Mike Mauser

Created by Nicola Cuti and Joe Staton

“My name is MAUSER…which is also the name of my pistol. In my profession, it’s the only reliable friend that I have. I’m a private eye and this is my story…”

MIKE MAUSER, he of small stature, coke bottle glasses and repulsive eating habits, has had one of the longest, strangest trips of any comic book private eye I’ve found. He first showed up as a sometime sidekick to a superhero way back in 1974. The superhero, E-MAN, is an alien with the power to rearrange his molecular structure at will. In the third issue, Mauser is hired by E-Man’s (very) human girlfriend, Nova Kane, a part-time geology student and exotic dancer (stripper) at the Moist Palms Club, to rescue her kidnapped friend, Rosie Redd. Seems E-Man’s too busy off saving the world or something, so Nova turns to Mauser for help, after spotting one of his flyers which reads, “Michael Mauser, Private Eye. No job too big or too too small.”

Eventually, E-Man and Mauser meet and hit it off, and Mike became a more-or-less regular in the series, with even an occasional back-up story all his own. (Check out the hilarious Magnum P.I. spoof “Mauser P.I.” that appeared in E-Man #4).

But the weirdness goes on… E-Man, in his human identity of Alec Tronn, poses as Mauser’s assistant, making Mauser “the only private eye in town with a sidekick who was a superhero from outerspace.”

You could look it up…

There were other characters who popped up now and then, including Teddy Q., a dancing, singing koala, and Donald Dukes, Mauser’s yuppie nephew.

Creator Joe Staton claims he based Mauser on Ratso Rizzo, the Dustin Hoffman character in Midnight Cowboy. He was never intended to be anything more than a sidekick/straightman to E-Man — one more comic figure in the light-hearted adventures — but eventually he began to take on a life of his own. He started showing up regularly as a backup feature in another short-lived Charlton mag, Vengeance Squad, in 1975. Unlike the E-Man stories, however, these were straight-ahead detective tales, definitely on the harder-boiled, if not noir, side. No superheroes, no dancing, singing koalas. It was in Vengeance Squad that Mike first acquired a secretary, Bambi Baxter, soon to be replaced by Nova’s old friend, Rosie Redd, who in turn was eventually fired for breaking Mauser’s favorite coffee mug (Mike loves his coffee). His current secretary (and love interest) is Angela Thi Phuong, a Vietnamese war refugee.

Charlton, alas, finally petered out in the late seventies, and Mauser, E Man, et al faded into history. And cult status.

But you can’t keep a good idea down for long. In 1983, First Comics brought E-Man and Mike back for more original stories, (including Mauser’s origins in #24) as well as reprinting the entire Charlton series. And in 1985, Mike teamed up with Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty’s Ms. Tree in The P.I.s, a special three-issue miniseries. In late ’91, Mike even landed his own comic book, although it only lasted one issue. Still, Mauser’s a plucky little scamp, and he keeps popping up in the weirdest places.

Like in a trio of E-Man specials between 2006 and 2008, put out by Digital Weebbing, in which he teamed up with his old pal. Or an old back-up, “Fish Story,” which had originally been intended for Vengeance Squad that finally made it to print in Michael Ambrose’s Charlton Spotlight  in  2008. Or in “Homecoming,” the first chapter of a three part E-Man story published in The Charlton Arrow, in which Mike and Angela finally tie the knot — despite a few wedding day jitters from Mike.

As does his co-creator, comics vet Joe Staton. He did Femme Noir, a web (and eventually print) comic featuring a mysterious female private eye, with our pal Christopher Mills. We even ran it right here on this site.

UNDER OATH

  • “No matter whtever else I do, that’s what I usually get mentioned for…I bet my epitaph is going to have something to do with E-Man and Mauser… …and maybe with Teddy Q, the dancing koala bear.”
    — Joe Staton

COMICS

  • E-MAN
    (1973-75, Charlton)
    10 issues
    Writers: Nicola Cuti
    Artist: Joe Staton
    This entire run was reprinted as The Original E-Man And Michael Mauser in 1985 by First Comics.

