Hallowe’en Countdown III, Day 29

« Sharon… Marilyn… Jayne… Eva… Claudia… plus bits and pieces of bit part actresses. » — Prof. Shelley recites Cadavera’s recipe

In the early 1990s, Seattle-based publisher Fantagraphics were in choppy financial waters. To save the ship, they went commercial… in their own fashion. Two speciality imprints were launched, most famously Eros Comix, but also the lesser-known Monster Comics.

My own contender for the finest of Monster releases adroitly straddled both the erotic and the monstrous (and a few other genres besides): a two-issue wonder, Cadavera, was the hallucinatory, disembodied brainchild of Memphis cartoonist auteur John Michael McCarthy. Sadly, this raunchy-in-all-the-best-ways, rollicking saga-in-the-making, fireball of jolting ideas did nothing to help its publisher climb back into the black. But hot damn, did it ever give its all. However, in the speculator-frenzied, Image Comics-happy US marketplace of ’91? Oh, just forget it.

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This is Cadavera no. 2 (Nov. 1991); artwork by John Michael McCarthy, who helpfully tells us that the « cover car is a35 model Ford Model ’48 3-window coupe, original price $570. ». And isn’t that a doozy of a catchy slogan?

I know I could pull striking samples from these skinny pamphlets all the live long day, such is their level of visual craft and quotability, but I’ve checked, and you can still get copies for a song, so why spoil your eventual pleasure?

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Meet Prof. Shelley’s hulking robot helper, Googog. From Cadavera no. 1 (March, 1991).
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Cadavera no. 2, page 4.
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Cadavera no. 2, pages 22-23. No-one could accuse Mr. McCarthy of being a slouch.

Anyway, all the gooey goods are accounted for in this « unofficial death certificate for unpopular culture »: punk rock, tabloid journalism, fascism, hot rods, hillbillies, Nazis (the original and the currently popular Neo (in)breed), mad science, robots, bunnies, Vice-Prez Chas. Manson…

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Oh, and model kits! This painting by Gary Makatura appeared on the back cover of Cadavera no. 2. « … and thanks to the Holland Company for allowing me ‘the look’ of authentic Aurora, here’s to a new world of plastic and glue! »

The amazing Mr. McCarthy, after giving comics his more-than-game try (with Eros entries Supersexxx and Bang Gang, the one-shot movie tie-in Damselvis Daughter of Helvis and one of my all-time favourite series, Kid Anarchy, written by his pal George Cole), went the Roger Corman route and became a micro-budget filmmaker. There may be zero bucks in it, but that’s still a rosier financial situation than comics could offer.

« To hell with all those near-fatal quests and celebrity body parts! »

-RG

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