Sunday, September 7, 2008

Rufus and Flook Versus Moses Maggot 2

As promised, more Flook. More pages posted soon, I hope.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Rufus and Flook Versus Moses Maggot

I've finally gotten my hands on a Rufus and Flook collection!
I've been curious about this English daily strip since I read its intriguing entry in Maurice Horn's WORLD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMICS. The cartoonist and jazz musician Wally Fawkes (using the pen name Trog) drew it from the 50s through the 80s, with various writers. According to what I've gleaned online, it was inspired in part by Barnaby and began as a whimsical mid-century "kid and magical pal" adventure strip. It grew to resemble Pogo in that it mixed humor with social and political commentary. Readers from the UK will please excuse my having to put everything in terms of American comics.

As for this book, which hails from the earlier period, it's pretty good! Eccentric characters having lighthearted fantastic adventures--not as dry and witty as Barnaby, but probably a better attention-grabber for kids. The drawing is pretty great in a style I can only call "British" (because it reminds me of other Brit comics I've seen--if anyone knows what specific tradition/influences Fawkes came out of, please post a comment and let me know!)

Mr. Fawkes recently retired from professional cartooning (he was an editorial cartoonist too).

Would folks be interested in scans of the entire book? I can post over a few weeks. Let me know after you get a taste!

Nice endpapers...


The collection starts with a collection of strips retelling how Rufus met Flook.


And now I'm a blogger!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Robotman "Around the World in 24 Hours", drawn by Jimmy Thompson

Jimmy Thompson drew great Robotman backup comics in Star Spangled Comics and in Detective Comics in the 1940s. I've been on the lookout for Thompson Robotman stories ever since reading an enjoyable one in DC's GREATEST GOLDEN AGE STORIES EVER TOLD (bizarre title, yes). Recently, Pappy's Golden Age posted a great one from Detective 152.

Here's the only Thompson Robotman story I own--from Detective 151. I don't know who wrote it and neither does the Grand Comics Database.


Even in this era of "let's reprint everything" Thompson's Robotman probably won't be getting a collection. Neither artist or character is that famous, and for that matter Thompson didn't even create the characters; Jerry Siegel and Leo Nowak did. It isn't brilliantly weird (like Fletcher Hanks's comics). It's just imaginative, funny, and well drawn (and nicely lettered, if I may be so nerdly). Still, I hope I get to see more of these stories.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Steve Gerber, 1947-2008

I heard the news a few hours ago that comic book writer Steve Gerber died this past Sunday. Tom Spurgeon has a very good bio/appreciation up on his blog.

Steve Gerber was a huge part of my comics-obsessed childhood (I was born in 1967.) . There was real shit going down in his comics; I didn't get all of it, but it had a serious influence on me that a writer could take life inside the comics he was writing so seriously. I'm bad at describing a writer's work, so here are a few pages from his incredible run in Howard the Duck, published by Marvel.

From Howard the Duck, issue 2:

Gerber wasn't afraid to show pure negative rage on the part of a hero. I appreciated the honesty. That page is from the first appearance of Howard's nemesis, the Kidney Lady, who is pretty great, as nemeses go. (And much better than Dr. Bong, one of the series only missteps.)

From Howard the Duck, issue 5
Gerber's Howard the Duck series is often remembered for broad parody, social satire, and absurdist humor. But unlike, say, MAD or Nat Lamp, in Howard the Duck real human emotions are on display everywhere. It's a sentimental scene, but I love it. Howard is desperate for money, so he takes a job working for an appliance retailer. He goes to follow up on late payments for a TV and can't bear to repossess it when faced with the scene above. This is from one of my favorite issues. In it he also beats up a TV clown and protests against defamatory representations of ducks in comic books.

From Howard the Duck, issue 11
During a nervous breakdown, Howard is stuck on a bus with a bunch of crazies. This issue is really intense. The next few issues get even more intense (and supernatural). But this bus story is always what sticks in my mind.

From Howard the Duck, issue 19
Howard's human for an issue.

From Howard the Duck, issue 23
In a two-issue sort of parody of Star Wars, Howard is again allied with Korrek the Barbarian (who I think he met during his first appearance in Fear and Man-Thing). Howard also learns to use "the farce" which enables him to shoot deadly non-sequiturs out of a gun. At the time, it felt late to do a Star Wars riff (it was already 1978! Ancient history!) But I remember feeling relieved that this story wasn't quite as high-stakes as what had come before. By the way, the Chewbacca stand-in for the story is the Man-Thing.

I'm sad knowing that the man who created these stories isn't alive and died too young. But, cliche and all, his work is still an inspiration to me.