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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 276: Hanna-Barbera Wacky Races #7

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month (for a while) I will be showing pages chosen by you, the readers. Today’s page is from Hanna-Barbera Wacky Races #7, which was published by Western Publishing Company (or, if you prefer, Gold Key, which was the brand name) and is cover dated April 1972. This page was suggested by Keith Alan Morgan, whose web comic “The KAMics” you can find here. Enjoy!

Oh, it's wacky all right!

I can’t find who worked on this comic, as the Grand Comics Database has no information about it. If anyone knows, that would be great, but that can’t stop us from checking out this splash page!

Obviously, this “series” (this was the final issue, and the schedule would have made Kevin Smith proud, as the first issue came out in August of 1969) is a spin-off of the television series, so the art on this page is very much in that vein. The page is laid out fairly well, all things considered. The title is at the top, and “The Scavenger Scramble” gives us a clue as to what’s happening with all the cars (bear in mind that I haven’t read this issue, so I’m going by what’s on this page itself). The first narrative box tells us what we can see and is probably superfluous, but that’s the way it is with a lot of comics. In the back we get the dialogue simply explaining what a big race it is and how much money is at stake, which might also seem superfluous, but it at least tells us that the racers are really keen to win this particular race. I rarely watched Wacky Races, so I don’t know many of the characters. Unless Wikipedia is wrong (and we all know that’s not possible!), the guys in the tank are Sergeant Blast and Private Meekly (why the American government allows them to race in such a crass event is a question for another day!) and the person saying he could use the money is Professor Pat Pending. Coming down the rise in the olde-tymey limousine is the Ant Hill Mob. The artist gives us other characters – Luke and Blubber Bear; the Slag Brothers; Dick Dastardly and Muttley; and Peter Perfect (I think that’s who’s in the middle facing the reader). It’s a pretty well designed page, as the cars slowly move our eyes across the page and down it until we come to the second narrative box, where the writer lets us know that there’s something strange about the race, as each car is going in a different direction. We even get nice sound effects for each car, which helps show us what kind of competitors they are – the “blat” of the Ant Hill Mob’s limo suggests an ancient car horn, and the other noises point out how the cars move, with Dick Dastardly’s “zow” showing that his racer is extremely speedy. At the bottom of the page Penelope Pitstop speaks directly to the reader, even ordering us to turn the page so we can find out what’s going on, even though we can probably tell based on the title and the fact that the cars are going in different directions. As rude as Penelope might be in ordering us around, it’s certainly effective!

There’s a lot of energy and movement on this page, so although it’s a silly story, it does what a first page is supposed to do – engage the reader, give us a clear idea about what’s going on, and get us to turn to Page 2. There’s nothing wrong with that!

Next: Bringing the funny! Well, I thought so. Feel free to disagree! This page might have been in one of my theme weeks, but I had other ideas about this creator! Suss it all out in the archives!

11 Comments

I’m not sure if I should be embarrassed to admit I know this or not, but that’s Rufus Roughcut and Sawtooth — a lumberjack and his beaver (yeah, even I’M not gonna go THERE) — in the Buzzwagon. And, I’m pretty sure they were designed before the Monty Python sketch. Luke and Blubber didn’t make the cut for this splash.

And, if I’m reading you right, tomorrow is gonna be a… naw, it’s too easy.

Becca: Shoot, yeah, that’s my bad. I saw it on Wikipedia and for some reason it didn’t register. I just figured it was a really poorly-drawn bear. Oh well!

I think you know very well what tomorrow’s entry will be! :)

I LOVE THAT !! real cool old comics like i like to find, read, and re-read..even if it is sometimes real…wacky …. (i know the pun is easy )

Only things i found about the artists is that, most of the artists came from the “disney studio program”.. no name given

the writers are some of our old friends.. Don Glut, Len Wein, Bob Ogle, Steve Skeates.. and some guy by the name of Mark E… known for putting worfs in a barbarian mouth (And others real great thing in comics or outside) …

All the sources i’ve found says.. this title ( all 7 issues) are sold out… sniff sniff…

Yeah, it’s quite likely that this was written by Mark Evanier. If not, I’m sure he knows who did write it.

