Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sixties Culture in Comics: Porky Pig # 15 (1967).

Here at TIAH Blog, we love comics and we love Sixties pop culture.  So, when the two of them come together…
Because of their “soundless nature”, comic books are almost always forced to portray music as a raucous cacophony for humorous effect. Contemporary music is portrayed this way almost without exception.

On TV, The Archies, (…or their anonymous live counterparts) were a pleasant-sounding bubble-gum band. But, in the concurrent comic books of the time, they did little more than produce a dreadful din… especially when in the proximity of poor (figuratively, not literally) Mr. Lodge.

Further examples of this treatment range from Donald Duck’s wailing guitar opus, “The Screaming Cowboy”, causing avalanches in Snow Country (WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES # 137 - 1952), to DC Comics’ galactic bounty hunter Lobo taking the genre of comic book music to new lows with his violent rendition (…with the emphasis on “REND”) of “I Can’t Sing that Fraggin’ Crap” (LOBO # 13 – 1995). Note that, over the span of forty-three years, the harsh, jarring view of “contemporary” music differs little.

Lying somewhere in between those two cacophonous classics of comicdom, is a quintessential example of how comic book music is presented. A tale from a time that was considered (…at least by the middle-aged comic book writers of the day) to be the inconceivable height of insufferable sounds – The Sixties! And, so it is that…

The Issue at Hand Is: PORKY PIG # 15 (November, 1967)

Published by Gold Key Comics.

“The Weird-Oohs” 6 pages. Story by: Unknown. Art by: Phil De Lara.

As the “Summer of Love” drew to a close, this typical “adults’ view” of the music of the day was released to the nation. With dreams of impending stardom, Porky Pig and Sylvester (sans Tweety) have formed their own rock band… “The Weird-Oohs”.

With Sylvester on drums (…emblazoned with “The Weird-Oohs” logo on the bass drum) and Porky on vocals (…um, shouldn’t there be SOMEONE on guitar, or am I just nit-picking here?), the pair begin rehearsal in Porky’s living room. The results, alas, all but ensure that “Beethoven” would “Roll Over”… in his GRAVE!

After Take One, the police bust in investigating “…an emergency call, somebody was being murdered!” Porky proves their innocence with a tape of their racket-and-roll, but the cops threaten them with charges of “…disturbing the peace, inciting a riot, and mangling music!” (Insert your own “pig meets pig” sixties style joke here!)

Banned from town and civilization, the boys head for the desert, where no one can complain. But, as luck would have it, they still “can’t get no sa-tis-fac-shun”!

No sooner than drummer Sylvester lets loose with a “CRASH! BANG! BOOM! BANG!”, and Porky belts out some “YEE-OOOH! YEE-OOH’S!”, they are dive bombed by rock-bearing buzzards. Buzzards with a taste for music, it would seem.

Taking cover underneath the body of their car, they are next attacked by an army of snapping desert tortoises – who easily shuck the “slowpoke” stereotype, when it comes to their melodic sensibilities. Note to Porky and Sylvester: The creatures of the desert decidedly do not “…love you, yeah, yeah, yeah!”

W-What could have turned those slow, gentle, harmless creatures into a raging mob?”

Must have been something they ate!”

Next, the boys take refuge in a desert cave and decide to turn it into an impromptu rehearsal hall.

CAPTION: “And once again, the desert air is disturbed by a deluge of delirious decibels…”

…So it remains, until the cave soon collapses under the aural assault of “The Weird-Oohs”, crushing and burying their instruments and equipment. As they said, back in the day: WIPEOUT! Readers may add Beach Boys maniacal laughter to season to their individual taste: “Heheheheheheee Wipe Oooout!” Okay, no water or surf was involved, but a cave-in (pardon)rocks”, nevertheless!

On the disheartened drive home, the now “Ex-Weird-Oohs” are ready to call it a “Hard Day’s Night” when they spy the following roadside sign:

Greasewood COUNTY FAIR! Fun! Exhibits!

PRIZES for Livestock, Farm Products, Handicrafts, Baking!

TODAY ONLY – Amateur Singing Contest!”

Porky and Sylvester give it one more try, as an a cappella act in the Singing Contest, to win enough money to buy new equipment and start over. After a minute of “YEE-OOO ARE MY LU-U-UV! OHH! OHH! OHH! I MISS YEE-OOO SO-O-OH! SO-O-OH! SO-O-OH!”, the judge awards them First Prize… not for the SINGING CONTEST, but in the HOG-CALLING CONTEST.

As so, we depart the Swinging Sixties, and we ponder the iris-out irony of Porky being mobbed by a passel of passion-roused pigs, we close our look at the treatment of contemporary music – of any era, be it the fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, or nineties – in comic books as something to be feared and loathed. In short, be glad comic books are not equipped for sound… be very glad!

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