Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Why the devil am I thinking about Jackie Jokers all of a sudden?

A few minutes ago, I was doodling tiny vampires (with such clever names as "Count Drapula" and "Count Dropula") when the name "Ears" Muldoon suddenly popped into my mind and I made the association to the old Harvey Comics character Jackie Jokers.  If I'm remembering correctly, which I highly doubt, I once owned an issue of Richie Rich or possibly Richie Rich and Jackie Jokers where Jackie Jokers performed in a parody of Star Trek where an actor named "Ears" Muldoon played the Mr. Spock stand-in.  If this is so, his nickname suggests he won the role because he actually possessed pointed ears in real life.

Some kind of mutant, I guess.

Jackie Jokers was a child comedian who was pals with Richie and company, and huge star in his own right within their fictional world.  His friends delighted in his hijinks and gave him unconditional fan support despite the rather creaky nature of his humor.  Bad puns and lame plays on words.  Kind of like what you get here.  With his black bowlcut hair and elfin eyes, Jackie looked a lot like the Paul McCartney caricature from the TV cartoon show The Beatles, which, apparently, was some kind of Monkees rip-off popular among pre-teens back in the 1960s.  Why was Jackie such a big deal, able to reduce all comers to helpless laughter despite his weak material?  Well, his father, Jerry Jokers, was also a famous comedian, and I can only assume Jackie largely owed his career to show-biz nepotism.  I'm going to grant his otherwise mystifying ability to get honest laughs on his own because his world also includes friendly ghosts and good little witches with magical powers.

I know I owned the comic (a quick Google search reveals it most likely to be Richie Rich and Jackie Jokers #26 from April 1978, although the cover doesn't spark much of anything in my memory) where Jackie and friends parody Star Wars as "Star Bores."  Pretty clever, eh?  Jackie takes the Han Solo role, with Richie as Luke.  I forget who plays Darth Vader.  Maybe Cadbury.  The mild humor of these mags must have been aimed at kids even younger than the 10 years old I was when I read this.  At that age, I'd already been exposed to Mad Magazine, Cracked, Saturday Night Live, Richard Pryor stand-up and Mel Brooks movies.  Jackie's jokes really could not help but pale by comparison, and even Li'l Archie indulged in barf humor occasionally. 

So I'm fairly certain I found the artwork superior to the scripts even then.  Looking at odd panels online to refresh what's left of my memory, I definitely do now.  Very appealing art by the great Ernie Colon, a guy who could draw anything from superheroes to sword-and-sorcery to horror to a graphic novel adaptation of the 9/11 Commission Report.  Jackie Jokers is also superior to Richie Rich in that he wears what almost appear to be clothes an actual human being might wear.  A turtleneck shirt and a sport jacket.  That's pretty snazzy stuff.  My mom dressed me that way for Easter Sunday when I was 5 and I thought I was a funny guy even then.  A regular Mason Reese or Rodney Allen Rippy.  While Richie and his father sport unnatural, triangular bangs parted in the middle, Jackie at least has that then-stylish Beatles cut.

Or Monkees.

How strange the avenues down which our minds lead us when we draw vampires.  It would be neat if I could track down some of these comics and write about them in a more informed way rather than just making up a lot of crazy crap off the top of my head.  Someone reprint the Jackie Jokers stories, stat!

No comments: