Friday, August 31, 2018

His Robot Brainchild

The Beverly Hillbillies #10 (Dell, July-September 1965, 10 cents)
Supposedly sporting a Gene Colan cover, this television tie-in comic features a three-part, issue-length story, as well as a one-page strip, a text piece, and a Farm Boy back-up story. The main piece, comprising the seven- to 10-page sections "My Son, the Monster," "The Rufus Rumpus," and "Raising the Rufus," was written by D.J. Arneson and drawn by Henry Scarpelli.

The sequence details the story of the Clampett family taking in a lodger while their parent goes on a trip. Professor Dyno leaves his robot brainchild with the family because "I can't leave him in my workshop. He gets so lonely!" Rufus proves quite helpful, retrieving a football from some electrical wires for Elly and Jethro before falling into the pool and seizing up. The Clampetts try to revive the bot using oil and "good old mountain tonic," which does the trick.

Rufus dances with some appliances and frightens the locals when he goes to the supermarket with Granny. He accidentally hits Granny with a football and wanders off, alarming a neighboring family—the Drysdales—at the dinner table. When the police arrive, they accidentally hit Rufus with their patrol car, destroying him. The family does their best to repair him before Professor Dyno returns.

Not having watched a lot of The Beverly Hillbillies, I'm not sure how true the tone or pacing of the comic is to the TV program. I tend to be skeptical of tie-in books. This issue in particular seems focused on accomplishing something the producers might not have been able to do on TV—feature a robot—but I can actually see most of this done with rudimentary practical effects like cardboard and paint. And I can hear the laugh track in response to some of the gags.

The one-page gag opening the issue—in black and white rather than color—features a monkey named Skipper making breakfast. The one-page text piece, "The New Friend," tells the tale of a "ten-year-old with  chauffeured limousine" who finds the true meaning of friendship after getting a black eye from a new friend. And the Farm Boy back up, "How Now, Brown Sow," looks at potential prize sow Sarah and the ruckus raised at a rodeo. Farm Boy was a regular back up in this series in 1965-66.

Availability: The first four issues of this series have been collected in TV Classics: Classic Comics Library #37. The first season of the TV show (as well as subsequent seasons) is available on DVD.

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