Monday, May 23, 2011

Between the Covers With Schwarzenegger

When Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't busy making crappy movies, running California into the ground, or knocking up the staff, characters based on his likeness have appeared in comic books and comic book movies for quite a few years.  In fact, before he took "responsibility" for a child he kept hidden for years, he was set to be the subject of a new comic book (the title of which is ridiculous and I will not give credit to here).

Conan.  Terminator.  Mr. Freeze.  He was even attached to Sgt. Rock at one point.  The only person I can think who has had more comic book appearances based on characters he's played is Harrison Ford.

I've always been a fan of Conan, both the novels and the Marvel and Dark Horse comics.  There's something very primal about a character who just screws women, eats and kills.  That said, I don't like the Conan movies starring Arnie and his Frankenstein-like skull.  He destroyed the character, and I think if Conan were real he'd probably have Arnie's misshapen skull on a pike.  Arnie is the exact opposite of Conan.  He is deceitful, cowardly and little more than a rogue.  Conan makes no apologies for what he is, and he does not lie about it.  The Terminator, on the other hand, makes far more sense.

The Terminator started out in movies and then quickly moved into the realm of comics.  The story was tailor made for the art form, so there's no surprise there.  The character fits Arnie, too.  He is a programmed killing machine, which is really just a fancy euphemism for a politician.  While I enjoyed the first two films, the comic books never caught my interest.  He's kind of boring.

Blue Water Comics did an actual comic book about the man who would break California.  I have no idea what the sales were like on it, but I can't imagine it outsold many titles.  (I wonder how many kids saw the cover and thought, "Dad?")  Political comics, while covered in the press, rarely sell impressive numbers.  The story of one's political life just doesn't make for engaging comic reading.  Perhaps now that all the dirt is coming out on him, Eros can do one of its infamous "adult" comics.  I would probably buy that title.  No panels with Maria, though.  There's only so much skull monster comic porn that I can take.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Teenage Girls in Hot Pants, Hitler's Boots, and a Flying Dead Dog

Surreal.  That's not often a word you hear used to describe a comic book.  There really is no other word, however, to describe Flaming Carrot ComicsSuperman sure as hell doesn't feature mice flying out of people's mouths and a pet potato bug.  Spider-Man doesn't punch someone in the teeth while yelling, "I'm not going to pay a lot for this muffler!"  It would be a totally different comic if he did.

Bob Burden created the Flaming Carrot back in 1979.  The story of how FC came to be (an origin story, for all you non-comic readers) is really quite simple.  He wasn't born with some special powers.  He didn't see his parents gunned down.  Nope.  He read thousands of comics in one sitting to win a bet and became brain damaged.  (Or he could be Jim Morrison!)

Throughout FC's stories, he has hung out with teen girls, staved off an invasion of marching Hitler boots, encountered a flying dead dog, and saved the world from aliens far too many times.  The plots aren't as important as the journey, and what a journey it is.  Strange art, strange characters, stranger storylines.  If you are a fan of the bizarre, and you haven't read this book, you haven't read bizarre.

Years ago, while talking to friend about our mutual love of Flaming Carrot, he told me about a story he had read.  Two guys had set up an interview with Burden, and they journeyed to his house early one Sunday morning.  Burden was apparently caught by surprise.  [Story is deleted, as Burden doesn't smoke cigars due to the fact they cause him headaches, has never owned a bathrobe, and would not be wearing a helmet of questionable nature.  This was actually cleared up by Mr. Burden himself in a surprise Sunday phone call.  More on that later.]

Flaming Carrot Comics have been collected in a series of trade paperbacks.  I have a few of them, along with a statue and the action figure.  I recommend them all.  Fans of the surreal will especially appreciate them.  Fans of "pure" superhero comic books will loathe them.  Their loss.

I know a teacher who is a huge fan of FC, as well.  He's actually drawn him on the kids' tests from time to time, too, and has hung posters of him the classroom.  He understands the odd appeal of the character, and while it's doubtful the teens he teach get it, I find it kind of interesting to think they are being exposed to him and maybe someday will see a book on a shelf somewhere and recognize the carrot mask, which will in turn cause them to check it out. 

Again, this isn't a comic book for everyone.  Only the most open-minded need apply.  It's not that it is offensive (you'd have to be utterly humorless to be offended by this book).  It just requires some work from the side of your brain that you rarely use.  You almost have to disengage yourself from reality in order to appreciate what is on the page.  Otherwise, there is no way you'll ever get the humor in a scene like the one where the Carrot and a woman apply temporary tattoos to each other.  FC gets Hannibal from The A-Team, while the woman gets Doc from The Love Boat.  Is the scene important to the story?  No.  Not even close.  But it is brilliant ... much like the series.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer:  Clicking on a link may earn me a small commission.  I did not receive any free FC material.  Horse.

Cover Review: Texas Chainsaw Massacre #4

Being a fan of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie there was really no reason for me to ever pick up the Wildstorm comic book series.  It looked horrible.  In fact, of all the covers, this is the only one that ever grabbed me.

Close-up covers usually work very well.  They force the viewer to pay attention to them.  They convey importance.  The cover to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre #4 is no exception.  It is a close-up of the upper left section of a female's face.  You see an eye, a tear and an image reflected in the eye which is causing that tear -- Leatherface holding a chainsaw.  Anyone who has seen the films know why this would cause someone to cry. 

For a cover to put across so much emotion is a rare thing, especially for a horror comic.  Subtlety does not usually sell issues.  In this case, however, the cover transcends the usual horror comic trappings and instead focuses on raw feelings.  The tear may look exaggerated, but that doesn't matter.  You understand it.  You sympathize.  You fill in the missing pieces of her face.  If every issue of this series did such a cover, it would've been worth picking up. 

On a final note, you can see that the series was suggest for "mature readers."  If a parent doesn't understand that a comic book called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre which features a man holding a chainsaw on the cover isn't for mature readers, he or she should not be a parent.

Mandatory FTC Disclaimer: Clicking on a link may earn me a small commission.  Hell, I hope it does.  I did not receive this issue to review, either.  I chose it as an example of the only good thing in a cringe-worthy looking series.

Comic Book Cover Predicted Osama bin Laden's Downfall at Obama's Command

I am no fan of Savage Dragon, and this patriotic cover is one of the reasons why I avoid the title.  It's a variant cover for issue #145, and was available at Wondercon.  As you can see, Osama is getting a right hook from a flag-wielding president while Savage Dragon looks on. 

Seems ridiculous.  Obama vs. Osama.

I'm sure there were people who really liked this cover when it came out.  I'm sure nobody ever thought it would come true.  (And in case  you haven't heard the news, Osama bin Laden is dead.  Obama didn't kill him with his own hands, but did order the attack that brought him down.  Republicans are probably not happy, and Tea Party Parrots aren't going to believe it.  Donald Trump will most likely take credit for it.  Admittedly, when I heard there was an important announcement coming at 10:30 [it turned out to be much later] on a Sunday night, I thought Obama would be revealing that we had proof of UFOs.  I'm not actually kidding.)  It's true now, and this comic book is probably going to go up in value a bit.

The mind reels.