Comic Book Drop For Dane Martin
To be clear, I don't think I've ever met Dane, and we've corresponded only lightly. He sent me some comics of his years ago, and I keep up with his new stuff online, but that's about it. If you're not involved in comics at all and don't know who I'm talking about, maybe you can get some kind of twisted idea based on the following. But this isn't a photograph of him by any means, this is a portrait, and as with any portrait, it's as much about the painter as the sitter (maybe more) (Velasquez). I mean if I'm pointing my finger at this guy I'm also pointing three fingers back at myself, and one at God. Anyway I'll put links to his comics below, you can guess for yourself if I'm getting close or if I'm still far, far away.
Ok here goes. Dane, I'm sending these out today (Tuesday March 29).
Shoutout to the young maniac who thoroughly sessioned this cover. I'm happy they could locate joy in this desolate environment, this comic book about Michigan, starring detestable Army peon Sad Sack.
Every single page is like this:
Imagine if you had to write a comic book about Michigan, starring a guy who gets kicked. Honestly, doing any better than this would be a waste of resources. Best to shit it out and move on with your day. My theory on this is that they got money from some governmental tourism agency to make a comic for every state, and it didn't have to sell OR be good, it only had to get made. And they gave it to Sad Sack because the job would've made one of their better properties (Hot Stuff, Spooky, Nightmare the Ghost Horse) look bad. Honestly I could picture buying this thinking that at some point the army man is going to fall into molten metal, as alluded to on the cover. Then I'd get home and feel a mixture of shame and rage.
Nice little anti-pollution comic from Gold Key. As with Sad Sack's Michigan Odyssey, I'm guessing they got some kind of government cash for this. Unlike Sad Sack, this one at least has enough juice to perhaps inspire a twisted reverie in a child--
If I was a kid I would definitely roll with "polluted water gave me perfect polka dots", and that'd be worth the price of admission. But maybe I'm a bad sample audience because there was a lot of "substances that change you" in the media I had access to as a kid-- ninja turtles, the 1989 Batman, drug PSA's, first wave slime toys.... Did I latch onto that stuff because I was trying to make sense of the very evident destruction of the Earth by global capitalism? That's a term paper for someone out there. I still catch myself repeating "transformed from the norm by the nuclear goop" as a sort of mantra.
Another great reverie is "psycho mop"--
SPLOSH! GURK! ULP! I'd love to see a band in blue gingham where they were constantly being wet-mopped during the gig. I'm going to put that in the notebook but if someone gets to it before me I understand.
More mop comics! The attention to detail on this double mop, with the anxiety splashes coming off it, and Daffy's little apron and Mona Lisa smile-- I'm sorry but this is like... erotic. The window is like a mirror and Daffy sees himself in the mop, as he drags the other mop against another mirror- a dirty puddle on the floor. He's the mopper and the mop, the defiler and the defiled, approaching unity in a tense confusion of vectors. Appropriately amended in presumably bliss with a little Cy Twombly action by a future pervert. The act of making a mark like this isn't always abnegation or covering-up, it can also express a desire to be in the scene, to be the drawing. And who among us hasn't mashed a crayon into a drawing of a stegosaurus in a coloring book, and for a moment, become the stegosaurus? Who hasn't lingered awhile on a charged scene like this and thought "I'm in here somewhere"? The child and the professor alike scribble lines over a composition, saying "this is a ray of energy, these things are divided here, these other things are joined in a frenzy of wastewater and hair."
Action painting is the obvious way to go with this but it could be a Kandinsky if you cleaned it up a little, this strong red diagonal line and skewed planes and wiggling arches... If anyone wants to take a crack at it go ahead. Maybe the window is a reference to Duchamp's Large Glass? I mean both the Large Glass and the cover are celibate machines consisting of auto-erotic consummation which only produces intensive qualities (according to Deleuze).
I picked this up thinking the guy with the beret was going to turn out to be a beatnik in the story, but he's not, he's just some guy.
