‘Son-O’-God Comics’: National Lampoon’s cheerfully offensive super-hero Jesus


 
I live in Los Angeles and believe me when I tell you that I had not heard a single peep about that new Jesus movie—Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s Son of God—because, well, they don’t really market religious films here. In a city festooned with billboards for every damned offering large or small, good or bad that the industrial entertainment complex has in store for us, I think they figured that religious films aren’t for we West Coast heathens; that it’s a waste of money even bothering trying to, er, convert us, even for a big budget picture like Son of God. I can’t imagine Fox spent too much money marketing the film in NYC, either.

Nope, I only heard about this religious blockbuster after the fact, when all of the rightwing blogs like NewsMax, Breitbart and WorldNutDaily were crowing about how Jesus nearly kicked Liam Neeson’s ass in the box office boffo sweepstakes over the weekend. Go Jesus! (Is there anything, and I do mean anything, more pathetic than “rooting” for a movie, let alone pulling for the founder of Christianity to beat the crap out of a formulaic Hollywood action flick? Nothing, right?)

All this goofiness caused me to recall the cheerfully blasphemous “Son-O’-God Comics” that ran in a few 1970s issues of National Lampoon magazine.
 

 
In the Lampoon version of the New Testament’s central figure, “Benny Davis” a nerdy failure-to-launch boychick still living with his parents in Brooklyn, says the name “JESUS CHRIST!” (but not in vain) and transforms (ala Captain Marvel) into a muscular WASP super-hero version of Jesus with a six-pack, cape and halo, ready to do battle with Catholicism, Islam, the Scarlet Woman of Babylon, the Antichrist and even Bob Dylan.
 

 
The occasionally recurring strip was written by Sean Kelly (who would go on to become the founding editor of Heavy Metal magazine) and Michel Choquette, and (mostly) drawn by well-known comics artist Neal Adams, a “Silver Age” illustrator who worked on Batman for DC and a gazillion other comics.
 

 
I would be remiss in my duties writing on this topic without at least quickly mentioning how underrated National Lampoon is in terms of that magazine’s amazing and ground-breaking art-direction. If you consider that the 20th century will be looked upon as the golden era of the printed page, to my mind, the Lampoon’s Design Director, Michael Gross and Art Director David Kaestle created the most creatively free-wheeling and conversely the most detail-oriented magazine design on the planet. What they brought to America’s premiere countercultural humor magazine was an exacting eye for authenticity. If you were going to parody or satirize popular culture, it needed to actually LOOK LIKE the things you were referring to, or the joke would be lost. That was more or less a new idea at the time. In my opinion, the four years that Gross and Kaestle worked on National Lampoon is THE high point of art direction for a monthly print publication. Everyone always points to the the George Lois-era Esquire as the pinnacle of graphic design in magazines—and it’s great stuff, don’t get me wrong—but the Lampoon was even better, had more nuance and yet Gross and Kaestle’s work rarely gets the credit it deserves.
 

 
You can find out everything you always wanted to know about “Son-O’-God Comics” at Dial B for Blog.

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
‘Hello, I’m Johnny Cash’: The 1976 Christian comic book
09.11.2013
06:48 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
Johnny Cash
comics

Hello, I'm Johnny Cash
 
In 1976 Spire Comics, publisher of Christian-themed comic books, many of them involving Archie and his friends, came out with “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash,” which told the life story of Johnny Cash and the start of his musical career, the breakup of his first marriage, his battle with pills, a jail stint, and his eventual marriage to June Carter. Johnny Cash traditionally started his concerts with the phrase “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” before breaking into “Folsom Prison Blues.”

The material’s hokey, of course, but the art isn’t half-bad—just like a real comic book, y’know. Not nearly as cringeworthy as it could have been. It’s credited as being written by Johnny Cash with Billy Zeoli and Al Hartley—one wonders how involved Johnny actually was.

Here are some panels from “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” for your enjoyment. (Does anyone know if Johnny ever played Pisa? This Johnny Cash concert database suggests that he never played Italy. Anybody know?)
 
Hello, I'm Johnny Cash
 
Hello, I'm Johnny Cash
 
Hello, I'm Johnny Cash
 
Hello, I'm Johnny Cash
 
Hello, I'm Johnny Cash
 
Hello, I'm Johnny Cash
 
You can download the entire comic book in PDF format here.

Here’s a video of a Johnny Cash fan free-associating over some stills of the comic book. Be sure to catch the reference to President Obama!

Written by Martin Schneider | Discussion
‘HARDTalk with Alan Moore’: excellent interview with comics legend by BBC News
04.16.2012
11:20 am

Topics:
Heroes
Media

Tags:
BBC
Alan Moore
interview
comics
news


 
HARDTalk is an in-depth interview program from BBC News, something akin to Larry King Live with a sit down, face-to-face, half hour format (perhaps there’s a better reference point here, but my knowledge of American news broadcasters is limited.) In this edition, which aired last week, host Stephen Sackur talks to Alan Moore, who may be a hero to many but is still a fringe presence in this kind of mainstream news setting.

