365 Reasons to Love Comics #141
Bob Week, Day Two! It’s not so controversial this time, but there is a Bob who creates blissfully insane comics inside. But which blissfully insane Bob is it? I mean, there are a few. And they’re all showing up this week.
141. Bob Burden
Bob Burden is, of course, the creator of Flaming Carrot and the Mystery Men, upon which the fantastic movie was loosely based. No, really. I loved it.
Flaming Carrot is a surrealistic, semi-satirical superhero of sorts. I’ll let Burden himself explain the main character to you (from this interview):
He was a “throw-away” character that survived. He actually flourished with lack of care and cavalier treatment. He’s like a literary weed.
He’s a simple, child-like hero with a great carrot on his head, flames coming out the top, and flippers. He is “Zen stupid,” whatever that is, and solves his crimes with violence, fun, and completely illogical deductions. He has no super powers. When he’s in a spot he blasts his way out in a hail of gunfire and destruction…
I mean, it was a dumb idea, yes, and so I ran with it. He was ridiculous, preposterous… a cultural monstrosity. I liked the character because I felt a freedom to do almost anything with him. What I lacked in the super power department I was able to compensate for in the story and character department….
We have this far out image: a man with a giant carrot on his head and flippers. The carrot is on fire. His fierce eyes glare through the mask.
But this is no sage guru, Wizard of Oz, card carrying philosopher. He’s actually an idiot. The fool on the hill. He’s simple. Simple, candid, crazed, and madcap. His childlike personality and state of pure, crystalline Zen stupidity are his trademarks. Who else climbs walls with a toilet plunger? Who else chases gangsters on a pogo-stick? Who else uses a stink bomb? Who else throws a banana peel in front of an escaping criminal causing him to fall down and die? Flaming Carrot is the only superhero that believes that 100 pounds of lead is heavier than 100 pounds of feathers. He’s a cull, a reject, a lost soul that wants to stay lost and happy.
Now we take this character and can go nuts with it, because he doesn’t matter.
Yeah. Flaming Carrot is pretty awesome, ain’t he?
Yes, that’s right, he’s even teamed up with the most bizarre comics character of all time, Herbie Popnecker. And there were also multiple crossovers with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I kid you not.
So we know Bob Burden writes wonderfully mad stories, but what about his art style? He never considered himself a good artist, but it’s clear he’s gotten better over time. His spare, relatively realistic style really sells the ridiculous goings-on because it helps play the material straight. I would call it “deadpan art,” if that makes any sense to you.
Mr. Burden went through a health scare recently, but he’s back to normal and writing Gumby comics, which I’m told are quite brilliant. Seek them out if you will, and pick them up; they’re as surreal as Flaming Carrot and feature some cool art by Rick Geary. If you enjoyed the weird adventures of Gumby as a youngster, you’ll enjoy the weird adventures of Gumby-on-paper as an adult.
Bob Burden makes great comics. I just wish he’d make more.
The not-so-updated Bob Burden-y site can be found here.