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The Comic Book Fools of April – The Heckler

Every day in April I will be featuring a humorous comic (either an issue or a series of strips) that I found particularly amusing. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com the comic stories that are your favorites when it comes to hilarity, and I’ll see if I can’t feature some of them this month, as well!

Today we look at Keith Giffen, Tom and Mary Bierbaum and Malcolm Jones’ short-lived, but hilarious Heckler series!

Plotted and penciled by Keith Giffen, with scripting duties done by Tom and Mary Bierbaum and inks by Malcolm Jones, the Heckler was a short-lived series, lasting only six issues before being canceled. However, as we are coming up on twenty years since it came out, the rights might very well be reverting back to Giffen relatively soon, so maybe he the Heckler can make a comeback!

The gist of the series is that the Heckler is a superhero parody consisting of a superhero (the Heckler, natch) who has powers similar to that of Bugs Bunny in a typical Looney Tunes cartoon (you know, malleable, able to pull items out of seemingly nowhere, great speed when necessary).

Here’s the Heckler in battle with a bad guy to give you an idea of what I’m talking about…

A later issue introduced probably my favorite villain, John Doe, whose touch…genericizes stuff!!

He comes up with a plan…he will infect the water of the city!!!

This leads to a confrontation with Doe and the gun-toting woman you see above, plus the Heckler plus a pair of thugs sent by the mob to silence John Doe (as they don’t want to be genericized, either)…

Awesome stuff.

Man, looking at Giffen’s art, it’s a real shame that he didn’t DEBUT with this style, as I think he’d get a lot more acclaim for his artwork instead of folks remembering how he USED to draw. He is such a skilled sequential artist – such great storytelling skills.

In any event, this series did not last long, but boy was it a fun ride while it lasted!!

[NOTE: This was also featured in Year of Cool Comics - BC]

15 Comments

This was a freaking fantastic comic, and I agree that John Doe was pure god.

Agh, GOLD! Not god. All that god talk in the other tread messed me up.

Your comparison to Bugs Bunny is apt: I think in the hands of really good animation team, Heckler could be a really awesome cartoon.

Heard a rumor a while back that the Heckler rights were going to divert back to Giffen soon. If so, I hope we see some new stories!

Tom Fitzpatrick

April 9, 2011 at 2:20 pm

This is starting out to be the Giffen Trilogy of Humour: Pt. 1 — PUNX; Pt. 2 — The HECKLER; and now the final part, Pt. 3 — AMBUSH BUG!

Can’t wait!!! ;-)

Humour at the same Giffen time
Humour at the same Giffen channel

;-)

loved the heckler thought he added a missing comedic flair to the comic book universe. and hope the rumor of Giffen getting the rights back are true and he then brings the heckler out of limbo and unleashes the comedy gold of the heckler

The Mad Monkey

April 9, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Yup. The Heckler was one of the funniest comics I ever collected. Out of all the comics in my collection, The Heckler will be the toughest one for me to sell (eventually).
Giffen has stated many times that he doesn’t like going back to his old creations. However, that’s a lot of what he’s been doing lately (Ambush Bug and The Legion, for example)…so, there may be a chance at some more Heckler.
Man…I hope so…

This is starting out to be the Giffen Trilogy of Humour: Pt. 1 — PUNX; Pt. 2 — The HECKLER; and now the final part, Pt. 3 — AMBUSH BUG!

What, no March Hare? No JLE in French class?

Billy Bissette

April 9, 2011 at 5:28 pm

If I recall correctly, the end of the series was a bit weak, but that sometimes happens when you get cancelled.

Tom Fitzpatrick

April 9, 2011 at 8:20 pm

@ buttler: Never read the March Hare, but as far as JLE goes, that was an on-going series that lasted for quite awhile. Remember, JLI and JLE were sister acts with tongue-in-cheek humour!

I used to be a fan of Giffen’s back in the 80′s; nearly every story he worked in turned out to be so funny! However, I can’t help but suspect he suffers from… mood-swings, maybe? He’s also created a lot of stuff I hate- like Lobo or the Adult Legion. Sure, that happens to everybody in comics eventually, but in his case I find it most noticeable. I still think he’s like that that to this day. This is not a put down; the man IS very talented, as a writer and artist; but half his stuff seems pure fun, the other half, it’s just… mean, maybe even tinged with spite (at the fans.) This opinion is based not just on his work but on his online comments, as well.

BTW, I had never seen The Heckler series itself, and, while I don’t find it very original (it’s just Spider-Man with The Joker’s grin) it IS funny.

OK, the Generic Guy idea *is* pretty original. The rest, not so much.

As usual, my thanks to Cronin for the chance to see it.

Wow, that was great. John Doe was inspired.

@Sijo

I don’t know, for me it’s a very logical thing to be doing great humourous stuff and Adult Legion (which was my favorite monthly ever). He is a risk-taker, a guy who is not afraid of taking chances. You can’t find “generic” stuff among Giffen’s books. I never saw spite with fans AT ALL: his Legion run was a book of love, because he showed so much knowledge about its characters. Maybe some wouldn’t like it, since it left the awful “teenage forever” problem the book has always faced, but it wasn’t at all a bad vibe towards fans (I was one).
The Heckler, according to Giffen in an old interviews, was indeed based on Bugs Bunny as-if he were a Superhero. Brilliant stuff, drawn in his 90s style to boot. He’s such a complete artist.
For those who doubt he can be as good as Sienkiewicz, try looking at his March Hare or Robert Block’s adaptation from 1985.

I’ve been a fan of Giffen since the first things he ever drew, and I think you can see his style trying to show itself right from the beginning.

Right from the start, his trademark is there: In each comic he draws, there will be at least one panel that you can stare at for an entire month and never, ever figure out what it is supposed to be.

And a panel of an eyeball.

Say, you know what would make a great post? Show the first works of the great artists who totally ripped-off Kirby until they found their own style. Perez. Buckler. Hell, pretty much everybody.

Found, or were allowed to use, I should have said.

I also should have said that Ambush Bug is #4 on my list of Greatest Comics Ever, right behind Herbie, Hitman, and Detective.

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