Comic creator, 13, crafts character’s hero after late grandfather

LAKE WORTH, Texas — Thirteen-year-old Jake Tinsley will realize a lifelong dream this week when a character he invented as a young boy debuts in a new comic book published by Galveston-based Wham Bang Comics. Two Fisted Adventures #1 becomes available online this week at, making Jake one of the youngest comic book writers in the United States. The 50-page book houses Jake’s comic, Night Owl, and three other titles.

Jake draws inspiration from the memory of his grandfather and best friend, noted Texas journalist Jack Tinsley. Jake began writing the book after his grandfather died unexpectedly in 2004, when Jake was 9. In his writings, 12-year-old Zack Finley inherits superhuman powers after his grandfather’s untimely death.

Jack Tinsley, known to Jake as “Poppa,” was the executive editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The paper won two Pulitzers under his leadership.

For some time after his grandfather died, Jake was overwhelmed by sadness. The sadness subsided after awhile, but Jake was still troubled by the biggest loss of his young life.

“I think the whole creative process of writing his comics has helped him focus on the many good times he shared with his Poppa,” said Ben Tinsley, Jake’s father and a journalist who formed Wham Bang Comics to publish Jake’s writings.

In Jake’s Night Owl adventures, the character “Poppa Finley” is patterned after Jake’s grandfather. The character is referenced in Two-Fisted #1, which also includes a tribute to Jack Tinsley. But Poppa’s part in the Night Owl mythology really unfolds in the second issue.

“Poppa is an inspirational figure for the young Night Owl; much in the way the memories of Spider-Man’s late uncle or Batman’s deceased parents help them continue their respective fights against injustice,” Ben Tinsley said.

The Poppa Finley character will play a major role in the series as it progresses – serving as a beacon of hope to Night Owl, who finds himself in a dark place after his grandfather’s death.

“Just like it does with his real-life counterpart, the memory of Poppa Finley will constantly remind Night Owl to remember his responsibilities, use his powers wisely, help innocents and protect his family at all costs,” Ben Tinsley said.

Jake always had a ferocious imagination, having invented the Night Owl character as a small child. But as he dealt with the death of his grandfather, he was more drawn to the character than ever. At Jake’s urgings, his father decided to publish his work.

Wham Bang Comics also publishes a monthly Night Owl comic strip at

“Wham Bang Comics is creating a new mythology of heroes for the here and now,” Ben Tinsley said. “We all love today’s superheroes, but many of them were around when our grandparents were still kids.”

Jake inherited his love of comic books from his dad, a journalist of 18 years and an avid reader of comic books since childhood. Ben Tinsley shared his love of comics with college friend Pmanuel Alvear of Texas, who contributed a magic story in Two-Fisted #1; and Christopher Blaine of Kentucky, who contributed anti-terrorism adventure for the comic.

“Comics inspired me to learn more about history and writing and words as a young child, and I’ve seen them have the same effect on Jake,” Ben Tinsley said. “Several times, my son has put down a comic and asked me to go online with him to research history, geography and other concepts.”

Jason Dube of Sacramento, California, Wham Bang’s art director, said he came aboard the new company because he was impressed by the passion that Jake and his dad exhibited to create new and interesting comic books.

“As I began working for Wham Bang Comics I realized I was not doing your average comic book,” Dube said. “I was now part of a vision that young Jake and his father shared. Working for long hours at my art table and over phone conversations with Ben, I saw the development of a child’s world come to life.”

Dube enjoys working with Jake because of his love for kid heroes, he said.

“Two-Fisted has a little bit of something for everyone – from a funny, slapstick, sometimes dramatic superhero adventure to a gothic tale of magic and a super-powered fight against terrorism,” Dube said. “The comic really covers a lot of ground. I am really looking forward to seeing what happens in future issues.”

Shane Clendening, chief financial officer for Wham Bang Comics and a long-time friend of the Tinsley family, said he hopes Two-Fisted inspires children in the same way Jake and his father have been inspired by comic books.

“If we can get kids as excited about reading our superheroes as Jake is, they’ll eventually get excited about history, math and science,” said Clendening, whose son Niko is a friend of Jake’s. “That’s what Wham Bang Comics is all about. We’re selling excitement.”