Forgotten Heroes 2021: Jon Sable, Freelance

Jon Sable: Freelance was a comic book (and a comic book character) created by Mike Grell, the same guy who created DC’s Warlord. It was one of the First Comics flagship titles and ran from 1983-1988; with another series, simply titled Sable, following afterwards. (That series didn’t last very long.) Unusual for its time, Jon Sable: Freelance was wholly owned by Mike Grell; who presumably still owns the rights to this day.

Jon Sable has had a somewhat bumpy publication history. Once First Comics folded in 1991-1992, Jon Sable didn’t get another comic book series until 2005, when IDW published a six-issue miniseries. The character hasn’t been seen in a comic book since 2010.

Jon Sable was an Olympic athlete at the 1972 Munich games. After witnessing the massacre there he moved to Rhodesia where he used his training as a mercenary and bounty hunter to organize safari trips and become a game warden (because why not?). His family was murdered by poachers, so Sable killed the poachers and moved back to the US to resume work as a freelance mercenary. When he’s working, he paints his face, dresses in black and carries a 1917 Broomhandle Mauser, which he uses to shoot people. When not working, he hides in plain sight by masquerading as B.B. Flemm, an author of children’s books. Yes, he writes the books and supposedly, they’re pretty good, because his publisher is always on his ass about his deadlines, even though she knows he’s really a merc-for-hire and not a children’s book author.

There was a (mercifully) short-lived TV series, Sable, that ran for only seven episodes in the 80’s. It’s based on the comic, with some minor differences, like a character called Cheesecake who is a hacker who (wait for it) likes cheesecake; and the fact that Sable is the alter-ego of author NIcholas Fleming (not B.B. Flemm), not the other way around, as it is in the comic. The series starred Lewis Van Bergen as Sable, who you may remember from nothing you’ve ever even remotely given a shit about; and a young Renee Russo as Sable’s publisher, Eden Kendall. I remember watching it in high school as I knew about the comic, but I forgot about most of it until Tom found the pilot episode on YouTube and told me about it. I warn you…it’s a tough slog. Van Bergen’s 80’s mullet is truly extraordinary, however, and it may be worth the watch for that alone.

For my Jon Sable conversion, I was going to use these two Heroclix: Daredevil and Quicksilver. (Quicksilver has served me well in past Forgotten Heroes challenges; I used his head for Jack Frost and his body for Water Wizard before). I also needed to find a 28mm Broomhandle Mauser; which you think would be easy. It’s not. I had to buy this weapon pack from Pulp Alley to find one.

Before I got the Pulp Alley accessories, I noticed this Bullseye Heroclix. He’s carrying a submachine gun that could pretty easily be converted into a Mauser. D’oh! I decided not to use Daredevil or the Pulp Alley accessories after all.

One quick head-swap and some filing, and here’s the result. Kinda looks like Jon Sable already. I also cut off a bit of the back of his gun, so it looks more like a Mauser pistol.

Here’s the finished result. It wasn’t particularly difficult, considering Sable’s “costume” is a black outfit with a holster for his pistol and some face paint. Sometimes he uses a knife, too.

This close-up shows I wasn’t as thorough as I could have been when filing off bits of Bullseye’s costume. In my defense, I can’t see shit anymore. Now that I’m aware of it, I could fix it. Or not, considering I’ll never use Jon Sable for anything, ever.

Forgotten Heroes has provided me with a chance to make miniatures for several First Comics heroes: Badger, Nexus, and now Jon Sable. Add one of the Grimjack miniatures my friend Jeremy (Carrion Crow) gifted me with, and it’s almost the full roster! Still, I hesitate to really call this a submission, as it took almost no time to complete once I had the idea.

I have at least one more entry coming this month, possibly two. In the meantime I look forward to seeing what everyone else is doing!

10 thoughts on “Forgotten Heroes 2021: Jon Sable, Freelance

  1. Dave Stone

    It may be a simple conversion Keith, but has been executed brilliantly. Not a character I was aware of, and don’t recall the TV series making it to the UK back then. Look forward to seeing what else you’ve got planned for the month.
    Do have to feel sorry for all the Quicksilvers that have died for this event, a moments silence for their sacrifice is required I feel . . . . . Okay I’m good ! LOL

    1. The Angry Piper Post author

      Thank you! I have beheaded two Quicksilvers and re-headed one, all in the name of Forgotten Heroes, Dave! Iā€™m pretty sure I have no more Quicksilvers left to mutilate.

  2. Dick Garrison

    Nice conversion, it might have been easy, but you have to spot the right base figure first! I have to admit I have never heard of “Jon Sable” but then that’s the point of Forgotten heroes after all

    Cheers Roger.

    1. The Angry Piper Post author

      Thanks. The more I look at this miniature, the more I notice the odd proportions. Looks like he could tie his shoes without bending down. Original Heroclix were all over the place.

  3. Jeremy

    Nicely executed, Keith. Good to see another First Comics character being brought into the spotlight. Being somewhat of a comic book geek, i had heard of this character (and was aware Mike Grell was responsible for DC’s Warlord – although most people would probably associate him with his run on Green Arrow). This has now got me thinking about which characters I do crave, rather than which characters I can make with what I had to hand, so may have to plan in advance for next time. Time to make a list…

    1. The Angry Piper Post author

      Grell made fun of the resemblance between Warlord and Green Arrow by having Travis Morgan visit Seattle and get mistaken for Oliver Queen everywhere. He got sick of getting attacked by Green Arrow’s foes, so he showed up at GA’s house and punched Oliver out. Kind of funny.
      Know what else is funny? I went through my comic collection and discovered I have almost an entire run of Jon Sable: Freelance, and many issues of the follow-up series, Sable. I have no recollection of reading any of them. Spoils of working in a comic shop when I was in college.

  4. Matt

    I have no idea who this guy is but you’ve done a great job on the conversion! And congratulations on being brave enough to paint black on his face without fear of buggering it up!

    The TV show sounds awful, and the screenshot of the cast makes it look like some terrible 80s comedy about a guy who keeps screwing up and his long-suffering friends who have to get him out of his whacky predicament. “This week, Jon attempts to clean his chimney… hilarity ensues! Wednesday night on NBC!”

    Also, what do you have against Quicksilver? šŸ™‚

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