Thursday, February 08, 2018

COMIC BOOK REVIEW! LI'L RASCAL TWINS #16 (August 1959) (available via
Golden Age Reprints)

DOGGONE THAT BILL SHUTE! An' I mean it too! Y'see, here I am tryin' to scrimp and save for that big day when I'll be retirin' and will hopefully have more moolah to rely on than the pittance of a pension and Social Security payment I'll be in for, and here the guy goes and gets me re-interesting in comic books to the point where I'm buyin' 'em up old and new just like I was back when I was a good twelve-years-old and mainly had an excuse (stupidity) to do just that! Sheesh Bill, how do you think I'm gonna stay afloat with me dumping all of this money in order to buy some reprint of a crime comic that I coulda got at a local flea market back 1972 way for a mere dime??? All I gotta say is I hope you're gonna take good care of me when """""I""""" get old because hey, it's either some financial backing from you or sharin' a bed with some pocked opiate-addled smelloid at the poor house!

But with all these comic books at hand at least I won't spend my declining years being bored, and if I have to "pour any of my money down a rathole" I'll pour it down one that'll get me some classic comic book reading in return! And the titles offered by Golden Age Reprints really do supply the goods in these definitely anti-comics (have you actually read a recent comic book these past thirtysome years? Me neither!) days.

Being in a humorous mood, I decided to splurge on some funny kiddie titles which mostly came out of the Archie stable from way back in those days that I'm even sure the Archie people would like us to forget. Those books include an issue of WILBUR (Archie's own ARCHIE swipe!) and a few GINGERs which I will write about perhaps in the not-so-distant future. But for now I thought I'd pass a li'l gas on THE LI'L RASCAL TWINS, Charlton Comics' dive into the anarchic kiddie market which I guess everybody was cashing in on considering the reams of DENNIS THE MENACE swipes from Archie's own PAT THE BRAT to Marvel's PETER THE LITTLE PEST that were hittin' the rotatin' comic book rack at the time.

But LI'L RASCAL TWINS ain't exactly as direct a steal as the other miscreant titles...sure "Li'l Genius" sports a Dennis cowlick and bushy brow and seems (but necessarily isn't) prone for trouble but you'll never see him runnin' into the house holding a skull. His friend "Li'l Tomboy" ain't even a Tomboy and in fact the two aren't even related so how could they be "twins" inna first place? And that title...LI'L RASCAL TWINS??? At the time this magazine was being published the LITTLE RASCALS were hot stuff on tee-vee and I'm sure every kid in Ameriga knew about 'em, so yeah it's more'n OBVIOUS why Charlton slapped this particular title on the cover! And you don't have to be Brainiac to know the reason why.

I'm sure that the ol' sucker born every minute line applied like it did a whole load of times in and around the whole comic book sphere, and if some dumboid kid didn't snatch thin 'un off the stands thinkin' he was gonna be reading about Alfalfa and Darla I guess he deserved to be crestfallen once his boo-boo was discovered. Ditto some unwary mother or ignorant aunt who snatched a copy thinking it the real fanabla only to get cussed out by sick li'l Junior once she got home from the store. I've fallen for the ruse many a time in my life and if you say you never did you're just plain lyin'.

So you're probably thinkin' that we're goin' in with a whole lotta negative mock it to all heck fun and jamz regarding this title...but are we??? After all, this is just a cheap kid comic book and it looks fine enough what with the nice humorous artwork well-derived from various Mort Walker, Hank Ketchum and Roy Doty prototypes. And it is an easy to read, nice to look at comic as well. I remember when, during a long and tiring outdoor antique show/flea market when the crowds were beginning to thin but there were still a few more hours until closing, I'd buy some early-seventies Marvel reprint title featuring their fifties-era kids roster and read the thing if only to exude some cheap chuckles outta it, then pass it on to my cyster for her enjoyment while I copped an eyefulla yet another cheap crank-out. The stories in LI'L RASCAL TWINS are very much in that whole uncontrollable children's comic vein, containing a slew of mildly humorous guffaws that are worth not only the newsstand price you woulda hadda pay back then but the used copy price of fifty cents you'd pay at a flea market years later. And believe-you-me, any kid, even if he didn't know enough that this was indeed a downright imitation (as if he really cared), could get more'n his moolah back with all of the jokes, gags and funtime art to be found inside. Just ask Bill Shute, but don't complain if he gets you hooked too!

