So, what’s the story with doing just one story in part one and six stories in part two? Well, we’re spotlighting the ones with Spidey appearances, don’tcha know. They are the only ones that get a separate entry so I just shove the non-Spidey stories in with them. This time, our first story only has a tiny Spidey reference but that’s good enough to get us started. We won’t see Spidey again until part three.
|Writer:||Arnold Drake (Dark Moon, Will Bonnet, & Don't Rock the Vote), Stu Schwartzberg (Mad, Mad Ave.)|
|Writer/Artist:||Marie Severin (How to Be a Comic Book Artist)|
|Writer/Penciler:||Marie Severin (Super-Hero Daydreams)|
|Artist:||Marie Severin (Mad, Mad Ave.), Tom Sutton (Will Bonnet & Don't Rock the Vote)|
|Pencils:||Frank Springer (Dark Moon)|
|Inker:||John Tartaglione (Super-Hero Daydreams), Tom Sutton (Dark Moon)|
Super-Hero Daydreams is both written and penciled by Marie Severin. It’s a four-page piece with a simple premise. What if you could yell “Sha-Marvey!” whenever you are harassed and turn into a super-hero? “Sha-Marvey” is a play on the original Captain Marvel’s “Shazam,” a word, according to Roy Thomas in Alter Ego #95, July 2010, “last uttered in a comic book 15 years earlier.” Marie starts off with a caption reading “Nuff Said Dept,” like a Mad Magazine heading, and this piece does feel like something that might appear there. The first scenario concerns a kid going through a rack of comic books. One of the issues is Spider-Man with a little blob of a Spidey drawing on it and that is the extent of the web-slinger’s appearance here. The proprietor yells at the kid, “Hey! You gonna read ‘em or buy ‘em?” Marie says, “You could quickly make your choice or leave the establishment in a huff but imagine the pleasant relief if you could with a flip of the tongue say Sha-Marvey! And transform yourself into an awesome sight.” In the next panel, the kid is now Dr. Doom, leaning down and intimidating the proprietor. “This would maintain your spirits long enough to make a graceful exit…like a super-doer should!” says Marie.
The next scenario has a guy on the subway, which stalls because “the conductor faints.” The guy yells “Sha-Marvey!” and becomes “Wonderful Person,” a super-hero who slings the conductor over his shoulder and pulls the subway train into the next station. “And perhaps your entire family and friends are there to hail your noble deed!”
Scenario #3 features a guy in a cafeteria line. He is eyeing the last slice of his favorite dessert when big, brutal Byron Bumper cuts in line and grabs the slice. Our guy yells “Sha-Marvey!” and becomes Mr. Fantastic, using his stretching powers to grab Byron Bumper by his pants and sling him to the back of the line.
Finally, a guy wearing an MMMS medallion is attracted to a woman at a dance. “You are told her next dance is taken,” by three unsavory-looking types. “Manly pride demands you ask her yourself!” The guy spends the whole evening dancing with the woman who is clearly crazy about him but the three unsavory types follow him into an alley afterwards. It doesn’t look good for the guy until he says, “Sha-Marvey!” and turns into the Incredible Hulk. “And if it works,” finishes Marie, “we have a well-paying job waiting for you here at Not Brand Echh!”
