Everyone wants it. Bronson Tracy has it. What would you do with… The License?
This one gets filed under “one of the best ideas I’ve ever had”, and it just never really found traction. The concept: one person in the USA is issued a license to use any and all non-lethal force they deem necessary in order to preserve civility in the nation. You can’t kill. You can’t as much as touch a weapon. But beyond that point… the law no longer applies to you.
It’s a license to kick ass.
Bronson Tracy, long-term convict but all-round good egg, gets The License, and embarks on a career of ass-kicking that quickly turns sour, as he discovers that beating people up for being rude doesn’t generally actually make them less rude — just more angry and crazy.
[and this is pretty much where the comic ran out of steam — no audience, no more money to pay artists.]
The License Program is a byzantine bureaucratic machine run by the enigmatic Mr. K, who turns out to be a long-hiding Elvis Presley, determined to make up for letting the American people down by creating the License Program to create a new generation of American folk heroes.
Bronson eventually punches his way to finding a former holder of The License, now in an insane asylum, and slowly realizes that punching jerks for talking in movie theatres and having 11 items in the 8-item lane isn’t getting much done in terms of making the world better. So he starts punching bank managers, then local politicians, and eventually sets out for Washington to beat the tar out of the President himself.
Complicating matters is the American Nightmare — it turns out there’s only actually one serial killer, and it’s this dude, dropped into areas to create psychic unrest and support for the ongoing, increasing militarization of the police and the reduction of citizen rights.
Bronson eventually gets shot on his way to slap the President around, and the first series ends (well, would have) with the License passing to an illegal immigrant in an LA street fighting ring…
It didn’t take off — not sure if it was the writing, wrong place/wrong time, only being able to afford to pay Diego, Chris and Roy a pittance for a half-page of art every week, or whatnot.
But it was a hell of an idea and if I ever quit my job I might just go all Lee Childs and start writing the thing as dimestore novels.
Here’s all of the old art files I could find… scripts further down. Art by Diego Jourdan, then Chris Fason, then Roy Boney, Jr. (my Deadies/Dead Eyes Open / Dead Funny collaborator). 2/3 of the License artists are notable enough to have their own Wikipedia pages! That’s pretty nuts.
I thought Chapters 4 and 5 were lost to time, but old friend and total mensch JR Conlin had the files! Thanks, JR.
I’m still pretty proud of this as a two-fisted action story. Some of the stuff doesn’t hold up as well in 2021 — guys with Nazi symbols on their heads resonate different now than they did then. I’d probably dial back some of the gruesome-for-gruesome’s-sake material today. But hey, I was in my 20s, and this was a hell of a lot of fun to write and have wildly talented people draw.