COVER STORIES for 11/13/2005
COVER STORIES INSTALLMENT #27
Welcome to this 27th edition of "Cover Stories," in which I look at a number of comics covers with a common theme!
However, for this week... it's time for another edition of "Comics They Never Made!"
Today, I present two more alternate reality comics... one from the world of television, and one from the world of old-time radio (well, and TV too!).
So, here's an issue of an alternate reality's Hawaii Five-O comic!
The issue opens with McGarrett and crew at the scene of a murder, which appears to be the latest in a series of murders involving tourists to the Islands. No locals have been murdered in this spree, just tourists, and they've all been shot. This is the eighth such murder in the same number of days. McGarrett returns to the office, where the governor is waiting for him, and the chief exec tells McGarrett he'd better wrap this up soon, or there could be some big changes. McGarret responds, "Get off my back!" but quickly recovers his equilibrium, apologizes, and promises to work harder. Because the murders have been happening daily, and the media is having a field day with it, McGarrett orders the island sealed off, "This island is like a rock. No one gets on or off until we catch this guy!"
After this order goes into motion, he tells Kono to get his boys and search the island - the only clue they have is that all the tourists seem to have purchased a particular souvenir, and if they can find out who sells it, they may be able to track down the killer. The Hawaiians quickly find an incredibly good witness who has seen the souvenirs (small wooden statues of the volcano god) sold at a bar on the beach, and they're trying to find out who makes them.
Late that night, McGarrett muses, "What kind of a man would murder tourists just because they bought a wooden statue of a volcano god?" Getting angrier, he stares out his office window and says, "He's out there, Danno... and he's mocking us." The next day, McGarrett, in suit and tie, questions the beautiful waitress of the bar that sells the statues. He learns that her boyfriend carves the statues, which she then sells to the tourists. However, her boyfriend hasn't been in touch with her in some time, and when she calls or stops by his house, he's not there. McGarrett checks back in with Danno, and learns the lab has found out what kind of wood the carvings are made out of, and where on the island it can be found (as if there are that many different varieties of wood, right?). McGarrett has Danno meet him there with back-up, and armed with a photo of the waitresses' boyfriend, they search the area. One of the locals tells them that someone's been lurking around the area, and tells them where the guy's been seen.
They luckily spot the boyfriend, who starts to run as soon as McGarrett identifies himself as the police. McGarrett chases him to a dock, where the man hops into a motor boat and begins to speed off, but McGarrett and Danno commandeer another boat in pursuit, forcing the first boat onto the beach. It turns out that the boyfriend was planting stolen jewelry in some of the statues, and his fence was supposed to be buying them, but the statues were an unanticipated hit with the tourists, so he had to track them down and kill them, in case they discovered the secret cache. The last panel ends with McGarrett saying, "Book him, Danno - Murder One."
Special thanks to Mark Evanier for his invaluable help (even if he's not aware of it) with this comic!
With the popularity of Jack Benny on radio, movies, and television, it was only a matter of time before Jack and his gang appeared in comics!
In a way, it's kind of surprising that Dell didn't come up with some kind of "Dell Showcase" title or something, so that all these try-outs of new books like the ones I've been posting could've been produced as part of that, instead of doing all the postal regs for new titles all the time!
As the cover promised, the lead story in this issue is "Buck Benny Rides Yet Again!" A bit of explanation here: In 1940, Jack Benny appeared in a movie called "Buck Benny Rides Again" -- and unlike 1945's "The Horn Blows At Midnight," they didn't kid Jack on his radio show about this... in fact, they made references to "Buck Benny" whenever the radio show did a western episode.
So, it was certainly in character for Jack to call himself "Buck Benny" again in this story!
