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"The Adventures of Ford Fairlane"

by: Protoclown

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 Longbox column.

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 the future.

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 set.

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 lesbians, right?"

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 through!

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 delicious!"

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 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 industry.

"Yes! 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 that!?

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 it.

"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 doorstep.

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 records!

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 connected, man!

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 coming).

"Oh, Ford! You are one saucy fellow!"

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 delicious.

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 morning.

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.

Found any weird, bizarre, stupid or funny comics that
should appear in a future "Tales From the Longbox" column?

Email Protoclown and let him know!



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