1982: Wild Animals

The Complete Pacific Comics Re-Reading Blog Series presents:

Wild Animals

edited by Scott Shaw!

Wild Animals (1982) #1

This is an odd one out: As we’ve seen, Pacific mostly goes for big names when publishing comics, while this is a collection of creators who are… not. And it’s funny animal to boot, while most of Pacific’s output (Groo notwithstanding) is more sci-fi/fantasy.

What makes this even odder is that the lead story (by editor Shaw!) is the conclusion to a storyline that ran in Quack, an anthology published by Star*Reach in the mid-70s.

We first get an infodump and then…

… things? Happen? It looks like it’s funny, but reading it is pretty tedious.

And then you get the ending which doesn’t really feel very satisfying. So you just have to wonder: Why publish this at all?

The rest of the strips are pretty short and none of them are particularly good. The main charm is that a handful of them refer heavily to Krazy Kat, which is always nice. (This is George Erling.)

One of Jim Engel’s bits refer to this being an underground comic, and most of the strips have copyright dates in 1977/78, so it seems like this is a book that has been sitting on the shelves for quite a bit before Pacific decided to publish it.

There’s a couple of bigger names in the book: Larry Gonick does a pretty obvious joke in his story (they’re having that nice dinosaur for dinner; yes), but it’s probably the best thing in the book.

More Krazy Kat-a-like.

Oh, yeah, Sergio Aragones does a slightly weird story about a gorilla. With an O Henry twist at the end; it works quite well.

And then there’s the back cover by Rick Geary, which I find to be quite amusing for some reason or other.

Anonymous review in Amazing Heroes 17:

My particular favorite in this book is Larry
Gonick’s “Bronty.” There is a nervous energy in
his linework that I find compelling, and I really en-
joyed his demented renditions of the antagonistic
Tyrannosaurus. Rex. Jim Engel gives his manic
impression of animals that are either scathingly
acerbic or animated by some hip lunacy. Sergio
Aragones’s “A ‘Short’ Short Story” is as luminous-
ly amusing as any of his other work. Rick Geary
wraps up this first issue with a back cover that
cracked me up: it translates all the Presidents of
the United States from Washington to Reagan into
animal form.
There are no budding Carl Barkses or Walt
Kellys here. But these artists obviously enjoy the
genre and I feel this comic merits at least as much
attention on a regular basis as Shoe elicits from me
every day in the newspaper. Surely a forum must
exist, just in case any potential geniuses do show
up in the future.

Kevin McConnell in Amazing Heroes 28:

And now we get to the central
defect. If this review were to
have a title, it would be “I’m Not
Laughing Yet.” By and far most
of the intended humor in Wild
Animals #1 is unfelt. With one
or two exceptions, the authors
seek to, solicit their guffaws by
satirizing such subjects as: King
Kong, Tarzan, Krazy Kat,
Vaughn Bode, and Howard the
Duck—and that’s where it all
falls down.
To me, the whole point of
funny animals is that they are
amusing in their own right. And
so, attempting parody seems as
unnecessary as it is counter-
productive, in that it over-
shadows the whimsicality of the
funny animals and cheapens the
humor in general.

R. Fiore in Comics Journal 80:

The thing on the cover is a fitting summary
of Scott Shaw (no bang; Funnybook
Roulette bows to no one’s affectations): a
combination duck/ giraffe/ elephant/ gnu/
beaver/G0d knows and the most hideous
thing you can imagine. He’s trying very
hard to be wacky, but there’s no idea
behind it, and no joke. As for his lead
stow, someone should tell him that frenzy
is not humor. As for the other contribu-
tors, the artwork is uniformly excellent but
the idea content is no better than Shaw’s;
all of them are enamored with the idea of
funny animals but none of them knows
what to do with it. The one totally success-
ful page is another slice of the ineffable
from Rick Geary, and since it’s the back
cover you could have read it at the rack.

I think we all pretty much agree that Rick Geary is a genius.

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