by Michael Vance & Dr. Jon Suter
May 5, 1999
Reviews in this issue:
Comics Legend V.T. Hamlin
Hola Portal magazine
Gunsmith Cats 6-10
Comics Legend V.T. Hamlin
"He's the toughest man there is alive! He wears clothes from a wildcat's hide. He's the king of the jungle jive. Look at that caveman go!"
Alley Oop was the caveman of that 1960 rock and roll hit record, and the brainchild of comic strip genius, V.T. Hamlin.
Begun in 1933, the exploits of this time-hopping apeman have made Oop one of the most popular comic strips in history.
As appealing as were his rough and tumble stomps through the dinosaur infested jungles of Moo, Oop's real fame came when he proved that time waits on no apeman.
While minding his own business in prehistory, Oop and his girlfriend, Ooola, dissolved from Moo to reassemble in Doc Wonmug's time machine in the 20th century. This first chronic adventure began on April 5th, 1939.
With a powerful premise, stylized and beautifully detailed artwork filled with a kinetic energy, and a distinctive supporting cast with well defined personalities, it's no surprise that Oop became and remains one of the greatest adventure strips in history.
Among Hamlin's works are four Big Little Books (Alley Oop and Dinny, Alley Oop and Dinny in the Jungles of Moo, Alley Oop in The Invasion of Moo and Alley Oop in the Missing King of Moo), Alley Oop comic books (Dell Four Color, Standard Comics, Argo Comics) appearances in The Funnies and The Comics, two Alley Oop collections (Kitchen Sink Press) and Alley Oop: The Sawalla Chronicles (Ken Pierce). Of these, the last three are excellent, available and affordable.
V.T. Hamlin's strips are also being reprinted in the magazine, Comics Revue.
Hamlin's apeman from Moo was the subject of a U.S. Postage stamp in 1995.
The work of V.T. Hamlin is highly recommended.
Some older titles are expensive and difficult to locate. Price guides or comics dealers help. Comics shops, conventions, mail order companies and trade journals are best sources. Prices vary; shop around.
Hello to Suspended Animation readers in Portal magazine (Kansas). Drop us a line!
Many newspapers place Doonesbury on or adjacent to their editorial page, not on their comics section, but one major metropolitan paper hides Tank McNamara in its sports. This is a shame, because this strip is a consistently fine commentary on modern athletics, professional or amateur. Cartoonists Jeff Millar and Bill Hinds lampoon every aspect of modern sports, and deserve much wider recognition.
Tank, the central character, is a former football player working as a sports newscaster. His audience is attracted by his genius for garbled pronunciations: "sports news" becomes "norts spews." Tank is an innocent, like Voltaire's Candide, mildly bewildered by the pompous egos of athletes, owners and coaches; he's genuinely shocked at the violence glorified by some toys and games. Unlike Ted Baxter, the nitwit of The Mary Tyler Moore (TV) Show, Tank has a brain and a conscience.
In a recent sequence, Tank learned that a university's football program was incredibly corrupt. When he prepared his report, his station's owner ordered him to kill the story. After considerable soul-searching, Tank broadcast the story and was immediately fired. Tank was saved from the unemployment line when the network's new owner forced a change in the station's management rather than allow the company image to be tarnished. (The probable analogy was the Disney Corporation's purchase of the ABC television network).
A supporting character, Sweatsox, is a caricature of the enthusiast who schedules his entire life around televised sports. Sweatsox resembles artist Jack Davis's famous Superfan paperback, but the characterization is more sustained.
Reprints of Tank are badly needed. Four volumes were published (1976-1983); unfortunately the editing appears rather haphazard in the largest anthology, The Tank McNamara Chronicles (Sheed, Andrews, and McMeel, 1978). Plot lines were destroyed because of poor assembly; Tanks romance ended before it ever began. The other anthologies did not have this problem.
Reviewed by Dr. Jon Suter
Gunsmith Cats 6-10
Published by Dark Horse. Two bounty hunting babes (one chaste, one a whore... how original!) battle terrorists in Chicago. Mediocre art, story and mediocre characters.Reviewed by Michael Vance
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