Dark Moon Rise,
Hell Heck Hound Kill! Hurt is a parody of Jim Steranko’s “Dark Moon Rise, Hell Hound Kill!” from Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #3, August 1968. In that story, Fury is summoned to Scotland to investigate some mysterious deaths. He arrives to discover his friend, Mr. Astor, who was constable in the area, has been killed. The epicenter of the mystery is Castle Ravenlock where, a hundred years before, Black Hugh Ravenlock, along with his giant hound, pursued his bride who was fleeing his “brutish ways.” “While the beast attacked the woman, Black Hugh was killed by his brother with whom his bride was fleeing. It appears that Hugh and his hound now haunt the area. In the present, a trio of ghost hunters arrive, led by Mycroft who has a young blind psychic ward named Rachel. During a séance, Fury seems to fight the ghost of Black Hugh. Rachel ends up on the moor pursued by the hound and Fury makes a dramatic exit from the castle to save her by smashing through a stained glass window. It all leads to a hidden submarine base run by ex-Nazis and lots and lots of text as Steranko tries to tell this whole convoluted story in twenty pages. The story is inspired by the Sherlock Holmes novel, “The Hound of the Basketvilles.” The Grand Comics Database at comics.org notes that the story is also inspired by the Avengers episode “Castle De’ath” which you can watch in a mirror image
here if you want. I didn’t bother. (That’s not the Marvel Avengers, by the way, but the 60s TV show with John Steed and Emma Peel.) The GCD indexer also notes that the story pays tribute to Simon & Kirby's "The Phantom Hound Of Cardiff Moor" from Captain America #10 (January 1942), including the 2-page title spread, as you can see here…
Throughout the story, Steranko uses pop art and graphic design in the service of shadows, odd angles, panel busting, surreal backdrops and, as I said, lots and lots of text to create a justly famous breakthrough in mainstream comics that is, at the same time, crying out for a parody. This Arnold Drake and Frank Springer provide but they, unfortunately, peter out much too soon.
The parody starts strong by mimicking and making fun of Steranko’s opening three pages. Here is Steranko’s first page, drenched in red and saddled with the first of the text blocks and a phony Scottish brogue. It reads, “Evil winds: of terror stream, as in some cruel unending dream, when th’ moon casts darke upon th’ moor! ‘Tis the hound o’hell whose fiery breath bryngs nightmare dread, dispaire and death, when th’ moon casts darke upon th’ moor! Blacke fire glowing ‘twixt his teeth, he seeks fresh souls for endless sleep, yet none dare track that phantom fleeing, leaping, lyke some hell-bound being, when th’ moon casts darke upon th’ moor! B’ware, then, th’ brute beast’s fearful thrust, fall not prey to his vengeful lust, when th’ moon casts darke upon the moor! Olde Scottish legend.”
And here is the first page of the parody with a bagpiper making a “Screee!” sound and signs advertising upcoming developments. (“Parrrrrarking Lot Soon to Be Built, Mon!”) It reads, “Smelly stuff wafts from the moors…since they’ve become suburban sewers e’en the moon can’t stand the ruddy moors! Where evil spirits once cast their gloom now shopping centers vie for room with parking lots on the ruddy moors! But let’s pretend it’s yesteryear when there was something more to fear than drive-in burgers on the ruddy moors! New Scottish Legend.”
Steranko’s double page title spread is mostly stark white with the title running down the left side, doubling as panels that show Mr. Astor running but being caught by the hound. His body lies in the lower left with only his leg showing while the hound howls at a full moon in the upper right, in a scene that feels miles away.
The parody fills that white space with the hound, who is Snoopy, and who has caught the annoying bagpipe from the fleeing bagpiper.