The stories in LI'L RASCAL TWINS speak to that suburban slob kiddoid feeling that I'm sure any single-digit son of the ranch house suburbs could have related to, and for quite a good many years as well. Here's a brief rundown of each story done up just like Bill Shute "That's Show Business" the "twins", after being rudely rousted from the nearby circus because they're broke, start their own "free" one (worthy of any that have been seen in two decades worth of OUR GANG shorts) which drives customers away from the legit deal! In "Jungle Jaunt" the kids go to South Ameriga with their sportsman "Uncle Ben" where they inadvertently start a tribal war when Li'l Tomboy starts bangin' away freestyle on the drums. In "Hi Flyer" the pair babysit the turdler son of an airplane pilot who takes the kids themselves into heights unreached when the kid escapes from a trap door on the roof and climbs up a steel bridge post, and in "Scream Quietly, Please" the Rascals get all gung ho after hearing the mayor's anti-noise speech and try to quite things up with disastrous effects!

There's also a Li'l Genius solo saga which makes a joke outta some flat tire and tough meat, and the usual two-page text which only Bill Shute likes to read. And don't forget the "Just Give Me a Name" contest where participants are encouraged to give this strange creature who looks like an elderly man in a fancy suit and top hat sporting elephant ears, a pig's snout and a kangaroo tail some sort of handy moniker. First prize is your very own Buster Crabbe swimming pool and followups aren't that bad either, though I would personally have preferred that Carvel Ice Cream gave out an endless supply of their goodies 'stead of savings bonds!

In 1959 I don't think any self-respecting suburban slob coulda done much better with his dime unless it went towards another top notch comic book or some well-loved toy once he got another few cents his way. I personally had more fun looking through LI'L RASCAL TWINS than I had doing many things this past week, and thankfully this comic will give me more chuckles once I dig it out again in the future for a further go-at. Golden Age Reprints are to be commended for making this one widely available. However, the $12.99 price tag might be considered a little steep, especially considering how you can buy an original LI'L RASCAL TWINS issue for a whole lot less not only via ebay but perhaps your local flea market if you only look hard enough! But what's money in an era when a million bucks can't buy you an honest laugh from the reams of scolding "comedians" out there...for a real chortle get hold of this title and beware the local comedy club!                                              

1 comment:

Bill S. said...

When you pay $10 for a beautiful exact reprint of an old comic book, factor in the jar of Benadryl you DON'T have to buy because the original moldy and mildewed comic book would make you sneeze for three days after you read it.

Did you ever see one of those TV commercials featuring the late great JERRY VAN DYKE pitching for the BIG LOTS chain? He would end each commercial by looking into the camera and saying, "come on, you KNOW you want to go there," aimed at people who might think they were "above" going to a low-grade store like Big Lots. You and I are the same way about vintage comic books--don't fight it, embrace it! Every paycheck I buy both some actual used comic books AND some reprints from Gwandanaland or Golden Age Reprints or whatever (and maybe also some comic strip reprints....just today, I sent some money off to Hermes Press....right down the road from you in New Castle, PA...for a collection of Steve Canyon strips). Who knows if I'll even make it to retirement! I doubt I could afford to retire before age 70. What if I DID NOT buy those comic books today and did not make it to retirement....well then, I'd be doubly screwed! I'm going to enjoy my comic books....and my Elvis bootlegs....and my Italian sword and sandal films....TODAY! And then I'll continue to have content to provide for Blog To Comm! Oh, speaking of other things I blow my money on, I just got the complete run on DVD-R of the obscure 1961-1962 TV show FOLLOW THE SUN, starring Brett Halsey (right before he went to Europe) as a magazine writer chasing down stories in Hawaii. It's kind of like 20th Century Fox TV's attempt to do a Warner Brothers TV show along the lines of HAWAIIAN EYE or BOURBON STREET BEAT. Maybe I'll do a review after I watch more of them.