kevin.”
Colt’s tunic was also supposed to have been made from the fabric of her husband, Kevin’s, tunic. Of course, as Don notes that’s a little hard to swallow as Kevin was blown up by the criminal organization called, “The Pact.” Since Colt became a costumed crimefighter as a consequence of the murder of her husband, you would expect that she would try to bring his killers to justice, but Don says she’s never gotten really close to apprehending the Pact’s leaders. “The closest she came was in a pre-AC tale published in Swashbucklers Issue 4, where she almost caught Mr. TNT, the most predominant of the Pact’s leaders.”
While some of Colt’s pre-AC stories have been re-used since Colt entered the AC Universe, not all of her stories have made the transition. “Before AC, Colt appeared in Swashbucklers #1, 3, 4. She was tentative to appear in #5 and Vista Graphics Presents #4 but neither of these were published.” The Swashbuckler books and Vista Graphics were an outgrowth of Don’s earlier involvement in the comic book industry. “I’ve always loved comics and been an avid reader/collector since the late 50s. During numerous non-art jobs, I’d been lucky enough to draw for various fanzines (a lot for a fan-based group in the 70’s called Interfan) on the side. Eventually Rick Burchett, Paul Daly, and I started publishing our own fanzines. They weren’t so much fanzines as they were stripzines. From there we sort of gravitated to the smaller publishers.”
It was during this time that Don created most of his published characters. “Besides Colt, and her Rogues Gallery, Paul Daly and I created The Terranauts (published by Fantasy General), Ed Stehlin and I did White Heat (for Bill), The Missourian (see Bill’s Great American Westerns #1), Redlaw, Torn Path, and the Savage Sisters (for Caliber), The Specialists (Thunderhawk, LionMane, Lioness, Domino, JackKnife) (originally in Swashbucklers, then Bill’s AC line), Starr, the Pirate, (see Swashbucklers1,2), and maybe some more I can’t remember.”
Speaking of Colt’s Rogues Gallery, two characters in particular have attracted the most attention from fans, Dr. Montague Moon and Dollface. Colt’s first nemesis in the pages of AC Comics was Dr. Moon, a deranged scientist with a large deformed head resembling the moon. Speaking about Colt’s Rogues Gallery, in general, and Dr. Moon, in particular, Don says, “For Colt, I wanted to create a Rogues Gallery that combined the villainy of Batman enemies (Pinto Williams/Mr. Coffin), the costumes of the Flash’s opponents (Trail Blazer), and, most importantly, the grotesqueness of the Dick Tracy hit list (Mime/Baron Blutsbad). I want Moon to be all the above plus add to him a tragic side… what he has is killing him and he only has so much time left.”
Dr. Moon first appeared in Swashbucklers Issue 1 and the back-up story beginning in Femforce Issue 1 is an expanded re-telling of that first story. While Montague Moon has consistently plagued Colt and become very familiar to long-time Femforce fans, Dollface has rarely been seen in stories published by AC. Her absence is not due to a lack of regard from her creator, however. “Dollface is one of my favorite Colt villains. When Bill Black and I talked years ago about the possibility of my writing a run of Femforce (I still have tons of outlines laying around here somewhere), one of my directions was including Dollface and making a huge ‘alter-ego’ change when a final showdown was to happen. To this time, Dollface still hasn’t been used to what I feel was my original intention. Depending on the crime at hand, she would dress to a particular scene, etc., except for her face, which would retain that cold, white mask. Hers was a tragic origin and, eventually, she was to become sort of an unbalanced Robin Hood, so to speak.”
So, how did so many of Don’s characters find a home at AC? “I’ve always been a fan of Bill’s, (and his art and line of books) years before I met him. Tell you the truth, I don’t remember how we first teamed up. I had to have sent him some of my work, then we communicated via mail. We met face to face at the ‘83 Memphis Western Film Festival. I learned a lot from him. He’s sorta like a father figure to me (Hi, Bill!).” The transition for Colt was fairly easy. Her husband’s name, Adam, in the pre-AC days, became Kevin Adam Kirk once Colt entered the AC Universe. The newly named Kevin was part of a trio of covert operatives that included a Mexican named El Puno, a master of hand-to-hand combat, and Dark Shadow, a woman who could trail anyone, but the Pact was still responsible for his death and that still led to Valencia Kirk getting disgusted with the whole espionage business and quitting to become a costumed crimefighter.
These days, unfortunately, Don doesn’t have much time to play with his characters. “My commercial art takes up most of my time. I’m also involved in getting a package of daily gag strips out to suburban newspapers. I still dabble a little if Rick Burchett needs me to ghost his backgrounds. Rick and I are working on a few DC mini-series ideas that may never see the light of day. I’d like to be able to do more Colt stuff with Bill should the space and time allow.” Until then, he’s turned over the reins to Bill when it comes to taking care of Colt. “I’ve always trusted Bill with his sense of direction with the characters. I haven’t always been available to help, and, to tell the truth, Bill and Mark and Rebekah have had things under control all the while. Bill and I agreed long ago if Colt needed to be involved in the series, use her.” Of course, there is at least one condition, “Bill retains my copyright and, as long as he doesn’t give Colt a haircut, she’s there for him.”