Saturday, November 10, 2018

An Extremely Silly Comic

Samurai Penguin #1 (Slave Labor, 1986, $1.50)
Writer and creator: Dan Vado, Artist and creator: Mark Buck.

I'm not sure if this is a parody of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or of the already cartoony and masterful Usagi Yojimbo, both of which were contemporaries, but thanks to the editorial, readers know there's no relation to the Samurai Penguin characters in Antarctic Press's Extremely Silly Comics.

Regardless, this comic book is extremely silly. Because the penguins in it are silly, except for the samurai. The penguins tumble into each other like dominoes, dive into cold water, provoke a shark, pester the seals, duel with the predatory skua, and otherwise attract the ire of Artimus Walrus—who plans to "eliminate the Samurai Penguin... and to enslave the entire penguin colony."

Heavy drama, indeed. Vado's writing goes for quick gags, visual and verbal, and Buck's artwork is cleanly cartoony, featuring some excellent use of Zip-A-Tone. The samurai is necessarily larger and more human-like than the standard penguins, and he looks like a bird in some panels.

The issue includes a couple house ads and "True Penguin Facts," which educates readers a little about the penguin and includes a caveat from Vado: "I will pull out my creative license. Settings will differ from what they are in nature; predators will do some unnatural things." A fun, throwaway read. The series lasted eight issues and was reportedly an early success for Slave Labor.

Availability: Samurai Penguin has not been collected. Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo and Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have.

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