Not Brand Echh #11 (Story 8)

Background

This part is only 2 stories for a total of 9 pages but, again, there’s plenty to say. Let’s get right to it!

Story 'Auntie Goose Rhymes Dept.'

  Not Brand Echh #11 (Story 8)
Summary: Spider-Man Appears
Editor: Stan Lee
Writer: Roy Thomas (Auntie Goose and "rewriter" of Ivanshmoe!), Stan Lee (Original "Ivanshmoe!" story.)
Artist: John Verpoorten (Auntie Goose), Tom Sutton (Ivanshmoe!)

Auntie Goose Rhymes Dept. is written by Roy Thomas with art by John Verpoorten. In Alter Ego #95, July 2010, Roy writes, “A burlesque of several Mother Goose rhymes with Aunt May standing in for Ma G. gave me a chance to enjoy myself, to work with John V., and to script pages a bit more quickly than usual (though probably not much).” On page one, Aunt May (calling herself “Auntie Goose”) sits on a tuffet while reading her book, which actually appears to be a racing tout since a page of “Daily Doubles” is sticking up out of it. (Plus, May starts reading her nursery rhymes by saying, “Let’s see now… ‘My Indiscretion’ to win, in the fifth at…sorry, dear hearts…wrong rhyme!”) Her book has what one old professor of mine called “the Quaker Oats effect,” where the Quaker on the Quaker Oats box holds up a box of Quaker Oats that shows the Quaker holding up a Quaker Oats box ad infinitum. (Except now that I’m looking at all the Quaker Oats images online, I can’t find one like that.) Anyway, that’s what’s going on here, with the cover of Aunt May’s book showing her sitting on her tuffet holding a book with her on the cover sitting on her tuffet ad infinitum. She has a goose at her feet as well as a jug of moonshine, and Donald Duck is there looking very sheepish, as he holds Mickey Mouse (who is mouse-sized) by his tail. The page has a frame of various Echh-ish Marvel characters surrounding it, including the Wasp, Giant-Man, Marvel Girl, the Black Panther, Hawkeye, the Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner, Iron Man, the Thing, Dr. Doom, the Beast, Forbush Man, Mr. Fantastic, Captain America, the Phantom Eagle, and the Hulk. But no Spider-Man. In spite of Auntie Goose saying, “If you ever get around to turning the page, we’ll really sock it to ya, sweetie…!” you don’t have to do that since the next page is the facing page. (“Sock it to me,” is another one of those catchphrases from Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In that became such a big deal in the late 60s. Here’s Nixon from the show, using the phrase, trying to appeal to the young voter.)

And speaking of “tuffets,” the first rhyme is a take-off on “Little Miss Muffet,” starring Medusa and Spidey. “Little Miss ‘Doozy got a bit woozy slurping up soup by the pound.” (Medusa sits on a large tuffet, labeled “Made by International Tuffet Manufacuring Inc.” while eating soup and playing checkers versus her living hair. The soup must be getting to her since she has a glass of “Alkie Seltzer” next to her.) “Along came ol’ Spidey, and sat down beside-y…” (Spidey swings in as Medusa eats, then drops down on the tuffet, four hearts leaping out of his chest to show his love. Medusa doesn’t feel it, though. Her hair curls up into a giant braid with a sign reading “Eeeeeek!” on the top.) “And she squashed him right into the ground!” (Using her hair, Medusa hits Spidey with an axe, a boxing glove, and a mallet…so hard that the spider emblem comes off the back of his costume. The final panel shows Medusa walking away from what looks like the emblem squashed and shattered, though I suppose it’s actually Spidey himself.)

