As a change of pace, I recently asked my friend, renowned men’s mag fictioner Barbet Winslowe, to write a review for Pop Cutlure Gadabout. The results are as follows:
When Bill asked me to attempt a critique of Rick Altergott’s The Doofus Omnibus (Fantagraphics), I looked up from my latest free-lance-work-in-progress (a Juggs fantasy about a woman whose breasts are fantastically augmented after she’s been bitten by a radioactive titmouse) and said, “Review what again?”
In answer Bill showed me a copy of the work: a trade paperback with a picture of a straw-hatted grinning idiot on its cover. Nearly told him to get-the-fuck-outta-my-office, ’til he turned the volume over and showed me the back panels, which included an image of a sexy Wally Wood-inspired full-bodied babe hangin’ her undies in a pastoral outdoor setting. Okay, I decided, I’ll give this Altergott guy a look-see.
So I finish the book, and now I’m more than a little irked. Takes a good 39 pages before you get to the Wood-y babe in question, a trailer park hotty named Miss Juniper – up ’til then, you gotta read through the grubby adventures of the eponymous Doofus and his retarded friend, Henry Hotchkiss. These 2 are so pathetic that the closest they can get to Doin’ the Deed is to sniff Miz J.’s soiled panties. There’s a lot of olfactory bizness with undies and bike seats in this book – perhaps the publishers should’ve made it a scratch ‘n’ sniff.
So here I am, thinking “Why do I wanna read about these bozos? This is my readership, fergawdsakes!” In one strip, for instance, Doofus tries for a relaxing afternoon in the backyard. What does he take for entertainment? Copies of Hustler, Cheri, Chic, Penthouse and Playboy. (What? No Big Butt?) Yeah, that Doofus is a helluva classy guy!
Fact is, Doofus and Henry are perpetual virgins who are certain to remain that way. I mean, just look at ’em! Big D. can’t even bother to buy an XXL shirt big enuff to fit his prominent beer gut, while Henry makes the shmoes on Red Green look like snappy dressers. Put either guy within 2 feet of a good-lookin’ gal, and they immediately elicit a big Ewwww! from the lady by babbling about stinky fingers.
To make matters worse, even though he calls this thing The Doofus Omnibus, Altergott keeps sneaking in stories with other characters. If they were pin-ups like Miss Juniper, I wouldn’t complain, but – nooooo – it’s just more stuff about pimply arrested asswipes doin’ disgusting deeds like drinking beer piss out of douche bags (hey, he wrote that ‘un in collaboration with Dan “Mister Bigshot Indy Flick” Clowes, so don’t tell me these Art Comics guys are any better than a free-lance smut peddler like myself!)
Sure, the art is nicely evocative of the EC greats (his Clowes collaboration, for instance, manages to recall not just Wood but the master of forehead sweat, Johnny Craig) plus Altergott has an amusing way of playing a stilted lyrical narrative/dialog style against the gross goings-on. But even though I laffed more than once, I still kept feeling like I wanted to wash my hands with Wet Ones every other page. And I’m not exactly Mr. Squeamish either.
Bill tells me that this book’s publisher, Fantagraphics, is known for all kindsa comic reprints that get mentioned in classy places like the New York Times Book Review. Bet we don’t see this 2 Stooges take on paraphilia gettin’ any National Book Awards, tho. Maybe that was part of the company’s game plan. You know: show the world the Fanta-folks can be pervs just like the resta us. I can tell you one thing. After reading all the thumbs up blurbs from fellow cartoonists like Jaime Hernandez and Jim Woodring on the book’s back cover, ain’t no one gonna convince me that yer average comic guy isn’t a total degenerate!
Bill sez he doesn’t do grades in his reviews, but screw him, I’m gonna do some anyway.
General Content: B+.
Pictures of Miss Juniper: A+++.
Chances That You’re Gonna Convince Anyone Comics Are for Grownups by Showing ‘Em This Book: zero.
Chances That A Straight Guy Is Ever Gonna Laid Again If They Show Their Girlfriend Or Wife This Volume: less than 0.
Well, so much for that. Okay, Sherman, where’s that 12 of Old Mil you promised me?