Okay, I admit it. This one isn’t an original.
From page 13 of Comic Book Profiles #2 (Spring 1998), here’s Bernie Wrightson’s answer to the question “How did Captain Sternn come about?”: “I realized when I was working on Running Out of Time for Kitchen Sink that Captain Sternn came out of my teenage years, from the movie, The Great Escape. It was always one of my favorite movies. When I was a kid, all my friends identified with the Steve McQueen character, but I was fascinated with the James Garner character, who played a con man. He was a really smooth liar, just this side of being oily. I realized that Captain Sternn looks like James Garner from the Great Escape. So I guess that’s where it came from.”
BONUS CONTENT (added 07 August 2010):
Here’s Wrightson’s first “Captain Sternn” story, as it appeared in Heavy Metal, vol. 3, no. 3 (June 1980):
[CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE]