Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Dregs of Comicdom

Just as my taste in movies leans largely toward obscure B-movies of yesteryear, I also have a predilection for reading material of a similar aesthetic position. This means comic books that most collectors have shunned for decades - anything on the Gold Key, Charlton, Whitman imprints, for example. For a bottom feeder like myself, raiding the budget bins of comic stores is always successful, and I always haul away a hoard of obscure beat-up (even coverless) comics that no one on Earth wants but me.

I especially worship DC comics from their "total crap" period: Leave it to Binky, Scooter, Bob Hope, Inferior Five, Metal Men, Anthro, Fox & Crow, Stanley & His Monster, Metamorpho, Sugar & Spike, The Creeper, Doom Patrol, Flippity & Flop, Hawkman, Rip Hunter, B'wana Beast, Sea Devils, Dial H for Hero, Challengers of the Unknown, Angel & The Ape, Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis and the subsequent Jerry Lewis series. These comics, along with the glut of Batman/Superman spin-offs on the market during the 1960s, form the greatest archive of slapped-out deadline-approacheth hack literature of the 20th century, even above pulp magazines and even above the ubiquitous children's book series like The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Danny Dunn, Tom Swift Jr., Tom Corbett, etc.

My acquaintances who obsess on modern serious superhero comics (and by "modern", I mean anything after the 1970s) are lacking some crucial set of synapses that enable a person to sort out the cosmic nuances of Archie Comics, especially the confused 1960s-1970s ones where some of the comics were overtly Christian and yet others treated witches and sorcery as commonplace.

You haven't lived, my friend, until you've gone deep out into the woods with a bottle of Zwack, a flashlight, and a backpack filled with Harvey Comics like Casper, Spooky, Wendy, Baby Huey, Stumbo, Sad Sack, Jackie Jokers, Hot Stuff, Mutt & Jeff, Richie Rich, Herman and Katnip, Little Audrey, Little Lotta, Little Dot and not come back until well after midnight. After a vision quest like that, you will return a changed man. Even if you're a woman.

- - JSH

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