Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fear of MAD

When I was a kid growing up in Chicago in the 1960's, my next door neighbor, George Perhatch, was an avid collector of MAD magazine. We were good friends (we were both around 6 or 7 years old) but I did not share his interest in MAD, at first. MAD used to scare me. I was still at an age where I took everything seriously, or at face value. I used to tell Georgie that everyone in MAD seemed to be mean to each other. In one of Georgie's paperback book collections of MAD, I remember a panel where a little girl had a little boy tied up and gagged. To me it was horrifying. She had him laying on his back, and was pressing his head down, so it would get hit by a toy train as it went around the track. I knew it was a gag, but I took the situation seriously. I knew it would still hurt. How could that little girl do that? It was inhuman!

MAD magazine gave me a headache. It actually made me queasy. And Alfred E. Neuman's smiling face on the cover- It really bothered me that he seemed happy, indifferent to the cruelty I saw inside the pages. I just couldn't understand.

I even developed a fear of MAD. It was like a fear of the unknown. Mad seemed to endorse cruelty. It got to the point of where I couldn't even look at them because it stimulated either fear or disgust. Georgie picked up on this. One time we were "camping" in his back yard, in a small tent. When I was inside the tent, Georgie went inside the house and came back with an armload of MAD magazines, and unzipped the entrance and threw them all inside. I couldn't get out! I backed up in fear all the way to the back of the tent and couldn't get out! The memory is burned in my head.

To make matters worse, George kept pointing out that I kinda LOOKED like Alfred E. Neuman, and it bothered me to no end. His mother, not knowing of my neurosis, agreed!

I'm totally intrigued by those old publications now, but it took a long time for me to come to terms with the twisted ideas of MAD magazine.

It's strange to me, that today I am a cartoonist who specializes in MAD-like artwork.

-- Pat Moriarity
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Weird War Tales #49

I loved all that Weird War stuff, with Jake the Robot and the Creature Commandos. The only DC books I ever really read were the seventies "horror" comics, usually the titles involving war of some sort. therefore, I give you the mystery and madness of... Weird War Tales #49

This issue begins with a competently drawn, relatively straightforward, story about how terrible it is to have to shoot children if they're wearing an enemy uniform. You'll have to read it, I have no interest, at the moment, in arguing whether shooting children is a good idea.

What I do want to talk about is Hostess Fruit Pies. Here we have a classic example of the Green Lantern learning about the Fruit Pie Scene. Let me tell you the fruit pie scene is where it's at, it's happening, it's now.

"I'm what's going on, and you're what's going down." Don't be surprised if you and I ever meet and this phrase slips from my lips within five minutes. I've made a vow to say this to every single person I meet from now on.

The "plot" of this ad involves Dr. Live (spell it backwards) shrinking the Green Lantern down and putting him in a jar with a bunch of other small people. The Green Lantern uses his uh... green... lantern, to reverse the process so the people can resume their sales pitch for fucking fruit pies.
A. If Green Lantern could reverse the process that easily why didn't he just clobber that bow-tie wearing motherfucker as soon as he walked in the door.
B. That one guy didn't mind being small and in a jar? The only thing that bothered him and his compatriots is that their mouths were too small to eat fruit pies? Wouldn't a mouth be able to nibble off at least a little fruit pie at any size? You don't have to eat fruit pies whole you stupid son of a bitch.

I don't understand why Dr. Live can't just talk forward like everyone else.
Anyway, on to why I wanted to show people this book.
The Day After Tomorrow drawn by Steve Ditko and Vince Coletta.

That's it. A cautionary tale for the youth of today who are looking for a new, happening sound. Kids that want to follow glowing hippies around the wasteland. Those hippies are freaking radioactive you arrogant punks! Stay away from the hippies!
and after that we have another boring ad.

URCH... back up a second and check this out.

I can't find any Kotter comics in the back issue bins anywhere. They must be so great that the people that own them won't give them up. I wonder how many Kotter comics there were. I know Horschack ended up in the Watchmen, I wonder if any other sweathogs got their own spin-off comics.

The last story in the comic, Mark Of The Conqueror seems to be cashing in on another popular sci-fi story but I just can't place it. It's about a PLANET full of APE like creatures. Man, it's on the tip of my tongue.
This handsome fella is named Torin and much like Wu-Tang, he ain't nothin to fuck with. He likes to talk about how terrible he is and how his first born son will take over the dictatorship when he dies.

