Evel Knievel and the Creamy Friend!

"The Last of the Gladiators"

 

After a long absence from the blogging scene, I’m gonna come barreling back with a little slice of classic comic book history. My most recent challenge is to collect the whole run of Jonah Hex comics printed by DC from 1972 to 1985, and not only do these issues feature many terrific wild west she-nanny-guns but also a range of the most unbelievably nutty ads spread through the issues. Along with the usual adverts for other DC comics or beef jerky there is a selection of sales pitches for some of the most wonderful and amazing items available all for less than $5!

Firstly, I would like to introduce to you the Evel Knievel coin collection from Weird Western Tales #31, December 1975. This issue comes hot on the heels and white flowing cape of Mr. Knievel’s October ’75 successful attempt to jump 14 buses at the Kings Island Theme park in Ohio, and so what more could every little boy and girl in America want than their very own ANTIQUE BRONZE COIN with Evel proudly displayed leaping through the air just moments from smashing head first into the ground and breaking another collection of bones! For just $3 you could own the official evel coin, which is “EXACTLY THE SAME ONE EVEL CARRIES WITH HIM”! Now I cant help but think Knievel (“THE LAST OF THE GLADIATORS”!) might have been able to land a few more jumps if he wasnt laden down with bronze coins with his face on. A quick check on ebay reveals that this very coin is available now for just $7.35, so its increased in value more than 200% since he jumped over that rainbow into the big ol’ Intensive Care Unit in the sky.

If you’re a young man about town in the 1970’s, you want to have a quirky gimmick to make you stand out from the crowd, and to catch the eye of the ladies. It may be a pair of jeans with massive turn-ups, you may opt to wear 3-d glasses the whole time, or you may want to go that extra mile and get an unusual pet. While Jimmy on the corner had a scruffy hound dog, you want something sophisticated, quirky, exotic, something that will charm your way into the hearts and knickers of that girl next door. So why not save up £2.98 and buy…

25 live seahorses delivered to your door! Gee Wizz!

That’s right! You could be the proud owner of two mated pairs of seahorses, including one pregnant male who could give birth to up to 25 more of the fuckers! Also included is a live marine snail! It’s just given to you free! How is this possible? More quick research has revealed that seahorses make good pets, but will happily fall down dead at the slightest disturbance, from the wrong food, from a multitude of diseases they catch at the drop of a hat and from being stressed out. But they do get on very happily with marine snails. Just imagine the thrill of opening an envelope full of seahorses, snails and marine diseases! If that doesn’t get you some lady action, I don’t know what will.

For those who fail to pull anyone with the seahorses, or your Evel Knievel bronze antique coin (just like Evel himself carries with him on all his inevitable punishing accidents) then you have to resort to being a peeping tom. So what could make this easier than purchasing the latest in military and scientific technology, X-Ray Specs (yours for $1).

See the bones in your friend's hands as they smash you in your stupid nerd face and steal your lunch money.

This Hilarious jape lets you see the bones in your hands, see through your friends and amaze and embarrass everyone! Particularly your parents, who are utterly appalled that you sprang from their loins. I now quote from the Wikipedia entry on X-Ray Specs: “Part or even most of the novelty value lies in provoking the object of the wearer’s attentions. These subjects, if unable to be entirely sure that the device did not indeed allow the wearer to compromise their modesty, were liable to respond with a variety of amusing reactions.” All this fun for one dollar! I was also surprised to learn that X-ray specs were invented by the creator of that other fun novelty ‘Sea Monkeys’. Who are not monkeys, or ocean dwellers.

Also on offer in Jonah Hex #59 dated  April 1982 are two little gems which anyone would be pleased to receive. Firstly for $2.25 is a Squirrel Call: “Brings them right to you! Hand Operated!”. This ad has a little picture of a relaxed squirrel next to it, standing there waiting to be commanded. Why anyone would want to be surrounded by squirrels is a mystery to me still, but I suppose that sort of thing was all the rage in the 80’s. Finally there is pehaps the most vicious trick of the lot, and the most expensive. For $4.95 you can buy the ‘Avalanche’ Shaving Cream can. “Gallons of foam rush out and you can’t stop it! Foam! Foam! FOAM EVERYWHERE! Ordinary looking 6-oz shave cream can, but one press means one big mess. Nearly Fills  entire bathroom! Unbelievable! GREAT WAY TO ‘CREAM’ A FRIEND, FOE. Water Soluable. Wont Stain.”

After careful consideration I think this is probably the greatest way to cream a friend.

Published in: on January 25, 2011 at 1:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Debating the Issue.

This mo-fo eats volcanic ash for breakfast.

Its been a long time since I’ve been able to update the blog, and while I still don’t have time to do a big ‘un, I think it’s about time I let a little ‘un out.

Released this week, with a cover by my all-time favourite comic book artist Rafa Garres (who draws the best looking cowboys of all time) is ‘The Savage Axe of Ares’, which is about the best name for a comic since ‘The Shadow Cabinet’. 

Ares is a  Marvel comic, and features 48 all new pages in glorious black and white. I was thrilled to see the cover also proudly proclaims ‘More Thrills! More Pages! Skull Splitting Metal Mayhem!’. It was an invitation I couldn’t refuse. My life has been lacking in metal mayhem since Robot Wars was taken off the air.

And much to my surprise, this comic was fucking ace. With 48 pages, they manage to squeeze in a 22 page main story, two 12-page back up tales, and a 3 page prose piece with illustrations. Each of the 4 stories takes place in a different time period, and each is tackled by a different artist and writer, which breaks up the issue nicely.