Moore has nothing in particular to promote, so this isn’t a kiss-ass puff piece, and being a “serious” show there is no talk of magic and mysticism. Instead, Sackur picks issue with Moore’s characterisation of the comics industry as gangsters, and has pertinent questions to ask him about the subjects of his works Lost Girls and V For Vendetta. Moore responds very well to being taken this seriously, answering with an unusual frankness and striking honesty:

HARDTalk with Alan Moore (part 1)
 

 
HARDTalk with Alan Moore (part 2) is after the jump…

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Exclusive: Frank Quitely celebrates Moebius


 
Last Saturday saw the passing of the legendary French comic book artist Jean Giraud, better known as Moebius. A simply stunning artist, apart from being huge in the world of comics, Moebius’ influence extended to the spheres of science fiction, record sleeves, animation and films. He drew storyboards for both Alien and Tron, created character and set designs for Jodorowsky’s aborted Dune project (among numerous collaborations with the director), and unsuccessfully sued Luc Besson for what he claimed was The Fifth Element‘s infringement of his own work with Jodorowsky on The Incal.

If there is any illustrator working in comics today worthy of inheriting Moebius’ mantle, it’s Scottish artist Frank Quitely (All Star Superman, Batman and Robin, We3, The Authoirty.) Quitely cites Moebius as one of his favourite artists, and his influence in clear in both the crisp line work and the command of form. I asked Frank to share a few words celebrating the work of this great artist and to choose some of his favourite Moebius illustrations:
 

 
“Moebius was an inspired artist, whose life’s works have inspired others, artist and non-artists alike. He was uncommonly good at drawing, and he used this skill to share his internal world with others.”
 

 
“Everything that makes his designs, comic covers, illustrations and individual drawings and paintings beautiful, striking, well composed and effectively realized, is also employed in his strip-work. The ability to make not just a collection of wonderful images, but to make those images work together in sequence, is a whole other art-form in itself, and Moebius excelled as much in the fluidity of his storytelling as he did in the brilliance of his linework.

There’s real beauty in his work. It’s quite a rare thing for an artist to be able to translate so much of the scale and grandeur and detail of their own imaginings into simple, elegant lines that can be so easily shared with others. There’s an underlying essence that’s apparent to varying degrees in everything that he drew, supporting the assertion that what he drew was coming from his very core.”
 

 
“His sheer mastery of his art (and the craft of that art) has really enriched the lives of countless people around the world and across the years, and that same body of work that he’s left behind will continue enriching lives forever.”
 
You can see some of Frank Quitely’s own art here, and Moebius’ official site (in French) is here. The book The Art Of Moebius also come highly recommended.
 

 
Many thanks to Vincent Deighan!

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
‘The Dick Knight’: a comic response to Frank Miller’s OWS tirade

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By Richard Pace, via badhaven.com. Click here to enlarge.

Previously on DM:
Frank Miller posts idiotic, reactionary rant about Occupy Wall Street

 

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
I pity Whole Foods for firing Paul Maybury

image
 
Austin-based comic artist Paul Maybury writes:

This is the sign that more or less got me pushed out of Wholefoods. I apparently offended a lot of people with it. One older white lady didn’t like the angry black man yelling at her. And a Vegan didn’t like that Mr. T. pitied her because she wouldn’t eat meat.

Still, it was a blessing in disguise for Paul Maybury, who has moved on to far greener pastures than an over-priced yuppie grocery chain as an award-winning artist and writer for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Heavy Metal, Ubisoft, Metro, Image, Criterion and Mirage Studios. WTF was Whole Foods thinking firing a talent like this? This guy rocks!

image
 
See more of Paul’s awesome Whole Food signs after the jump…

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Batman joins Team Motörhead
08.06.2010
10:27 am

Topics:
Amusing
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Batman
comics
Mot
Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Gay Couple in Ultimate Comics Spider-Man
07.30.2010
08:35 am

Topics:
Heroes
Literature
Queer

Tags:
comics
Marvel
Spider-Man

image
 
Hopefully Spider-Man isn’t sulking over it.
 
(via WOW Report)

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Another one of the Hoopster’s gimmicks…
05.13.2010
02:08 pm

Topics:
Pop Culture

Tags:
comics

image
 
Yep, look out, the Hoopster’s comin’. Better watch out! He’ll like “hoop” you or something…

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
04.08.2010
03:20 pm

Topics:

Tags:
comics
Nick Fury

image
 
One of the greatest—and trippiest—comic book covers of all time, the very first issue of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (June 1968). There’s a copy for sale at Little Green Footballs.

When I was a kid, I loved this character and all of his cool gadgets. I always got to “be” Nick Fury playing with other kids. I even wore an eyepatch! (True)

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion