The Flim Flam Man
Jersey Devil #10
32 pages, b&w, $1.75 (digest sized)
Art & Lettering:
& Brian Fraim
Brian & Brendon Fraim
October 1, 1999
Kyle, Bigby, Peg Misery, Norm, Jake, William, Darla, The Roo, Amazing Jerry Mono
Based on the 1909 Great Jersey Devil Hoax and extensive research on the subject.
Issue Events: Two page ad for Jersey Devil Haunted House Tour '99, where we did signings at 4 haunted houses in October.
Judas Reed, in flashback, tells the story of Norm, the P.T. Barnum of his time, and how he used the Jersey Devil story to pull a hoax on all of Philadelphia. Issue opens with J.D., Kyle & Bigby stealing food for themselves and a group of bums. Judas tells the story around a campfire.
Flashback to Philadelphia in 1909. Our story is hosted by Norm, who addresses the reader. He's a booking agent that works for a run down freak show called the T.F. Hopkins Dime Museum. His competitor is putting the squeeze on him so he and his animal trainer/associate, Jake, must come up with a new act to save the museum. Norm decides to use the Jersey Devil story.
First, Jake starts planting false stories in the newspaper, although Norm's account of the actual events are suspect, since letters about the Jersey Devil started appearing the paper a week before. He rents a kangeroo to make a Jersey Devil. The roo licks off the paint and faints. When Norm, Jake and Jake's assistant, a boy named William, take the roo outside for some air, it escapes.
Between the nationwide hysteria and appearances of the roo, the Jersey Devil sightings snowball. Just as Norm fears he'll be arrested for the hoax, Jake catches the roo after nearly being shot by a panicky police captain. Norm stages a capture for the press, which is nearly a disaster and then the roo is displayed at the museum. Despite the publicity, the museum closes anyway.
True to his nature, Norm starts planning his next hoax, a "Beauty and the Beast" scam with a deformed dwarf.
Back in present time, the story lifts the spirits of J.D. and the other bums. But J.D. suspects that they are being watched. Just as he turns to look, a rabbit, which had been sitting in the background, hops away. It hops to a pay telephone and transforms into Peg Misery. She calls her friend, Amazing Jerry and the twosome plot the capture and demise of J.D.