Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I believe that I have already proven I have excellent taste in old comic books. Who else would buy a near complete run of Atari Force off Ebay? My love is especially telling since I actually own a complete run of Atari Force in storage.

Sexy, right?

Well, today is another example of my love. Today I am going to take you on a trip with Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!

First I would like to provide some personal background involving Captain Carrot.

When I was a wee lad I owned two grandmothers.

One grandmother picked me up after school and I stayed with her until my Mom got off work. This grandmother was kind enough to stop at the neighborhood market and gift me with the money to buy two comic books every day after school. Actually, she gave me a dollar and a dime. Fortunately, most comics at the time were only .50 cents. Pretty darn amazing. I am still thankful.

The second grandmother lived in the country. I didn't keep much in the way of good toys at her house. Everything at the country house was mostly seconds and broken stuff. I went to this grandmother's house almost every weekend. This grandmother was kind enough to take me to the Army Surplus Store and buy me a fistful of candy and a couple bucks worth of comics.

Between these two generous ladies I was able to read a variety of comic books. During the week it was mostly Marvel, but the weekend was meant for DC. One title that I picked up during this time was Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew.

I had just enough kid in me that I was willing to give a funny animal book a chance.

Although I would not realize it until later, there was another reason the book appealed to me. The creator, it would turn out, was one of my favorite creator/writers, Roy Thomas. I cannot begin to explain how much joy Roy Thomas has brought me over the years.

Scott Shaw!, an amazing artist and talent in his own right, might have helped co-created the characters. He definitely was the artist on the book for the run.
Captain Carrot first appeared in New Teen Titans #16 (Feb, 1982). This appearance led to a short lived series with the Zoo Crew. Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew was published from 1982 to 1983.

The comic has the honor of being the last original funny animal property created by DC comics.

The Zoo Crew consists of animals versions of DC heroes, typically Justice League analogs. The heroes are: Captain Carrot (Superman), Alley-Kat-Abra (Zatanna), Fastback (Flash), Rubberduck (The Elongated Man), Little Cheese (Atom).

Two of the characters, Yankee Poodle and Pig Iron, are slight anomalies. Yankee Poodle has the power to shoot rays of attraction and repulsion.

Pig Iron gained his powers by falling into a vat of steel with a meteor. It turned him into a huge mass of living steel. While this does somewhat compare with Commander Steele, a DC character, Pig Iron's condition and attitude is similar to Marvel's The Thing.

Pig Iron's mannerism and vocal patterns differ from his non-powered alter-ego, Peter Porkchops.

Incidently, Peter Porkchops is the only Zoo Crew character to exist before 1982. Peter first appeared in Leading Comics #23 (February 1947). In 1949 Porkchops received his own title. The title Peter Porkchops lasted through #62, being canceled in 1960. That's a pretty good run for a funny animal.

Few comic writers can work a team like Roy Thomas, even when that team consists of so-called funny animals. The Zoo Crew characters all have their own personalities. I would like to add that these personalities are also different than their human hero counterparts. The stories are also unique; although one might say that Roy's ideas constitute a theme.