Minister of Science and Chief Protector of the Faith

Monday, February 11, 2008

Not Brand Echh: "Who Says a Comic Book Has to Be Good?"

Click to read, 'The Silver Burper' from "Not Brand Echh" #1.

I have three boxes of comic books from my youth, none of which are in mint condition because when I was young I would actually read my comic books instead of creating altars to their potential value. I did eventually buy those little plastic bag/cardboard backing jammies for them that are all the rage, but the condition of my comic books remain in "well read" condition. They are thus of little worth on the open market, but their value to me is imeasurable, even if it only on the rarest of occasion that I actually pull one of them out and read it.

In my youth I would buy comic books on a regular basis, and my favorite characters would change over the years and my buying habits would reflect this. Despite my mercurial tastes in comic books I will always have one favorite comic book, "Not Brand Echh" #3. By the time they published the last issue of "Not Brand Echh", I was too young to even read it, much less buy it.

I still have the first comic book that I ever bought, which was an issue of Harvey Comics' "Hot Stuff". Around this time, the son of a friend of my parents gave me a whole stack comic books one night after a dinner party, as he had "grown out of them." At the time I had only read a few "Archie Comics" titles, and of course my personal favorite, "Hot Stuff". I was not accustomed to these "grown up" comic books.

The stack was probably only about 40 comics, but he gave me Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Agent Fury and the Fantastic Four. I was ecstactic! I could not believe how lucky I was. That was one of the happiest moments of my life. I read all of those comic books over and over. There was one odd comic book in the stack, "Not Brand Echh" #3, my favorite comic book ever.

By the time I reached high school, I pretty much stopped buying comic books, but I would still read from my collection on occasion. Then in my twenties while looking through my comic books, I came across my dog-eared issue of "Not Brand Echh" #3. I had always wanted to read the rest of the issues, and I had some money squirreled at the time, and so I got the brilliant idea one day to go and buy every back issue of "Not Brand Echh", and so I did just that. It was one of the wisest purchases that I ever made. They are not really worth a lot of money because their condition is not mint, but they are my favorite comic books ever.

If you don't enjoy reading comic books, then you probably won't enjoy this story because "Not Brand Echh" is a series of stories that are parodies of existing comic book characters. They are probably not as funny if you don't know who the character's are that are being parodied.

The Title, "Not Brand Echh" [ 1, 2, 3, 4 ] is a reference to advertisements of the day that would compare the represented product to "Brand X." Marvel, the comic book's publisher, is a rival to the popular publisher DC Comics.

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At Mon Feb 11, 06:15:00 PM, Blogger Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Funny stuff. I used to read so many comics as a kid and I have them all in the basement as well. Most of them aren't too beat up, but they're pretty well read.

At Mon Feb 11, 09:37:00 PM, Blogger kimono hime said...

I agree, the best ones are the dog-eared ones.

Some of my comic collection is actually worth something, but those are the ones I refuse to part with because I actually still read them.

I've got a mint copy of Stray Toasters you can have, cheap.

At Mon Feb 11, 10:54:00 PM, Blogger G7 said...

Marvel had a better sense of humor then DC, especially in the '70's. Gotta love that She-Hulk! I'm linking your page to mine.

At Tue Feb 12, 12:43:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I loved how Marvel made fun of themselves. DC never had the balls to do so.

At Tue Feb 12, 08:07:00 AM, Blogger Randal Graves said...

I had heard of these, but had never seen any before. Funny stuff!

At Tue Feb 12, 01:20:00 PM, Blogger Dean Wormer said...

Nice. I read Howard the Duck but the comics parody in that series was more "adult-oriented."

That is - there were lots of buxom gals.

At Tue Feb 12, 10:57:00 PM, Blogger Mauigirl said...

I still have a whole pile of Archie comic books from my long-ago youth. I found them at my old house when my mom was moving into a senior citizen's apartment building. Now they're here with me and one of these days I'll dig them out and re-read them!

At Wed Feb 13, 06:58:00 AM, Blogger pissed off patricia said...

I don't know about these particular comics but I wanted comic books even before I could read. My mom used to read them to me. To me, every quarter (25 cents) meant only one thing, a new comic book could be had. I wish to hell I had them all now. I loved them so much.

Good for you for hanging on to that little slice of childhood, or maybe it's a big slice.

At Wed Feb 13, 11:03:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator: I'm glad that you kept your comic books as well, Jon. I can't understand why people would ever get rid of their comic books!

Kimono Hime: "Stray Toasters"? If it's mint, that means it not been read. I think tht you are telling me that that "Stray Toasters" are not worth reading.

G7: She_Hulk was one of my favorites! I shall blogroll you as well.

Dr. Monkerstein: DC was certainly very different. They did not really make fun of themselves, and they weren't humorous. They did have two of my favorites Batgirl and Supergirl, though!

Randal Graves: They are brilliant.

Dean Wormer: Hmm... I've never read that. I'll have to look it up. "Howard the Duck" the movie just awful, though.

