Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Anthro #1

I confessed in the last post that I wasn't really familiar with this series, and decided to rectify that problem. A friend of mine had this issue and I borrowed it for today's post.

As you can tell from the cover, the story takes place in caveman days. It begins with Anthro and his brother, Lart, returning to the place where he has killed a mammoth (apparently in the Showcase #74 tryout issue). As they prepare to cut up the animal for its meat, they are attacked:

Anthro chases after the girl, leaving his brother behind. He has a little fight with her, in the course of which she bites him, proving to his dismay that she is a cannibal, but:

She explains that she attacked him because he killed the mammoth. She had raised the animal as her pet when its mother was killed by hunter. Anthro begs her forgiveness:

Meanwhile, his little brother is trying somewhat ineffectively to ward off scavengers trying to get the mammoth's meat. However, the carrion-eaters suddenly vanish, intimidated by a new presence:

Lart manages to kill the beast, but not before his leg is mangled in the battle. Anthro, forgetting all about the girl, carries his brother back to their camp, where the medicine woman heals his wounds as best she can. Unfortunately:

When Anthro explains that he was distracted by the girl, his father decides it is time for the young man to take a wife. He sends him to the camp where Anthro's mother came from, telling him to win the daughter of the chief.
Sure enough:

The tests he must pass include demonstrating his spear-throwing ability and his bronco-busting skills. It takes some effort:

But in the end he is victorious. However, Anthro forgot to read the fine print:

Of course, that's a bit of a wink at the modern audience; there's no particular reason to suppose that cavemen preferred skinny blondes. However, Anthro obviously does, and he takes off, with a warrior of the other tribe (and the girl) in hot pursuit. To be continued!

Comments: Wow! What a terrific comic! Excellent art, interesting characters, exciting situations and even a few moments of comic relief. What's not to like? I confess I found Post's inks a little overwhelming at first, but his style really grew on me. Incidentally, the cover scene is a bit of artistic license, as nothing like that ever occurs in the book.


Ed said...

Again, one of those wonderful, unique books that DC published in the late 60s -- ironically, out of apparent desperation with their standing vis a vis Marvel. If only they could have figured out a way to let comics like Anthro, the Creeper, Secret Six, Spectre, etc. and characters like Nightmaster, Firehair and Manhunter 2070(Scary that we're now as far from 1970 as 1970 was from 1930?!)find an audience!

Howie Post is an example of an artist, like Frank Robbins, whose style seemed more comic strip than comic book, but as you point out, Pat, it was so fresh and unlike most other stuff you'd see at either DC or Marvel that it was a joy to read. it was witty, both verbally and visually; it would have been great to see Anthro the character age and the Stone Age come to life in a long series. Could have been part Conan, part Alley Oop, part Bone.

BTW: think Post stole that switching brides bit from John Ford's The Searchers?

Mike Frank said...

Has anybody read the bible? If not, may I point out the story of Jacob, Leah and Rachel?

In any case, at the age of seven I fell in love with comic books. At first it was all about the big guns, Superman, Batman, The Flash and The Justice League. Pretty soon I found that I really loved the oddball stuff like Metamorpho, The Doom Patrol and The Creeper.

The one book I truly adored was Anthro. It was like nothing else on the racks. To this day, I have a complete set of Anthro and the Showcase tryout. I never understood why it was canceled, although as a kid I did figure out that DC always canceled new comics after six issues.

I just checked and there are lots of readers copies available on EBay if you have a mind to acquire, in my opinion, is one of the finest series ever done.

Ed said...

I must 've been at the movies when you were in Bible school, Mike.

No, seriously, though, I thought of The Searchers b/c the older daughter was in stereotypical Indian garb.

Agree re all those great series, too. Why can't there be an "anthology" Showcase Presents gathering all of those too-brief series? Anthro would look just fine in b and w, too.

Whalehead King said...

Nice intro to Anthro. I remember the character but don't remember reading the book. Looks like a great read but like so many other things Silver Age or more recent, maybe it didn't fit market expectations. The market wasn't all super heroes then so it's another puzzle why this didn't stick.


Pat said...

Mike, Ed and Whalehead King, I think the problem that DC had was that with rising costs, DC's demands on new titles in 1968 were higher than they had been for most of the decade. Good point about the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah, Mike. I too would love to see some of the short-lived series from this era in a Showcase-style compilation.

Aaron said...

I've got this issue of Anthro! It's wonderful - it was also interesting to see how Lart is injured, because I always remembered the brief Anthro scene in Crisis on Infinite Earths where there was a boy on a crutch, and wondered what it was about.