 The main story deals with two Russian criminals who break into an East German weapons factory during the cold war to steal some sort of nutty explosive weapon. Ares, God of War turns up to help them escape from the facility, and the country, chopping and slicing his way through the Russian army to enable the two criminals to get to Holland. But naturally trusting in an ancient Greek God of war has its downside, as the two criminals soon find out!

The artist for this story C.P. Smith really relies on shadows and highlights to tell the tale, which really works well with the cold war mystery theme of the story. The main off-putting element to his art is his reliance on 80’s style pixellated computer graphic backgrounds and textures. At first I thought my issue had a problem with the printing, and it did take me a few pages to get used to the style. But it did grow on me, and it was particularly effective in the bold splash pages, where it takes on an almost vintage computer-game charm. It’s a very simple story, and it is mainly told through the visuals, and this really adds to the iconic nature of Ares, who remains silent throughout the story.

The next 12 page story is probably the least interesting, written by John Barber with art by Jefte Palo. Set in the ancient greek world of myths and legends, Ares has to fight off a load of zombies and a giant snake to kill a wizard to rescue a Princess. This Princess then leads Ares in a rebellion against her father (Ares loves a scrap, being god of war an all) . It’s quite a simple, but effective story, showing off how bad-ass Ares is and how untrustworthy a god of war can be, but it does seem rather rushed, and the black and white artwork isn’t quite as effective in capturing the mood of the time period of which it was set. Nearly all the panels are lacking backgrounds which does limit the depth of the storytelling, but again there is an awesome page showing Ares literally marching over a field of warriors.

The 3rd story is set in Iraq, featuring a face-off between a female american soldier and a giant golden Ram-God. It’s a bit odd, but its a nice insight into Ares’ personality, he takes out a couple of enemy soldiers since their weapons give them an unfair advantage against the lady, but then wanders off leaving the American to fight her way out of a war zone after she helped him defeat the giant monster. It was cool to see that as a God of War he takes no sides, but just exists to make sure no side gets too much of an advantage. The art work here was probably the most exaggerated and stylistically unusual, with distorted and sharp angular designs but it suited the unreality of the story, a sort of fever-dream from the perspective of a wounded soldier.

The final text-story was the highlight of the whole issue for me. I cant help but think most readers will skip this out, but it would be a massive shame. It’s a little story based in ancient Scandinavia, a young Viking trying to live up to the reputation of his father, with the help of Ares. Despite this is the shortest story page-wise, naturally it is the most in-depth character study of both Ares and the human subject. The illustration is very much of the sort of  ‘sword and scorcery’ fantasy story, but to be honest I didnt even take it in while I was reading the text. This was by far the most satisfying story in the whole book, and I hope it gets enjoyed by the readers, since it’s by far the best in the issue, hightlighting the dual nature of a god who delights in destruction and death and war, and yet  has no interest in the winners or losers of a battle.

This issue was about £3, and despite the fact it was all in black and white which I usually dont like, I really enjoyed it. Theres a good mix in storytelling styles and artistic design, and Ares is brilliant character to explore in a little  anthology like this. And with the fantastic cover art, it was well worth it.

My First Time

I started reading comics about 12 years ago, and today I’ve decided to start writing about them. I’m going to use this blog to chat about the comics I’m enjoying at the moment, do a few reviews of what I’m buying and reading, and discussing the various aspects of the medium.

I can’t remember the first comic I ever read, but I do remember my Granny sending me copies of  Walt Disney comics when I was about 5 or 6. I think she collected tokens for them from packets of tea, because that’s the sort of lady she is. I never had any pocket-money so couldn’t ever buy any books myself, but we had a friend across town who had a subscription to the Beano and Dandy. About every 6 months a massive bag of them would arrive on our doorstep, along with copies of Cosmopolitan for my mum. I used to get excited hoping they might have left the swizzlestick lolly attached to the covers of the Beano. There was never any lollys stuck to the front of Cosmopolitan. Reading Cosmopolitan (or ‘Cosmo’ to us fans) was always good fun because there were adverts in the back showing photos of boobs. Despite the fact I read comics, I’m a very generous and talented lover based on reading their articles on the top ten ways to keep a relationship spicy between the sheets.

Zip forward about 5 years, and I started working in a pizza restaurant (3 complaints from customers for nudity) so I finally had money to buy comics myself. Marvel UK were publishing collectors editions which were thick 78 page comics collecting three american comics in one. I think my first issue was ‘The Avengers United’ issue 15, which had a free poster, which is still on my wall.

If Cosmopolitan had free posters, I would have bought that.

From there I started buying all the Marvel comics I could, and since that point I’ve mainly stuck with Marvel. I think it’s just the costumes look better. And Marvel comics had Captain Britain and Union Jack, while I don’t think I can name a single british DC comics character. (Except Batman’s servant Alfred, but I don’t think he counts, since any real British gent would have told Bruce Wayne to fucking grow up and stop sulking a long time ago).

When I went to University I stopped collecting, mainly since I didnt have the room to keep them, and I now had pubs to hang about in all time. It wasnt untill my final year when I discovered a Forbidden Planet comic shop in Sheffield town center that I started collecting properly again. I think I now have somewhere around 1000 comics and trade paperbacks.

I’ve just had a look at my bookcase, and the general themes I collect seem to be Westerns, Cosmic adventures, Pirates, Vikings and Zombies. And Marvel superheros. My favourite book changes almost every week, but I think my favourite series is ‘The Ultimates’ by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch. I’m not sure what superpower I would like, but I think my costume would probably involve a waistcoat and a bowler hat.