He also likes to blow away the wolf faced creatures that live out in the wilderness.
Check out how that one werewolf monster's head is blowing right off his shoulders, harsh.

Through a kind-of stupid sereis of events Torin finds out that the wolf faced monster is actually his first born son and...

He's been WEARING HIS SON'S SKIN AS A HAT! Ha-Ha, That's the kind of irony that only Alanis Morrisette could truly appreciate. Every time I look at that last panel I imagine that comedic trumpet womp-womp-womp noise.
And here's one last ad. Like the kids reading this comic don't already have enough "big as life, hang-ups."

Elijah J. Brubaker -Epicure, Statesman, graphic noveleer.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Crazy #61

Like most kids that grew up to become cartoonists, I was heavily influenced by MAD. So much so that I found out when newsstands got their weekly shipment. And if the boxes were still unopened when I got out of school, I'd pester their employees into hurrying up and putting them on the racks. If a new issue of MAD was out, I'd run home and plead for my parents to give me an advance on my allowance since I couldn't wait three days. One time my mother was outraged that it cost 60 cents for the new issue, as if the publishers could still afford to charge a dime but chose not to. I told her there was a thing called inflation, to which she replied, "I know. It makes garbage cost more". And this was just last month.

No, not really. It was more than twenty-five years ago. But back to the story. If the new MAD wasn't out, I'd settle for CRACKED. If that wasn't around either, I settled for CRAZY. If that wasn't out, SICK would do. If I was really desperate, I'd buy WACKO, TRASH, NATIONAL CRUMB, or one of the other myriad fly-by-night black & white 52-page kids' humor publications. I'd go down the ladder of humor magazine hierarchy so that like a methadone addict, I could get my weekly fix.

CRAZY was a MAD imitation Marvel did. This when Marvel was still a subsidiary of a company that put out imitations of every successful magazine in existence. CRAZY went a little bit further than most of the other juvenile satire mags mostly because some of the articles were things Marvel staffers tried to sell to NATIONAL LAMPOON.

One piece they published and reprinted several times that stuck with me was a parody of CASPER. The premise was that Harvey comics were tame and saccharine despite the fact that much of their audience read them only two years earlier, kind of like how second graders call first graders "babies" (can you imagine if 37-year-olds considered all 36-year-olds less mature? Anyway....)

Ed wanted the actual comic people had as a kid. I had several boxes of these magazines. Aside from getting them fresh off the newsstands, I would scour yard sales and thrift stores for them. Unfortunately, I got rid of them by the time I was in high school. I don't remember how, but I know it's not the usual stories like "my mother made me throw them out" or "I discovered girls". Luckily, I was able to find this story online, and the person who scanned it kept the stains and other damage the comic accrued over the years. I think if you click on the images, you can get versions that aren't cut off.

I like how the victims say what's happening to them in the throes of death. And I guess wife-beating and child abuse were okay for kids' material as long as the characters didn't say bad words.

This particular comic freaked me out as a kid and I hid it under my bed for an eternity (i.e. three months). I wasn't superstitious at all or worried comic characters would come to life and get me. I didn't have any belief in anything scary but for some reason I couldn't look at certain things a second time.

Another comic that bothered me at that age was "Flob Was a Slob" from MAD #4 by Jack Davis and Harvey Kurtzman, because of the face in this panel.
Yes, my father kept all the EC's he had as a kid, but they weren't my earliest influences, so I can't scan those.

--Sam Henderson

Friday, August 29, 2008

For the Love of a Batman

Being cursed with the name Robin, has somehow naturally drawn me towards the fine world of comix. From an early age on, I was always an avid obsession with Batman especially. One year for my birthday, my dad bought me a guitar, which I had absolutely no interest in. He could never seem to figure out exactly what to get me. To make up for the gift that would suit a youngster far hipper than myself, he bought me Batman # 101. It was a prime example of 1950's Batman It was cheesy, made no particular sense and I loved it. I figured that this issue had to be something special because of the Batman being so exposed within and on the cover. I sold it during a low point in my late teens, when I foolishly thought girls were more important that comics, what the hell was I thinking.

Batman # 195 was another landmark issue for me in my collecting history. I found a ratty copy at flea market that even had the date stamp on the cover that so many corner stores loved to deface comics with. I was stuck spending a day wandering around with the family on a horrid road trip in the back waters of Vancouver Island. It still wasn't the gritty Batman that I was used to, but at least he had more balls than the Batman of # 101. I really loved the horror aspect of the cover and the reduction of cheese in comparisons with past examples.

