Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Of Inhuman Bondage

The Bojeffries Saga: written by Alan Moore; illustrated by Steve Parkhouse (1983-1991, 2013; Collected 2013): At less than 100 pages, The Bojeffries Saga is a short collection that's a lot of fun. The original series of short stories about the Bojeffries clan appeared in the early 1980's; it wasn't until this volume in 2013 that writer Alan Moore and artist Steve Parkhouse finished up these adventures with a final (for now) 24-page story. Parkhouse is a winning, droll cartoonist. He's perfectly suited to Alan Moore in satiric-comic mode, as he is here. 

The Bojeffries are a very English riff on the Addams Family or the Munsters, a family of freaks and monsters living mostly unnoticed among normal people. Their ranks include a werewolf, a vampire, a nigh-omnipotent woman, and a Lovecraftian thing that used to be Grandpa living in a well in the backyard. 

Moore was already experimenting with comics form in the early 1980's -- there's a 'musical' installment, and one structured as a series of photographs with captions. The humour is cutting when it comes to racial and social issues, but there's an essential sweetness to the proceedings, especially when it comes to the malaprop-spewing, poodle-devouring werewolf. Recommended.


Golden-Age Wonder Woman Archives Volume 6: written by William Moulton Marston, Joye Murchison, and Robert Kanigher; illustrated by Harry G. Peter (1945; collected 2010): The adventures of Wonder Woman in the 1940's were often whimsical fantasies with an edge and with barely disguised kinkiness. Wonder Woman tells us on more than one occasion in this volume that people need to submit to love. And there is of course a whole lotta bondage going on. So much bondage. So very much bondage.

Wonder Woman's creator, William Moulton Marston, was in increasingly poor health by the time of the stories in this volume, and he only writes a handful of stories. But the volume does bring us stories written by one of the first female writers in the history of the American comic book, Joye Murchison. And they're a lot of weird fun, immeasurably aided by the odd, almost Art Nouveau cartooning of WW co-creator Harry G. Peter. Peter was one of the most distinctive and original artists of Golden-Age American superhero comics, and his off-beat style made for a perfect fit with the off-beat writing.

Wonder Woman's mix of science fiction, fantasy, and war-time adventure continues in this volume. A grenade-tossing Nazi agent invades the world of Fairy and starts terrorizing the leprechauns. Killer plants stalk the streets of Washington. The garden of Eden waits beneath the ice of the North Pole. Mermen from Neptune invade the Earth. It's all fanciful, odd stuff, and a lot more interesting than the concurrent adventures of the male super-heroes of the Golden Age, with the exception of the equally fantastic and whimsical original Captain 'Shazam!' Marvel. Though Etta Candy, Wonder Woman's Jar Jar Binks, takes some getting used to. Recommended.

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