Let’s breeze through the rest of it. Knock Furious is at the castle, asking about the “Ravenmad family legend,” but there doesn’t appear to be a Ravenmad family legend. He looks way down from the heights of the castle to the dining hall, asking, “What’s Steranko tryin’ to do with these layouts, give me vertigo?” Furious tries to puzzle out the mystery and Arnold makes fun of Steranko’s complicated story. “Now let’s see…Cousin Smerdley was a double agent working for Mutual of Omaha and Metropolitan Life simultaneously! Then, Cousin Clapstick zapped Cousin Shloimy who pushed Cousin Klutz under a runaway tricycle and grabbed the $17 million, which really belonged to Cousin Hoggwaith who won it in a floating mahjong game! Which means I’m about to crack the whole caper! Then I’ll straighten out these blasted word balloons!” Furious, then, leaps through the stained glass window. When asked why he didn’t use the door, he replies, “Bad for the rep! Word gets around that a guy uses doors instead of crashin’ through windows and pretty soon he’s washed up in the secret agent racket!” It’s not long before he falls down a series of stairs to wind up in the “sub-cellar” which is housing a sub along with “twelve planes, three tanks, and four nuclear armed missiles” and three Nazis, all of whom say, “Ve-r-r-r-r-y intereshting.” A long description follows in which Arnold tells us that “Furious has actually stumbled onto the secret headquarters of Colonel Von Twothreefour” and that his “plan is simplicity itself, but we must complicate it because Jaunty Jim Steranko loves long, wordy captions…”
And then it just…ends. We get a scene of Arnold and Frank in a room together and Arnold says, “I’m stuck for the rest of this plot, Frank!” Furious emerges from a file cabinet drawer with his name on it, brandishing one of those elaborate SHEESH weapons. The final panel shows Furious walking into the full moon, leaving behind tombstones for Frank Springer and Arnold Drake as Snoopy, doing his vulture routine, sits on the branch of a gnarled tree, watching Furious depart.
It’s a Mad, Mad Ave! A Brechh Smek at the Boob Tube! is a two-page swipe at the TV ads of the time and the barrage of anxieties thrust upon the public by Madison Avenue. Since this is Echh, it uses Marble characters. The writer here is Stu Schwartzberg who, according to Roy in A/E #95 “started out…operating Marvel’s Photostat machine.” Roy adds that Stu “often drew layouts for the stories he scripted…though he may not have done so in this case” since Marie Severin does the artwork here and Roy suspects that she is also a co-plotter. We’ll see a couple more stories from Stu in Not Brand Echh #13, May 1969.
Charlie America, the Mighty Sore, and the Inedible Bulk decide to tell J. Jawbone Junkton that he has bad breath. (“It must be funky cigar! Bulk no think it’s a crowd pleaser,” says Bulk.) They approach JJJ with a bottle of Nice Mouth Mouthwash, scaring him in the process. Later, JJJ gets his revenge by giving presents to each of the heroes. For Bulk, “a Gaytex [Playtex] Girdle for your weight problem.” For Sore, “Head and Boulders [Head and Shoulders] for your dirty unruly hair.” For CA, “Ultra-Bite [Ultra-Bright] for your yellow teeth.” As Charlie socks Jawbone in the jaw, Knock Furious (also in the room) tells Dr. Deranged, “your deodorant has been failing you quite often lately.” Offended, Deranged traps Furious in a mystic trap even as the Thung tells the Sunk-Mariner, “I’ll bet Poli-Bent [Polident] would do wonders for your wobbly dentures, Subby.” And a melee breaks out in the Marble Lounge as heroes attack heroes, all spouting advertising slogans. There are two that I can’t identify. Dr. Bloom attacks the Lizard, saying, “Whadya mean I should start wearing cleaner clothes?” and Mr. Fantastical punches Cyclomps, saying, “Who left his family defenseless?” As for the others, the Thung yells out, “For the last time, Smerts [Certs] is a breath mint!” (See the slogan in an ad here.) Bulk punches Hogeye, as he says, “The Hulk no like cracks about midriff bulge.” (Playtex again.) The Silver Burper puts a hand on his head and says, “Dandruff? Me?” (Head and Shoulders again.) Charlie America throws his shield into Blech Bolt’s face as he says, “I’m taking Salem out of the country and you out of the picture!” (Salem cigarettes.) Medoozy stands in the center of the panel and complains, “Does she or doesn’t she? Does she or doesn’t she? All the time, I hear…” (Clairol.) Ironed Man hits a Hydra guy over the head and says, “My deodorant wears off as the day wears on, does it?” (Ban.) The Hydra guy replies, “Ouch! What I need is that little gentle blue pill!” (That is not Viagra, but Compoz, a sleeping pill, but I can’t find an old ad of it.) Finally, Knock Furious gets squeezed into the lower left of the panel and says, “I switched but I’m still fighting!” (Taryton cigarettes with its slogan “I’d rather fight than switch.”)