So an ignominious end to Spidey in his lone appearance in part three. The next rhyme is a takeoff on “Three Blind Mice” and Roy says “Three Blechh Knights” features “Marvel’s trio of Black Knights – the Lee/Maneely, Lee/Kirby, and Thomas/Tuska versions…the latter of which, actually, had been co-designed by Jumbo John rather than George T).” The Lee/Maneely Black Knight was Sir Percy of Scandia who lived in the time of King Arthur and first appeared in Black Knight #1, May 1955. The Lee/Kirby Black Knight was Nathan Garrett, a villain who fought Giant-Man and first appeared in Tales to Astonish #52, February1964, and the Thomas/Tuska Black Knight is Dane Whitman, the hero (and nephew of Nathan Garrett) who first appeared in Avengers #47, December 1967. They appear at the top of the page, fighting each other with Dane and Nathan both sitting on a winged horse that looks like Aragorn, even though the evil knight never rode Aragorn. Sir Percy is on his own horse that is trying to cover his eyes with his hooves. Dane crushes Nathan’s head with a mace with a magic 8-Ball for a head while Nathan has knocked Sir Percy’s helmet off, showing that he has no head underneath; only some nuts and bolts coming out. Prince Valiant stands behind them, looking on helplessly, his sword crumbled, apparently from taking part in the battle. The rhyme is on a scroll underneath them. Rolled up in the top of the scroll is the Tin Woodman from the Oz stories. Rolled up in the bottom of the scroll is Forbush Man.

Here’s the rhyme: “Three Blechh Knights, Three Blechh Knights, see how they fight, see how they fight! New hero…old villain and just for a switch. A reincarnation…now ain’t that a pitch? But they keep on a-fighting ‘bout which one is which, those Three Blechh Knights!”

Next is a takeoff on “Little Jack Horner,” starring “Little Jack Kirby.” I’m going to go through the page first, then I’m going to quote John Morrow from his comprehensive Kirby & Lee: Stuf’ Said! (The Jack Kirby Collector #75, November 2018), which is sub-titled “The Complex Genesis of the Marvel Universe in its Creators Own Words” and which I highly recommend to anyone interested in such things.

The rhyme: “Little Jack Kirby sat in his derby…” (The panel shows Jack, in his derby, at his drawing table in a room with cracked wall plaster, revealing the brick underneath. He has a bulletin board with a picture of Stan on it. There is a dart in Stan’s forehead. Next to the picture is a note that reads, “To Jack…Everything is due today. – Smiley.”) “Drawing the Marble Crew…” (Now Jack is wearing Thor’s helmet and the note on the board says, “All is forgiven! – Carmine.”) “As he slaved for his wage…” (The camera angle is behind Jack and we see that he is drawing the Fantastic Four. They are starting to come off the page.) “They jumped off the page…” (And they do.) “And he said: ‘I think they must’a got me mixed up with the old woman who lived in a shoe!” (Jack is crowded out by Galactus, the Black Panther, the Invisible Girl, Dr. Doom, Forbush Man, the Hulk, the Thing, Thor, Medusa, Gorgon, the Torch, Lockjaw, Karnak, Mr. Fantastic, the Red Skull, Captain America, Triton, and the Silver Surfer…whose surfboard says “Hobie’s.”)

John Morrow: “Around this time [May 1968], John Verpoorten draws the humor story “Auntie Goose Rhymes” for Not Brand Echh #11, which is written by Roy Thomas, and features a telling caricature of Kirby. Verpoorten draws notes pinned next to Kirby’s drawing board. One that says ‘Jack: Everything is due today – Smiley,’ and another in the next panel reading ‘All is forgiven! Carmine.’ This second note refers to the recent retirement of Jack Schiff from DC Comics paving the way for Kirby to work for them again. So Jack’s discontent is common knowledge around the Marvel offices by mid-1968 if not earlier, and his upcoming move to California is fueling gossip around the water cooler. Roy Thomas confirms to me that ‘Everyone knew a bit about Jack’s beef with Stan’ by this time. It makes me wonder why Stan Lee, as editor, would’ve let this gag through if he noticed it at all – but based on the number of interviews Lee is doing, he wouldn’t have much time to be poring over every panel of a less important title like Not Brand Echh.” To which I can only add, “Stuf’ Said!”

