« Listen, Angel! If they’re out of bananas… I’ll meet you at the corner fruit stand! »
Today, let’s combine our general theme with a celebration of the birthday of one of comics’ great, yet perpetually underappreciated talents: Bob Oksner (October 14, 1916 – February 18, 2007), DC’s go-to humour and good girl art guy. Can you beat that? Didn’t think so.
Bob had a winning penchant for mixing monsters and babes, and for this, he’s earned our lifelong gratitude.
You might say Angel and the Ape exist in an awkward sort of limbo: popular enough for the back issues to be kind of pricey, but not popular enough to have been reprinted (eight issues, including their Showcase appearance, ideal for a trade paperback, hint, hint).
So what else has Mr. Oksner cooked up over the years? Keeping to our theme, here are a few highlights, but first, a handy bio:
« Knock it off, squiddo! You couldn’t make a class-B horror picture on earth — you’re not even good for a milk shudder! Better skeddadle, or I’ll tie your tentacles into a bow! »
Tentacles are no cause for levity, you say? Ha! Their place in all manner of spoofs and parodies (and other silliness) is ensured. Peppered with a barrage of puns (never undersell puns, please!), whimsical tentacular entanglements abound in literature… err, comic literature, at any rate, and that’s good enough for me.
Even some 100 years ago (well, a little less), some unfortunate octopus could easily become a Figure of Fun if he wasn’t careful.
I can’t mention équivoques and wordplay without mentioning Pogo, Walt Kelly‘s keenly intelligent comic strip. Sadly, this was the only appearance of Octopots, as far as I know (and I long to be corrected).
In the competitive world of jokes in bad taste, the man from SRAM probably takes the cake. It’s lucky that he has no qualms about hitting females, or the world would be doomed… although his mirthless monologue would probably kill the creature with sheer ennui.
On the other hand, Superman‘s creative insults can easily shame a thin-skinned Tentacled Terror (was his spaghetti-and-meatball crack some sort of early Flying Spaghetti Monster reference, even though the latter was only officially created in 2005?)
Ah, but today, we’re celebrating Drake’s co-conspirator, the prolific Argentine master (yes, another one) Luis Angel Dominguez, reportedly born ninety-five years ago to the day (Dec. 5, 1923), and still among the living… as far as we know. I like to envision him warmly surrounded by several generations of loved ones and well-wishers, an impish gleam in his eye.
Without further foot-dragging, here’s a vintage tale of quick wits in ruling class hubris from beyond the grave, The Servant of Chan, by that dastardly duo, Drake and Dominguez.
« Slavery in ancient China was not a pleasant experience. The lives of slaves were filled with hardship. Many were abused. Many slaves were children.
Most people who were slaves worked in the fields, alongside of peasants. They did the same job, and had the same hours, and pretty much the same clothing and food, as free farmers. But they were not treated with the same respect given to farmers. Some slaves built roads. Some worked in government.
But slaves who worked for the emperor, the royal family, and sometimes the nobles, had the worst of it. They could only do what they were told to do. They were treated in any way that their master and his family felt like treating them. Many were treated with great cruelty. When their master died, they were killed, and buried with their master in his tomb, so they could continue to serve their master after his death. »
Brr. All the same, if you’ve enjoyed this yarn, check out Arnold Drake’s other contribution to this issue, The Anti-13, which we enthusiastically featured some time ago.
¡Feliz cumpleaños, Señor Dominguez… wherever you may be!
« It is Friday the 13th and you are right on time — ten minutes to midnight! »
As the thirteenth fatefully falls on a Friday this month, I’m inspired to trot out a story from my very favourite issue of Gold Key’s Grimm’s Ghost Stories no. 26 (Sept. 1975). So what elevates this particular entry above its brethren? Admittedly, the competition from other issues is pretty tepid. Truth be told, though, all comers are swept out the door by a winning pair of yarns from the great Arnold Drake (1924 – 2007, co-creator of The Doom Patrol, Deadman and the original Guardians of the Galaxy): The Servant of Chan (illustrated by Luis Dominguez) and this one, the bracingly skeptical The Anti-13 (illustrated by John Celardo).