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by: Protoclown

Hello, true believers! I am here to tell you that the day when the light from the heavens will shine down upon you and rain flowers and adorable puppies on everyone is coming very soon. No, Bush hasn’t been booted from office yet, I'm talking about a day where you can go to the comic book store and get free comic books. On Saturday, May 7th, any and every comic book store in North America worth their salt is going to be giving away free comic books! All you have to do is walk in the front door and they'll hand you a free pack of comic books. It's just that easy! So tread carefully around those oozing puddles of splattered puppy muck and get your ass down to the comic book store!

I figured as a primer for those of you who have never really explored comic books before, I would briefly go over a little of their history. The earliest comic books appeared in the 12th century, first appearing in the form of scribed religious pamphlets containing the holy adventures of righteous Christian heroes. The first known ongoing comic book was known as "The Penitent" and chronicled the adventures of a rather unassuming, mild-mannered God-fearing man named Thomas of Bitterham. Basically, the plot would always consist of our hero inadvertently committing what he would call a "a grievous and unholy transgression against a most benevolent Creator, such that he could not bear the sight of his own twisted, sinful countenance, were he to gaze upon it by means of a reflective surface", which usually involved something like the accidental omission of a line from his evening prayer. For the rest of the issue, he would mope around listlessly, convinced of his own impending damnation before finally retreating to his private chambers with conviction, where he would flagellate himself into a bloody pulp of forgiveness. As you might imagine, this comic book had a rather devoted following, but never really branched out beyond its initial small audience.

The penitent man will pass... penitent... KNEEL!

Shortly after this the first team book (with a group of heroes working together) arrived on the scene. Infinitely more exciting than what came before, "The Mighty Inquisitors" featured a fun and bloody romp of finger pointing, religious epiphanies reached at the point of a sword, and plenty of decapitations for the whole family, all on a monthly basis. A team that any child could look up to, the Inquisitors bravely traveled the lands seeking out those whose opinions might differ from their own, pounding them into submission or killing them for their obstinate defiance of conformity. TMI had a good run, but after a while fell apart under its natural story progression, as the members of the team accused one another of not being devout enough, culminating in the memorable and auspicious final issue number 13, "Bathing in the blood of whores, idolaters, atheists, and ultimately, each other".

limited collector's editions came wish real ashes!

The years following saw many comics come and go, but the next book worthy of note was by Leonardo da Vinci. Based on one of his most famous pieces of art, "The Four-Armed, Four-Legged Man" traveled around on a state-of-the art device known as "the flying contraption" and protected Florence from a barrage of dastardly villains. This was the first comic book to feature a regular "rogues gallery" to constantly oppose our hero. Recurring villains included a shameless vandal known as The Paintbrush of Michelangelo, the sexy Plague Ridden Harlot, and the moustache twirling Annoying French Guy. Edgar Allen Poe is responsible for the first horror and detective comics. In an early comic version of “The Raven”, the narrator is inspired by the arrival of the raven above his chamber door and decides to don a raven costume and go out into the night to fight crime. All the fight banter between the hero and villains was in rhyming verse.

but not 4 penises. :(

Now another thing you may not know is that a lot of respected writers throughout history originally wrote their ideas in comic book form. Many of "the classics" in literature were initially developed in the framed sequential art format, only to later be altered and transferred into the novels that we know today. For example, few of you are probably aware that "The Great Gatsby" in its original form was known as "The Great Gat Shooting Bastard", in which an early incarnation of The Punisher hunted down and killed the American Dream with enough firepower to take down a herd of elephants. And were you aware that the title "Lord of the Flies" originally referred to a heroic arachnid character trapped on the island with all the other boys, who swung from tree branch to tree branch by firing liquid webbing out of his wrists. Sound familiar?

Ah yes, some classics truly stand the test of time...

There are plenty of other examples. In the original comic for "Moby Dick", Captain Ahab enlists the aid of an underwater dweller who can speak with fish to divine the location of the whale he seeks. He then kills the orange-garbed useless weakling after collecting the information he requires. "A Tale of Two Cities" basically referred to Gotham and Metropolis, or early versions thereof anyway. "The Scarlet Letter" in it's earliest incarnation, had Hester Prynne nicknamed "Scarlet Witch" after cheating on her unemotional husband who had more in common with machines than other people (an early version of Vision?) A scant few of you may have heard about "The Fantastic Four Musketeers", each having superpowers like super-tough skin, the ability to hide in minimal shadows, or extreme flexibility. An obvious precursor to the Fantastic Four of today. And where would Samuel Taylor Coleridge have been if his "Rime of the Ancient Sub-Mariner" hadn't later given rise to the more popular poem we all remember today?

The point behind all of this is that comic books are and always have been respectable literature. I mean, it's not like you can just pick up any old novel and find a character who is a FLAMING CARROT or see a bowel disrupter used as a viable weapon. Such is the purview of comic books alone. And thank the gods (like Thor, who has his own comic) for that. So this Saturday (May 7th) when you're bored, instead of pulling lint from your belly button and other cracks 'n orifices like usual, why not go to the nearest comic book store? Grab some free books and check the place out. You might just find something you like.

If your local comic shop doesn't support it,
the flaming carrot will deal with them shortly.

In the meantime, read I-Mockery's Comics.

note: Protoclown fondly remembers his youth, when he could run around freely outside in his underwear pretending to be a superhero. These days he usually just gets arrested.

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