The last rhyme is, as Roy puts it, “an honest-to-Irving, authentic, variorum version of Old King Cole.” “Old King Cole was a merry old soul, and a merry old soul was he…” (Old King Cole, in this case, is Odin, sitting on his throne, a beany copter on his head, curlers in his beard, a band-aid on his right knee and a portable TV on his left knee. There is a box of popcorn and a “Teevy Guide” on the floor.) “He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl. (Odin isn’t wearing the beany copter anymore but he has an arrow stuck in the back of his head. He has smashed the TV hard enough so that the tubes fall out and he yells through a megaphone that says, “Return to Rudy Valee” on it. Rudy Vallee used to sing through a megaphone.)

“And he called for his fiddlers three.” (Loki brings him his pipe…he pours pepper into it. Thor brings him his bowl…he carries the Rose Bowl stadium. The fiddlers three are the Warriors Three. Odin is back in his beany copter but the copter blade is now a TV aerial. He tries to repair his television set.)

“And they told you that comic-mags weren’t educational,” says Roy, and finishes with “Ye Olde End.”

Next, and last for this segment, is Ivanshmoe!, a four page takeoff of Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Ivanhoe and the 1952 film. So, why are Roy Thomas and Tom Sutton lampooning a 16-year-old movie and why do the credits say “Written lo, these many years ago by Stan Lee! Rewritten lo, these many years later by Roy Thomas?” Because, as Roy explains, incorrectly, in a footnote, “This story is based on a tale which appeared in Marvel’s early humor mag, Riot ish #1 way back in 1954.” He gets it right in his AE #95 article, saying, “this one was merely an adaptation –though an acknowledged one – of a parody by the same name that The Man had written for Riot #2 back in ’54! I gave Tom a copy of that 1954 Atlas comic and he drew it up with Tony Stark/Iron Man (Ironed Man) standing in for Ivanhoe. Naturally, a few new gags were called for…but not that many.”

I do not have access to that whole original story. (I feel like I’ve failed you somehow.) But I do have the reproduction of the splash page in Alter Ego #86, June 2008 and the last page in A/E #95 so I can compare that much of it, anyway.

The novel and movie are much more complicated than the simple jousting tournament we get here but, in those versions, Ivanhoe loves Lady Rowena. He fights in the jousting tournament, his face hidden, dressed all in black. After he is wounded in his last bout, the Jewish woman Rebecca tends to him. In the end, Ivanhoe ends up with Rowena because, God knows, you couldn’t have him end up with a Jewish woman in the 19th century or 1952. I mention Rebecca’s faith only because the splash panel of our story has a kid selling programs for the tournament and his bag says on it, “Programs, also Pogroms (to Order).” So, anti-Semitism doesn’t come up in this story…except it does in that one chilling visual gag.

We’re back in “merry merry England” and Ivan Lumpkin, who is played by Bony Stork, feels very low indeed even though he is loved and pursued by the beautiful Rebecca Roundlimb.

As I said, the first page of the Riot version is reprinted in A/E #86 where we can see that the dialogue is almost identical to the first page of this version. The two knights say, “Off with thy head!” and “I can’t! It’s attached!” to each other as they joust. The king says, “The knight who wins the tournament shall have you for his wife,” and the veiled princess says, “What’ll she do with me?” (Heh, kind of like that one.) The program guy yells out “Getcher programs here! Ya can’t tell one corpse from the other without your program!” But the 50s version has no “pogrom” visual gag. The dialogue in the two bottom panels with Ivan Lumpkin and Rebecca Roundlimb is more or less the same. This is from Riot #2: “Oh woe is me! Woe, woe, if I felt any lower I would have to reach up to touch bottom!” says Ivan. “Prithee why so sad? Prithee why so forlorn? After all, I, Rebecca Roundlimb, love thee, prithee baby! I love thy nose, I love thy eyes, I love thy hair…mmmm…had a shampoo lately?” “Stop they slobberin’, Rebecca! You’re a nice kid, but all you ever wanna do is hug and kiss! There’s other things in life!” “What?” asks Rebecca. “Don’t rush me…I’ll think of something!” says Ivan. In Brechh, Rebecca says, “Though truth to tell, you could use a shampoo!” and Roy cuts the line “You’re a nice kid,” but otherwise it is essentially the same. The caption for the reproduced pages in A/E #86 says, “Desperate to fill the giant-size monster that Marvel’s Not Brand Echh parody title became in its last few issues in 1968-69, associate editor/scripter Roy Thomas had artist Tom Sutton redraw the ‘Ivanshmoe!’ parody of the novel (and film versions of ) Ivanhoe for Riot #2, with ‘Ironed Man’ replacing the titular hero.” Which explains a lot. The caption goes on to say, “But why did RT give Stan Lee credit for writing the original takeoff, which he edited more than rewrote? Roy no longer recalls specific details, but feels Stan must’ve told him he’d written it, or RT would not have scripted that credit.”

