In this article we celebrate everything that comprises those strange pieces of folded paper we call comic books. More specifically we focus on some of the more obscure, weird and just plain out there examples of comic literature. Starting with this Whatmen?!
Whatmen?! is a comic parody written by Scott Lobdell (Uncanny X-Men) and artist Alejandro Figueroa (The Continuum). It works basically how all other parodies work, it rips the shite out of the comic book Watchman. It was released in 2009, the same year the Watchmen movie came out, obviously trying to tie in to the movie and get some money. Which is fair, they beat DC comics to the punch anyway. Not sure how Alan Moore feels about this comic but I would hope he would see the funny side of it! So we follow the exploits of Nutsack (I never said it was high brow humour) as he tries to find who murdered The Standup and if the rest of the Whatmen?! are next.
There are a lot of pop culture references in this comic. For any interested readers, here is a list of the references I spotted. Looking at the list you will see there are some great examples of how tuned in Lobdell is to what the potential readership would be for this type of comic.
The Stand Up having a Wonder Woman costume in his wardrobe
The crew of CSI investigate the murder
Spider-Man climbs the wall of a building
The X-Men turn up for The Standup’s funeral
Ozzy Mandious has a tiger that talks to him and looks exactly like the tiger from Calvin and Hobbes
The writer of Understanding Comics pops up in a scene with Doc NYC’s resurrection
Snoopy is the dog Nutsack believes is eating a child
It is very reminiscent of Mad magazine in its gently mocking of the Watchmen comic conventions. So we have the Standup slipping to death on a bar of soap while Nutsack goes through his wardrobe to find some very kinky dress wear. Nutsack decides to light his own fart’s to avoid the police while Silkie Drawers gets off on the fact her boyfriend can produce duplicates of himself when they share their private bedtime moments together. It is all very tongue in cheek though, always winking back at the reader to say “It’s okay to laugh, it’s just a bit of fun”. In fact, in one scene Doc NYC does actually wink at the camera in case it did not sink in the first time that this is a parody. This is the type of comic which would be great to read before watching Airplane, same kind of humor. Sure some jokes fall flat on their faces (the jokes about Doc NYC nudity for one) but for the most part it tickles your funny bone in just the right place.
It’s because this book obviously cares about the subject matter it is taking the mick out of, which gives it some overall charm. It is never vicious in its intent, and in fact is very flattering in some scenes as page for page panels have been expertly drawn in Dave Gibbon’s style and then gently tweaked to fit the story. It mocks the release of the film for its finale which copies the end scene of the book amazingly well. It is not exactly a groundbreaking comic by any means. But it does have a kind of innocent tomfoolery to it that makes me enamored with it, making me pick it up time and time again and revealing in its silliness.
If you are interested in the comic there is a great interview by Comic Book Resources with Scott Lobdell about how he went about making the comic book.