Neal Adams, to me, was the ultimate Batman cartoonist. He was able to inject a new kind of life into the masked man. Getting the chance to interview him on the Inkstuds, was a dream come true, even if he was insane and only wanted to talk about dinosaur bones. His take on the whole Batman mystique turned him into a different type of character. I could read Neal Adams Batman comics all day long(the awesome writing by Denny O'Neil doesn't hurt either - if anyone has his email address, please pass it along, I really want to interview him). I have gotten so into exploring the old Batman's, that I am working on getting them all bound. So far I have about 200 issues of both Batman and Detective already in the hardcover tomes I love so much and am slowly working my way back. Let me know if you have a good hook up for crap shape silver age.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Captain America #8

I was digging up comics related music for a never broadcast radio show on Resonance FM a couple of years back and came across this reminiscence from an ageing Tiny Tim. It's a short mp3. Right click on the picture to download.

Paul O'Connell


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes Treasury Edition C-49 October 1976

Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes Treasury Edition C-49

My father was a construction estimator and we moved around a lot when I was a kid. By the time I was ten, I had lived in six different houses. House number eight was in Valdez, Alaska, at the end of the Alaska Oil Pipeline, a modular company house in a dusty treeless lot full of modular company houses, with nothing but mountains and forest one way and the ocean the other. I remember being confused walking home from school; unable to distinguish my house from any of the other houses. It was all at once plain and boring and majestic and beautiful; like a trailer park in Wonderland.
There was only one grocery store in Valdez, and one magazine rack, and the one store never got regular comics; only treasury editions, and when they did, it was like a mini-Christmas for me. I would buy each one as they trickled in, read and then reread each one over and over, and then patiently wait for the next one. At that point it didn’t matter who was featured in the comic, it was the only comic I would be getting. This is how I first read Captain Marvel (the Shazam version), Dr. Strange and Master of Kung Fu. When one of my beloved team books showed up in treasury form, it was a special treat.
I was familiar with the Legion through the comics I had previously read, but that Legion was the 70s disco-ish Legion as designed by Dave Cockrum and then drawn by Mike Grell. On the cover of the treasury was a beautiful two-page Mike Grell spread of those characters flying off into the sky in their cut-away spandex and karate gis; all very future-y at the time. I was psyched. I looked at the cover.
“A Full-Length Super-Hero Novel!” I was just starting to read ‘real books’ at the time and that this comic was actually a novel was intriguing to me.
The story was confusing at first, as it was two issues from the Jim Shooter/ Curt Swan run and not the Legion I knew at all. Where was the sweet Grell art? This looked like an old Superman comic. Why are they all dressed like old-timey superheroes? The Legion was supposed to be from the future, not the 60s.
None of the scifi edge of the 70s Legion was here. They’re fighting a big purple wizard for Pete’s sake!
What saved it for me were the extras. A full blueprint of the Legion Headquarters, including a cell bank so that they can grow clones of the Legion, the Time Cube which allows them to travel through time, and the Legion Post Office which ”receives mail teleported from a postal satellite”. Also, a two-page spread of the wedding of Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy, drawn by Dave Cockrum, with every Legion member and friend of the Legion in it, and a key to who was who on the inside back page. To this day, I can still name almost every Legion member on sight. Sad, huh? I could’ve memorized something useful with that brain space, but instead I can tell Matter Eater Lad from Chemical King, and can explain who Rond Vidar is. When you have nothing else to read for a month, you squeeze every last bit of comicky goodness you can ot of a book.

Iron Man #243 (courtesy of IFanboy)

Josh Flanagan over at the popular show, Ifanboy, had a touch of nostalgia that fits the motif of the blog.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Justice League of America 114

Justice League of America 114 November 1974

The issue begins with an attack on Snapper Carr (most useless character ever?) by the villain , a guy with a freaky ray gun and a Trojan helmet called Anakronus. He flaps his jaws on and on about how many times he’s kicked the Justice League’s asses, how his dastardly plots are the most utterly ruthless ever masterminded, and how he is generally the baddest of the bad guys ever to plan a criminal act. Obviously this Anakronus is a genius because he begins his subjugation of the free world by pistol-whipping JLA mscot Snapper Carr. Sheer genius. Eventually Snapper gets through to the charity telethon the League are pitching in on and it’s the Atom, Red Tornado and the Elongated Man to the rescue. Turns out Anakronus was just a whackjob with a .45 with stuff glued to it.

