Adventures of Ford Fairlane"
A couple months ago my
friend Josh (who longtime readers of the site will remember as Jaeger S.
Meistersen) was organizing his comic collection, and he unearthed an
ill-advised purchase from back in 1990, "The Adventures of Ford Fairlane"
four-issue series published by DC Comics. He immediately tossed them my
way, knowing that they would make excellent fodder for a Tales From the
Unfortunately, this prompted me to rewatch the film (starring Andrew
Dice Clay), which I found very funny when I first saw it well over a
decade ago. These days, not so much. I still found it enjoyable on a
"laughing at it, not with it" kind of level, though I found myself
uncomfortably embarrassed for the actors on multiple occasions during
the film. The comic book series is actually a prequel that explains how
all of the characters got to where they were when the film started. I
have to give them credit for at least doing something a little different
from the typical movie adaptation, but it's still not a good comic by
any stretch of the imagination.
The covers are deceptively
not-horrible, but don't let that fool you for an instant.
The story starts out with
our protagonist, Ford Fairlane, reminiscing about the events that led
him to become a "rock 'n roll detective". He formed a band back in
Brooklyn with his friend Johnny (played in the movie by Gilbert
Gottfried) and when they showed up for their first gig, things didn't go
quite as planned.
If Gilbert Gottfried was
in your band, you'd probably look pissed off all the time too.
When they showed up at the
Black Hand Bar to set up, they discovered that they'd been replaced that
night by a disco act. Ford goes to over to Gina, a girl who works at the
bar, for an explanation, and she informs him that disco is the way of
These characters are shown
in silhouette so you can't see Ford Fairlane's tears as Gina tells it
like it is.
Ford goes into a loud rant
about how much disco sucks, and suddenly the synthesizer player of the
band leaps off the stage and lunges at him right in the middle of their
Mongo doesn't like when
people make fun of his music. Mongo doesn't like it one bit.
A fight ensues, some
things get broken, and then some badly dressed, goofy-looking mobsters
show up, who are apparently pissed off because they own the bar.
That front guy's got a
little hint of green to him there.
Could it be that we wouldn't like him when he's angry?
Ford and Johnny hightail
it out of there and then decide to go to Los Angeles, because they can
obviously never show their faces in Brooklyn again because they
broke a window and some furniture. Out in LA, they fare no better as
everywhere they audition they are told that rock is dead, and disco is
where it's at! Johnny leaves the band and decides to become a radio DJ
(which is what he is in the film), which leaves Ford high and dry
without a partner. He decides to take on some odd jobs in the music
industry until he figures out what he's going to do. One of his jobs is
to pick up the former rock musician turned disco singer Bob Balloo from
LAX and bring him back to his record label.
"So, uhh...you guys are
Of course, Ford can't
resist making fun of his feathered, bleached hair and his bitchy
girlfriend Brik Scheissus (does that mean Brick Shit in German?)
complaining about how she needs her liquid protein. Ooh! Is your dirty
joke sense tingling when you hear that? I know mine sure is! Let's wait
and see what happens!
Obvious sex joke coming in
3... 2... 1...
Naturally, Balloo and his
girlfriend are annoyed with a lowly limo driver making fun of them, and
she insists that Balloo use his influence to get Ford fired. Instead,
Balloo throws a big pile of money at Ford and decides to insult him by
making him his personal errand boy, knowing full well that Ford won't
say no to that big wad of cash. As he gets dropped off at his record
label, he tells Ford to pick him up a pound of calcium hypochlorite so
he can bleach his hair. Then Ford has to drop off Brik at her recording
studio, and he decides to make a quick stop inside where he makes a
totally unpredictable dirty joke about liquid protein. They left us
hanging for three whole pages! I thought they'd never come
Well, I never! If I'd
known this comic was going to be so racy,
I'd never have agreed to review it!
Ford is then told to go
down the hall to pick up Brik's "voice", which he soon finds out is a
black woman named Chantal who sings remarkably well, who provides the
vocals that Brik simply lip syncs to, much like Milli Vanilli.
Every year for Halloween,
Chantal dresses as Velma from Scooby-Doo. It gets old.
Ford eventually shows up
at the hotel where Balloo is staying, to deliver the calcium
hypochlorite for his hair. Balloo tries to get him to run more demeaning
errands, but Ford has had enough and he tells off Balloo, flicking him
off and leaving the hotel.
