Friday, April 13, 2012
Number 1139: Herbie and the spirits
I consider Herbie one of the great comic book creations of the 1960s. It was oddball and different, just crazy enough to have something of a cult grow around it. Or maybe it wasn't really a cult-cult, as in a group of people, maybe it was just me, but surely I wasn't the only one who grabbed every new issue of Herbie off the spinner when it came out. But it might have been only me who put the Marvel Comics I bought simultaneously to the side while I read Herbie, and very often, the Marvel Comics I then read seemed anticlimactic.
Herbie was revived in the early nineties in a handful of issues. It didn't work. The true Herbie canon resides in a short stack (23 issues) of the Herbie comic book, and a few issues of Forbidden Worlds. The nineties revivalists had talent, but no one had what ACG editor, Richard E. Hughes (writing as Shane O'Shea), and artist Ogden Whitney had. They'd done dozens of stories, many as screwy plotwise as any issue of Herbie. I showed one of them in February when I posted the "Delinquent in Space" two-parter from Adventures Into the Unknown in Pappy's #1112. But nothing else they did had quite the same hallucinogenic feel as a Herbie story. Maybe it was Herbie's unusual speech patterns, or his ability to levitate, talk to animals, or maybe though he was a little round kid with heavy-lidded eyes and thick glasses he was still a sex object to females. Or maybe it was those lollipops.
In this story, Herbie's second appearance from Forbidden Worlds #94 in 1961, he changes schools and meets new kids who are expecting someone quite different than Herbie Popnecker. As Herbie fans know, the word "different" when used to describe him seems inadequate.