Edward Packard invented the "Choose Your Own Adventure" genre, which made him a good living -- and still does. According to wikipedia, he recently started a company to bring Choose Your Own Adventure apps to the iPhone and iPad. Packard may also have caused an entire generation of kids to be confused about their identity:
As we observed in this prior post on Harvey Comics, the stories told about Richie Rich, Casper and the gang were frequently weirder than any Grant Morrison or Warren Ellis tale. Here's one from Devil Kids Starring Hot Stuff, Volume 1, Number 6, May 1963, that illustrates my point. You can read the entire five-page story at the end, but I've included some single panels to make my points.
First, we learn that Cupid inhabits the same universe as Hot Stuff and friends. Nothing like mixing your mythologies up. In any case, Cupid hexes Hot Stuff's trident--or phallic symbol--known as "Old Forky," to become gay.
Gay anthropomorphic trident on display.
Unwanted Public Display of Affection.
Hot Stuff's gay trident attracts unwanted queer suitors.
Including a giant grape wearing an extremely fetching hair ribbon and spats.
But Cupid realizes his error and undoes his spell, whereupon all is "he-man" regular again. Even though Old Forky's first action upon reverting was to impale Hot Stuff's butt.
For those of you who are not already aware, May 25 is Towel Day, a celebration of the life and literature of Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
If you want to see some pictures of froods in the know, they have their own group on Flickr
One of the weirdest books you'll ever read is by my pal, Steve Aylett, and it's titled Lint. (You can order it through the Amazon link below.)
Lint is the "biography" of Jeff Lint, poverty-stricken, mad genius, hack writer, who is basically a cross between Kilgore Trout and Salvador Dali.
One of Lint's fictional creations was a comic-book character dubbed "The Caterer." And now you can read an actual issue of this gonzo masterpiece, thanks to Floating World Comics. A sample is to the right.
You must investigate this saga of one man and his senseless quest for perfect absurdity in a violent world, or risk being rendered null and void!
Here's another strange book I purchased but have not yet read. The real author is Joseph K. Heydon, using the pen-name of Hal Trevarthen. Time has swallowed up all details related to Heydon and his book, leaving us only with the text itself.
Here's the description from the amazingly ugly dustjacket.
Here's the title page, followed by a sample of the actual bafflegab inside.
A few years ago, visiting the island of Martha's Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast, I learned of Nancy Luce (1814-1890). An eccentric loner artist who self-published her own poetry--mainly devoted to her beloved pet chickens--and buried the birds with fully engraved headstones, she is the subject of a biography still available on the island at various gift shops: Consider Poor I by Walter Magnes Teller. You can read what The New York Times had to say about the book here. You might even be so moved as to purchase a lovely woodcut print of Luce here.
Perhaps we should commemorate Luce with a sample of her poetry:
POOR LITTLE HEARTS
Poor little Ada Queetie has departed this life,
Never to be here no more,
No more to love, no more to speak,
No more to be my friend.
O how I long to see her with me alive and well,
Her heart and mine was united,
Love and feelings deeply rooted for each other,
She and I could never part,
I am left broken hearted....
I loved reading Harvey Comics as a kid, and into "adulthood." (They're not published anymore, alas.) Their universe was quintessentially wacked and weird. As famed comics scribe Grant Morrison has remarked in an interview, sometimes the willed naivete of Silver Age writers following the Comics Code produced much stranger stuff than any consciously avant-garde writer could.
Take the two page strip to the right for instance, from an old digest-reprint of some Casper stuff. To parse it is to risk madness.
Is Nightmare indeed a mare, ie, female? if not, and even if so, is that the gayest hairdo ever, on horse or human? Why does a forest gnome like to hang out with a ghost horse? Why is playing human cowboys popular among the gnomes? Likewise riding an airplane. And finally, how demented does a ghost horse have to be, to stick planks up its butt and into its chest, and then purr like a cat, all in an effort to emulate a mechanical device so as to placate a gnome?
How I miss Harvey Comics! Thank goodness Dark Horse is reprinting some.....