Fish-Flavored Baseball Bat

It's a John Cleese reference.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

And Now, Context!

I thought I'd let the enigmatic glory of that "Bunny Boo" panel simmer for a few days, but now I'm ready to explain it. The panel comes from "Shag and the Uglies," one of the stories in Renegade Press' Ditko's World #1. As the title page explains: "A device implanted in Jay Oaker enables him to become...SHAG!"

Hmm...that at a TV station...a transformation triggered by an implanted device...okay, let's come right out and state the obvious. This was clearly originally meant as a Creeper story that never saw print. I don't know whether the story was rejected by DC, or whether Ditko just decided to change the names and keep the copyright...whatever the case, I'll just concern myself with the story, rather than speculate on the behind-the-scenes stuff.

Jay Oaker (or, as I'll call him, Not Jack Ryder) is working at the station during a rehearsal for a special starring spoiled prima donna Bunny Boo. (Note that panel in the lower left contains some information, both verbal and visual, that'll come into play later on.) The station manager's creep of a nephew, Nepper (love those Ditko names!) tries to bribe Not Jack Ryder into arranging a meeting with Bunny Boo. NJR responds by putting Nepper's money where his mouth is, literally. However, before NJR can deal with the consequences of humiliating/assaulting his boss' nephew, a real emergency comes up when Bunny's song is interrupted by the arrival of a grotesquely-masked intruder, shouting that immortal line.

Not Jack Ryder springs into action, transforming into Not the Creeper. NtC manages to protect Bunny Boo from her assailant, but a kick to the head stuns him long enough for the masked man to escape. As the dust settles, Not Jack Ryder (having slipped away and changed back before he was missed) speculates that the attack might have been a publicity stunt; before he can complete his sentence ("...but I don't believe it"), he gets this reaction from the outraged Bunny Boo.

Oh, NJR...I don't care if she IS hateful...cruel, that's just not right.

She storms off in a rage (which seems completely justified to me, no matter what Ditko wants us to think of her). Later, a mysterious figure meets Nepper and offers to get him alone with well as a chance to get back at NJR.

Meanwhile, NJR is out walking. He sees an ad for a headache medication called "Headoh," and the advertisement's swollen head gives him an epiphany: The attacker's "ugly" motif isn't actually ugliness per se, but distortions.

Nepper meets Bunny Boo is a room filled with bizarre sculptures. (As Chris K observed, Ditko disdains modern art, yet even while he mocks it, the "modern art" he draws is awesome.)

(Remember that panel from page 1: "Fed's costumes, Gobo's sets, and Wad's effects will be ready.") You see, Gobo has held a grudge against her since they went to art school together. Gobo knocks Bunny Boo unconscious just as NJR arrives (having made the connection between the attacker's grotesque mask and the TV special's distorted-building sets). Before entering the room, NJR transforms into NtC, and defeats Gobo in a single panel. Bunny comes to; seeing NJR (returned to his normal appearance) as her rescuer, she is so filled with gratitude that his earlier mistreatment is forgotten.

But not forgotten for long. (That's STILL just not right.)

Maybe...but probably not.

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At 6:44 AM, Blogger zhinxy said...

I agree that it's not right, but it's not like she didn't strike out at HIM!

It's far better than the not-provoked-by-any-sort-of-violence "smack some sense into her" one often finds in comics and other media of the era...


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