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The Beagle Boys #36
posted January 3, 2019

Creators: Peter Alvarado, Bill Wright, Vic Lockman, Kay Wright, Tony Strobl, Larry Wright
Publishing Information: Comic Book, Western Publishing, 36 pages, August 1977, 30 cents.

imageThis is from an intermittent run of Beagle Boys comics that came out from Western from the mid-1960s through the late 1970s. It was given to me as a gift by a small child at my recent birthday party. I have no idea why, but I do like the characters. I'm not enough of a Disney comics fan to be able to say for certain which creator at work on stories in this comic book had what strengths. To my untrained eye, it's not remarkable in any way at all. So of course I liked it a bit for that reason.

The criminals in the Beagle Boys gang, here reduced to three members of the varying prison numbers they use for names, are played as gentle doofuses with no impulse control. They steal because they love, much in the same way that Scrooge McDuck accumulates. Wealth acquisition makes for an easy and variable narrative through-line. The most odd story is one that involves them briefly adopting a grinder monkey and I'm already forgetting why the hell that took place except perhaps to facilitate the more general plot or underline already obvious central truths about those characters. It's an endless cycle, never questioned.

I like looking at standard mainstream art of this type and time, the deliberate pacing and the background drops two of among a dozen or so reoccurring formal tropes that give me pleasure. I like minor characters that show up without explanation, I like the cityscapes. Comics like these do the job and keep things moving, although that hardly seems a joyful enterprise as portrayed here. Imagine a world in which post-prison reform keeps you in the same outfits, stripped of the agency of a non-prison code name. There are some hints that Scrooge and the Beagles are two sides of the same coin, but it is clear which side everyone expects to land facing up. If there's subtext here, the Beagles left it in the trunk of their car.