"Does it entice you, Mr.
Fairlane, that I always answer the door in my knickers? Oh, how
Knowing that this is
liable to get him fired, he goes to his DJ friend Johnny (now called
Johnny Crunch) and asks him for some work. He ends up getting a gig
doing publicity for Captain Cool, lead singer of Disco Express (and
played in the film by Ed O'Neil).
Even on paper disco music sounds horrible.
He ends up just making fun
of Captain Cool a lot, and then they go to a hot LA club, where Captain
Cool tries to get in even though Ford tells him there's no way in hell
that's happening. After Captain Cool gets his ass kicked by the bouncer,
a girl runs out of the club screaming that Brik Scheissus has been
murdered. Apparently someone has poisoned her liquid protein!
What, no sex joke?
Captain Cool hauls ass out
of there, saying he can't be seen by the cops, and Ford goes back to the
recording studio just in time to see Chantal being hauled away by the
police, as she's the most likely suspect in the case. Ford goes back to
the scene of the crime and talks to the cops, where he learns that Brik
was killed by a really strong bleach, calcium hypochlorite. He and the
cops then show up at a mansion where Bob Balloo is having a party, and
Ford confronts him, stating that he knows he's the killer.
"Hoo-ha! Look at me! My
hand's so big I can grab both of this girl's breasts... at once!"
Balloo freaks out and
tries to run, but Ford intervenes and stops him. During the scuffle,
Balloo trips over a speaker wire and falls into the swimming pool with a
couple of giant speakers, thus electrocuting him.
One might say he gave the
most electrifying performance of his career that night! Wokka
After Ford helps the cops
solve the case, he gets a call from Mr. Amos (aka Captain Cool) who
tells him that he couldn't be seen by the cops at the crime scene
because he's in the police academy training to be a detective. Ford gets
inspired by this, realizing that if a fuck-up like Captain Cool can
become a detective, then he should be able to do it too. So he becomes
the one and only private investigator working solely in the music
That's it! I'll be the only naked detective in the industry!"
Our second issue opens
with Ford living out of his office and barely able to afford groceries,
when, wouldn't you know it, a well-dressed sexy dame named Kiki Diehl
comes knocking on his door with a case.
"Yes, that's it lady!
Fight your way out of that polar bear's stomach! You can do it!!"
She wants Ford to track
down a new artist/producer, Don Cleveland (played in the movie by Morris
Day), signed onto the label she works for. Rumor is he has a thing for
underage hookers, and she's looking to break his contract, but the label
wants proof first. So Ford tracks him down to a hotel and takes pictures
of him with a couple of hookers, and somehow doesn't manage to draw any
attention with his blinding camera flash.
Good lord, it's like a
tiny sun right outside the window! How the hell did nobody notice
Realizing that the guy was
just lying there unconscious while three girls were toying around with
him, Ford realizes something fishy must be up, because there's no way
anyone could sleep through all the stuff they were doing. Realizing he'd
been drugged, Ford wakes him up by taking him in the shower and spraying
cold water all over him.
This is it, ladies and
gentlemen! The gayest panel in the series!
After talking to
Cleveland, Ford learns that his agent Skip Garabedian must be trying to
frame him for some unknown reason. So he decides to drop in on
Garabedian's office to find out. He barges past Skip's receptionist (who
later becomes Ford's assistant Jazz in the movie) and into his office.
"Hey! No flirting in my
office unless it's directed at me!"
Skip immediately demands
the pictures that Ford took of Cleveland, but Ford says he brought some
songs of his own (that were secretly written by Cleveland) he wants to
sell, and that he'll trade the pictures if Skip can sell his songs.
If this guy was a Gotham
City criminal, his name would be The Chipmunk.
Ford goes home, where he
finds Kiki Diehl waiting for him. She tries to seduce him and get him to
give her the pictures, but he refuses to do it.
It seems Ford can't even
go to the grocery store without
some crazy woman breaking in and trying to seduce him.
So she draws a knife and
attacks him, and during the fight she cuts open Ford's grocery bag,
spilling ice cream all over the floor, which she later slips on,
allowing Ford to win the fight.
"For the love of Christ,
please tell me that's the ice cream you just sat in!"
