Thursday, February 23, 2017

BOOK REVIEW! ANGEL FACE 1957 by Gene Hazelton (Ecomics Space, 2016)

As I can tell you, as Bill Shute can tell you, and as John Cage certainly could have told you, many times the cheap imitations are better'n the original real deal! Even if they're so low quality in some fashion that in the long run your purchase might have seemed useless there usually is some sort of "redeeming value" to 'em that in many ways might surpass the original in many respects.

As far as these rip-offs or whatever you call 'em go, you might know that I have written about many of them over the years whether they be automobile styles, breakfast cereals or especially comics. Archie Publications' PEANUTS imitation SHRIMPY has been mentioned in these "pages" quite a few times, and of course who could forget my piece on various DENNIS THE MENACE knockoffs in past posts like Marvel's PETER THE LITTLE PEST and Archie's PAT THE BRAT (well, the latter one by mere mention). They're all good and worth your time and effort to latch onto, but in no way was I ready for this particular DENNIS swipe which is none other than Gene Hazelton's ANGEL FACE!

There was a similar panel that NEA Services ran inna fifties featuring a gal doin' the Dennis shuffle 'n jive (who even earned her own paperback), but I forget her name even though she was mentioned on THE FABULEOUS FIFTIES blog though for the life of me I can't find any particular posts devoted to her. But from what I do remember this gal was a much meaner character'n the McNaught Syndicate's ANGEL FACE, yet another entry into the precocious turdler realm that was created by none other than noted animator (Disney, Hanna-Barbera) Gene Hazelton.

You can see the Hazelton/H-B connection swell considering how ol' Angel does kinda/sorta look like a prototype for Pebbles from THE FLINTSTONES (it would figure that Hazelton not only gave us the famed Flintstone offspring but also created Bam Bam!). That's where the connection ends, for ANGEL FACE is a pure DENNIS swipe akin to most of those comic strip rehashes done by moolah-mad syndicates trying to get in on some of the hot trend with their own version of the same model. Only there are plenty of differences twixt the two that perhaps were strong enough to prevent the Hall Syndicate from comin' down and hard for copyright infringement.

Oh yeah, ANGEL FACE's got the same kiddie trouble and dog messing up the house gags just like DENNIS. It's even got the frazzled parents albeit with a nifty switch since Dad's now the blond and Mom's got the dark hair and eyeglasses.  But sheesh, is this 'un a lot lot cuter. Maybe "tamer" would be the right word, since I can never see Angel punching out the drywall while standing in the corner or walking into the house with the skull of her elderly next door neighbor! The gags are sweeter and the violence is definitely toned down (in fact, nonexistent) as is the sexiness that Hank Ketchum used to sneak into a whole lotta the earlier DENNISes around the same time Mort Walker decided to do the same with his own creation! So don't look for any gals in bikinis here (though Dad does get caught with a girly mag!), and come to think of it don't look for any gut shaking laughs dealing with Angel Face using a prop toilet at a hardware store or hanging out with horny sailors either!

Ah but it still runs rings around anything to be found related to humor these interesting document of a long-gone comic that I get the idea I woulda champed at the bit to read way back in my comic strip infatuated days. Nothing super-duper, but if you wanna spend ten smackers for thirty panels ya can't do better'n this!


top_cat_james said...

Could the panel/character you couldn't recall be AMY by Harry Mace and Jack Tippit?

Christopher Stigliano said...

I believe so...either that or ANDREA DWORKIN, THE EARLY YEARS.