1992: Blood Club

Blood Club (1992) by Charles Burns

This was apparently originally serialised in alternative weeklies in the 80s?

But here it’s in colour, and printed on super shiny paper, so everything looks inhumanely sharp.

It’s a simpler story than the previous Big Baby story (which was originally printed by Raw as a one-shot), and it’s a lot more straightforward.

Big Baby goes to summer camp and encounters a ghost and that’s pretty much it, as far as the plot goes. But Burns manages to make every page so creepy that it’s a thrill to read — even if it’s a slight let-down after finishing the book.

Fantastic stuff.

Wow, that’s a perfect Tintin homage… Hm… they list four books there. Curse of the Molemen we’ve covered earlier, but I don’t think Kitchen Sink ever got around to reprinting Teen Plague? And… Mondo Xeno? I’ve never heard of that.

Let googling commence:

Right:

I’ve always suspected they were to be forthcoming entries in the series, but never happened before KS went under! My guess is Teen Plague would have been a reprint of the tale from Raw V2N1, only in color, and I’m unclear about Mondo Xeno, which could have been all new or even a comp of previously uncollected stories, but again, with color!

EDIT: I also now recall that Big Baby was a syndicated strip that appeared in various free weekly’s around the country. The other two books may have been uncollected tales, as I seem to recall that may have actually been how I first saw Teen Plague!

Seems likely. Perhaps Mondo Xeno was a working title for that story about those alien worshippers?

Wow, there are some awesome early Burns things on that I can’t recall seeing before?

Heh heh.

So much great stuff here

But back to Blood Club. It was nominated for two Harveys.

The Comics Journal #158, page 90:

This full-color comic by Charles Burns is the • •newest
edition in a brilliant series of picture storybmks loved
by children (and praised by parents) all over the
ghost story which hones in on the tat» yet traditional
features of the all-American summer camp experience
and features Bums famous character, Big Baby. Burns
fans will note that a version of this story has appeared
in serialized format in various alternative neuspapers.
This particular tale is rife with pre-pubescent squir-
miness and revolves around Big Baby’s edgy romance
with the forbidden and the unknown. The eerie nar-
rative becomes more •extreme when coupled with
Burns’ drawing, which has a razor-like quality infus-
ed with a retro ’50s look. The overall effect is both
macabre and stylish.
It’s a good story and an equally good scare. You
never heard this one around the campfire, and prob-
ably never will.

This is the one hundred and thirty-sixth post in the Entire Kitchen Sink blog series.

1992: The Acid Bath Case

The Acid Bath Case (1992) by Stephen Walsh and Kellie Strom

Kitchen Sink had a pretty strong identity as a publisher, even if it shifted over time. They started out as an Underground comix publisher, but a pretty mild one, and then segued into being a publisher that did quality reprints of superior genre material, while publishing books in the horror/fantasy/science fiction area.

But by 1992, you’d be hard-pressed to pinpoint a Kitchen Sink book any more.

So what is this? I guess you can see the connection to, say, Blab — this is a hard-boiled noir 50s thing, but with an art style that’s totally unlike what the Blab people are going for.

It’s also just… a befuddling reading experience. My guess is that the creators here have no comics experience, so it’s hard to interpret what we’re even supposed to glean from a sequence like the one above. Why is he grabbing the steering wheel?

I like reading comics that don’t explain too much, but this book was just incomprehensible.

I think… the plot is that Eisenhower is going around killing people and then dissolving them in acid? I’m probably wrong. 🤷🏾‍♂️

The artwork is sometimes pretty stunning, though, so it’s worth reading for that alone.

The Comics Journal #157, page 123:

This 46-page trade palxrback is a mystery/hard-t»iled
detective story involving an upper echelon police
detective in pursuit of an urban serial killer whose
modus operendi is death by industrial acid. The vivid
imagery of coiled skin corpses, skulls with protruding
eyeballs. and ribbons Of sinister fumes arising from
victims are Strong enough to turn even the steeliest
of stornachs. The artuork is painfully effective in
the horror am! obscenity of the murder scenes.
The visual composition is complex and engaging, as
is the actual drawing style. This could compared
to a film noiron paper. It is lurid and macabre, with
a sharp. urban look to it. The portrayal of the main
character, Nat Slimmer, doesn’t come across as be-
ing very likeable mostly due to the fact that the writer
leans too heavily on genre cliches, i.e., Nat’s self in-
tru: “l spit thinka some o’ the crimes I seen.. .Truly
such things as yu uouldn’t ever wanna cast yer orbs
Over. I’m a cop, y%ee. My beat is the city.” This
writing style may be a bit of a hurdle to those who
donh favor the hard-boiled school ofdialogue, but the
odd and intricate plot combined with the lush and
ferocious illustration make this tx»k uell worth a

This is the one hundred and thirty-fifth post in the Entire Kitchen Sink blog series.