Ford locks her in a
closet, takes her keys and heads to Garabedian's office where he's going
to snoop around. But shortly after he enters, someone comes in with a
gun! That someone turns out to be Skip's assistant, who Ford calls
"Jazz" after she tells him the reason she came back into the office late
at night was that she forgot the new jazz CD she bought earlier that
day, and she wanted to go home and soak in the tub while listening to
"Girls sure do love it
when you sneak up behind them, yessir!"
Ford explains to Jazz why
he's there and they both snoop around some more. Eventually they find a
safe with lots of blackmail material in it. Apparently Skip Garabedian
was blackmailing his artists so he could get complete control of the
rights to the songs, so he could earn all the money and the artists
could do nothing about it. He was even going to blackmail Ford for the
songs he brought in. No sooner do Ford and Jazz learn this than Skip and
Kiki come storming into his office with guns!
Wait a sec, she's not even
holding a gun. Is he telling himself to fire?
They start shooting at
Ford and Jazz, who have to escape by jumping out the second storey
window. A car chase ensues, with Skip shooting out the windshield and
two of the tires on Ford's car.
Ah, the old Stevie Wonder
gambit. I hear he gives very good meeting indeed.
Ford leads Skip and Kiki
crashing into the garage recording studio of Don Cleveland, where he's
recording some songs with some new rap group. Skip realizes he's
outnumbered even though he has a gun, so he tries to placate them with
an improvised rap song.
I'm just glad this wasn't
in the movie, cuz just one panel of this is painful enough.
His horrible rapping only
enrages them, and they smash his head into the ceiling, at which point
he is knocked unconscious and arrested. At the end of the issue, Ford
hires Jazz on to become his assistant.
The third issue opens with a new client, Joel "Gutbucket" Guteburger,
owner of Gutbucket Records, explaining to Ford that several white
bluesmen who used to record for him have been murdered, and he's
concerned that more artists on his label may be next. After Ford agrees
to take the case, blues artist Blind Sonny Stevenson shows up on Ford's
I see old ladies driving
around wearing those exact same sunglasses all the time.
After he explains to Ford
that he's not actually blind but that Blind Sonny Stevenson is just a
good name for a bluesman (nyuk, nyuk!), he tells Ford that he's the
number one suspect in this murder case, because people believe that he's
murdering these white bluesmen out of anger at them for stealing the
black man's music. At Jazz's insistence, Ford agrees to look into his
side of the case.
While Ford and Jazz are driving to find another white blues player whom
Sonny fears may be next, Ford asks Jazz to adjust his side mirror, which
somehow magically makes her skirt fly up in the wind!
Jazz always wondered why
Ford had a little fan on the side of his car where a mirror should be.
They arrive at the blues
player's house, but too late, as they find him murdered when they get
there. Jazz runs off to phone the police, and Ford is hit on the back of
the head and knocked unconscious while he checks out the scene.
Turns out he wasn't dead
at all; he was totally shitfaced. How embarrassing!
Ford's body is then
dragged inside the house by his mysterious assailant and the whole place
is set on fire, but luckily Jazz finds him in time and pulls him out of
there. She then mentions that as she was calling the cops, she saw a car
that looked just like Blind Sonny Stevenson's car speeding away from the
house. They confront him about this, but he convinces them that he's
being framed, and tells them there's another white blues player who may
be in danger: Whitey Snow. Yes, that's right. His name is Whitey Snow.
There were many beautiful
princesses across the land, but the prettiest of all was Whitey Snow.
They track him down at a
record signing and we the reader discover that he looks almost exactly
like the villain in the previous issue even though he's not. After
questioning Whitey, they learn that Blind Sonny is dangerous and
paranoid, and he has a real problem with white guys singing the blues.
Ford tries to find Sonny back at his hotel but he's checked out and the
room is empty. So he goes back to Whitey's house just in time to find
Sonny there, wielding a lead pipe menacingly at Whitey.
Dude, he's totally wailing
on Colonel Mustard with that lead pipe! In the Conservatory.
And even though Ford is
right outside the seemingly open window...
For a brief moment Ford
thought the window was a door. Disaster was narrowly averted.
For some reason he takes
the long way around and crashes through the door. But it's too late,
because Sonny has already smashed Whitey on the head with the pipe! But
they spot Guteburger around the corner aiming a gun at Sonny, yelling
for him to finish off Whitey!
"Yes, that's it! And now,
kill yourself with that lead pipe... or I'll kill you!"
