Jon Sable was created by Mike Grell who saw the character as a cross between James Bond and Mike Hammer. Jon Sable Freelance was published by First Comics 1983-1988, then as SABLE in 1988-1990. In 2005 IDW released a "new" series Bloodtrail and has been printing the TPB collection of the original stories as "The Complete Jon Sable Freelance.
He also appeared for a nice story arc with Maggie-the-Cat in Shaman's Tears in the mid-1990s.
There is a novelization of the first major story arc, the tale of Jon and his family and the tragedy therein; also there was a short-lived TV series based on the comic series/character.
Jon Sable was born to Jonathon Lightfoot Sable and Simone “Moses” Fortin. His father had been a Bombardier in the Eighth Air force during World War II who had been shot down over . His mother had been a member of the French resistance who helped rescue him. After a night of passion, Sable left not knowing she was pregnant.
Jon Moses Sable was born nine months later. After the death of his mother, the six year old went to live with his father in . This put a strain on his father’s marriage.
As an adult, Sable would serve in the Air Force during Vietnam. Unlike the man he would late become, Sable was fearful during his service and avoided combat. He was however traumatized when a rocket killed a man named John M. Sable. This would give him nightmares later in life.
After the war, Sable began training for the Pentathlon for the Olympics. He would come in fourth in the event during the Munich Games. There he met Kenyan gymnast Elise McKenna whom he would fall in love with and marry. Among the other participants was Milo Jackson. While in Munich, Jon also witnessed the terrorist massacre of the Israeli athletes.
In Africa, Jon and Elise would open a Safari business on Elise's father's ranch, where they married and had two children during a seven-year romance. Then, during a hunt, Sable and his assistant Jacob Inyati came across an elephant butchered by poachers, and helped Game Control Officer Hal Brooks track down the poachers. In the ensuing fight, Sable would kill his first man. Hal Brooks offered him a job which Sable accepts.
In retaliation for his work as a Game Control Officer, poachers attacked Sable’s home hoping to kill Sable. However, Sable was away and instead they murdered his wife and kids. When Sable returned home, he found his family dead and house burnt. With the ashes, he first created his battle mask; the design which he would paint on his face in combat. Sable then hunted down and killed the poachers.
Sable ended up in a Rhodesian jail. There he would be approached by Milo Jackson who had become a mercenary. Milo convinced him to join on as a mercenary. With nothing else to do, Sable signed on. Sable’s first mission was to rescue a senator’s son. Sable would go on to lead a Civilian Anti-terrorist Unit up until the end of the Rhodesian Civil War.
When Robert Mugabe assumed power and changed Rhodesia to Zimbawe, Sable was force to leave his home, despite never having supported the racist policies of the Rhodesian government. Sable ended up back in the U.S.
There with nothing to do and very little money Sable attempted to write a novel about his experiences in Africa. The novel included stories Sable used tell his children about leprechauns living in Central Park . The novel would not sell; however, literary agent Eden Kendall took an interest in the children’s stories. Sable would half-heartedly agree to write them. At this time, Sable began advertising his services as mercenary and bounty hunter. After capturing an escaped fugitive, Sable became a news sensation. He was shocked to find out had sold his children’s book. Embarrassed, Sable created the pen name B. B. Flemm and wore a disguise when promoting his books in public.
Sable would then begin a double life as a writer of children’s books and a freelance mercenary.
Skills and Abilities
While training for the Pentathlon, Sable was taught marksmanship and fencing along with swimming, running, and horse riding. During his time as a Safari guide, Sable’s friend Joseph Inyati taught him tracking and survival skills. His experience in the Rhodesian Civil War taught him guerilla warfare.
Sable’s primary weapon is a Mauser customized to us a .45 cartridge for greater stopping power. Sable also uses a unique gun similar to a pillbox revolver. The gun can fire gas cartridges, fragmentation shells, and high explosives. It can even fire underwater. The gun was based on a real gun designed for the Navy Seals, but it never went beyond the prototype stage.
Sable has also used elephant guns and various knives.