I remember as a kid being confused by this story. First off the cover says “Here Come TV’s Super Friends!!!” but this story had some kid named Snapper Carr in most of it. Who the hell is that supposed to be? I thought. The biggest star in the lead story is the Green Arrow, not exactly a DC A-lister, and possibly the lamest villain ever, Anakronus; a bully with a Trojan helmet. I worked hard earning that comic book helping my grandmother carry groceries, and I get a story about Snapper Carr? Even as an eight-year-old I felt cheated.

You see, my grandmother Junita would pay me exactly one comic book for loading and unloading her groceries each time she would go to the store. Naturally, being a value-minded lad even then, I would always choose a team book. Why buy a comic featuring only one superhero when you could get one that featured a dozen? And a 100 page SuperSpectacular? My fee was one comic, the page count was immaterial, bonus for me. Kid logic rules.

After the first and only original story is a JLA Crossword puzzle. One of the clues is” 2 Down:Johnny Thunder’s pink companion”. You can write your own joke here. This was weirdly instrumental in forming my limitless well of comic trivia as I wondered who these people were and what the hell is an Earth-2 and a JSA?

The next story in the comic is a Howard Purcell Dead End Kids riff; a slice of street life that is kind of reminiscent of Will Eisner. Had nothing to do with superheroes so I never read it as a kid but now I see it as a reprint from one of DCs old crime comics.

Before the “novel-length” reprint that makes up a majority of the book are a super-hero boots quiz, a JLA Trivia quiz featuring Metamorpho and The Creeper and a page called JLA Heroes of the Past which shows clip art of Zatanna and the Martian Manhunter among others with a little expository balloon explaining who each character is. The wheels started to turn in my eight year old mind: these characters all lived in the same world.

The big story is “Crisis on Earth-Three!”, in which the JLA from Earth 1 and the JSA of Earth-2 go up against evil analogs of Superman (Ultraman), Batman(Owl Man), Wonder Woman (Superwoman), The Flash (Johnny Quick) and Power Ring (Green Lantern) from, of course, Earth 3, in the most gimmicky Silver Age way possible. The Earth-3 Injustice Gang comes to Earth-1 to do battle with the JLA,pretty much just for the hell of it. The JLA kick their collective butts but they utter a magic word”Volthoom!”
And the JLA are somehow transported to Earth-3 where they have their butts handed to them. Then the Injustice Gang goes to Earth-2, where they get their butt kicked by the JSA, but by losing to them somehow win and the JSA is transported to Earth-3 as well. Its all very hokey up until the point where the JLA and JSA both someow get free and kick everybody’s ass, and then imprison the Earth-3 Gang in a bubble out in space. With a note on it. Like I said, all very Silver Agey, but the part that makes it seminal for me is the whole alternate earths thing. This was my first exposure to all of the Golden Age characters of DC and I was wondering as a kid what their deal was. It made me want to seek out more stories with them , why are there two Flashes? Why can’t the other Atom shrink? Why is Robin a grown-up? This was also my first exposure to the concept of alternate realities, a device I’ve seen used in countless science fiction books, movies and television since. When I sat with my father and watched that original Star Trek and they went to the future Roman world, I sat there and said, “oooh, like Earth-2…”

Thursday, August 14, 2008

An Author in Search of Six Characters

What kind of a person buys second hand porn?

Am I the kind of a person who buys second hand porn?

I woke up this morning, slow and thick-headed, had a cup of coffee and a cigarette and left the house to go and see if the boxed set of Milo Manara books that I’d seen in a charity shop yesterday was still there. It was.

“It’s very porny” The woman behind the counter said, disdainfully handing me the set of books to look at. She was in her late forties. Long black, straggly hair. Dark makeup. Dull eyes. I told her I made comics and he was one of my favourite artists. She just looked at me. I flicked through the books and remarked aloud that, as I suspected they might be, they were untranslated. I wish I’d kept my mouth shut. She was clearly unimpressed with my interest in the ‘porny’ books anyway and at this said “So what are you going to do? Look at the pictures?” . She said it with a kind of sad mocking disgust.

