Wednesday, January 25, 2006

fanzine review...HOO HAH!; THE BEST OF EC'S FINEST FANZINE (published around 1984 or so...check out occasional ebay auctions for availability or if you dare, write to Ron Parker, 324 Warwick, Oakland CA 94610)

In what might be yet another limp attempt to break the "conspiracy of silence" that surrounds not only this blog, but this writer and his self-published endeavors, I've decided to do a small midweek posting if only to alert some unassuming soul out there about me, myself and a tonna sweat and fervor I've hadda put into my "hobby" for oh-so-long. Anyway, since this week has been rather slow (in fact, downright creeping) with regards to various BLOG TO GULCHERAL happenings especially geared to jolt your humble blogmeister outta his usual ennui (save for a boss Cee-Dee from the Magic Markers that I'm saving for this weekend's big review blowout), you can betcha that I was in a quandary as to just what I should write about here in order to wow you rubes'n all into NOTICING ME! (like I know you should). That is, I was stymied until I decided to pull something outta one-a the big boxes in my room in order to glom a little reading material to accompany today's early-morning relief session and plucked out none other than this neat-o collection of the "best" from the "groundbreaking" (I guess) fifties-era EC fanzine HOO HAH! and the proverbial light bulb just began a-gleaming above my sweaty (remember, I was anxious to go about doing my daily duty!) brow! I dunno if this was an act of God or perhaps just plain ol' lady luck that popped this classic collection into my hands or not, but believe-you-me, stranger things (like Chuck Eddy being considered an apt, well-versed rock critic) have happened so why should I argue with kismet?

Of course you can't believe EVERYTHING you read including the cover blurb "THE BEST OF EC'S FINEST FANZINE" (I'd give that honor to a host of sixties/seventies four-color covered wonders with such classically EC-Sci Fi-inspired titles as SPA FON, QUA BROT and CHIN HO), but perhaps it was the finest back in the mid/late fifties when the EC legend was only freshly dead'n still ruminating and the only other EC fanzine on the boards that I can think of was Bhob Stewart's POTRZEBIE (created by Stewart as a wonderfully kneejerk reaction to none other than latent communist Fred Wertham!). Whatever your take is, HOO HAH! was a very good (in fact excellent given the time and effort) fanzine project that I believe (for what you'd take of that) suited the EC fan base gurgle pretty well in those pre-mania times long before comic books became the hardcore matter of hipster youthdom when Stan Lee decided to adapt a more Comics Code-prone view of the EC fan style and made megamillions with it.

THE BEST OF HOO HAH! is packaged pretty much like one of those over-sized eighties/nineties fanzines (the second issue of KICKS comes to mind) complete with some (but strangely enough not all) original covers on display as well as not only choice reprints but the sagas behind just about every word and semicolon that appeared in HOO HAH!'s halcyon pages. A pretty detailed endeavor considering just how limited such a product must have been outside the EC/fandom realm (I mean, I was actually considering a similar "Best Of" collection of tasty tidbits taken from the pages of the infamous TEENAGE WASTELAND GAZETTE back in the early-nineties only publishing costs, copyrights and all the technicalities finally got the best of me!---that and the thought that I might be the only person alive who'd wanna read the thing!), but one that I feel needs to be done lest all this great fanzine drive of the past be totally forgotten!

But what's exactly in store once you open the plastic protector and get to the meaty self-published pow'r of it all? Well, what'cha get's a lotta early amateur-yet-engrossing endeavors not only by the soon-to-be-forgotten scribes like Larry Stark, but art and type by people who used their fanzine experience to blast off into mainstream comics fame such as Archie Goodwin, Marv Wolfman and the aforementioned Stewart. And not only that, but we also get the meaty EC articles on where it was and where it was going (which, after the "New Direction" and "Picto-Fiction" lines bombed, was MAD and nothing but!), and yeah, some of the articles appearing here may have been written (and unintentionally at that!) in your typically staid term paper fashion (not an uncommon occurrence amongst comic fandom...too bad they didn't have their own Meltzer to swipe from like we do!) but it at least gives us that li'l inkling of just what it was like to be a nerdy shell ready to burst forth into a broth of a buttsop within the short span of a good seven/eight issues trying to sneak in alla snide female nudity one could get away with a good half-century back.

Personal fave moments: the "Kurtzman Vs. Feldstein" debate regarding who was the better MAD editor (with such future heavyweights as E. Nelson Bridwell and underground comix spurrer-onner Marty Pahls giving their what for), the reviews of EC's "Picto-Fiction" titles by Stewart and Archie Goodwin (who was perhaps "thee" true force behind HOO HAH! given his contributions and cover illios), and naturally all of the rare EC arcana that's been reprinted over and over I'm sure, but at least it appears for my own perusal in the here and now thanks to this fanzine appreciation. And yeah, there are always the CARTOONS to enjoy, and although HOO HAH! wasn't a MAD fanzine "emulation" along the lines of ODD and a slewwa other proto-underground affairs the influence can certainly be felt like a heavy-handed sledge, from the six-page spoof of William Gaines' appearance before the Kefauver Crime Committee ("The Gaines Mutiny") to the bad taste cartoons along the lines of Gene Kelly's "Wilbur" (no, not the Archie Comics self-ripoff, but a kiddie comic involving a puppy that drops a turd about twice the dog's size which really makes for interactive reading if you yourself are doing a dump...hefty stuff for a kiddie comic spoof inna mid-fifties I might add?). Hokay, I gotta admit that a lotta the comic wares reprinted in HOO HAH! ain't quite up to my guffawing standards more or less reading like bad college mag gagsters that don't even appeal on a good groan level like a classic NANCY does, but I gotta say that I like the snot attitude more than...say the comic fanzine altruism of the sixties onwards and you can bet that I'll be reading HOO HAH! a lot closer tonight. In fact, if you see me making additions and corrections to this very blog post like I tend to do you'll know it's because I'm finding even more insight into this collection than I already have. Yes, in today's vigilant blogworld, your ever-ready blog author refuses to SLEEP in the name of truth and a good post that'll knock yer socks off!

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