A Month of Wednesdays
The Best of the Three Stooges Comicbooks, Vol. 1 (Papercutz) Well, here’s at least one good thing to come out of the Farrelly Brothers’ new feature film: Its production company C3 Entertainment teamed with Papercutz/NBM to produce this handsome hardcover, which collects chunks of Stooges comics from two different eras.
The best of these are from defunct publisher St. John’s early-1950s Three Stooges comic (issues 1, 4 and 5, to be precise), and were drawn by Norman Mauer, a gifted comics artist who married the real Moe’s daughter, Joan (who provides the introduction to the volume).
Mauer edited the original book (along with partner Joe Kubert), and delivered action- and gag-packed pages featuring Moe, Larry and Shemp. His designs of the central characters are incredibly strong, with Shemp and Moe much more distinctly defined than they often were in their black-and-white short films.
The pair of them are short, roundish figures who favor clown-like garb, including baggy pants and ill-fitting coats and ties. Mauer’s Larry is more elongated in appearance, and, unlike the others, has a more placid, emotionless look in his eyes.
There’s a fourth character, swindler and conman Benedict Bogus, who constantly tries to put one over on our heroes, but his schemes always end up hurting him more than them. These stories can prove rather wild and formless, as if Mauer were plotting them while drawing them, and resolving them only when he was running out of pages left to fill, but the cartooning is super-sharp, and many of the panels are a joy simply to look at.
The back half of the collection includes the first three issues of the Dell comics, by Pete Alvarado, whose artwork has a coloring-book simplicity to it, as he was aping the style of the Three Stooges cartoons of the time. For these stories, Shemp is out and Curly’s in.
Dinopopolous (Blank Slate) Nick Edwards‘ Dinopopolous is the story of Nigel, a 13-year-old who loves comics, videogames and heavy metal and who solves mysteries with is best friend Brian, who is a talking dinosaur.
You have probably already decided that this is a comic book you would like to read, and I concur with your decision: This is a comic you will like reading.
When an archaeologist on the trail of the Miracle Bird of Ndundoo goes missing, Nigel and Brian are given a pre-pre-pre-historic artifact and tasked with finding the bird before Julian and His Evil League of Lizards, humanoid lizards that dress a little like the saiyans from Dragon Ball Z, and reminded me of the Tyrannos from DinoSaucers. And Brian reminded me a bit of a mount from the old Dino Riders toy line, wearing a saddle with guns mounted on it and all. And, tonally and visually, the entire book reminds me a bit of Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time, all of which are farily positive associations in my mind.
The story itself is extremely straightforward. Our heroes find the trail, follow it, come into conflict with Julian and his League and then find the bird on the 25th and penultimate page of the book, which ends with a splash page reading “The End” in the middle of an explosion, while Nigel throws up some devil’s horns.
Let me try to expand upon them a bit.
The first in a planned trilogy of original graphic novels, Creation Myths certainly lives up to its name.
Brian Froud, the creature designer who was integral in the creation of the 1982 film is credited with “Concept, character designs and cover,” and he also pens an introduction. Brian Holguin writes, while the talented Alex Sheikman and Lizzy John provide the art. Prose encapsulations of several of the stories follow, so that different versions of the same “myths” co-exist between the covers.
The work is all fine, but I found it lacking a relevance or urgency, due perhaps to how far it is removed from what I know or care of the setting and premise of the original film (a drawback that might fade in succeeding volumes) and to a more insurmountable deficiency of the medium: Comics can’t capture puppetry, the jolt of sheer wonder that accompanied seeing such bizarre creatures move so naturalistically across a movie screen that proved the film’s greatest and most enduring virtue.