The writing on this book was very similar in style to Jack's radio show in many ways, and not quite so much to his tv show... the issue opens with Jack feeling a bit frazzled... it seems that he'd promised to treat Mary Livingston, his butler Rochester, and Don Wilson (the portly announcer of his show) to a vacation on him -- and given that Jack's characterized as being very miserly, of course he didn't expect to spend any money on this vacation (apparently a sponsor had offered the free vacation, but then cancelled). So Jack is busy entering every single contest he can find where the prize is a vacation for four somewhere. Rochester's helping him fill in entry forms (actually, Rochester's doing most of the work). Mary shows up to kid Jack about how he's probably spending more money for stamps than it would've cost him to just pay for the vacation, but Jack pays her no mind. When Don shows up shortly, he also finds out that Jack's trying to get their vacation for free, and they all have a big laugh about it... until they all realize that there's no way Jack will actually pay for it, so if they want that vacation, they'll all have to chip in and help Jack enter these contests!
Two weeks later, Jack discovers to his delight that he has, indeed, won a free vacation for four to a dude ranch, not too far outside Los Angeles. So, the gang pack their suitcases and load up into Jack's Maxwell (a truly dilapidated vehicle), and we watch for several pages as we get gag after gag about how slow the Maxwell goes down the freeway, how Jack would rather have the gang push the car several miles after it runs out of gas because he knows of a gas station "down the road" where gas is a penny a gallon cheaper, plus they give away a free dish with every fill-up (Don is excited about this, "You mean I won't have to eat right out of the pan when I come over for dinner now?").
When they finally arrive at the dude ranch, they discover it's almost as dilapidated as Jack's Maxwell... the buildings are all in sad shape, the horses are pathetic-looking, and the staff hardly knows more about ranching and riding horses than Jack and his crew do!
Still, even though everyone hates it there, Jack insists that they won a free week's stay there, and he's going to get his money's worth! With the ranch in such sad shape, Mary talks the gang into helping the owners do some repairs and try to make the place look somewhat presentable. Meanwhile, Jack (decked out in cowboy gear) is planning on riding a horse, no matter what! He picks the most dejected-looking beast in the corral to ride (called "Ol' Fireball"), figuring it would be the least challenging one to ride... but it turns out "Ol' Fireball" is addicted to loco weed... and as soon as he gets a chance, the horse grabs a mouthful of the stuff, sending Jack on a wild ride! Hearing Jack's cries for help, the gang and the dude ranch owners come to Jack's rescue!
The aftereffects of Jack's wild ride become immediately apparent, as Jack is now suffering from a bad case of "saddle sores," meaning he can't sit down without experiencing excruciating pain ("Now you know how we feel when you play the violin, Jack!" Mary quips).
The issue closes with the gang taking the Maxwell back to Los Angeles, with Jack propped over the back of his seat because it's less painful than sitting. As they drive off into the sunset, Jack muses, "Well, at least this is saving some wear and tear on my car's seat!"
Okay, friends, it's back to reality... and remember, if you see someone listing either of these comics on eBay... don't bid... they don't exist in our world!
But don't worry, there will always be "Comics They Never Made" in future installments... and with that in mind, let me remind you of the challenge to the readers of this column... have you created a "Comic They Never Made" yourself? Or maybe you've created your own parody cover, akin to what they used to run way back in Amazing Heroes? If you have... let me know! Send me your jpeg file, along with whatever you've written about what the contents would've been... the jpeg should be at least 72 dpi, and about 7.4 by 10 inches. You'll be duly credited here, of course, if I use your cover and text! In fact, I'll even up the ante a bit...send me your mailing address with your entry, and if I use your cover, I'll mail you, absolutely free of charge, a high-quality print of one of my own "Comics They Never Made" covers, printed on photo-quality paper, and suitable for framing! (Hmmm... is that going to be a real incentive to participate in this?) Just let me know which of the covers I've posted so far you'd like to get. I'll run the submitted covers in future columns!
Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," and in the meantime, you can check out my blog at http://waffyjon.blogspot.com for other musings and ramblings by me, or email me with comments about this column at !