“The first narrative box tells us what we can see and is probably superfluous, but that’s the way it is with a lot of comics. In the back we get the dialogue simply explaining what a big race it is and how much money is at stake, which might also seem superfluous, but it at least tells us that the racers are really keen to win this particular race.”

Greg, you might want to consider the target audience for this book. Seriously, dude. Have you ever read a kid’s comic before? These comics were intended to help kids learn to read. You read a narrative box, then you look at the pictures and it helps teach you what the words mean. Even Carl Barks occasionally ventured into some narration that seemed pretty superfluous. I recall a few Uncle Scrooge stories that showed Scrooge pacing back and forth, and what do you suppose was in the caption box? A statement that basically said “Scrooge is worriedly pacing back and forth in his office.” This book was NOT intended for adults–not even adolescents. This book was intended for kids. And it was written with that audience in mind. (These comics may have had some grown-up fans but the simple fact was that the intended audience was still just learning how to read words and learn their meanings.)

Consider Dr Seuss books. There’s a lot of “superfluous” narrative yet I doubt that anyone would think that way about “The Cat in the Hat” or “Horton Hears a Who” or even “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Additionally, if memory serves, the cartoon series had a similar narrative. There was basically an announcer who set up the day’s race and introduced the participants. (Of course, the races on TV would start at the “real” beginning–at the starting line–instead of after the action started.)

I don’t know, is “superfluous” a pejorative? It might be looked at in that way here, but as I understand the word, it means in this context that the words are telling us something the art is also telling us, or vice versa.

It appears the Slag brothers are descended from Captainnnnnn CAVVVVEEEEEMAANNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!

Greg – “Western Publishing Company (or, if you prefer, Gold Key, which was the brand name)”

Actually this was scanned from the Whitman variant not the Gold Key newstand copy.

“In the back we get the dialogue simply explaining what a big race it is and how much money is at stake, which might also seem superfluous,”

It’s also a clever little joke if you know how this story ends. *snicker*

“the “blat” of the Ant Hill Mob’s limo suggests an ancient car horn”

I figured it was car backfire sound myself.

Travis: Joseph doesn’t really like me, so he enjoys picking on me. That’s fine. “Superfluous” is, I suppose, usually a pejorative, but I don’t necessarily mean that. I’m not entirely sure that this comic was created to help kids read, but perhaps I should have judged it that way. Frankly, I think kids’ comics should challenge kids a bit more, and there’s plenty in “adult” entertainment that is superfluous. My wife and I cringe whenever we’re watching something and they have to flashback to something that happened five minutes earlier, because we’re so dumb that we’ve already forgotten it. So yeah – maybe I shouldn’t have picked on the fact that it was superfluous, but I still think the narration isn’t really needed.

Keith: Thanks, sir. I was just going from the Grand Comics Database information.

The placement of the “blat” suggests that it’s a backfire, true. The sound it makes, however, suggested to me that it was a horn. You’re probably right!

Most interesting to me is that the Creepy Coupe, Crimson Haybaler and Chugasomething(I want to say Chugwagon but it looks wrong) are missing. For a short lived cartoon this one really stuck in my memory. I guess there were too many to squash them all in. Also, is that a tire bottom right?

A very effective page as I’m dying to see what happened next – Pitstop’s urging to turn the page is very effective.

And they look just I remember from the cartoon so as a fan I’d find this all familiar.

Oh, Arkansas Chuggabug according to Wikipedia. And Haybailer.

Hey, the US Army sponsors NASCAR teams, why not a Wacky Racer. Although Sgt. Blast’s racer was called “The Army Surplus Special,” so perhaps they were a couple of veterans and this was not “official.” I think about these things too much.

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