This Column Originally Ran on Comics Bulletin
Random Pulls from the Bargain Bin
In these economic times, finding inexpensive entertainment is difficult. Thank goodness for the local comic shop and a slew of comics nobody cares about anymore! Each week Daniel Elkin randomly grabs a comic from the bargain bin (for 50 cents) to see what kind of bang he can get for his two-bits. These are those tales.
February 8, 2012 – paid 50 cents for:
Published by: Black Diamond Publishing
Written by: Phil White
Art: Pete Ayala
CARE TO TUMBLE WITH THE “SHE DEVIL” IN THE SHADOWS OF THE MOON?
Other than the death of George Peppard coupled with the cancellations of both Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Arsenio Hall Show, May 1994 signaled a number of new beginnings.
Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black president.
After seven years of labor, the Channel Tunnel between England and France opened up to usher in new era of globalization.
Instead of curb stomping him to death, Illinois chose to be the bigger man and execute “Killer Clown” John Wayne Gacy via lethal injection.
Also in May, 1994, Weezer released its self-titled album, the Beastie Boys released Ill Communication, and Anal Cunt released Everyone Should Be Killed.
Hell, even Epic Megagames released Jazz Jackrabbit for PCs operating DOS in May of 1994.
Things seemed pretty sweet back then. We were fat and firmly ensconced in our Barcaloungers, rubbing our paisley sweater covered bellies and watching our bourbon scented pipe-tobacco smoke curl against the popcorn ceiling tiles of the living room. We were even able to swallow the film releases of Beverly Hills Cop III and The Flintstones and seemingly emerge unscathed.
Way under the radar, though, in the lugubrious pit of “good intentions melded with a lack of talent”, Black Diamond Publishing released issue number three of their four part mini-series called Ogre to a thankfully indifferent audience. Had this comic gotten into more people's hands, it is my feeling that it may have altered the entire gestalt of our national consciousness.
Not in a good way.
Things would have gotten ugly.
As ugly as the art in Ogre #3.
Now I know nothing about the creative team of White and Ayala as people. They may be perfectly upstanding men – maybe they have families who love them – perhaps they are the kind of people whose friends always turn to in times of crisis. Pillars of their communities, righters of social injustices, doers of deeds done well, I cast no aspersions on White and Ayala, as men they are probably far better than I.
But GAWD this comic SUUUUUUUCKS.
Allow me to dust off an old adage: “Just because you are capable of creating a comic, doesn't necessarily mean that you should.”
I mean – just look at that.
Skunk-Haired Lady in the Cat Suit (obviously an homage of Dylan's Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands) and Goatee-Sporting Biker in a Vest have roared into town and shuddered to a stop in front of a liquor store. Skunk-Hair wants some Southern Comfort and “all the cash in their register” and Biker in a Vest is surprised she wants him to rob the place.
Then this happens:
“Knew you were My Kind of woman the minute I saw you Hitching near the Cemetery.”
Really? The Cat Suit or the Skunk Hair didn't give away what kind of woman she was? It was the fact that she was hitching a ride near a cemetery that attracted you to her?
This is going to be another painful experience for me, isn't it?
It's bad enough the art looks as awful as it does, but to have the writing be at the same level???
I'm going to need to start drinking again, aren't I?
So, while Biker in a Vest goes in to rob the liquor store, Skunk-Hair ruminates over her choice of boy toy but is suddenly distracted by a newspaper headline.
This is wrong on so many levels, but what really stands out is – What the fuck kind of sound effect is “KLASHK”? These sad sacks can't even get their onomatopoeia on right. They must have put all the money set aside for foley work into the color budget. That is some seriously badass fuschia they are working with.
Skunk-Hair is all atwitter about some female convict who has escaped as there is some “injected with living cells of some animal combined with those of a woman with a 'questionable' past” issues” she is apparently dealing with.
Whatever that means.
Biker in a Vest ends up shooting the liquor store owner as Skunk-Hair steals his motorcycle to find out more about the missing convict.. As she pulls away, the cops show up.
That's right, the cops show up. In my estimation, the liquor store heist occurred approximately 43 seconds ago. Now that's what I call a response time. Either that or some seriously bad writing.
Then this happens over in West Covina:
I have no idea what is going on other than Ayala gets to further showcase his Mad Arts Skillz.
I think Ogre is fighting Monster Crips. Or something. I don't care.
This is followed by page after page of an indecipherable fight scene that is filled with words, words, words, all of which leave me with a slight numb feeling on the left side of my face, a spastic twitch in my right eye, and sweaty fingertips (yes, I said fingertips). There seems to be a plot of some sort that Phil White uses a lot of words to develop, but really, in the whole scheme of things it all amounts to a gelatinous puddle of poor choices and an over-inflated sense of self.
The Crip Monsters leave for some reason. Ogre, he's the yellow one, reverts back to human form, and then this happens:
The numbness in the left side of my face has now turned into a sharp pain. My fingertips have ceased sweating and now are turning an interesting shade of chartreuse. This may be an improvement.
