Comic Book Nerd #1
by Pete Von Sholly
Though the “Comic Book Guy” character on Simpsons is seen by many as the beginning and ending/alpha and omega of lampooning the (stereotypical) comic “fanboy” (sub)culture, let’s face it — the oft self-aggrandizing and (overly serious) world of comic fandom is a goldmine of material, enough to easily fill a whole episode of the Simpson or perhaps even… a magazine? Relax, boyo, Pete Von Sholly has aleady beat ya to it. Not only that, but he’s gotten the good folks at TwoMorrows Books to put it out. Cheers to them for having the good humor about it, especially since quite a few of their own publications are up on the chopping block in the course of this mag.
The easiest way to approach Comic Book Nerd is to consider it Mad Magazine for the serious comic book fan. No doubt, there’s a good deal of “inside baseball” type references here that will go over the head of the casual reader (heck, there were large portions of the Comic Buyer’s Guise spoof that I couldn’t quite get my head around) but there’s enough gonzo humor and good-natured ribbing in here to save the day.
Let’s start with the aesthetics. It’s an oversized, glossy, full-color periodical, and it’s well laid out (if a bit on the anarchic side, but still) with a metric ton of lovingly-rendered parodies of all manner of famous and obscure funnybook mainstays. Comic Book Nerd is subdivided into compact (several-page), surprisingly well-researched spoofs of the big daddies of comic book review/commentary, including Wizard (Whizzer), Jack Kirby Collector (Jake Herbie Obsessor), Comics Journal (Comics Urinal), Comic Buyer’s Guide (Comic Buyer’s Guise), Alter Ego (Ultra Ego), Previews (Purviews), Comic Book Artist (Comic Book Artiste) and Back Issue (Bagged Issue), with a bonus page or two devoted to online sites like Comic Book Resources (or here, Chronic Dork Resources).
So you can probably already tell that the humor here is going to be a little overbearing and over the top (reminds me of Stan Lee sometimes, oddly), well, that’s true, but except for a number of jokes/sight gags that fall totally flat, the whole thing flows well, with a few genuinely laugh-out-loud moments that made the whole venture worthwhile. I’m thinking in particular of a “Tips on Modern Comic Art” timeline that lauded the almost-grotesque ballooning in superhero musculature from the ’40s to today, a retrospective on “Star Spangled Dinosaurs” (“They might be ugly, but them lizards can fight like GIs!”) complete with a twist on the old staple story where a racist GI is wounded and he can only be saved by a blood transplant from… dinosaurs, an interview with Gramps “Grisly” Tingles which shows his ill-fated attempts to adjust from horror comics to superhero-fare (think the Vulture eating Aunt May in front of Spiderman), spot-on impressions of the overbearing tone of the Comics Journal, and how an issue of “Tales to Stupefy” became “Tales to Mildly Amuse” (complete with clownfaced monster holding creampie) to jibe with the Comics Code.
A noble experiment, let’s see more.