Friday, March 25, 2011
Are You Ready for Freddy?
Karl at the House of Cobwebs wrote a couple of posts about this series and so I decided to check it out for myself. Freddy is obviously intended as a knock-off of the Archie series, but with some oddball differences. For starters, Archie is reasonably admirable and upright; Freddy has, shall we say, a more ambiguous moral code.
In the first story in this issue, Freddy encounters his buddy Stuff, with a gallon of some foul-smelling perfume, which gives him an idea:
I'm not saying that Archie would be above such a prank, but at least he'd wait until Reggie did something to provoke him. As it happens, Rip gives the bottle to Peggy, Freddy's adored object, but something goes wrong:
So Freddy decides to give her an even bigger bottle of the stuff, but by that time her sense of smell returns (she had a cold) and so she's annoyed at both of them. He sells the rest of the bottle to Rip on the basis that Peggy liked it. Rip finds out it works as a great insecticide, and Freddy buys it back at twice the price. But when he offers to use it to protect Mrs Van Bank Vault's roses:
So Freddy tosses it in the dump, but a passing hobo notes that it melts (sic) tin cans and decides to use it as a trash eradicator, presumably becoming rich.
Archie had L'il Jinx, Freddy has the Little Wise Guy for a quick "gag":
There are two of these fillers in the comic, and they both follow the same formula; LWG has a problem, solves it, and (improbably) makes money.
The second Freddy story again highlights his lack of morals. There's an art contest, with the winner getting a trip to New York City as the prize. One problem: Freddy's got no talent and the teacher in charge of judging the paintings insists on realism. So Freddy gets a bright idea:
The teacher is so taken with Freddy's work that he awards it first place. One problem:
Freddy takes back the frame, explaining:
But the teacher is not so easily deterred:
Comments: Yuck! As you know, I judge comics from the Silver Age on the curve, with allowances that this was throwaway kid's entertainment. I'm more interested in solid characterization rather than depth of plot or intricacy of artwork. But this story is terrible on characterization. Not only is Freddy a cheater and a serial liar, but he gets away with it in the end! I can't help but wonder why we are supposed to be rooting for Freddy (besides the fact that his name is on the cover).
The next story features Simple Saima (a young woman). She's tired of her boyfriend Dummy Dooley and wants to meet Rock Boulder, the cowboy TV star, who's staying at a nearby resort. She's rather forward in her approach:
But Saima means "hoss" riding and she doesn't take no for an answer, resulting in Rock being shoved onto the most ornery horse in the stables. He has a wild ride and in the end confesses:
He explains that he has stunt doubles who do the riding for him. Disgusted, Saima goes back to Dummy Dooley. He may be stupid but at least he doesn't need a double.
Comments: The cowboy star who doesn't really ride is something of a cliche these days, and I suspect it was back then as well.
Remember the "free prizes" mentioned on the cover? Here they are:
Yep, for only 120 corners from Charlton comics, you could get a free tee shirt. Such a deal! Note that if you bought just one comic and sent 60 cents, you could get the same shirt, so they're essentially valuing those extra 119 comics at 60 cents, or about 1/2 a penny each. Judging from the quality of this issue that seems a little generous. ;)
The final story is another Freddy story. His angry neighbor, Mr Tantrum, doesn't believe in UFOs:
So Freddy dangles a flying saucer he got for 120 Charlton corners (just kidding; the actual text says five box tops from a cereal brand) in front of Mr Tantrum's window. But his neighbor (who's apparently a little nearsighted) assumes it's a bug and sprays it with insecticide. Freddy inhales a bit of the fumes and falls of the roof:
So while Mr Tantrum may be rational about some things, he's still got his "woo" side.
Overall, the comic is oddly entertaining, in a perverse sort of way. It's not "so bad it's good," and it's certainly not good. The artwork by Jon D'Agostino is above average for Charlton's somewhat low standards if nothing special, and the stories are reasonably coherent.