Thursday, December 05, 2019

BOOK REVIEW! BEETLE BAILEY IN FRIENDS BY MORT WALKER (Dargaud, 1984)!

Y'know, it really is surprising to find out that a comic as Amerigan as BEETLE BAILEY is revered in more nations than I even knew existed. It is so strange considering that BEETLE is an Amerigan strip about an Amerigan soldier stationed in the USA and like what would some zoink in Belgium care about someone like him anyhow? Maybe the universal appeal lies in the fact that BEETLE as a comic represents the various kinds of associations and rank role play that not only soldiers but everyday working people encounter world-wide. Maybe the stories reflect a sort of desperation that those on the lowest rungs of a society have to live through without much if any hope for advancement (and if that sounds familiar its because I'm plagiarizing Bill Shute!). Then again, the artwork does have a wee bit of that European style so popular in such efforts as ASTERIX which would appeal to the Continental eye. More often than not it's UNDOUBTEDLY because people outside the USA hate this nation and like to see something as universally representational of it mocked with such a voracious and satirical bent just like them people have loathed the ever-encroaching Amerigan kultur invading their small burghs until their provincial identity has been pretty much reduced to nil. Yeah, I'm sure THAT'S it!

This especially created for the Euro market BEETLE BAILEY "graphic novel" (published by Dargaud, also known for the likes of such stellar titles as LUCKY LUKE and SPIROU) is sure a whole lot better'n those BEETLE comics that were created especially for English kiddos in the wake of the early-sixties animated cartoons being aired over there. At least the real deal Mort Walker stable was involved in the execution of these particular books and thus the spirit of the strip (or at least the spirit it had before the infamous story arc where General Halftrack went to a sensitivity seminar) remains even more intact than Aunt Minerva's reproductive system. And really, what BEETLE BAILEY fan wouldn't want to read an extended saga which doesn't make any concessions or skimp on the storylines plus throws more scantily clad gals atcha than your local paper would ever allow?

Well, these books do beat the variety of Amerigan BEETLE comic books that were released via the likes of Dell and Charlton all hollow. Those titles seemed to consist of re-drawn and slightly extended Sunday strips that were probably delineated by one of the lower of the low rungs on the Mort Walker ladder if not some quickie imitator (comic book enthusiasts should know more about this portion of the BEETLE BAILEY empire which I must admit is a bit outside my realm of comprehension). This 'un holds together with not only the better than you see in the strip now art, but the strange story that I get the feeling would have gotten Mort Walker into trouble had this thing gotten out even a good forty years back!

No surprise that these newer BEETLE sagas are not only entertaining but true enough to the entire Beetle canon (for what that was worth) with three stories (Sarge and Beetle told to make nice with each other, a surprise party for Sarge's 25th anniversary in the army and the General judging a beauty pageant) intertwined into a pretty high-larious climax that I doubt would be able to pass any comics code scrutiny but they're all a buncha old prudes so who cares! For young prudes like yourself well, you might blush a tad, but as I said years ago it's sure more FUN when you'd hear these durty jokes comin' from the mouths of people like Johnny Carson or from the pen of Mort Walker 'stead of from those "new" "comedians" who might as well be the latest incarnation of the reformers of old that tried to "improve" our lot in life but only ended up improving nothing but their own self-images.

Got one miniscule gripe about this and that's who ever did they get to do the coloring? Sure it looks fine most of the time, but Otto is given a chocolate brown body o' fur which more or less reminds me of the various printing goofs one used to find in a variety of comics from the fifties well on into the seventies.

Given what a renewed follower of the classic forties/fifties-era strips I've become as of late, I gotta search more of these Bailey's that were created for the Euro circuit. I know that there's at least one more of 'em out there and hey, at this point in time I'll take 'em in just about any language on God's Grey Earth. After all, I get the feeling that Beetle in Sanskrit would be much funnier'n ZITS is in English!

3 comments:

top_cat_james said...

Chris, the other volume is "Too Many Sergeants". I bought both of them back in the late-'80s. I wish more had been produced.
Its also too bad Titan didn't continue with their Beetle/Hagar/Wizard of Id collections.

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

I'm not surprised by the strip's appeal in other countries. Lots of countries have military service requirements, so military service isn't as unusual as it is here in the post-draft US. And, of course, in many cases soldiers serving during peacetime have a whole lot of time on their hands, just like Beetle Bailey. Might as well fill it with laughs.

Anonymous said...

What about Miss Buxley?! That was SEXIST! Next you're going to endorse the Playboy Mansion, where Hef was running around raping and murdering all the Playmates and Bunnies?! May Judy Hensler and Maude Findlay and Betty Friedan track you down and...