Thursday, April 15, 2010

The 1980s: When Your Grandmother Could Publish a Comic

Ah, the 1980s. Where a good majority of young people today under the age of 35 were born and all bankers and CEOs were hopped up on cocaine (the cool drug, at the time). Something else also happened in the '80s. Comic books became sort of popular which meant everyone had to publish their own comic book, quality be damned! Now, while the '80s did give us good comics like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and, um...I'm sure there was another, it also produced crap. Crap like New Beginning. New Beginning, possibly auto-biographical but not at all true (I don't recall the Soviet Union starting World War III but I didn't watch much news back then). The story is about Terry, a guy who works his way from being a fat ass to the heir of $11 million. Terry never has a job except for his brief stint in the Army but no one questions it. I'm pretty sure I obtained this comic from a grab bag at my local comic store where you got ten comics for a buck but you didn't know what comics were in there because they were in a brown paper bag, just like the booze the people who created this comic were drinking. New Beginning was published by Unicorn Comics in September 1988 and apparently lasted for four issues. I have been unable to find anything on the next three issues but I have looked because I'm pretty sure if I had the entire series I could sell them and be able to buy an Extra Value Meal from McDonald's.

"New Beginning" #1 (September 1988)
Published by Unicorn Comics
Written by Terry Kalkanian
Drawn by Bruce White
Lettered by Debbie Kalkanian
Entire contents copyright (C)1988 Terry Kalkanian. All rights reserved.

The main point of showcasing the first page isn't because it's striking or is guaranteed to blow your mind but is because it is signed by the authors Terry Kalkanian and Bruce White and is numbered 1,128 of 10,000!! (Insert girlish squeal here!) More than likely they only printed 10,000 copies and signed all of them but I guess there is a chance they could be forgeries mainly because it looks as if Terry spelled his name wrong. Also, why is that newscaster calling it the "E & W German Border"? Shouldn't it be "East and West German Border"?
The second page isn't that much of a doozy either, but it shows why and how Terry grew up to become The Kingpin. What? Wrong fat guy? Boy is my face red. As is Terry's. Terry never reveals his last name in the book (although after looking through the credits I have reason to believe that it is Kalkanian) which is kind of weird.
I also think that joining the army is considered an overreaction to being pushed into a pool. I wish we could've seen all the horrible stuff Curtis and Other Guy did all at Terry's expense.
On this page we get a little something for the ladies out there. A completely ripped man whose glutes you could bounce a quarter on. I'm glad Terry found his niche in life: guns and killing. And later, comic books.
WOW! Terry got that ripped just in basic training. That is amazing! As is learning karate and jumping out of airplanes. Sadly, the fun that is the army (I knew it was just like Beetle Bailey) ends when a war suddenly pops up. And not just any war, Grenada.
That is the worst spit take I have ever seen. You know it's never going to end well when someone starts out saying "Let's have some fun with these losers". That's a good sign that someone is going is going to take a bullet to the head.
Oh, sweet Jesus! I didn't mean it!! Of course Terry had no control of what happened next, he was too busy trying to figure out how the damn zoom worked. "Scrapbook"? What kind of demented scrapbook does Al have? I know there's nothing I like better than to show my children and grandchildren the time I participated in the brutal massacre of four pseudo-innocent government coup-ists.
Terry and Al pull their guns on each other with Terry winning the dual. Fortunately Terry's killing of a fellow soldier is covered up by the government and Terry goes on to inherit $11 million from his dead grandfather thus creatinghis $8 million dream house. Yes, the first thing I would do with $11 million is waste $8 million of it on a gigantic house.
Jesus Christ. I know Debbie is your real-life wife and all but get over her. It was ten freaking years ago. I'm sure Debbie has moved on and married someone else. Oh wait, as we learn on the next page while the "party was in full swing" that Debbie married Curtis--the guy who shoved Terry into the pool those many years ago.
"She hadn't aged a day"? Compare Debbie on this page to Debbie on the second page. Debbie has aged a day. People age in 10 years no matter what people say. As we learn over the next couple of pages, Curtis has become an alcoholic as most people did during the 1980s. Curtis, fascinating character that he is proceeds to tell his wife to "shaddup" and calls her a "broad" then shuffles off to the bar.

Also, Terry has gotten Led Zepplin to perform for the high school reunion which is pretty awesome if you think about it. But the party is ruining and Led Zepplin is told to "shut-up" when a Ted Koppel look-alike comes on TV and announces that Russia has invaded West Germany (or "W. Germany" here) and launched nukes at the United States.
So Terry leads a gaggle of people we don't really give a damn about to a fallout shelter because if he didn't then Terry Kalkanian would not be able to publish issue two.
Ha! It's behind a bookshelf. That's so original. Terry should've installed a fire pole so everyone could just slide down into the shelter. Terry, who has taken it upon himself to protect everyone (and loosen his tie), quickly abandons everyone leaving Curtis and Tony to help the others. Curtis excuses himself. I've skipped several pages that show Curtis stealing Terry's booze and revealing the location of the shelter and bashing Tony in the head with wine bottle, killing him. Terry is now pissed so he grabs a gun (one of his many because the Second Amendment might as well be the first) and...
...Begins blasting away at his former friends and classmates. The look on Terry's face on a page I didn't include indicates that Terry is having a flashback to Grenada and Al (or something). Thankfully, Terry punches Curtis telling him that he now has two strikes against him. One, because he left the door open and two, he caused Tony to die (Terry's part of Camp Tony). One more strike and "I'll kill you myself!"
Terry, who has installed a monitoring system of six televisions looks to see what is happening outside of his high school reunion. What's odd is that either Terry has cameras pointed all over this great land of ours or the news channels are showing people frying in the nuclear blasts. Either way, I'm a little disturbed.
In this badly formatted page, five months pass. Terry has ordered all the guns locked up and the food rationed because there's only enough for 10 people for six months and there are 11 down there. I'm wondering what booze-hound Curtis is handling his lack of booze. After five months of going cold turkey, he shouldn't be dependent on it anymore.
Curtis stages a coup much like the people in Grenada only the Grenadians did a better job by immediately killing Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop while Curtis is just yammering on about how he is sick of being trapped here so he plans on taking Debbie and most of the food and walking out into the irradiated world. Debbie refuses to go resulting in her being hit so Debbie does the one thing someone--anyone should've done pages ago. She shoots Curtis. So now he's dead and three weeks later everyone ventures out into the irradiated unknown.
...Where there are now packs of radioactive dogs meandering around eating the people Terry killed six months earlier. What will happen? I don't know but if the illustration for next issue is any indication, it's not pretty.
What is very possible is that, like the cover to this issue, this drawing may have nothing to do what's actually going on in the book anyway. Join us next week for a look at TinTin.