I'm happy I grabbed this though, because of this Hostess ad on the inside front cover:
Ay yi yi, this guy Chair Man is turning people into chairs so some kids throw Hostess Twinkies Snack Cakes at him and that does something? This is unhinged. What happened to all the people that already got turned into chairs????? And all Chair Man wants is to know the location of an antique chair shipment???? That's not privileged information! You can just make a phone call. If I had a gun that turned people into chairs I would play this verrrrry differently, and I'd never get caught, that's a promise. And if I was Spider Man in this situation I'd just be like "OK Chair Man, the shipment's at 210 North St, Hyannis MA", or some other lie. This guy's a spider but he can't set a diabolical trap? Pathetic. And what's even on the line here, some antique chairs?? Is that really worth the loss of life????? SPIDER MAN YOU MAKE ME SICK. Also, and this is minor compared to the othe stuff, but couldn't this ad be for literally any object you can throw? I mean the kids could've thrown WD-40 or dryer sheets and presumably they'd be equally likely to affect some change in the situation? "Gee, it's a good thing you kids had plenty of Rapidograph Technical Pens with you" "They're my favorite technical pen". Shit, why not use your webbing, Spider Man? That seems perfect for this application. OK I'm getting too worked up about this one....
Because of the paucity of characters in the Woody Woodpeckerverse, Woody's gone camping with a clone, who wears a green bowtie as his sole mark of independence. Woody gets too stoned and burns the clone's face with hot grease. This is not what I want from a comic book character. Luckily this is only the cover- the inserts are reprinted from a more thoughtful era of funnyanimal books. This repackaged collection features a few stories but only one on a western theme, to justify the cover and tie-in with Steven Spielberg Presents An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, which took out a full page ad on the back cover.
Not sure if this "is" "good", but it's fun to look at if you're a student of the funnyanimal format, this is a superb era.
Almost every page of this book has a circle panel like this, sometimes two, that's like a Golden Age style you don't see anymore. It makes the page look fun, maybe that's why it fell off-- today's comic artiste wants to look Not Just For Kids Anymore. In this case the circle is used to break from the fantasia of the opening splash and declare a true start to the story, a story in which some little shithead's dreaming of buying an alarm clock. Sickening.
Dennis The Menace presents Christmas Around The World, or something. No cover and no first couple pages, but it's possible the real Hank Ketchum draws. A "descendant of Ebenezer Scrooge" (who is also named Ebenezer Scrooge) pays Mr Wilson to take some kids that happen to be walking by on a world tour, simply because he "used to hate children". The subtle narrative here is that if you want to be bullshit rich you need to be a miserable psycho for most of your life, but it's ok because you can recant in your senescence.
Anyway "world tour" is a great riff, and it must've been fun for Ketchum (or a competant imitator) to draw locations other than a late 50's suburban home. And also check out how the panels are nice and orderly but characters and word balloons pop out of them as necessary. Makes the page look open and inviting.
Murky comics needlessly detailed. I think this was in a set of comics I got from my aunt that also included the first couple issues of the Kirby run on Jimmy Olson, which stays in the collection obviously.
If you loved "Welcome Back Kotter", you might like this. My interest in this book is because I was taken in by the loving way Ric Estrada draws this elephant in the book's interior. But the cover is a frenzied psychosexual nightmare, I think we can all agree on that. This came out in 1977, same year as Saturday Night fever, and yes, that's Scientologist John Travolta on the cover and yes he disco dances with the elephant at one point. Hollywood has strict anti-Shemp rules against using an actor's image without consent but comic books remain a free realm of eternal indignity.
Nice little Harvey comic made for kids flying American Airlines. Again, a great angle on how to make a comic book that's paid for in advance by a side deal. In addition to Casper and Wendy and all the rest, there's a few pages specific to the "I'm a child in a plane" experience. These are probably drawn up by whatever ad agency got hired to put this package together, which is probably why these drawings alone have personality.
Here's two Disney comics- an adventure comic (kind of reminds me of Brian Chippendale's "Puke Force") and a Donald Duck comic from Finland.
A pathetic Casper the Ghost rip-off from the cowards at Charleton Comics. Sometimes in an abject thing like this an artist can, almost through pure carelessness and a lack of repurcussions, approach the infinite. This isn't one of those times though. Sorry Dane! The lesson I gleaned from this one is: there's no point in wasting your time thinking "I'm not good enough" because you do not have to be good in order to exist. That is not a requirement and the evidence is everywhere when you look.
Al Hartley made a couple of these Christian comics, this is the funny animal one and it's pretty grotesque. I imagine Al Hartley at his drawing table, telling himself "each and every page will have a character beaming God's love directly to the reader, and on the last page it's gonna be ME". Unfortunately I find that as a reader I do not want things beamed directly at me-- in fact I would like to be out of the way of the beam if possible.
For the record I actually don't think Dane Martin will like these, but I decided they can't stay here, and that's that.
A despicable Dennis the Menace rip off but this kid really sucks and you can tell that everyone is 100% done with his shenanigans. I've had this since I was a kid, I think someone remembered that I like comic books, saw this at a supermarket or something, said "that's a comic book", and here we are. Even as a kid it drove me crazy that on the cover it says both "Li'l" and "L'il".
