Monday, May 23, 2016

New comic review: The Pink Panther Free Comic Book Day Edition #1 (American Mythology, May 7th, 2016)

Alas, the comic book store (and the one other that I visited) that I regularly patronize only had the standard cover (by S.L. Gallant, depicted below) and not the Ant and the Ardvark variant that I was hoping to get my hands on. Hey, what matters is that I got the comic -- and following my rule of thumb with the IDW books that I buy (Disney and otherwise), the A cover is always the "real" one, and I don't want to be a hypocrite, now, do I? And as this particular A cover directly represents the lead story, it justifies my reasoning behind my personal system for choosing covers.

Also, a correction: I had reported that this Free Comic Book Day edition is also this new Pink Panther run's official #1. The ads inside it clarify that the formal #1 will follow sometime in May, but it appears to have been pushed back to June 8th.

written and drawn by S.L. Gallant

Gallant definitely understands the neo-silent film, visually-dependent nature of the DePatie-Freleng shorts and faithfully translates them to the medium of comics... or, if you will, sequential art. (I would think that Scott McCloud would approve.)  I was confused by a couple of the gags. I'm prone to think it may well have been me, with one exception: what's up with Inspector Clouseau's cameo at the end? Is he Thor's Earthly counterpart, or was this a case of magical long-distance place-trading? Anyway, in the spirit of Free Comic Book Day, this parody of Marvel's Thor works nicely as tribute to the medium as a whole.

"Clean Sweep"
written and drawn by Adrian Ropp

The punchline of this one-page Ant and the Ardvark gag is an old standby. While no new layers or twists are added to it, it's still told well, with quick, sharp timing, and the characterization is true to the shorts. Compared to the light, flitting style of "Pan-Thor", this has an earthier style, grounded (pun kind of intended) by a more weighted sense of anatomy. In both cases, the respective style is an appropriate interpretation of the animation on which the comic is based, although neither is a slavish mimicry of the original by any means.

"Pink Volcano"
written and drawn by Warren Tufts

Though this story is attributed to 1994 issue of Pink Panther (published by Harvey, we can deduce), the fact that it was also a reprint then is neglected. The four-tiers-per-page format in conjunction with the Pink Panther title logo in the opening half-page splash are a dead giveaway that this of Gold Key/Whitman origin. In true Western Publishing fashion, just like with, for example, Tom and Jerry and The Road Runner the Pink Panther does something that his screen counterpart does not: talk. A lot. 

This is an extremely silly story about an island trying to sacrifice "Pink" (that's his name, apparently) to their volcano god. The natives are represented by an oblivious, buffoonish "king" with an absurdly long, jibberish-y name that he can never pronounce right himself (this running joke nearly dominates the story) and his royal "assistant", who's the "power behind the throne" -- you know, the type who's actually far more astute and competent than their "lord", and is actually the one keeping things running, but never complains, happily, loyally and quietly doing his job. Their comedic interplay is actually pretty entertaining. The same goes for Pink playing out the old routine of relishing in the mistaken belief that the natives genuinely mean to treat him hospitably and as an honored guest, and then, at the moment the truth hits home (markedly later than common sense would dictate -- and that's where the humor lies, of course), doing, "Wuh-wuh-WUHHHHH?!!! They want to EAT ME??!!! I'm OUTTA HERE!!!"-type double-take. Fun stuff. Like cotton candy! (And not just 'cause it's pink!)

-- Ryan


  1. I don't mind that they're including reprints of older material - it would be fun if DC offered some reprints of Gold Key/Charlton/Marvel-era "Scooby-Doo"/"Looney Tunes" comics.

    And a "talking" Pink Panther isn't a phenomena exclusive to the comics. I didn't mind him having sons (even if the title sequence implied that they were possibly spawned via magic - considering that he emerged from inside a diamond, so..). It's the life of an anthropomorphic cartoon character: usually a single parent, floating around different jobs, bouncing between stories that range from the surrealist to the sitcom..

  2. Joseph: Imagine if DC added to their hardbound Archives or Omnibus libraries those Western/Charlton/Marvel/etc. Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera comics -- I would make it a priority and go out of my way to buy them!

    I very much like the traditional way of using an anthropomorphic cartoon character as an everyman who's also an ANYman, varying in profession, residence, familial situation, and even era of history from story to story. In the animated shorts, Bugs Bunny never popped out of the same rabbit hole, in the same place, in any two cartoons. "Darkwing Doubloon" and "The Secret Origins of Darkwing Duck" were, I believe, self-conscious homages from Tad Stones and Co. to such practices.

    In the comics, I've always found that Felix the Cat, most Walter Lantz characters, Porky Pig, and others all worked perfectly well in the "everyman, sometimes even anyman, who may or may not have charge of children, whether his own or his nephews". On the other hand, because "Bugs as trickster really sticking it to Elmer Fudd or Yosemite Sam" is cemented in our collective pop culture psyche, Western's, er, other ways of using him never sit well.

    I'd actually LOVE it if the Pink Panther had exited in the '40's and there were 52-page Pink Panther issues of Four Color, each one taken up in its entirety by a long adventure story starring Pink Panther and a couple of his nephews or nieces!

    But as I'm just familiar with the nonverbal Pink Panther animated shorts set to that catchy "Duh-nuh, duh-nah, duh-nuh-duh-nah-duh-nuh-duh-nah-dun-NAHHHHHHH" song, what is this animated production featuring a talking Pink Panther and his possibly magic-spawned sons of which you speak? (Well, I'll go look it up...)

    -- Ryan

  3. The cartoon series in question was "Pink Panther and Sons", which on Saturday Mornings for one season in 1984 on NBC. Friz Freling is credited as a "creative producer", but it was a Hanna-Barbara cartoon at it's most assembly line-quality. It was created to capitalize on shows like "Get-A-Long Gang" and "Care Bears" with Pink's sons, Pinky and Panky, leading a group called "The Rainbow Panthers". The Pink Panther only appeared prominently in the title sequence and in interstitial segments culled from older Pink Panther cartoons. As with Max in "Goof Troop", the identity of the kids mother is a mystery, but the title sequence hints that they're magically willed into existence by the Pink Panther, so it is possible that if a live panther can live inside a gemstone, then said panther can create doubles and offspring from within facets of the gemstone - ergo, there is no mother (!).

    The only footage available online is the title sequence on YouTube. I don't recall it being particularly good - fans liked the sons, but hated the derivative format and lack of Pink Panther interaction - but it wasn't saccharine. 80s Hanna-Barbara, for what it's worth.