I didn’t say anything back because my best response would have been “Yes, but not in the way you mean”. Which I knew by this point, would have been completely ineffectual. So I maintained trying to be as polite and friendly as possible, pretending her comments had gone over my head, paid for the books (a fiver/$10) and left. I was polite because that’s the kind of human being I want to be. I’m glad I’m not a human being like her. But sometimes it does take an effort not to be. Sometimes not being rude to people takes such an effort it can make you feel like a martyr. Anyway. If the Alzheimers Society isn’t too proud to peddle second hand ‘porn’ to help society's less fortunate ageing members, I’m not too proud to buy it.

Amongst the 16 books in the set were the collected episodes of a story called ‘Las Adventuras Africanas De Giuseppe Bergman’ but which I first read back in the eighties as ‘An Author in Search of Six Characters’ as serialised in Heavy Metal magazine.

Heavy Metal magazine was, in the eighties, an amazingly unique window into the world of European comic strip art and storytelling. Unfortunately, though still pubished, it's no longer what it once was and thus this world that is very much alive and quite apart from Western conceptions of what comics are and can do and how, is still a world that those of us in the UK and the US don't get to see all that much of. Most comic books (or 'graphic albums' as they are often called) from France, Spain, Italy etc never get translated into English or even released in their original languages in our countries. It's another example of the comic industry's tyranny and dictatorship of comic reading in the English speaking west.

'An Author in Search of Six Characters' is one of Milo Minara’s less erotic and more esoteric stories and very dreamlike. I remember it making little sense to me when I first read it when I was 15, but marvelling at the way every single person in every single frame has a sense of character. You get a sense of personality from every single rendered human being no matter how ‘background’ or irrelevant to the story they are.

And it’s for this reason that I love looking at the pictures. Honestly!

Paul O'Connell


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe Vol.II


Ed contacted me to be a part of the blog a couple of weeks ago, and I've had a hell of a time deciding what my first post would be. What is the definitive comics memory for me? What was the moment that I fell in love with the medium?

A few really early memories jumped to mind: Reading Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 sick with the flu soon after my 10th birthday, an old DC Digest Justice Society of America I got at the grocery store with my mom as a really young kid.

Or maybe some of the books I started reading around 10-12 (which in hindsight I was probably too young to be buying, but thank god no one stopped me) that really blew my mind and started to open me up to the possibilities of comics: American Flagg, Timothy Truman's Scout, Swamp Thing?

All of these are key memories, and books, for me, but when it comes right down to it DC's Who's Whos were really the books that turned me into a super fan...and particularly a fan of comic art.

Vol.II was the first one I got. i got it at a little gas station/corner store when I was nine. I'm sure my Mom was with me, probably driving me back from an early Saturday morning hockey game. Why I picked this was simple...it had SO MANY SUPERHEROES on the cover (the stunning George Perez cover was also my first exposure to him, and he would quickly become my childhood art hero).

I got the book home and poured over all these bizarre characters I'd never seen before...where did they all come from? I had no idea there were so many heroes and villians out there beyond Supes, and Batman and the Joker....Azreal? Balloon Buster? Bat Lash? Black Bison!? I was in awe.

And then there was that cutaway drawing of The Batcave...I studied this thing like a long lost map to buried treasure! Who knew the Batcave opened into an underground stream giving the Bat Boat easy access to Gotham Harbor? Well, now I did.

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I soon after found Vol.III, and then it became a monthly ritual. My Mom would drive me around Essex County, where I grew up, looking for the next issue. This was the first time I actually became a regular collector of a monthly book. And, it was the first time I sought out an actual comic book shop looking for the elusive Vol.1, (with a great Perez Aquaman on front) which I had missed out on.

In addition to opening my mind to the vastness and wonder of the DC Universe, and to comic collecting in general, Who's Who was truly on of the cornerstone events in my life because it led to the realization that different artists actaully drew comic books. Actual people, with different styles were behind these things I loved. Because, Who's Who is not just a showcase of all the characters, it was a showcase of all of the leading cartoonists of the silver and bronze age of comics. There in those pages were dozens of original pieces by Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, Dave Gibbons, George Perez, Murphy Anderson, Curt Swan, Carmine Infantino. Hell, the Hernendez Brothers even contributed!

I studied the different artists and ther styles, quickly developed favorites, and least favorites. I copied different entries in the styles of the artist.

I remember my Mom and Dad would sit and go through the books with me. They would cover the artist credit at the bottom of the page with there finger and I would tell them which artist drew each page. I got them all right and they couldn't believe it, because to their untrained eye, all those drawings just looked the same, but I knew the lines on a Joe Kubert bicep, or the feathery brush strokes of Jerry Ordway, like I knew my own face...in short I fell in love with drawing comics, a love affair that grows stronger each day, even now.

