Scott Shaw! Did you hear me? I said, “Scott Shaw!”
Now, more than ever, do we need Scott Shaw!’s Oddball Comics.
He has followed his bliss and ours to the last swap meet, the dustiest quarter box of mixed comics to save the comics that no one else would save. We all know about the great comics that everyone’s mom threw out. These are the comics that every self-respecting kid threw out. The ones even our kid siblings wouldn’t save from the trash.
These are the comics that put the funny in funny book, both “ha-ha” and “peculiar.” And fewer are the howlers put out as advertising tools than you’d think. Most of the show are comics put out by entertainment professionals. They’re just wrong. For every genuinely, intentionally funny comic book cover over the years there must be a hundred that are so stupid, so venal, so slapdash as to be the dictionary illustration for “laughingstock.”
Being in the hands of a seasoned performer like Shaw! is a relaxing pleasure. You pick up the rhythm and laugh along as long as the schedule will allow. He is the king of the slideshow side shows, a wonderful reminder of the great heights we attempt and the depths to which we can fall. Here are freaks for geeks.
This is the first, maybe decisive verdict of history on these comics. One look and the specialists in the field, that is, the entire audience, can’t help but laugh out loud. There are fewer professionals in attendance these days, but that’s because they’ve all seen it, some since they’ve been in middle school.
And Shaw! brings his toolkit to the job, too. Where editors can get away with a silly little conceit when the readers don’t have a chance to compare issues and compare notes. Shaw! notices the patterns that are innocent and even banal one at a time, but become torturously funny when repeated and repeated and repeated. His “Robin in the Corner” bit is an example of this. While the actual Batman cover drawings became more and more fantastic and more and more obscurely detailed, the editors relied on a headshot of Robin in the corner and a balloon of expository dialog. After they tired of Robin in the bottom right looking up, they flipped him over to the bottom left.
It’s hard to tell if Scott! loves the comics more than the audience loves him. He said after the show that a major publisher had gotten in touch about a big old book of Oddball Comics. Which is enough to make you raise your voice!