This really doesn't seem like something Dane will like but sometimes you gotta give someone a gift that stretches a little. Besides, I think "we're surrounded by mutants in this city of death" is a fairly universal feeling.
Extremely sick page. Angel of death surfing a satelite with an eye of Horus painted on it??? Ahhhh I might keep this one.... The grim reaper was the host of this series, akin to Tales From The Crypt's Cryptkeeper. All the horror comics have a host character like this, it's a great riff. I imagine they were brainstorming in the writer's room going "ok, who's a guy we can use that loves war?", and after a few dud suggestions someone said "Death" and everyone went "ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh shiiiiiiiiit".
Gnarly style from Alex Niño, matching that Kirby extreme pose style with Pushead sensibilities. Niño did a lot of work for black and white Warren mags like Vampirella, Creepy, and Eerie. You may recognize that scratchy line quality he uses in the title. It's nice to see him in color-- it's sliiiiightly easier to figure out what's the background and what's the foreground. Ahhhh should I keep this???? I'm going to flip a coin.
The back cover of Weird War has this deranged ad for AAU Shoes, riding on Saturday Night Fever fever. This came out in 1978 so it's still a year before the disco backlash hits high gear, and it's not out of place to think that readers of Weird War might be both mutant marauders and disco maniacs. But damn, it's crazy that the AAU Shuperstar kills this hippy before anything really happens! I mean from the dancers' perspective everyone's having fun and then this blue psycho kicks a man into trackless space, on a hunch. I sure as shit wouldn't be saying thanks! I'd be stopping the music and turning on the lights and saying go home everyone. Stash your shit and go home, Judge Dredd over here just killed a guy for having a beard. No one's safe in here.
OK this one I am keeping. I was actually just looking for this, forgot it was in the Dane pile. Before Yayoi Kusama there was Little Dot.
Anyway I'm keeping this.
Keeping this too. What the hell was I thinking? Sorry Dane.
I don't know much about Donald's extended family but my understanding is that they are all troublesome burdens, each with a different unrestrained desire that gives their life direction while complicating everyone else's. Really makes you sympathize with The Duck.
Finally here's another Al Hartley Christian comic. It's crazy to me that this Archie comic, which was not published by Archie Comics, is fully licensed. Hartley used to draw for Archie Comics and got asked to leave when his stories got overtly religious. Then he started his own publishing company, Spire, and asked Archie president John L. Goldwater to let him license the Archie characters for a series of books. Goldwater was Jewish, not Christian, but he was nonetheless religious, and he agreed. That's a pretty surprising turn of events but it's kind of refreshing to hear about this sort of camaraderie-- the hockey team and the basketball team agree: sports are important. Spire published 19 Archie comics and a bunch of other titles, all with a distinctly born again Christian theme.
Ok let's start out with a nice big splash showing the devil trying to pull Archie's pants down. Make it clear that the devil isn't trying to hurt Archie, he just wants to party.
Great use of Reggie, a character that everyone hates already, and "Christ is the Copernicus of the heart" is honestly a great riff.
Absolutely mental last page. This is like a horror movie ending, when you think the lady's going to get away and then her car gets T-boned and when the ambulance comes the ghouls are driving. She's like "hhhhhhh no......" and the ghoul turns to face the camera with a horrible leer. Ominous whooshing sound.
OK, well that's all of them. I hope you enjoy these comics, Dane!
- OK here's Dane links: [tumblr 1] [tumblr 2] [instagram] [patreon]. I didn't set out to do an essay on Dane but I guess my elevator pitch is it's like if Caroliner and Rory Hayes teamed up? Or if Mark Beyer did Sonic the Hedgehog comics? Chris Ware without architecture??? These comparisons are kind of hollow... I think he's really unique and he's been developing this very personal language for many many years. That's something really rare and wonderful. I can't really make a direct sense out of his work but it all slowly ads up. And now and then a piece of it really connects, in a way that nothing else does. Who's publishing the Dane Martin Omnibus?????
- Fundraiser alert: a youth football group in Providence had thier buses and equipment arsoned (??) and they're trying to raise money to replace it. [gofundme]
- gig alert: friend, playwrite, and author Madeline ffitch is doing a reading in Worcester MA on April 7th. It's in the Rehm Library at Holy Cross, at 7:30, and I'm assuming it's free. You may remember Madeline as part of Missoula Oblongata, a notable North American theatre troupe with whom I worked in the past and I'd like to think we worked well. She's great, this will be great.
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