The Puns of Will Bonnet is a parody of the Western TV series, “The Guns of Will Sonnet” that ran from 1967 to 1969. It starred Walter Brennan as Will Sonnet. He and his grandson, Jeff, travel the west in search of Will’s son James. As Wikipedia puts it, “They often arrived at places that James had recently left. The people they met had mixed opinions of James, some seeing him as a ruthless killer, and others as the only man brave enough to take the side of justice against men far more ruthless. The main characters achieved the goal of the premise in the final episode, when Will and Jeff located James. The three men became lawmen in a small town: Will as town marshal and the other two as his deputies.”
The opening credits feature a ballad in which Walter Brennan talks through the story of the show’s premise. (You can hear it here.) Our parody begins with a parody of that as Walter sings, “Mah name’s Will Bonnet an’ ah sing this cowboy sonnet about mah lonely quest - - with mah gran’son laddy, ah’m a searchin’ fer his daddy, the fastest child-deserter in the west!” Arnold Drake and Tom Sutton do the honors.
Will rides a horse that wears a hat. There is a note attached to the horse’s leg that reads, “Return to Joe’s Apple Cart.” Will wears a ten gallon hat that says, “Never trust nobody over 100,” on it; a commentary on Walter Brennan’s age…he was 74 at the time…and the 60s slogan, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” (In the inset panel, Will’s hat says, “It’s the real McKoy,” a reference to The Real McCoys, a TV series that ran from 1957 to 1963 and starred Walter Brennan.) Will has flies buzzing around his head and a rolled up copy of Rawhide Kid in his back pocket. His grandson, who is named Jeff in the series but doesn’t get a name here, rides a Saint Bernard. They are surrounded by signs that read, ‘Jim Bunnet wuz here,” “Jim Bonnit went thataway,” “Remember Jim Barnet,” “Hey pop! Jim Bonnet over here,” and “Don’t tread on Jim Barnyard!” Will says this proves his son was here because Jim “was the wustest speller at the Jesse James School for Boys.” They come upon a western town (with the Paramount mountain rising behind it) and Will shoots David Jamsun in the arm. “I’m looking for the one-armed man who murdered my wife,” says Jamsun, “or I was until you shot me, you nut!” “Wha-chyou complainin’ about, son” says Will as he rides away, “You was alookin’ for a one-armed man, right? Well, ah found him fer ya!” “That’s true,” admits Jamsun. This is all a spoof on the TV series The Fugitive, on from 1963 to 1967 and starring David Janssen. (It was made into a film in 1993, starring Harrison Ford.)
They next, literally, bump into Ben Gazarrup in his Mustang. He tells them he has “two years to live” and needs “a medical specialist” in “incurable diseases.” Will says, “Wha’cha got, stranger? Bright’s Disease?” and Ben answers, “Heck, no - - it’s mine! Let Bright get his own darn sickness!” So Will guns him down, telling his grandson it was a “mercy killin’.” “Cause he was dyin’ from a painful disease, gramps?” asks the grandson. “Nope! Cause otherwise he’d keep makin’ them painful puns! It were a mercy to us!” This is a lampoon of the TV series Run For Your Life, on from 1965 to 1968. It starred Ben Gazzara as a man diagnosed with an incurable disease who decides to, as he says in the opening credits, to “squeeze 30 years of living into one or two.” The series was created by Roy Huggins who also created “The Fugitive.”
Then Roy Thinnest runs up and tells them “aliens are invading Earth! To arms!” “What’a they look like…besides havin’ two arms?” asks Will. (Get it? To arms? Two arms? Yeah, it’s a stinker.) Roy Thinnest tells him that “The look like us except they’ve got no little toe!” (This all plays off of the TV series The Invaders, on from 1967 to 1968. In it, Roy Thinnes played a man who learned that aliens had invaded earth and disguised themselves as humans. The only way you could recognize them is that they had bent little fingers that they couldn’t straighten out. I have one of those from playing High School basketball but that’s another story.) Will pulls his boot off and shows Roy that he doesn’t have a little toe either but he’s not an alien, he lost it in a poker game. Roy ends up with the boot, which stinks so badly that he collapses. “How come you didn’t shoot him too, grandpa?” asks his grandson. “Didn’t have to, son!” says Will, “That shoe’ll kill him!”