Soon they learn that
Guteburger has been killing off his own blues artists, because it's been
creating a huge increase in sales. He also figured that Blind Sonny
would have a great deal of sad shit to sing about after he'd been
imprisoned unjustly, thus being able to create more intense blues
This comic combines all
the witty banter of a superhero battle with
all the no-holds barred action of a tiff between investment bankers.
Ford and Guteburger fight
for a while, but eventually Guteburger is taken down. Also, it's
revealed that Whitey Snow is okay, as Sonny only hit him very lightly
with the lead pipe.
This has to be one of my
favorite out-of-context panels ever.
After he's arrested and
Sonny's name is cleared, Ford and Jazz go back to his place to
celebrate, and despite Ford's constant hitting on her and her getting
pissed off about it, they end up drinking some wine, and one thing leads
to another... which was alluded to in the movie. See, it's all
Have you ever had a moment
of passion so intense you just let
shit spill all over the floor all around you? Yeah, I didn't think so.
Our fourth and final issue
opens with Ford running away from some muscle-bound steroid poppers on
Venice Beach, for some as yet unknown reason.
One man's nightmare is
another's dream come true.
Ford keeps looking over
his shoulder so he doesn't see where he's going, and he runs smack into
a girl on roller skates and listening to a walkman (who didn't hear him
"Oh, Ford! You are one
This allows the three
muscled thugs to catch up and start beating on Ford, which triggers a
flashback of the events leading up to this moment. The day before, some
random kid on a skateboard rolled his way into Ford's office.
Yes Ford, be careful. You
might accidentally slam the door on
some fucking annoying kid who's breaking into your house.
The kid has been watching
Ford for a while, and he offers to become his new assistant, as Jazz
left after things got all weird and didn't work out after they'd had sex
(hopefully something that won't be an issue with the kid). Ford says he
doesn't need an assistant but he lets the kid tag along anyway while he
goes for a walk on Venice Beach. While there he runs into an old hippie
woman selling patchouli oil, who tells him that her husband was killed
because his guitar (previously owned by Jimi Hendrix) was stolen and he
died of a broken heart.
Unbeknownst to the
drugged-out hippie woman, Moondog wasn't really her
husband at all, but in actuality a moon pie that she found quite
After learning that Jimi
had owned the guitar, Ford agrees to take the case and ends up following
a lead to track down a surf-Nazi named Bingo. He finds a group of them
on the beach and inquires about Bingo, but he's not around. He makes
arrangements to leave a message for Bingo, who'll be back at 7:00 in the
It's a little known fact,
but Surf Nazis love spending time
in retirement homes, playing Bingo with the old people.
The next morning he shows
up on the beach and the muscled-bound thugs (who are apparently in
league with the surf Nazis) are chasing him, and after beating on him
for a while, they knock him out. The kid goes running off as soon as he
sees the thugs coming. Ford later awakens in a warehouse with a surf
Nazi jeering at him, telling him he stole the guitar and he's found a
buyer for it, and just what does Ford think of that?
I think once you've been
bitch-slapped by a guy named Bingo,
you should never be allowed to show your face in public again.
Just as Bingo the surf
Nazi is about to slit Ford's throat, a familiar '57 Ford Fairlane
crashes into the building, driven by none other than Jazz! It seems that
the kid ran off and enlisted her help when he saw the thugs.
Wahoo! Looks like them
Duke boys have done it again!
Ford, Jazz, and the kid
take advantage of the chaos and run off with the guitar, with Bingo and
the thugs not far behind. But eventually they run into a large crowd of
people and the mob, led by a street rapper, dogpile on Bingo and beat
the crap out of him.
You know, for some reason
people just don't seem to like Nazis very much. Funniest thing...
Ford returns the guitar to
the old hippie woman, who decides to let him keep it as his reward. Ford
and Jazz then make up and she comes back to work for him, and everything
falls into place just in time for the start of the movie.
"Oh, Fat Elvis! You always
were such a ham!"
These comics aren't
remotely good, as just about every attempt at humor falls completely
flat, but they still manage to do a decent enough job of introducing all
the characters from the movie and explaining how and why Ford knows
them. They actually have more plot than the movie (which isn't saying
much), but unless you're some kind of hardcore Ford Fairlane fan, you'll
definitely want to steer clear of these turkeys.