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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Half-Remembered Ditko

I've been trying to remember the details of a Steve Ditko comic that is maddeningly vague in my memory. All I can remember about it is the hero's boss, a considerably more genial J. Jonah Jameson type who spoke in abbreviations that only made sense to himself, requiring footnotes in just about every panel. The one that sticks in my mind: Preparing to spring into action, he proclaims "It's time to RATTAT!" ("RAlly To The ATtack")

I can't even remember the hero himself, just the acronym-spewing boss (which shows how much of a scene-stealer this guy was). Can anyone refresh my memory on this one? More importantly, can we compile a list of all the boss' abbreviations?



At 5:52 PM, Blogger Christopher said...

Erich, the story is "Masquerade," and I have it reprinted in Fantagraphics' mid-80s Ditko Collection Vol. 2. (Yes, I had to look it up...) Flipping through the book, it's hard to line up which story originally appeared in which comic, but it _looks_ like it was "WHA". (Don't you have that one...?)

I'll try to sit down a little later and compile a list of the abbreviations...

--Chris K

At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Chris K said...

So here's more on the story:

The boss is B.B. Bax of the Sunrise Insurance Company. Sort of a Keyes-from-Double-Indemnity figure.
The acronym quirk isn't explained. Ditko's take on bureaucracy, maybe? But here they are:

DOWENOBU = DOn't WEep NOw, BUt...
RATTAT = RAlly To The ATtack!
INEGIU = I NEver GIve Up!
WEBACO = WE're BAck in COntrol
BEEVAN = BEat EVerything, ANywhere!
NAPAF = No. Absolutely, Positively, And Final (hey, that one's actually pretty good. I may use that...)
LABELA = LAst And BEst LAugh

The heroes are a male and female duo who dress up in clownish gear, sort of like the Madmen from Blue Beetle (though it doesn't come off well in black and white). They work for the insurance company but "aren't ready" to handle real investigations; hence, the costumes. They wind up on the same case, but don't know each other's identities, although they're coworkers. Ditko attempts playful man-woman banter! Imagine it!

The insurance case involves theft of modern art. As with every Ditko story that involves modern art, Ditko trashes the very idea of modern art at every opportunity, yet the modern art he draws into the story is COMPLETELY FUCKING AWESOME.

--Chris K

At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Chris K said...

Now the Ditko story _I_ need to find is the one with the line: "BUNNY BOO IS HATEFUL, CRUEL!"

A xerox of that panel (out of context, but context probably wouldn't have helped) was taped up to a bulletin board in the music department of Book Nook, like, forever. And I never did find out where it was from.

(Also, you must find, if you don't already have it, "The Ditko Public Service Package: A Funny Bold Look Into the Comics Industry." It is incredible...)

--Chris K

At 11:11 PM, Blogger Erich said...

Thanks! I knew I had that story somewhere...but, unfortunately, I'm terribly disorganized. Hopefully, I'll be able to find the whole story again.

Funny you should mention that panel...

(Blogger verification word: ITOXOCUP...which is B.B. Bax's way of saying "I TOok XOloft to CUre Panic!")


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