Wednesday, February 17, 2021

BOOKS REVIEW! CRAZY, MAN, CRAZY AND ZANY (Gwandanaland Comics, 2020)!

I've poured through both of these volumes over and over again, via normal bowel-movement reading and late-night glimpses, to the point where I probably have each and every story presented in these pages memorized by heart.

But dang it if I could find at least one thing here that would make me laugh or even take notice of its genius or just plain natural abilities to make me smile let alone laugh.

Reading the variety of old and continually in-print MAD paperbacks when I was busting into the double-digits way back when was something I would call a learning experience. Although the Glory Days of that magazine were, at least to a few experts on the subject, a good decade or so back those stories still were relevant to my late-sixties/early-seventies existence. What with movies like THE WILD ONE getting frequent broadcast time along with a whole slew of oft-rerunned television series that were being spoofed, not to mention the remnants of a forties/fifties world that was still being lived by friends, family and neighbors whose very demeanors seemed birthed from those pre-hippoid times those old copies of  THE BROTHERS MAD and THE MAD FRONTIER were still as current events as the latest issue hot off the press! And hey, what ranch house suburban slob overweight "C" average doof out there couldn't  get a big charge outta that NANSY lampoon where Ernie Bushmiller's infamous character is transformed into everyone from "Nansy Duck" to "Dick Nansy" anyway???

But alas, none of the flippant, snide humor found in those classic books (which, not surprisingly, still make for dark Saturday evening wintertime reading fodder!) can be found in the pages of these two short-lived MAD swipes. Let's face it, MAD had the charm and feel to pull alla them spoofs off and appeal to the wizenheimer Eddie Haskells who ate them pages up --- CRAZY, MAN, CRAZY and ZANY were but two efforts in that ol' CRACKED tradition that took the "dare to be dumb" credo and run as far as it could before the suits higher up saw too much red ink and it was other work for alla them free-lancers who would be lucky enough to pencil a Marvel title or two sometime inna sixties.

Not that these satire mags weren't able to muster up some sorta sagas of worth...that one Elvis Sci-Fi spoof that John Severin did ('n not fer CRACKED) printed in that collection of late-fifties satire work was a pretty decent effort at that. But nothing in the entire run of these two humor efforts reaches the heights of wizenheimer laffs what with the wilted stories and art which, while at times worthwhile, can easily be traced to various Wallace Wood, Jack Davis, Bill Elder and George Woodbridge efforts that were still front and center in the rag that started it all off.

CRAZY, MAN, CRAZY is the worst what with the extremely lame jabs at current affairs using jokes that were already stale by MAD standards (such as the old Joe/Charlie McCarthy switcheroo) mixed with the attempts at being off-color that were so restricted in their attempts that it's hard to discern if they were even supposed to be off color in the first place (take the ad for "falsies"). The photo-funnies and magazine-styled articles are must-to-skip-overs, while the snap-doctoring doesn't come off funny as much as it does desperate. 

The only thing worth anyone's while in CRAZY, MAN, CRAZY's a contribution by the infamous Basil Wolverton whose work would have, as you would have expected, been more in place had he decided to sell his "Spring Fashions For The Miserable Motorist" to MAD like he would have only a few years earlier (and for that matter well into the seventies when his work was once again welcome in their pages). 

ZANY doesn't fare much better even though they decided to cop their cover scheme from CRACKED who copped theirs from MAD anyway. There's more of a MAD vibe here, though not so good what with the comic strip takeoffs lacking the exact-o talents of a Bill Elder or Wallace Wood while the writing, as you would expect, takes a nose-dive coming off as an nth as opposed to a second generation copy. Some good artists do appear such as the legendary Bill Everett, but the utter convolution of turning GUNSMOKE and HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL into monster and underwater anthropomorphic sea creatures is about on target as aiming for the bullseye and hitting your butt. Sheesh, I'll take R. Crumb's convoluted "Noah's Ark" produced by Jack Webb comic that ran in FOO over this mulch anyday...

'n if I were you I'd take the HUMBUG collection which might have missed its own targets but had excellent artwork and a way better approach to the taproot of snarky satire than any of these titles could conceive of. Well, for being take-the-money-and-runs who could fault them, and being such a curious fanabla'n all who could fault me for buying and being stuck with these books inna first place? 


New York 'Dolf said...

(((You know who))) always, at least, tries to work blue.

top_cat_james said...

Should have got the Super Duck volume instead.

debs said...

lol what is super duck? totally retarded lol try doonesbury :)

Alvin Bishop said...

Erm, I'll stick to Modesty Blaise, Chris! But keep 'em comin'!