Feb 22, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 728: The Little Monsters #33, April 1976

https://www.comics.org/issue/226777/

A couple of years ago I taught Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to one of my classes. In one of the lectures, I gave them examples of how Shelley's Monster has become a staple of our popular culture. It's a pity I didn't have this comic at the time.

That said, there's some weird problems with this comic. First is the really horrendous forced puns. "You're so terror-bly thoughtful." "Bad-bye." I mean, I get it, and very likely the demographic this comic is aimed at would love it, but I'm certainly not that demographic.

The second thing is a little more serious. It seems like the entire monster family lives in perpetual fear of their grumpy father. And not just grumpy. When he's angry, he kicks the kids around and yells, and they all dive for cover to avoid his tantrums. Again, I kind of see where this comes from, in that he's a proxy for Frankenstein's Monster, but there's something downright chilling about the reactions of his family toward his anger, and his reactions toward them. It's behaviour I can't see being accepted as comedy in a contemporary comic. Which, I suppose, is one of the most interesting things about this project I'm pursuing. As popular culture artefacts, comics tend to reflect quite explicitly what was going on in the culture at the time of their creation. You simply have to look at the push toward representation in today's comics to see that clearly. So each time I come across something culturally bizarre in a comic, I'm reminded of how quickly, and sometimes how slowly, culture changes. I can only imagine, 20 or 30 years from now, what the comics of today will look like.

To be continued.

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