Tuesday, June 07, 2005

BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT COMIC BOOK Marvel Comics, 1992



This comic book is both totally excellent and utterly non-heinous.

Really.

The penultimate issue in the series, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Comic Book #11 is actually better than the movies that spawned it. I know, we’re talking apples and oranges – film is a different medium, etc. But still – the Bill & Ted comics were better than the movies. I don’t think that’s saying much.

I found the Bill & Ted movies both amusing and stupid at the same time – sort of like Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. You know the scene that really bugged me the most in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure? When Bill & Ted take all of the historical figures to the mall. Sure, Napoleon pigging out in the ice cream parlor was funny, but the Joan of Arc thing – kill me, please. In the movie, Joan of Arc sees an aerobics class and is so overcome with excitement that she shoves the instructor aside and takes over the class, aerobicising with a zealot’s fury. I hated that. That was all they could think to do with her? Just thinking about it makes me want to punch somebody. Wait a second…

…okay, done. I just totally uppercut some guy so hard his dog screamed. I feel better.

You can imagine based on my feelings about the films that I would not enthusiastically purchase a Bill & Ted comic book. But wait! What about a Bill & Ted comic book written and drawn by Evan Dorkin?

Excellent!

Evan Dorkin is one of my favorite cartoonists ever. Ever! If you haven’t been exposed to the raw beauty that is Milk and Cheese or the sinister humor of Dork!, both published by Slave Labor Graphics, then you, my friend, are missing out. Evan Dorkin is one of the most original voices in funny books today, with a track record of solid work that a creator twice his age would be proud of. I am totally “on his dick,” and I mean that in a non-pornographic way.

The Bill & Ted books really are brilliant. I understand they’re being collected…? Yes? I think? If so, check them out. Dorkin was the perfect guy for the project, and Marvel just kind of let him go nuts and do his thing. The result are comics that are unmistakably Dorkin’s work – dense, packed with laffs, slightly subversive - but are faithful to the original material. I loves it.

“Dave, you are high,” you might say. “There is no way anything to do with Bill & Ted is cool.”

“You want some of this?” I might say, cocking my fist threateningly. “You want The Hammer?”

“Okay, take it easy…” you might say, flinching.

That’s right. Nobody wants The Hammer.*

The story is simple enough, but it’s all in the execution. Everyone’s favorite time-traveling stoners visit a Planet of The Apes marathon at their local theater, accompanied by their skeletal buddy Death, who gorges himself on junk food and throws up – or dry heaves anyway. Shortly thereafter Bill & Ted are shocked to find out that their buddy Abe Lincoln gets assassinated! Most heinous!



Naturally, the boys try to come up with a plan, so they lock themselves in a room for a week and brainstorm a solution. After studying the problem by “examining five dollar bills, pennies, watching Lincoln movies, every Twilight Zone treatment of the Lincoln question… everything short of reading about it” they are stumped. Their totally bogus plans include calling out the Army, fully panicking, bombing Washington D.C. to dust, and asking Spider-Man to help. Most lame.

Then they get an idea: go back in time and save Lincoln!



“Let’s do this thing!”

Bill & Ted & Death travel back in time and save Lincoln by kidnapping him in their time machine, but their history meddling plunges the world into a horrific nightmare fascist timeline. They have to take Lincoln back. The bummer thing is, along the way they happen to mention to Lincoln that he gets shot – he freaks out and doesn’t want to go back. Who can blame him?

How totally un-excellent! What will Bill & Ted do?

This book is just packed with funny. Dorkin has got Bill & Ted’s dialogue down cold – he actually makes them cooler than they were in the movies. And like most of Dorkin’s work, the art is packed with tiny little gags and details that make it a pleasure to read. You can really tell the guy was putting a lot into each page, not phoning it in. He’s almost too good for the material – almost.

To all those doubters out there, I say to thee: don’t hate! Bill & Ted’s Excellent Comic totally rules.



Big way.

*Insert MC Hammer joke here.

20 comments:

Harvey Jerkwater said...

Dorkin Rules.

Something must be in the water, for I just wrote about his awesome-osity too. Have they collected his "Bill-n-Ted?" Sweet. I think they just collected his magnum opus, "Dork," too.

I did dig the first BnT movie, if only because it gave me the name of my firstborn: "Bob Genghis Khan." That kid will kick ass! "Bob Genghis Khan Jerkwater." Righteous!

David Campbell said...

Harvey, how could I have not linked to your blog?! I shall correct that...

Big ditto on Dorkin. He's the best.

Augie De Blieck Jr. said...

There's one collection out so far of Dorkin's BILL N TED series. Two cavaets: It's black and white, and I think it's b-n-w shot from the color plates. In other words, it's gray.

Secondly, it's reprinted at the oh-so-fashionable digest size.

Slave Labor Graphics produced it. I haven't seen any word on a second volume yet. For more info:

http://www.billandted.org/comicslg.html

Lots of interesting behind the scenes info there.

David Campbell said...

Thanks Augie

Mikester said...

If I may be so bold...like Mr. Jerkwater above, I also posted something a few months ago on Bill 'n' Ted...particularly the DC Comics-published adaptation of the first film.

David Campbell said...

By the gods, Mike, the art in that adaptation is insane! They look like cavemen.

Mark Hale said...

Ah, one of my all-time favorite series. I bought it as it came out, but had no idea who Dorkin was beforehand; now he's one of my favorites.

A couple years ago I went through the quarter boxes at the LCS. Same shop I started at, the business has changed hands, but some of the old inventory remains. I put together a near-complete second set of probably the same copies of B&T left on the shelves all those years ago.

Greg said...

How dare you impugn the movies! They got me through college.

Don't make me come over there and learn you some respect!

David Campbell said...

Sounds like Greg wants "The Hammer..."

Anonymous said...

The movie gave us Billy the Kid and Socrates trying to put up chicks at the mall food court, only to be totally cockblocked by Sigmund Freud - holding a corndog, no less!

Greg said...

Anonymous said "cockblocked." That rules. And he's right - where's that in your little comic book?

Actually, the comic sounds amazing as well. I must go to the link provided and see if I can get it.

Mike Loughlin said...

If you have not read "Streetwise" (from TwoMorrows, I think it cost $20), go get it. The book was published a few years ago (2000?), and contains short autobiographical (is that a word?) strips by some of the best artists in comics (Barry Windsor-Smith, Paul Chadwick, Walt Simonson, a killer Jack Kirby story done in pencil and printed with crystal clarity). The best story is from Evan Dorkin, recounting his days at camp. It's hilarious. Go get it. Nownownownow!

DougBot said...

Because nobody else has said it so far:

MERV GRIFFIN!

(Still gets makes me laugh, years later.)

Harvey Jerkwater said...

Thanks for the link! I appreciate it.

Gordon said...

In my opinion,

Bill & Ted = lame

Bill & Ted + Evan Dorkin = genius

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