    • “The Energy Crisis!” (June 1974; #3)
    • “City in the Sand!” (November 1974; #4)
    • “TV Man” (March 1975; #7)
    • “In The Inner Sun” (May 1975; #8)
    • “The Genius Plant” (July 1975; #9)
  • VENGEANCE SQUAD
    (1975-76, Charlton)
    6 issues
    Mauser appeared in back-up stories in each issue

    • “The Inheritance” (July 1975; #1)
    • “The Hit” (September 1975; #2)
    • “The Understudy” (November 1975; #3)
    • “To Be Frank” (January 1976; #4)
    • “The Frame” (March 1976; #5)
    • “Gang War” (May 1976; #6)
  • E-MAN
    (1983-85, First Comics)
    25 issues
    Writers: Nicola Cuti
    Artist: Joe Staton

    • “EM, Phone Home” ( April 1983; #1)
    • “‘F’ as in Freak” (May 1983; #2)
    • “Dark Albatross Must Be Rendered Inoperative, Lifewise” (June 1983; #3)
    • “The Paper Bomb!” (July 1983; #4)
      Also includes “Mauser, P.I.,” a solo Mauser story.
    • “Getting Void” (August 1983; #5)
    • “Feed Me!” (September 1983; #6)
    • “God Told Me To!” (October 1983; #7)
    • “Love Means Never Having to Say You’re Larry” {November 1983; #8)
    • “What’s Up, Tyger Lili?” (December 1983; #9)
    • “Blacklung” (January 1984; #10)”
    • “The Slug That Ate Barrentown?” (February 1984; #11)
      Also includes “Mike Mauser’s Crimestopper’s Textbook #1.” a half-page gag.
    • “A Town Called…Chaos!” (April 1984; #13)
    • “The Wrath Of Randarr” )May 1984; #14)
    • “Fat Man’s Fury!” (June 1984; #15)
    • “Sunrise Sunset!” (July 1984; #16)
    • “Smelt Quest!” (August 1984; #17)
    • “Rosemary and Time” (September 1984; #18)
    • “Hoodoo Blues!” (October 1984; #19)
    • “If You Knew Herb” (November 1984; #20)
    • “The B Team” (December 1984; #21)
    • “The See-Thru Wars!” (April 1985; #23)
    • “Mauser’s Story” (June 1985; #24)
      A full length story of Mauser’s origins.
  • THE P.I.s
    (1985, First Comics, Inc.)
    Writer(s): Max Allan Collins
    Artists: Joe Staton, Terry Beatty
    Featuring Ms. Tree and Nicola Cuti and Joe Staton’s Mike Mauser

    • “Four Color Crime (Part One): The Odd Couple” (January 1985; #1)
    • “Four Color Crime (Part Two): All in Color for a Crime” (March 1985; #2)
    • “Four Color Crime (Part Three): You Will Believe a Man Can Die” (May 1985; #3)
  • AMAZING HEROES
    (1991-1992, Fantagraphics Books)

    • “Swimsuit Issue!” (April 1987; #115)
      Sorry, but I don’t want to see Mauser in a thong!
  • THE NEW CRIME FILES OF MICHAEL MAUSER, PRIVATE EYE
    (1992, Apple Comics)
    One issue

    • “Snow Angels” (January 1992; #1).
  • THE DETECTIVES
    (1993, Alpha Productions).

    • “The Old Farmhouse” (April 1993; #1) .
  • NOIR
    (1994, Alpha Productions).

    • “Focus on Death” (Winter 1994; #1)
    • “The Cayugan Curse” (Fall 1995; #2)
  • MIKE MAUSER FILES
    (1999, America’s Comic Group/Avalon Communications)

    • “The Cayugan Curse,” “Dog Days,” “Sleazze!” and “The Things in the Subway” (#1)
  • E-MAN SPECIAL
    (2006-08, Digital Webbing)

    • “E-Man: Recharged”
    • “E-Man: Dolly”
    • “E-Man: Curse of the Idol”
  • CHARLTON SPOTLIGHT
  • (Argo Press)
    •  “Fish Story” (Fall 2008; #6)
  • THE CHARLTON ARROW
    (2007-08)

    • “Homecoming” (September 2017; #1)

WEB COMICS

  • SUPERNATURAL CRIME
    • “Sleaze!” (February 2002, Supernatural Crime)

RELATED LINKS

  • E-Man
    Rome Maynard’s cyber-squibble bills itself as “the only site dedicated to Charlton Comics’ 70’s super- hero, E-man and his trusty side-kick/love interest, Nova Kane…two of the most original characters to come out of the decade many would like to forget.”
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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