Note, too, that Ivan’s name in the original is Ivan Lumpkin so Ivan is not named after the FF’s mailman, Willie Lumpkin. He not only predates that Willie Lumpkin but the Willie Lumpkin that Stan did as a newspaper strip with Dan DeCarlo from December 1959 to May 1961. In Comic Book Artist #2, Summer 1998, Stan says, “I don’t remember if I came up with the name Lumpkin or he [DeCarlo] did, but I hated it. I think I came up with the name as a joke and he said, ‘Yeah, that’s it! Good idea!” Since the name appears here five years before, I think it’s a pretty good bet that Stan came up with the name.

That’s all I have of the original story until the last page. So, from here until then, we’re on our own.

Rebecca hangs on to Ivan from behind as he walks around and spies a notice for a “Big Tournament.” It announces, “First prize…the hand of the veiled princess. Second prize…free subscription to ‘Not Brand Echh’ Free pizza to first 100 entries!” Ivan is smitten by the veiled princess and Rebecca asks him, “What’s she got that I haven’t got? “An old man who’s a king!” Ivan replies. Ivan knocks Rebecca away and declares that he will “battle for the hand of the princess!” “Why fight for her hand? You can have all of me,” replies Rebecca. Ivan pays no attention. Realizing he needs a suit of armor, he heads for “Ye Smithy” and creates the Ironed Man armor. Rebecca tells him, “You won’t stand a chance against all those knights…don’t be a shmoe!” That gives Ivan his name. “I shall sally forth as…Ivanshmoe!” He rides off and Rebecca says “I’ll never forget you…er…uh…” but then she spots the Rawhide Kid. “And what’s your name, dumplin’? she asks him. In the next panel, Ivanshmoe’s horse bucks him off. “You have one buck two-ton,” says the horse, “would you like to try for two?” A dog with Goofy’s head watches and says, “Yeesh! A talking horse! Now nobody’ll take Not Brand Echh seriously!”

Ivanshmoe gets back on his horse and rides away. If you wondered where he got his horse, the Rawhide Kid (with Rebecca now hanging onto him from behind as she did with Ivan) yells, “Bring back muh cayuse yuh lowlife hoss-thief!” “Don’t’ blow your top, lover!” says Rebecca, “Otherwise, they’ll start calling you the Rawhead Kid!”

Ivanshmoe shows up at the tournament and approaches the veiled princess and the King, who is sleeping. “My name is Ivanshmoe…thy future husband!” he says, “What say you to that, My Fair Lady?” “The rain in the drain stays mainly in the brain!” the princess replies. (Get it? My Fair Lady?) The princess asks Ivanshmoe how he knows he’ll win the tourney. “Easy!” he replies, “I came early and changed all the road signs! Nobody else is here…so I win by default!” But one other does show up. The Blechh Knight, riding Aragorn (with a note on him that says, “Just be thankful elephants don’t fly!”). The Knight throws down his gauntlet, right in Ivanshmoe’s face. “Give a guy one story in ‘Marble Stupor-Heroes’ and next thing you know, he’s tryin’ to kill off a star,” says Ivanshmoe (referring to the Black Knight’s appearance in Marvel Super-Heroes #17, November 1968).

