Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

June 11, 2012

Comics I Read In Series Form In The 1980s: Flaming Carrot Comics


I think history has been very, very kind to the original, sustained run of Flaming Carrot-related comic books, both as quality entertainment product and as an artistic achievement. These books are still funny, at least to me, less as some sort of commentary on modern superheroes the way I sometimes see asserted for them than as a pants-less stroll through the general craziness of Bob Burden's mind. Some comics rise out of the childhood dreams of their creators. Flaming Carrot reads more like it sprung fully-formed from an off-hand conversation with a drunk person Burden had while eating breakfast at a strip club. A movie version or even versions drawn by different artists have never quite worked for me because as is the case with comics from David Boswell and Peter Bagge a lot of what makes Burden's work funny comes through the art. These comics look like something drawn by someone that Dan Nadel is eager to put into one of his outsiders-in-the-mainstream collections, the work of someone that has at least once considered making a home out of a storage facility. If EC Segar's Thimble Theatre famously allowed its readers to smell the boiled cabbage, Bob Burden's comics communicate the tiny whiff of mold emanating from the thin, nasty carpet of a Holiday Inn.

These were gateway comics for my group of friends, the only comic I read in which certain friends evinced any interest at all. Stupid communicates no matter the specific subject matter. The Flaming Carrot concept isn't merely stupid, it's a celebration of stupid: recall that Flaming Carrot isn't just a slightly daffy guy that walks around in flippers and a giant carrot head shooting people, he does all this because reading tons of comics made him that way. If comics were part of the secret language my friends had of bands that few people we knew listened to, books our teacher wouldn't let us read in class and movies that none of our peers saw, Flaming Carrot was what we were talking when we laughed a lot. I can still get a chuckle out of any of them just by saying, "Shoot more bullets." What a great comic book.
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