Friday, March 28, 2008

Herbie, the Flaming Carrot, and Billy-Bob Shakespeare!


I'm as excited as anyone about the upcoming Herbie Archives, having precious few issues of the original comics. One thing I do have is a copy of Flaming Carrot Comics#31, wherein Bob Burden's Flaming Carrot teamed up with none other than Herbie Popnecker to learn the shocking truth about William Shakespeare.

The story begins with Herbie at school, in history class. Professor Dogwood is telling the students about the theory that William Shakespeare may not have written his own plays. The Principal barges into the room and fires Dogwood for his revisionist historianism:



Herbie likes the professor, and heads to his house after school to help him out. When Herbie finds the learned scholar doing the Horatio/Yorick routine with a grapefruit, he offers to help the professor prove his theory. Herbie returns to his own home to retrieve his time traveling grandfather clock only to find it damaged by his father's inept attempts at repair. Herbie tries to put it back together and takes the clock out for a test drive:



"There's yours, WHICH YOU BROKE,..." that, and the expression on Father Time's face never fail to make me laugh. Herbie arrives in Iron City to find the Flaming Carrot in pursuit of a hated arch-foe: Mister Chicken Pants!

Don't laugh. Mister Chicken Pants is probably tops in a rogues' gallery that includes a flying dead dog and a diaper-wearing Giant Spider. Herbie continues to hover nearby, watching as Flaming Carrot catches the thief, but the wily and elusive Mister Chicken Pants gives him the slip. ( "Sooo...While you figure that out, what say I go get us some soda pop?" )

The cunning mastermind hides in a nearby barbecue grill as the Carrot follows:


How to deal with such a strange creature? The answer, as always, is hypnotism:

Retrieving the Carrot's time machine, the dissimilar duo head back to olde tymie dayes:

They arrive in Avon. Entering a tavern near the Globe theater, they seek out and quickly find William Shakespeare, or more accurately, Billy-Bob Shakespeare:

If I have one criticism, it's here, where Burden most noticeably loses Herbie's voice. Burden's Herbie seems more verbal and engaged than the original series' terse, laconic, and unflappable plump lump.

On the other hand, he captured Shakespeare's voice perfectly, so all is forgiven!

More conversation convinces the Flaming Carrot and Herbie that Billy-Bob Shakespeare could never have written The Merchant of Venice or Macbeth, so they follow the hillbilly next door, where they find that his "one, full-time gig" is as an aerobics instructor! Suddenly:
Herbie's lollipops come to the rescue again, and the two head to Shakespeare's house:

Much later, the hooded figure leaves Shakespeare's, and the two oddball heroes investigate his footprint. The mystery man wears NIKEs, and they conclude that he must be from the future, using the third time-traveling grandfather clock to travel back and forth to meet with Shakespeare. Needing a ride back, they tackle him and unmask him:

Buddy Hackett explains that he had always dabbled in the arts, among which one was comedy and another was writing beautiful plays. He knew no-one would ever take him seriously as an artist in our age, so he retreated to the past to co-create with Shakespeare.

Finally, they all return to the school:

I don't know about you, but any comic that can combine Herbie, The Flaming Carrot, William Shakespeare, Buddy Hackett, Father Time, and most importantly, Mister Chicken Pants, is A-OK with me.

Well, time to go home and dig some more holes in the backyard!

1 comment:

Pere Ubu said...

Herbie too verbose. Not speak like that in real life. Carrot also.

Love "Dish-washing Lollipop" though. Classic.

Must release Herbie Archives soon. Hope library gets it.