Monday, December 28, 2009

Get Lost

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded, and maybe you'd like to think about reading them as well. This time, a review of Get Lost (Hermes, 2008).

I guess I was always loosely aware of Ross Andru and Mike Esposito's artwork from the superhero comics that I read in the 1970s. After all, they were the art team behind Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man, which everybody at Teasley Elementary School owned, so you couldn't help but know them. What I did not know was that around two decades previously, they had worked together as writers and artists of several titles released through their company MR Publications. Among these comics was Get Lost, a cash-in of Mad that was so blatant, William Gaines took the duo to court over it. I mean, look at that cover. It wouldn't be out of place on any of Mad's first thirty or so issues.

MR only published three issues of Get Lost. They won the lawsuit, but other problems at the company, apparently having a lot to do with a 3-D comic that didn't sell well, brought everything to a crashing halt. The original issues are incredibly scarce collector's items, which makes Hermes' repackaging of the three a very nice find. At thirty bucks, it's a little steep for the page count, but I found a heavily-discounted copy at Louisville's Great Escape and was willing to give it a try.

As for the contents, well... I wasn't as taken with it as I'd hoped. Hermes did a fine job with the reproduction, and they included some supplementary material, including an introduction and an interview, but they really overstated the importance of this comic in their hyperbole. The artwork is very good, and there are a couple of great chuckles to be found, but no more than that.

Perhaps having assistance from some more writers and artists might have helped. Apart from a single script, Andru and Esposito were responsible for every page of Get Lost, while Mad was the product of a great big Gang of Idiots working under Harvey Kurtzman's direction. A parody of the monster movie The Thing in the third issue was by far the funniest thing in the book; I could take or leave the rest of it. High marks to the publisher for such a good-looking package, but even for fans of 1950s humor comics, I really don't think this is essential reading.

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