At last, the pair arrives at the “Last Hope Saloon.” It has a signpost out front with arrows pointing to various Western TV shows. “West Virginian” (The Virginian), “Sly Chaperal” (High Chaparral), “Rifle Smoke” (Gunsmoke), “Cinnamon Stripe” (Cinnamon Strip), and “Waggin’ Train” (Wagon Train). There is a poker game going on inside and the grandson runs in, certain that his missing father is there. But no, it’s foursome, consisting of the alien from “The Invaders,” the specialist in incurable diseases (he looks like the comic strip character Rex Morgan and has a smock that says Rx Morgun on it), the one-armed man, and “the Union officer who can prove Chuck Connors wasn’t a coward.” This last one is from the TV series Branded, which was on from 1965 to 1966 with a theme song that was parodied by kids everywhere with the scatological song “Stranded.” (Email me if you want the lyric.)
“Shucks,” says the grandson, “None of them is my paw!” “One of ‘em better be,” says Will, “cause ah’m too tired to ride no more! So take your pick son, afore ah shoots you!!”
In A/E #95, Roy says of “Will Bonnet” that it is, “A Not Brand Echh first: there are absolutely no super-heroes in this story!” But it’s only a first because it immediately precedes our next two-pager, which also has no super-heroes. It is How to Be a Comic Book Artist!, written and drawn by Marie Severin, and the writing here is so succinct that I can quote the whole thing. It begins with the best bit that it has. A scruffy artist in torn clothing sits in a windowless garret with his drawing board propped on a box while a single desk lamp shines down from its place on a file cabinet. But over by the locked, chained, and barred front door is a painting hanging from the ceiling on chains, blocking the sight of the scruffy artist, and it shows a room with a window and a bookcase where a clean-cut artist wearing a tie and smoking a pipe has a futuristic drawing board including a lamp that is attached to the board itself. The caption here says, “First of all, give a good appearance to your adoring fans.” In panel #2, the artist looks right at the “camera.” He has a coffee pot and cup on the floor and wears green house slippers. He looks miserable. The caption tells us, “Work in pleasant, inspiring surroundings to keep your thoughts alive and creative!” Panel #3 is a close-up of an ink-encrusted inkwell, a frayed brush, a pitted ink pen, a razor blade, a pocketknife, and two pencils badly sharpened with that knife. There is a fly hanging out on the box where these things reside. Marie tells us, “Your supplies must be kept clean and neat. Remember: a poor craftsman blames his tools.”
On to page two, where the artist has his head in the file cabinet as he tosses out a half-eaten sandwich, a boot, an apple core, a banana peel, the pipe he probably used as a model for his clean-cut artist portrait and other junk. “Keep a well-organized file for art reference,” we’re told. Panel #2 shows the artist having a fake fight with himself as he watches himself in the mirror. “The use of attractive live models is advisable,” it says. In panel #3, he hangs his head in despair as he crushes the handset of his telephone. The caption is, “Have a pleasant relationship with your editors.” In panel #4, he rushes off, obviously late, pulling on a nice pair of pants and a green plaid jacket. He hangs on to his portfolio with his teeth. “Always schedule your working habits and be on time!” we’re advised. In panel #5, he sits, apparently asleep as a man who looks like Stan Lee, with “Editor” on his desk, acts out a scene. Two grinning sycophants seem to cheer him as he does so. “Be responsive, cooperative and enthusiastic at the story conference for your next job!” Marie tells us. And in our last panel, the caption says, “While your new assignment is fresh in your mind, return home and get a good start!” but the illustration is of our artist striding into a bar and holding up two fingers. He wants a double. Marie finishes it all up with “Good luck!”
