Dysart has a moral comic philosophy

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - James Dysart sits before a framed copy of the cover art for his book 'The Gathering'.Mild-mannered James Dysart lives in Estacada.

He has two sons and does part-time construction and landscaping work.

Dysart produces radio spots for People Against the National Defense Authorization Act (P.A.N.D.A.) and provides reporting for his various Facebook pages.

But he is also the creator of epic battles between good and evil that rage across galaxies.


Dysart has loved comics for as long as he can remember.

As a small child he'd watch all of the Spiderman reruns he could.

He started drawing comic books at age 5 or 6. He drew them everywhere, all the time.

Dysart hints his comic obsession might have had something to do with living in northern Wisconsin, where there's “nothing out there to do.”

Growing up, Dysart's family moved around a lot.

Eventually they landed in Sandy.

Dysart attended Sandy High School where he met Eric Page.

The two became fast friends.

When the high school held a writing contest the two had no shortage of ideas.

They wound up entering what was nothing short of a novel.

Dysart and Page wrote of an evil sorceress who pulled different characters from American literature and mythology to battle against each other.

Her hope was that they would battle each other to the death so that she could collect the fallen heroes' talismans, the sources of the heroes' powers.

The entry was 170 pages, double-spaced.

It contained hundreds of characters.

The two won the contest.

“Barely, because the grammar was so bad,” Dysart laughed.

Dysart and Page were so fond of the story line that they decided “The Stuff of Legends” shouldn't end with the high school writing contest.

The story was registered with the Library of Congress in 1991.

Some art was done during the boys' high school days, but the old art has mostly been lost.

In 2004, Dysart started working on “The Gathering: The Gatekeepers Trilogy, Book One.”

The project started out as a remake of “The Stuff of Legends,” but Dysart added so many new characters that “it became a whole new thing.”

The book is now for sale on

This was far from Dysart's only cartoon project though.

Dysart had spent years reading Marvel's “Spiderman” comics and writing volunteer reviews on websites such as Spiderman Crawl Space.

But in 2001, Dysart noticed a shift in the comics' tone that he didn't like.

For Dysart, the comics had become much darker and morally “bad” or “ambiguous.”

“Heroes weren't being heroes anymore,” Dysart said. “I thought kids shouldn't be reading them.”

Dysart was, however, able to articulate his own comic philosophy after the experience.

“At the end of the day the good guys are supposed to win and at the end of the day you're supposed to feel better than before you read the comic,” Dysart said.

With that in mind, Dysart developed the comic series “Marsh and Tide.”

by:  ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Dysart shares some never-before-seen art with Estacada News: meet the girlfriends of the main characters in Dysarts Marsh and Tide comic series.“Marsh and Tide” is modeled after the comics Dysart penned as a child.

The series follows buddy cops Marsh and Tide.

Frank Marsh resembles and has the powers of a turtle. Jim Tide looks like a cross between a body builder and a starfish.

Marsh and Tide answer to President Steelwing, a tough talking eagle.

Marsh and Tide comics consist of three or four panels per chapter, so not very long.

Dysart however, enjoys giving the chapters titles like “The Saga Begins” or “The Clash of the Titans” because giving such prodigious titles to such short comics makes him laugh.

“It's a very tongue in cheek sort of humor,” Dysart said.

“Marsh and Tide” comics were published in Estacada News for several years.

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Dysart takes a few seconds to draw Jim Tide facing down an evil-doer.The “Marsh and Tide” comics may be found at

Dysart's latest project is a new monthly printed collection of comics titled “The Gatekeeper Files.”

The Artsmith of Estacada recently published the first issue.

The issue declares that its mission is “to provide a nonprofit showcase for various independent writers and artists, cross-promotion, entertainment and providing a positive alternative to the mainstream press' almost exclusive 'offerings' of filth, cynicism, bad writing and cognitive dissonance.”

Readers will be able to read excerpts from “The Gathering,” “Marsh and Tide” strips and Dysart's other comics along with cartoons from guest collaborators in the collections.

Dysart said that community members are welcome to submit their art to be published in “The Gatekeeper Files,” as long as it is appropriate for all ages.

The next issue of “The Gatekeeper Files” will be out in November.

If you want to submit art, get a copy of the first issue of “The Gatekeeper Files” or would like more information, email Dysart at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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