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Earlier this week, we had a head that was a planet. Today, we have a head that is detachable. I’d say this is a really twisted comic. Screwy, even.
(Yesterday was Bruce Campbell’s birthday, and today, another of my heroes celebrates the anniversary of his life debut– Joss Whedon! Congratulations, dude– I got you this archive link.)
174. The Amazing Screw-On Head
Occasionally, I have trouble coming up with ideas, and seek to cure my writer’s block by rifling through my comics collection, or skimming about the internet, or perusing the 365 Reasons Suggestions thread on the CSBG forums. So, thanks to Omar Karindu for suggesting this one! Lots of people have suggested some good columns, and I have used several ideas from the forums, usually without credit. I apologize, friends. Sometimes I come to them independently, as well, but you beat me to it. Everyone who posts there is awesome! Thank you.
The Amazing Screw-On Head was a one-shot created, written, and drawn by the uncanny Mike Mignola, who was a Reason to Love Comics himself. The comic is absolute genius on paper– truly. Our titular hero is a hopping, talking, disembodied head who can screw himself onto multiple robot bodies. With his faithful manservant, Mr. Groin, by his side, he goes into battle against the evil Emperor Zombie and his henchpersons. Oh, right. Did I mention that Screw-On Head works for the president? And that the book takes place during the presidency of Abe Lincoln? Oh yeah. It’s that awesome.
We’re all fans of “mad ideas” on this blog, and this wee little comic has a ton of them. From Screw-On head himself to his pet dog that can smell evil to steampunk-y science to a zombie/vampire romance to a parallel universe located inside a turnip to giant old-timey monsters from said turnip universe to three horrible old women and a monkey, this comic has everything you could ever want. It deftly tosses a bunch of genres into one place and pulls it off magnificently. The dialogue is sharp and funny and the plot, while simple, is rip-roarin’ and energetic. It’s old-timey adventure storytelling and it really works.
The art’s great too, of course, but we expect this from Mike Mignola. The layouts and design work are tremendous aesthetic achievements. It’s inky and moody and seems perfectly solid and serious, which serves to carry across the dry wit. Colorist Dave Stewart bathes everything in sepia to give it that warm, old-fashioned tone. It’s a work of beauty, it really is. Here, have more art and see for yourself (click to enlarge):
Last year, the book was adapted into a half-hour animated special on the Sci-Fi Channel, starring Paul Giammati as Head, David Hyde Pierce as Emperor Zombie, and Patton Oswalt as Mister Groin. It’s currently available on DVD, but it can also be found on Google video (but let’s keep that on the down-low, eh?). It’s brilliantly acted, terrifically animated (it looks just like Mignola art, only– it moves!) and absolutely hilarious. Some will call this blasphemy, but I’d say it’s even better than the comic, fleshing out the world and the characters and adding in more humorous moments. I loved it– but then, what else should I expect from the producer of one of my all-time favorite TV shows, Wonderfalls? Thanks, Bryan Fuller. I wish Sci-Fi would pick this up for a series! I’d watch it religiously.
If we can’t have more of Screw-On Head in animation, however, I’d love to have more in comics form! I know Mike’s busy with Hellboy, but c’mon! Throw us a Screw-On Bone, good sir! It’s been too long, and the Amazing Screw-On Head is an awesome concept with a lot of potential. Bring him back!
The Amazing Screw-On Head was a marvelous comic that was well-written and gorgeously drawn that became a cartoon that was well-written and gorgeously animated. Both were made with love, and it’s clear that yeah, Screw-On Head is a true Reason to Love Comics. It’s truly original and crazy and wonderful. We need more stuff like it in the comics industry.
Take us home, Mr. President!
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