1991: Batman: The Sunday Classics, 1943-46

Batman: The Sunday Classics, 1943-46 (1991) by a whole bunch of people

This is an oversized book collecting Batman Sunday pages from the 40s. These only ran in a handful of newspapers, so they haven’t been seen widely.

The book is obviously a labour of love. We not only get interviews from surviving creators of all the different sequences, but also biographies of everybody involved (and there’s a lot of people involved). We get about 50 pages of this stuff, and the book is 200 pages long, so one quarter of the book is research.

Some of it is even pretty interesting.

But I’m guessing people bought this book for the reprints, and they’re really well reproduced for this kind of thing. Colours that pop, but look pretty natural otherwise, and the linework reproduces well.

As is natural for a Sunday page serial, each sequence is pretty short — around the five page mark. That sounds like it should be pretty naff, but the pages are so dense that they manage to squeeze in stories that feel pretty complete, as Batman stories go.

Now, 40s Batman stuff isn’t really something I’m terribly interested in, but these are pretty good for what they are. More readable than the Batman comic book at the time, I’d say.

It’s a good mix of goofy and hard-hitting adventure.

Like I said, not really something I’m terribly interested in, but this is a quite satisfying book, none-the-less.

After Kitchen folded, DC Comics reprinted the strips, too.

Here’s a review:

This is a pretty good run of all-ages Batman stories, though the non-gory deaths might be too intense for the youngest readers. They largely ignore the War going on, outside a rich man’s quick reference to donating to the War effort.

This is the one hundred and thirty-fourth post in the Entire Kitchen Sink blog series.

1991: Small Wonders: The Funny Animal Work of Frank Frazetta

Small Wonders The Funny Animal Work of Frank Frazetta (1991) #1 by Frank Frazetta and others

A popular scam I mean publishing genre involves finding early works by people who later became famous. This work can sometimes be interesting, but in comics this usually involves finding some public domain stuff from some bottom feeding publishing outfit, that didn’t give the artists much money at the time, and that had no publishing standards what-so-ever.

So I’m guessing that this is one of those books, because the second volume of this series never happened, and you’d think that anything with “Frank Frazetta” on the cover would sell.

Oh wow. This is even rougher (and more horrible) than I imagined.

And… wha? About one third of the pages here are like this. I’m guessing these are illustrations that went with short stories from some magazine or other? I understand the completist impulse (ahem), but c’mon.

*phew* Finally something that’s worth reading. The bulk of the book is funny animal strips featuring characters stolen from apparently any other funny animal comic.

So we randomly get a character that looks very much like Peg-Leg Pete (but without the peg leg).

And an alligator named “Al”.

In any case, these stories aren’t that bad, really? Frazetta’s cartooning is lively, and the stories are… OK. Nothing to get excited about, but I’ve certainly read a lot worse.

Now they’re just fucking with us. How do you spell “p.a.d.d.i.n.g.” anyway?

As transparent money-grabbing scams go, this book is one of them. There’s enough somewhat interesting material here to fill about one normal-sized comic book, which is something. But man…

You almost have to admire the brazen shamelessness of it all. Almost.

I was unable to find any contemporary reviews of the book.

This work has apparently never been reprinted again:

What many people, even some dedicated Frazetta fans, don’t realize is that Frazetta was primarily a comics artist for the early part of his career, starting in professional comic book work at the age of 16.

Some of his earliest work was for so-caled “funny animal” comics, in which anthropomorphized barnyard animals careen through loopy nonsensical misadventures in emulation of the popular animated cartoons in the same genre.

This is the one hundred and thirty-third post in the Entire Kitchen Sink blog series.

An Entirely Ill-Advised Reading of all Comics Published by Kitchen Sink Press