5 Famous Comics That Got Totally Insane Out Of The Blue
While comics can be good art, many serve a more humble goal: to reliably entertain readers for a handful of minutes at a time. And the great comics, both in book and strip form, manage to consistently hit that expectation out of the park. But every now and then, a comic gets released that is so weirdly insane that you have to wonder if the artist had some kind of breakdown. For example ...
Mickey Mouse Commits A Hate Crime
The last comic character you'd expect to say something wrong is Mickey Mouse. The spokesperson for a mega corp that basically owns childhood, Mr. Mouse is meant to be as wholesome as they go. But he was still created in the 1920s, and that means he has some outdated views, like being totally cool with casual homophobia.
This old Mickey Mouse comic starts out normal enough. You have Mickey getting into a bit of a scuffle with the creatively named Kat Nipp. Nipp doesn't want the likes of Mickey "moochin'" on his turf, and warns him that if he ever sees him again, he'll tie his tail into a knot. Mickey reacts to this as if Nipp just threatened to give his downstairs magic wand an Indian burn.
In fact, a lot of this comic hints that in the Disney Universe, tails are pretty straightforward penis substitutes. At one point, Mickey's tail goes "limp" and he worries that he "can't do anything with it," like it's his third arm or something. Burdened by this caudal dysfunction, Mickey decides to go to Nipp's house to settle things and maybe regain a bit of his manhood through violence. But when he gets there, he doesn't find the house's occupant, but a "tough gentleman" of undetermined species.
But here's the gag: This tough gentleman is in fact a very sweet and soft fellow wearing a floppy hat, long eyelashes, and a big bow around his neck. He's also an obvious gay stereotype, complete with a limp wrist and lisp.
No longer cowering at the sight of a traditional tough guy, Mickey decides to teach this sweet baker's boy a lesson and kicks his ass.
Not satisfied with merely beating up a completely innocent person, Mickey adds that Nipp is a "cream-puff inhaler," which is way too specific to not be some kind of homophobic putdown. Disney seemed to agree, because when the comic ended up in a collection, they changed it to "cake-eater," and the baker's boy to a baker's girl.
Wonder Woman Keeps Disguising Herself With Dead Animals
Superhero costumes are meant to draw attention and show bad guys they're in real trouble. Otherwise, heroes could go fight crime in their comfortable sweatpants. However, sometimes a hero wants to blend in with us pathetic normies. But if you're Wonder Woman and your wardrobe consists of nothing but bustiers, short shorts, and golden lasso accessories, that can be a bit tricky. That's why Diana has had to don a few disguises in her time. Unfortunately, the woman who flies around in an invisible jet is often the worst disguise artist in the whole world.
In one issue, when the circus comes to town, a fun day out turns into a sleuthing expedition when Diana learns elephants are dropping like flies and no one knows why. So, logically, she decides she must become an elephant to find out who is poisoning them. She gets her strong hands on a taxidermied elephant, pulls out the stuffing, shoves her bestie Etta in the rear, and practices prancing around so no one will notice (until a real elephant shows up and figures them out, which it did).
Bizarrely, that wasn't the only time Diana tried to fashion a disguise out of dead meat. There was also the time she defeated some Nazis by making a ham version of herself. This one requires some backstory. In World War II, Diana meets some starving children whose brother has gone missing. Forgetting she has a war to fight in, Diana heads to the deli where they last saw the boy. While there, her Nazi sense goes off and she manages to trick the men there into giving the Nazi salute by giving them a salute first. The deli Nazis figure out Diana's trick and put her in a sack.
But when they aren't watching, she slips out of her bonds and changes into Wonder Woman. Being unreasonably worried that the deli Nazis will figure out that this random unnamed woman is Wonder Woman, she feels the need to fashion a decoy so that her kidnappers think she's still in the sack. She spears three large hams with a broom, proudly proclaiming she has made a "perfect woman's figure" -- which makes a great case for Wonder Woman having some serious body dysmorphia.
The Germans come check on her and assume she is dead meat, ironically, so they toss the sack into the water. In the end, Diana manages to stop the deli Nazis and their plan to invade the U.S. Fortunately, we don't get an entire follow-up comic about the local coast guard confusedly dredging up a bunch of ham while looking for the corpse of some nurse.
