Wednesday, August 11, 2010


With a good portion of my rockmag and comic book collection boxed away and stuffed all over various crawlspaces and closets in the abode, I surely don't have immediate access to alla that late-night pre-beddy bye reading like I wish I did. However, I have been able to unearth a few boxes of old paperbacks mostly consisting of old comic strip/book art that I've been collecting since the ages of eight or so and hey, amongst this bevy of comic art are more'n a few MAD paperbacks, many of which I've been enjoying since being barely into the double-digits. As of late I've been mostly on the lookout for some of the early comic book-era Harvey Kurtzmanned collections of rare material (given their popularity w/the fifties jazz/hot stuff crowd) but other than coming across copies of THE MAD READER and INSIDE MAD with the fake Peter Max covers all I'm stuck with right now is material that's mostly from the sixties and mostly reprints of goop that originally appeared in the magazine. Great but since I've been more than immersing myself in a load of recently-purchased sixties-vintage MAD's these are quite unnecessary.

Thankfully amongst these commonalities are a number of original material titles including two Dave Bergs that prove him to be one of the more clueless of En Why See Eisenhower-era progressives trying to make sense out of a Richard Nixon world. A couple are quickie dashoffs along the lines of CLODS LETTERS TO MAD and other things that I'm still puzzled as to why I bought them in the first place. Thankfully there was at least one from Don Martin, a guy who I gotta say I bond the most with pretty much because most of the time I feel like I'm living in one of his cartoons splaps, thoonts and bruga-bruga-bruga's included!

DON MARTIN DROPS 13 STORIES ain't the best of his varied titles and it certainly ain't no MAD ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN KLUTZ let alone "National Gorilla Suit Day" from DON MARTIN STEPS OUT, but it's Don Martin fanabla enough for me. True a good half of this comes off like the same kinda Martin rejects that cluttered up his latterday MAD and beyond work, but at least the first part captures that mid-60's (1965 to be exact!) height in Martin's art and storytelling which should go to remind you as to what the appeal about this guy was back in the late-fifties when MAD seemed to be the hip-de-la-suburban read for many a conformist high school/college hipster wannabe. It's all drawn and quartered out in a single story entitled "The Letter" where longtime hero Fester Bestertester (w/o aid from Karbunkle) is a private detective acting out toughguy Dashiel Hammett fantasies getting konked on the head by real-life apes and bumping brains with gorgeous blondes while attempting to get "the letter" from The Fat Man. And don't forget Frankie the Kid, who came into this city with a smile on his lips, a tear in his eye and ended up with four knives in his torso and a meat cleaver in his skull! Martin of course works all of this in with more pratfalls and stymies than one could imagine even in a classic Kurtzman-period PI burlesque. Boffo sitegags galore make this tale of treachery one you won't soon forget at least until you happen upon whatever paperback it was where Martin takes on sixties-vintage Elvis Presley movies!

And actually, it ain't like the entire rest of the book is instant turd. The trampoline gag was vintage Martin plus the one w/the necktie salesman was so good that some French copycat re-did for THE NEXT BIG THING years later and nobody even got sued for it! And if anything, this book proves that Martin could come up with some catching, affecting gags and puns...without resorting to using a steamroller, that is.

1 comment:

Tony said...

Good review, Chris ... I also like the three-bums story and the treatise on mosquitoes.