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
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.
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".
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
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?
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
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
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.