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.

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