Laffin' Gas #9, June 1987, Blackthorne Publishing
contributors: Hal Lane, Tim Tobolski, Willie Blyberg, Chas Gillen, Larry Juliano, Viktor Laszlo, & Emil Novak, Jr.
A few years ago, I thought of drafting a semi-autobiographical comic book about a geek that has grown up and decided to discard his comic book collection. Through some peculiar twist of fate, I -- I mean, the geek would suddenly find himself trapped within his diverse collection, establishing an allegorical coming of age story via the evolution of comics as a significant literary art form. Of course, such a series could never really exist, what with all of the copyright laws an adequate summary of the medium would violate. Further, thinly veiled spoofs or derivatives of these classic and beloved titles would only lessen the impact such an epic could have. I mean, Superior Man? Why even bother, right? Ah, the whole idea is probably pretty stupid, anyway.
Or so I thought until I read it in Laffin' Gas #9.
Based on its title, I presumed that Laffin' Gas was another Mad Magazine wanna-be, like Marvel's Spoof that I reviewed yesterday. I was surprised to find a linear story within its pages, yet quickly confused by what that story sought to accomplish. From what I can gather, this tale begins with a forlorn geek (Sound familiar?), celebrating his birthday shortly after the loss of a dear friend and fellow fanboy, who seemingly sends the birthday boy a mysterious video from beyond about his ethereal quest to preserve his youth by protecting "Cartoonland." Cartoonland is the tangible representation of the comic medium itself, and within this jaunt, the creators "treat" us readers to rip-offs of every favorite character imaginable -- from Dick Tracy to Gumby, from Beetle Bailey to Space Ghost, Mister Miracle to Astro Boy. It's a veritable who's who of the medium . . .
. . . and I can't discover any other reason for the creators to have made this issue other than the mere chance to draw these icons. While the story is linear, it is also incredibly shallow, with little incremental movement propelling the plot toward its end. Its a concept piece with satiric means, with little if any humor involved. I'm not laffin'.
I wonder what inspired me to come up with such a similar story just a few years ago. I can certainly understand the inherent need to write such a story -- as we fans grow older and wear titles like "geek" or "nerd" proudly, we nevertheless find it harder to reconcile our admittedly childish hobbies with our seemingly adult lifestyle. Perhaps the only way to make this transition most successful is to reinterpret our heroes, to make them applicable through the lens of . . . well, being grown up. Sometimes, in order to keep our comics, we need to think outside the long box.