So, the Blechh Knight charges and “Iron Man gives out his far-famed war cry” which is, of course, “I give up!!” The Knight misses him with his lance. Surprised that Ivanshmoe would give up so easily, he looks back at him and says “I thought you loved the veiled princess.” (“But mine is an undying love!” replies Ivanshmoe.) And, not looking, he rides right into a wall. Someone in the crowd says, “Say…in the book, wasn’t Ivanshmoe the same as the Blechh Knight?” which is a good point. Some one else replies, “So you got two for the price of one!”

So, Ivanshmoe triumphs and wins the princess, who tells him, “When I take off my veil, you’ll notice something different about me…namely I have two capped teeth!” But she also has a full mustache and beard. Repelled, Ivanshmoe flies away, saying, “I’m goin’ back to bein’ understudy to the Ajax White Knight!” The princess hugs the Blechh Knight instead and says, “I should worry! I’ll just take the loser, right, Blechhy?” and the Knight replies, “You sure I can’t just take that free sub to Brechh?”

Safely away from the princess, Ivanshmoe finds himself attached to Rebecca Roundlimb again, as she leaps onto his back and tells him, “That cowboy couldn’t even afford a ranch house in Marlboro Country!”

“And so, Ivan retired to the peace and quiet of a happy peasant’s life…with his loving little Rebecca and his ever-lovin’ experiments…” But he can’t get anything to work anymore, “not even my repulsor ray” and Rebecca, about to hit him with a rolling pin, says, “Don’t worry…you’re pretty repulsive to me! Now, go wash the dishes, you brass-knuckled bum…before I turn you in for scrap metal!”

That’s how the Brechh version ends. In the Riot version, the Knight rides into the wall and Ivanshmoe claims the princess. “Take off thy mask, my lovely! Take off thy mask!” he says to her and she does. Here, she does not have a beard and mustache but a face along the lines of Basil Wolverton’s Lena the Hyena.

“Put on thy mask!” cries Ivanshmoe. When his opponent comes up and claims to be the real Knight, Ivanshmoe agrees. “That’s right! He’s the real knight. I’m a fake, a fraud, a phony, a no-good…let him have the prize! I don’t deserve it! Bye now!” The princess grabs the Knight by the throat and says, “You’re breathing! I’ll marry you!” Running away, Ivanshmoe wishes “little Rebecca would come back to me” and just like that, she is hanging onto him again. “Dost I hear thou mention my name?” she says. But again, as in the Brechh version, marital bliss eludes him. In this version, Rebecca weighs him down with chores. “And when you finish with the potatoes, Ivan, you shmoe, get out there and plow the field! Then, tote that barge and lift that bale! Fix the fence that needs a nail! Milk the cows and mend that door! When you’re through with that, I’ve got some heavy work for you to do!” And Ivan says, “If only I had been lucky enough to be killed by the Black Knight!”

General Comments

Auntie Goose Rhymes Dept.: The best of the bunch here is “Little Jack Kirby” because it dares to delve into Marvel politics and predicts Jack move to DC. I don’t know if the bulletin board notes are Roy’s or John Verpoorten’s doing but they say a lot while saying little. I also like the “Three Black Knights” bit. It’s a nice little riff on “Three Blind Mice” and a nice little dig at Marvel creating three versions of the same character. (With the last one, Roy is taking a dig at himself.) The Medusa/Spidey and the Odin ones, though? Just so-so. I give it all three webs.

Ivanshmoe: It has its moments, like Ivanshmoe’s war cry of “I give up!” but it’s pretty predictable and not all that amusing. And I can’t help but wonder why they didn’t just reprint the story from Riot #2 which most readers probably hadn’t seen. Was it really so important to stick Iron Man, the Rawhide Kid, the Destroyer (whom I didn’t bother to mention) and such into the story? Perhaps the “Lena the Hyena” moment was an insulting remnant of the 50s that they felt worked better with a mustache and beard. I’ll buy that. But I’m still only going to give it one web.

Overall Rating

Looks like an average rating of two webs for this part.

Footnote

There is only one 6-page Spidey story to go, plus maybe a look at the letter page. Check out Not Brand Echh #11 (Story 10) to close out the issue.