Our final story for this part of the review stars Prince No-More, the Sunk-Mariner! in Don’t Rock the Vote (a pun on “don’t rock the boat”). Arnold Drake and Tom Sutton are back again for this one.
In this story, Prince No-More returns to Atloontis to find that the DC Comics King of the Seven Seas, Aqualung-Man is running to replace him as emperor. (“Aqualung” is not a play on the Jethro Tull album since that didn’t come out until 1971. It refers to an early type of scuba diving equipment.) Lady Darnit tells Sunky, “Well, wha’dya expect, when you’re chasing your royal seat all over the surface, clobbering runaway teen robots and mad orthodontists?!” If these are Brechh references to previous Sub-Mariner stories, I can’t pinpoint them. Can anyone help?
A school of fish swims by with one of them carrying a sign that reads, “Aqualung-Man Promises Better Schools!” Sunky can’t figure out where he “failed as an emperor” but Darnit tells him he’s “lost the pulse of the masses! As you see, youth is on the swim, Subby, and you’re out of stroke with them!” (Yeah, she calls him “Subby.” It’s a little glitch.) Sunky wants to know if Darnit thinks “Aqualung-Man speaks for youth” and she tells him, “I believe that they believe it and believe me that’s enough!” But Sunky thinks “something smells peopley” (Yes, it’s that kind of humor.) He and Darnit head to the palace where they confront Lord Nasty, who is holding a sign that reads, “Vote A-M.” Sunky thinks this means Nasty is supporting Aqualung-Man but Nasty tells him “AM means vote early, for you, of course.” Darnit tells Sunky that Aqualung-Man is his real enemy. “He’s even wearing a turtleneck costume to grab their votes!” (In A/E #95, Roy says, “Except for his wearing a turtleneck (certainly appropriate in a sea king) and sporting a lower-case ‘a’ on his belt, the costume of the parody of Aquaman is identical to the one worn by the real thing, coloring and all.”) “As the crying baby said, ‘it’s time for a change’!” says Aqualung-Man on TV and he promises that a vote for him is a vote “for peace, freedom, and no fish on Friday!” Sunky sneaks up behind him to hit him in the head with a plank from his platform but it has no effect. “Floyd Britches” is there, too, in scuba gear. (He’s a takeoff on Lloyd Bridges who starred in Sea Hunt.) When Aqualung-Man mentions the English Channel, the Mozambique Channel, and the Yucatan Channel, Floyd says, “Can any of those channels use an old TV show? I’ve been out of work for years now!” (He’s obviously forgotten about “The Loner,” on from 1965 to 1966.)
A-Man challenges Sunky to “an open debate” and Richard Nixon shows up with a make-up kit, saying, “I wonder if I should offer my expert advice to one of them and then bet on the other!” (In the minds of the people watching on TV, Nixon lost the 1960 debates to John F. Kennedy because, to quote this article from the National Archives, “When they turned on their television sets, they saw a tired Richard Nixon and a tanned, fit John Kennedy. Nixon had refused makeup for the cameras, wore an ill-fitting shirt, and hadn’t gained back his natural weight after a serious knee injury and two weeks in the hospital. Kennedy, on the other hand, had been campaigning in southern California and appeared on camera with a healthy tan.”) And so the debate begins with Sunky appearing on one TV screen while A-Man appears on a screen below him. Some of the choice moments are
And so saying that last one, Sunky smashes out of his TV screen and punches A-Man through the other TV screen with a Karunch! A-Man declares that he never uses violence “but my finny friends aren’t particular.” He summons fish and an octopus to attack Sunky. “I never laid an hand on you,” he says, “All violence is conducted by my stupid but loyal followers.”
