Tuesday, December 12, 2017

That Coyote's Mean

Beep Beep the Road Runner #20 (Gold Key, October 1970, 15 cents)
"Knights and Daze" This uncredited eight-page story drawn by Phil de Lara and lettered by Bill Spicer entails a time machine used by Wile E. Coyote. Accidentally sending the road runners—the Road Runner we know and love, and his three sons—800 years in the past, the coyote follows them, unintentionally insulting Sir Loin (ha!), who demands "revenge to save my honor as a knight!" Before the queen, the Road Runner jousts Sir Loin (hee!) while wearing a lantern case as a helmet. They leave with Wile E. hanging onto the doorknob.

Rather than try to adapt the cartoon as a wordless comic—or with only the coyote and other characters speaking—Gold Key gave the Road Runner three sons and decided that they should all speak in rhyme. "Please, ma'am... no! That coyote's mean... but we can't drive his time machine!" The overall effect is quite irritating.

"Feather or Not!" In this six-page story written by Don R. Christensen and drawn by Phil de Lara, the Native American Sleepy Wolf is sent to get some nice, new feathers for his tribe. He encounters the road runners, who are beeping as they walk rather than speaking—but Wile E. trips him before he can catch them.

The whole group happens upon the "injun village," where the Native Americans try to catch the birds as well as the coyote, leading them to hide in an eagle's nest. The road runners distract Sleepy Wolf by dowsing Wile E. with "some cactus goo... to stick like glue" before showering him with loose feathers.

Even though AIM didn't occupy Wounded Knee until 1973, 1970 is awfully late for such a dim-witted and insensitive portrayal of Native Americans. The rhyming dialogue continues to irritate and distract from what could be a promising comic.

"Leave It to Beavers" Featuring more uncredited work by Christensen, de Lara, and Spicer, this six-page piece opens with the coyote "too tired to chase those road runners anymore" and planning to rest in the "quiet river country." There, he nevertheless captures two of the road runner youth. Enlisting the aid of the industrious beavers, their father lures the coyote to an obstacle course of sorts.

"The Big Bus Fuss" Drawn by Pete Alvarado and lettered by Spicer, this four-page story stars Cool Cat. The hunter tries to shoot Cool Cat, "that fugitive from my trophy room." Interrupted by a monkey and a hippopotamus, the hunter decides to trick Cool Cat by picking him up in a bus. Unfortunately, other animals want to ride the bus, too.

The issue also included Gold Key Comics Club News, the Stamp and Coin Collector's Corner by George Allard, a Reader's Page featuring Doodles, a one-page Bugs Bunny text piece ("The Carrot Crisis," a 1956 story reprinted from the Dell Looney Tunes #173), and a one-page Road Runner gag, "Slicker Tricker Trap," in which the coyote fails again.

Availability: The Gold Key Road Runner material has not been collected, but the more recent DC Looney Tunes series has. There are three volumes: Looney Tunes: Greatest Hits Vol. 1: What's up Doc?Looney Tunes: Greatest Hits Vol. 2: You're Despicable!, and Looney Tunes: Greatest Hits Vol. 3: Beep Beep.

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