Mauigirl: I still love Archie comics! I don't actually buy them, but I love to read what I can online about them. Here is a great Archie story that I found online.

Pissed Off Patricia: There is something delicious about comic books when you are young, even if you are too young to read. They can be more important than money!

At Wed Feb 13, 12:06:00 PM, Blogger Swinebread said...

Wrong! DC had the Balls and those balls belong to Ambush Bug!

Ambush Bug is a fantastic title you should check out. Plus a new series is comming out this summer

Howard the Duck is great comic! forget the movie.

NBE were overpriced back issues when I came along to comics

At Wed Feb 13, 01:37:00 PM, Blogger Batocchio said...

Marvel also did a "What the?" series in the early 90s, I think it was called. They generally took themselves a little less seriously.

Swinebread is right about Ambush Bug, although I only had the first two limited series and a couple of specials. I still reference some gags from it, because that's the sort of geek I am. It was brilliant. I'll have to check out the new stuff. (One of the characters was a continuity cop, right around the Crisis on Infinite Earths series, when DC killed off almost everyone except their main folks.) Keith Giffen wrote some great stuff, in Ambush Bug and on other titles, including a later stint with J.M. DeMatteis on the Justice League titles. They were often dramatically solid, but poked fun at themselves and the whole genre. Arch-Villain Magna Khan was a graduate of some Megla-maniac school, and had a sidekick, L-Ron, who'd tell him when he was (what The Incredibles calls) "monologuing" again. An annual JL issue had them fighting killer penguins in Antarctica (genetically cross-bred with piranha). Then there was a one-off on the (existing) League of Substitute Heroes, the castoffs in a future century who weren't cool or powerful enough to join Superboy and the League of Super-Heroes. (SPOILER, as if you could even find this issue!) After Matter-Eater Lad bit off the arch-villain's nose, the Substitutes defeated the guy by dropping Stone Boy (whose only ability was to hibernate in a comatose stone state) on the villain's head. Awesome.

I have probably about 15 boxes of comic books from back in the day. I was mainly a Marvel guy, but if you ever need to geek out on 80s comic book stuff, I'm there. (I still give the trade paperback of The Watchmen as a gift to some people, just to show them how astounding the medium can be.)

Has anyone else read Top 10, by Alan Moore? There are some trade paperbacks available. If you liked the good spoof work of yore, you'd probably like them. There's funny references in the background of many panels. I have a few friends who keep up with comics who tip me to the good stuff. Any other recs?

Speaking of Howard the Duck, from the blog Mark Evanier (who wrote some comedically brilliant issues of Groo), Steve Gerber sadly just died.

(Damn, I'm geeking out on all sorts of subjects recently...)

At Thu Feb 14, 12:00:00 AM, Blogger skippy said...

i actually had brand ecch comics as a kid.

more recently i enjoyed the flaming carrot.

and, about the same time, american flag.

but those were both more adult-oriented in their themes and approach.

still and all, you can't beat carl barks' uncle scrooge series. that was some serious sh*t he was shoveling into young minds back then. walt must have been napping to let his story lines get published.

At Thu Feb 14, 11:14:00 AM, Blogger Swinebread said...

Batocchio – I don’t know your tastes but I’ll suggest some tiles: Y: The Last Man, Starman, Dark Horse Comic’s Conan, Lady SnowBlood, Loveless, Ex Machina, Supreme,

A couple of series just started up that have been great so far: The Twelve and Project Superpowers,

Also there’ s magazine the covers 70s and 80s comics called Back Issue that you might like.

At Thu Feb 14, 08:22:00 PM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Swinebread: Ack! OK, I'm convinced. I am going to have to look into Ambush Bug and Howard the Duck!

Batocchio: Jeepers! You know a lot more about comics than I do. I really want to read the "League of Substitute Heroes" now. I am going to Google it right away! Thanks for all of the background info. I am going to have to look into all of these comics that you are talking about.

Skippy: I am familiar with the Flaming Carrot. That's a cool comic! American Flag and Uncle Scrooge? Hmm...

Swinebread: "Back Issue"? A magazine the covers 70s and 80s comics? Cool!

At Fri Feb 15, 01:31:00 AM, Blogger Swinebread said...

Back Issue!

Ambush Bug’s Best Year

Essential Howard the Duck

At Fri Feb 15, 02:33:00 AM, Blogger Batocchio said...

Dr.Z, The League of Substitute Heroes was a one-off giant special, and I think that was it, although they guested in some Superboy and the Legion issues, so it may be very hard to find. I'll try to dig up my copy, if we ever have a big blogger party in RL...

I'm definitely checking out that new Ambush Bug series, though!

Most of my comic geekdom is from the 80s, so I'd defer to Swinebread for the current stuff.

At Fri Feb 15, 02:34:00 AM, Blogger Batocchio said...

Oh, and thanks for the links and recs there, Swinebread!

At Fri Feb 15, 08:47:00 PM, Blogger Swinebread said...

Sure thing!

The link on ambush bug was supposed to be to 1985 but it's the main Ambush Bug page instead. Clink the link on the side bar for 1985.

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