By Jeff Lemire
Author of Tales From The Farm, Ghost Stories and The Country Nurse from Top Shelf and the upcoming Graphic Novel The Nobody from DC/Vertigo.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

The 'Nam #6

I grabbed this one from the Korean guy's used book shop on 8th Avenue. I remember his place being completely cluttered with no room to walk. Piles of trashy romance novels stacked to the sky and a little nook that had 2-3 boxes of random comics. I always imagined it could be a place where you can purchase mogwai if you knew the guy good enough. Or maybe even opium. The dude seemed like a pretty shady, lurid individual. I bet he had secrets. Anyhow...

I was already into G.I. Joe comics at the time (age 8-9) and when I saw this issue of The 'Nam I felt that it would probably make a good companion to my meager GI Joe comics collection. As I looked through it, the art immediately struck a cord with me. I had no love for any particular cartoonists then, but this Michael Golden guy really impressed me. In fact, he certainly picked up all the slack because the story wasn't much to write home about. He made it enjoyable to read and re-read a million times as you can see by it's beat up condition.

I liked all of the individual faces that I saw, I liked their expressions, The coloring was perfect, and even the lettering impressed me with it's slightly italicized feel. I couldn't stop looking at this comic because of how stylish it was to me.

Check out the way he drew Charlie:

The art on this issue really inspired me a lot and as I absorbed this book and even memorized the dialogue I decided to draw my own War comic as a kid, using all of my own characters that starred in my comics at the time. A lot of The 'Nam found its way in my silly strip called, War #1 (I distinctly remember choosing WAR as the title because it had 3 letters like 'Nam).

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sam & Max Freelance Police Special #1

Growing up, I didn't read a lot of comic books. If it wasn't funny, I didn't have much interest in it, and the world of mainstream comics with it's elaborate continuity, grim superheroes and snotty comic shop employees seemed totally impenetrable to me, so I preferred to get my comics from places I was comfortable: the daily newspaper, MAD Magazine, and the "humor" section of the local chain bookstore. I still checked out the comics rack at Waldenbooks once in a while to see what was out there, when this cover caught my eye.

The first thing I noticed, even before the title, was the top of Max's ears sticking out from whatever comic was in front of it. Thinking it might be a "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" tie-in (this was 1988 and I was crazy for that movie), I picked it up and my world was changed.

It was better than Roger Rabbit! The comic was full of MAD-like humor, with lots of little sight gags hidden throughout the backgrounds, but it actually told a complete, self-contained story! Over the course of 40 pages, the characters were introduced, went on a crazy adventure (with pirates, ghosts, a trip to Stuckey's and lots of fun cartoony violence) and there were even extra sidebar pages, like a board game, and arts-and-crafts page, and a "Ripley's Believe It or Not" parody.

I love character-based humor, and I'd never seen anything like this before--the closest I ever came to a long-form humor comic was when Calvin and Hobbes had a week's worth of adventures with the transmogrifier or something like that. This was much longer and much more satisfying. I hate to compare a comic book to a movie, but that's the feeling I got reading this. You didn't need any special knowledge or familiarity with the series coming into it, and it was as funny as any comedy you might see at the multiplex with the added benefit that you could go back and hunt for the background gags any time you wanted.

I memorized every page. My best friend and I quoted lines from the comic endlessly. We made up tunes to the "Sweet Manatee" and "Road Trip Blues" songs. On family vacations I begged my parents to stop at Stuckey's and always kept an eye out for souvenir laquered frog bands. I was pretty much obsessed.

I was starved for more Sam and Max, and when no new issues turned up at Waldenbooks I set out to track down the previous issue (from a different publisher, mentioned in cartoonist Steve Purcell's introduction), but it proved impossible. There was no internet to guide me and venturing into comic-book shops only turned up dead-ends. Try being a thirteen-year-old kid asking unhelpful clerks for an obscure back issue, and you'll understand why I once again felt the world of comic books wasn't for me.

Still, there's a happy ending: I had hope that at least someone was making the kind of comics I really wanted to read, I knew the perfect comic book was possible, and if I couldn't find them out there, then at least I could try making them myself. Eventually another issue of Sam & Max was released, then years later it became a Saturday morning cartoon and now Steve Purcell is a successful genius who works for Pixar. And I draw comics.

--Pat Lewis
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