I read a lot of comic books as a kid. This series of posts is about the comics I read, and, occasionally, the comics that I should have read.
Typically, I devote my reminiscing for this recurring feature to those superhero comic books I devoured through my tween and teen years (and, somewhat sad to type, beyond), with an occasional hat tip to a nineteen-seventies comic that, as the italicizes introduction concedes, I now feel I should have read. Truth is, during the seventies, which was very much my youth, I was collecting comic books with an unstoppable fervor. They just weren’t superhero comics.
I was a devotee of a genre of comic books that are most commonly sorted under the catch-all term “funny animal,” though the offerings of the most prominent publisher of such fare, Harvey Comics, were more likely to feature stylized human beings or, you know, satanic figures. For kids! It was fully in keeping with my adamant devotion to Saturday morning cartoons. And Sunday morning cartoons. And weekday afternoon cartoons. Really, just cartoons whenever and wherever I could find them. So it was a special thrill to me when my absolute favorite cartoon show, Laff-A-Lympics, showed up on the grocery store rack in comic book form.
Launched the year after the 1976 Olympics, Laff-A-Lympics gathered together a bevy of Hanna-Barbera characters to compete against each other in sports events. The older characters were gathered together on a team dubbed the Yogi Yahooeys, the newer ones under the banner of the Scooby Doobies, and the caddish villains of various eras as the perpetually cheating Really Rottens. On Saturday mornings, the storylines generally didn’t get more elaborate than a series of creative competitions. The comic books creators, like writer Mark Evanier and artist Owen Fitzgerald, distinguished their efforts with more varied through lines, such as the issue that found the animated athletes kidnapped and forced to compete on the moon.
It’s like a weird precursor to Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars. The person doing the abducting is an odd little alien who’s somehow reasoned out that if he can best these cartoon competitors in a series of events, he’ll be granted the right to rule the planet Earth.
In turn, if the Laff-A-Lympics regulars win, the moon man promises them a fortune in gold.
The moon man helpfully equips his unwilling guests with special belts and then proceeds to engage them in a series of events, each one he manages to dominate.
This naturally goes on for several pages, with the Laff-A-Lympians growing increasingly dismayed with their inability to best the squat little figure. The whole while, the team members who weren’t snapped up by the aliens tractor beam are watching on a television, because sure they are. They manage to figure out what the imp wanna-be ruler is up to, and they send Yogi Bear’s best pal, Boo Boo, up to the moon in order to save the day at the last moment.
See, I even learned something all science-y about the moon!
It admittedly wasn’t high art, but it was my art. It was colorful and fun and goofy. And it probably established the weakness that I still have for sprawling crossovers, which has worked out just fine for the major superhero publishers, because they have a weakness for them, too.
Hat tip to the blog that unwitting provided an assist for this entry.
Previous entries in this series (and there are a LOT of them) can be found by clicking on the “My Misspent Youth” tag.