Skunk-Hair is hanging out in the woods surrounding the Chino State Women's Correctional Facility mulling over her cellular connection to the place (whatever – I don't know), when she is approached by a reporter who knows the missing convict. Skunk-Hair agrees to follow the reporter home to find out more.
Then there's a bunch more shit that makes no sense and is rendered in the artistic style of a spastic giraffe with a paintbrush tied to its tail.
Biker in a Vest is sitting in the hallway of the Cucamonga Police Department. The Sargent in charge wants to know why Biker in a Vest is not in a cell, to which Officer Reynolds replies that there is a lawyer on the way.
Then there is a gun fight.
Automatic weapons and point blank pistols notwithstanding, nobody gets shot, but the gang springs Biker in a Vest who declares vengeance on “a young chick (he) met near the cemetery.”
Speaking of Skunk-Hair, she's hanging out at the reporter's house learning about the “Bad Babe” whose cellular structure she shares (oooh, nice alliteration).
Then this happens:
That spastic eye twitch I mentioned before? It just got a lot worse.
Oh this comic..... this comic.... this....
Biker in the Vest is back at the cemetery for some reason. He brains the grounds keeper who used to be Bush's Economic Adviser (really, it says that – I couldn't make that up) and is also Skunk-Hair's father.
Back at the Dorm:
It doesn't work. That's an awful fuzzy towel, though.
This guy, Ogre, Mark, whatever – hears that his girlfriend, who is actually Skunk-Hair, wants to meet him at the cemetery. That's where Biker in a Vest is too.
I feel hijinks approaching!
Skunk-Hair arrives at the cemetery first. Biker in a Vest knocks her down and tells her she is going to be gang-raped. Mark overhears this and tries to trigger his transformation into Ogre again. Because if first you don't succeed – or some other stupid fucking easy plot device reason.
Of course, THIS time it works.
Fuck this comic.
Skunk-Hair seems to have the situation in hand, though.
I could go on and on about what is wrong with this panel, but at this point it would be like kicking a hunk of mold encrusted flank-steak into a puddle of mud. If you feel like compiling your own list, please feel free and leave it for others in the comment section below.
Me? I'm starting to get blood blisters beneath my fingernails.
Skunk-Hair eviscerates Biker in a Vest.
“Tumble with the 'She Devil' in the shadows of the moon”?
This is so wrong. It's all so wrong.
And then my face explodes.
I've had it good for the past couple of weeks, haven't I? First Sylvia Faust then Dan Dare. It was as if the Bargain Bin Gods had rewarded me for my perseverance and my dedication to extolling their domain. I was lulled into complacency, feeling my nightmare was over. Now they throw this in my face.
Why must you test me so, Bargain Bin Gods? Haven't I proved myself already?
Is this to be my LOT in life (see what I did there – look at me throwing down the Bible puns)?
There's all this stupid shit that wraps this comic up, ending with Skunk-Hair (Felony?) showing up to class in her cat suit.
This is the final page.
Don't Miss Next Issues' CLIMACTIC EXTRAVAGANZA!
At least you're over.
Let's just say that I didn't think much of this comic, and, after reading it, I feel that I was robbed of my fifty cents. But there's a larger point here, and that's the adage of: “Just because you are capable of creating a comic, doesn't necessarily mean that you should.”
There needs to be some checks and balances in people's lives. Ogre #3 was published by Black Diamond Publishing. The President and C.E.O. of Black Diamond Publishing is Ada White. The Vice President and Editor of Black Diamond Publishing is Phil White. On the basis of their last names alone, I am making the assumption that these two are related in some manner.
What appears to have happened here is that Phil had an idea for a comic, set up a company with a family member to publish it, and thus was born both Black Diamond Publishing and the Ogre mini-series.
People in the business call this self-publishing creator owned comics. This is a practice that is lauded by many as the future of the industry's salvation. I am one of those people, believe me. Some of my favorite books have been independent self-published titles.
But there is a dark side to this practice. Ogre #3 is a great example of this darkness. There has to be some checks and balances somewhere.
I know you will say, “The market will out.” The fact that Ogre #3 is relegated to the bargain bin shows that there is always a means of separating the wheat from the chaff, the shit from the Shinola, the arse from the elbow, and I can't argue with that. True, Ogre is a distant memory and Black Diamond Publishing, as far as I can tell, ain't publishing shit no more.
Still. Ogre #3 should never have happened at all. It is dangerous. It sends all the wrong messages. Think what it might have done to someone less thick-skinned than I. Would the comic world want that on its conscious?
Do us all a favor. Before you decide that you are going to publish the next great comic book series, let someone you don't know look at it. Have them give you some HONEST CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK before you go any further in the process.
Listen to that feedback and don't be selfish and egotistically blind to reality.
There is a chance that YOUR COMIC MAY SUCK.
It happens. We are not all the next best great thing. Most of us are mediocre at best.
Think of the children.
See you next week.