Floyd Britches has had enough. He declares, “These two candidates couldn’t win support for a supp-hose stocking!” and announces himself as a write-in. Both Sunky and A-Man cheat in the voting booth. Sunky thinks, “It is good that I tampered with this voting machine to assure my victory and Aqualung-Man’s defeat! For de-feet of A-Man need cleaning!” A-Man pulls the voting lever for himself so many times that he thinks, “If I win this election, I’ll have to go to the inaugural ball with my arm in a sling!” But in the end, it is Floyd Britches who is the winner. Why? Because he’s a TV star! Lou Costello and Doris Day hoist him up on their shoulders, with Mickey Mouse peeking out from behind. (I’m pretty sure it’s Lou, even though he died in 1959.) “Who so cheers his cursed victory?’ asks Sunky. “His Hollywood pals, of course!” says A-Man, “they’re all getting into politics these days! Now when they play the national anthem, half of Congress stands up and the other half tap dances!” And there is a group of celebrities celebrating Floyd’s victory. Led by Ronald Reagan (who was Governor of California at the time), the group consists of Julie Andrews, Sammy Davis, Jr., Simon and Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, Shirley Temple (as the Little Princess), Elvis Presley, and Peter, Paul, and Mary. They all sing, in part, “There’s no business like snow business like no business I know! We’ll let those ol’ Three Stooges make Supreme Court fun while Congress sells popcorn by the ton! Who says Mickey Mouse can’t rule ol’ Washington? Let’s go on with the snow!!”
Let’s settle up:
Super-Hero Daydreams: It’s a cute idea but that’s all it is. I can identify with all of these scenarios (okay, except the three guys following me into an alley after a dance) and these are all fun solutions to the situations (though I wonder why Marie invented “Wonderful Person” rather than using someone like Captain America). The one that works best for me here is the guy becoming Mr. Fantastic to sling Byron Bumper to the back of the line but I also appreciate Dr. Doom intimidating the proprietor, since I remember getting yelled at as a kid for doing exactly what this kid is doing. Still, it’s really just the same gimmick four times. It doesn’t go anywhere. Granted, this is an awful lot of analysis for a piece that is really intended as filler and Marie’s artwork is terrific but I’m going to give this just one web.
Dark Moon Rise,
Hell Heck Hound Kill! Hurt: I know they probably only gave Arnold and Frank seven pages to work with and they had to use up three of those to satirize Steranko’s opening but it was going so well and it fizzles out to nothing. Too bad. It was looking like five webs but it only gets two and a half.
It’s a Mad, Mad Ave! A Brechh Smek at the Boob Tube!: I like this little two-page piece. It has a strong point about the way advertising interferes in our lives but it does it quickly and effortlessly. Nothing better illustrates how insidious all this advertising is than that I remember all of these slogans from my childhood over 50 years ago. Four webs.
The Puns of Will Bonnet: In only four pages, it manages to lampoon five TV shows of the time, counting Will Sonnet itself. (More than that if you count the signpost.) The parodies are just a panel or two each but deftly point out the absurdities of each TV series. As someone who remembers these shows, I love this parody. I also love the opening with “the fastest child deserter in the west” and the ending with a fed up Will telling his grandson to pick a paw or he’ll shoot. I’m giving it five webs.
How to Be a Comic Book Artist!: Roy says, “As best I can recall, Marie…would just draw such fill-ins whenever she felt like it and we’d fit them in.” This one is much better than the “Super-Hero Daydreams” piece. There’s nothing complicated about it but the juxtaposition of captions and illustrations makes for an amusing read, particularly with the first panel and the last panel. I give it three and a half webs.
Don’t Rock the Vote: I don’t think the story works quite as well as Arnold’s “Will Bonnet,” but it has strong messages about appealing to the youth vote, the influence of television on politics, attempts to rig the election, violence as conducted by “stupid but loyal followers,” and the damage that can be done when electing celebrities to high office that still ring all too true today. I’m giving this one four webs.
So, let call the whole thing three and a half webs and move on to the next story.
Yes, that’s right. Two more stories in part three. Join me for Not Brand Echh #11 (Story 8).