B.C., A Strip About Cavepeople, Dabbles In Antisemitism
B.C. is a typically lighthearted comic about what it would be like to live in the really olden days before running water, plumbing, or, conveniently, the need to come up with decent jokes to be a comic strip writer.
But as it turns out, you can add "being politically correct" to B.C.'s list of things that are way too progressive for its neanderthal sensibility. But it's not the silly cave people who are to blame for this small slice of blatant antisemitism:
In this 2001 strip, famed cartoonist Johnny Hart decides to take being excruciatingly unfunny to a whole new metaphysical level by invoking Jesus on the cross. In the cartoon, the candles of a menorah (which has seven arms instead of nine) are snuffed out one by one by Jesus' seven "last words" as told in the Bible, and as the last one goes out, the symbol of Judaism is broken into a cross. We're probably not reading too much into it when we assume the point of this comic is "Christians rule, Jews drool."
So why would a comic strip which is literally called Before Christ do an entire spread throwing shade at Judaism? Because it was Easter, and Hart happens to be a vocal Evangelical. Naturally, it caused immediate controversy, especially among Jewish leaders who claimed it was trying to assert that Judaism stopped being a "real" religion 2,000 years ago after this hip new Christianity thing came into town. Hart countered by saying the strip was meant to honor both Easter and Passover. Of course, this came from a guy who two years earlier said that "Jews and Muslims who don't accept Jesus will burn in Hell," so let's not invite this guy to Purim just yet.
Crankshaft Has Gotten Obsessed With Death
People who still read actual newspapers (Hi, Grandpa!) must be relieved when they finally hit the comic strips. Bland, uncontroversial, and lightweight, the "funny" pages are the one safe haven in print, offering a brief respite from the bummer news going. But one strip, Crankshaft, decided to say, "Screw you! Death and sadness are everywhere, and you will never escape!" And now we're sad again.
Crankshaft relates the ongoing adventures of old and cynical bus driver John Crankshaft Sr. Already you can see that this could go south really easily. But some of the strips are cute in a grumpy old man kind of way.
But a few years ago, the comic took a turn for the dark and depressing. For example, when Crankshaft meets up with his buddy who owns the local movie theater, the conversation suddenly turns to elderly survivor's guilt. How whimsical.
Isn't being old funny? Ha ha! We're all going to die! But Crankshaft is only getting started. In a later comic, John is seen dressing up to the nines, maybe for church, maybe for a birthday party. Maybe it's his birthday party! But then he finds his dress shoes laying around on the floor, which prompts him to come to a realization so depressingly morbid that it would've made even Nietzsche curl up into a ball and give up.
Yeah, we don't think that most people flap open the Sunday paper during brunch to enjoy seeing a man realize he's now so old that his main reason for getting dressed up is to lay his friends to rest. And we thought Family Circus had issues.
An Angsty Superman Says He'll Let A Girl Kill Herself
Most people read superhero comics for the excitement, epic battles, and, most of all, escapism. If they wanted to see some cosmic anomaly sadly walk across the country, they could watch Forrest Gump again. But that's exactly what Superman fans got in Superman: Grounded, a seven-issue run in which Supes simply wanders the streets and questions the meaning of life like he's a college freshman.
Along the way, he gets called out by a guy who's such an annoying cynic that we have to assume he looks like the artist's dad. Walking a poodle, of all things, he tries to make Superman feel (somewhat justifiably) shitty for taking a stroll while the world is going to hell in a hand basket.
Superman's reply boils down to a quote he heard on NPR about what it is to be a radical (because Superman is, like, such a rebel), which leads to him high-roading the very not-superhuman dude to go Superman himself if he cares that much. To which the obvious answer is that he can't Superman, given that he's nothing but a guy with a poodle.
But while Superman's soul-searching leaves him with no time to save lives, it does allow him to stop and shoot some hoops to help some random dude's self-esteem.
If this is him trying to reconnect with the common man and figure out his place on earth, he is doing a really shitty job of it. But in the end, Supes does get the chance to show what he has learned from his existential crisis: by telling a girl to kill herself if she really wants to.
Deciding that free will is more important than anything, Superman promises a would-be jumper that if she does jump, he will let her fall. She doesn't, because this is a Superman comic, and nobody pays to see a splash page of Superman trying to explain the finer points of existentialism to some grieving parents.
Let's all just stick to watching the Wonder Woman movie over and over and over again.
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