Welcome back friends and readers to another update to Rotten Ink, my blog here on the world wide web. Can you believe that we are so close to Thanksgiving 2018? That means we are at our first update in our countdown to this Turkey Day Holiday and also means we need to take a look at a forgotten hero from comic books of the past as over the years we have taken looks at such backburner superheroes as 3-D Man, Holo-Man, Solarman, Red Demon and Drastik to name a few, his year I have chosen to cover a hero that is a little different than all of them as he is a comedy goofball hero who graced the pages of MAD Magazine paperback books named Captain Klutz that was created by the amazing artist Don Martin! So sit back and get ready to get your funny bone tickled as we travel to Megalopolis and witness Captain Klutz do his best to stop crime….man, this masked hero is a true goofball.
Ringo Fonebone was a strange kid who didn’t do things normally; from eating to learning to walk he was just a little off. While other kids his age played outside and acted normal young Ringo sat alone reading comic books! As Ringo grew up, he still lived with his parents and only read comics all day long until they kicked him out, but his comic reading didn’t stop and caused him to hold no job nor home as he was kicked out of his flop house with just his boxers and his pajamas to his name. Broke and lonely, Ringo decides that he must kill himself as he has been a failure to his family and Wonder Woman, and as he falls from the top of a building, he bonks his head several times and even gets a hat on his way down. Before he hits pavement, he crashes into a bank robber who is caught by the police and so Captain Klutz superhero is born! The thing is, after his attempted suicide, Ringo doesn’t remember who he is and truly thinks he is indeed a superhero called Captain Klutz! While he is a superhero, he still is not respected and is by all accounts a goof who sometimes happens to fall backwards into stopping crime and villains. His only ally is Police Chief O’Freenbean who don’t respect him but does call on him for help with the odd cases the city is being plagued with. Captain Klutz is also very poor and at times is homeless or staying in a slum house filled with roaches and trash. Captain Klutz has no super powers and is by all accounts just a normal guy in a costume who read too many comic books and wants to fight crime and make his city safe. While he might not be as strong as Superman, as rich as Batman or as skilled as Spider-Man, the masked hero Captain Klutz is doing what he can to try and stop crime. Below are some pictures of Captain Klutz including one that shows some of his famed rogues gallery.
So know that we know a little about Captain Klutz, let’s take a look at the man who created him. Don Martin was born on May 18, 1931 in New Jersey and was into art from even a young age. In 1952 he graduated form the Pennsylvania Academy Of Fine Arts. After he graduated he took several odd jobs that included doing covers for Jazz Artist albums like Miles Davis and Stan Getz, and by 1956 he starting appearing in MAD and would be the magazines top artist for decades. Martin would use his artistic talent to deliver not only original comedy comic strips but also for parodies, pin-ups and stickers and this lead to him to be called “Mad’s Maddest Artist” and built him a huge fan base. He worked for MAD until 1987 with his last contribution being printed in March 1988. After leaving MAD, he jumped ship and joined Cracked Magazine who were super happy to have him on board even teasing MAD by calling Martin “Cracked’s Crackedest Artist”! If you’re wondering why Don Martin left MAD, it was because he and publisher William Gains got into it over royalties as they were not paying Martin for reprinting his work in paperback books and magazines, and Martin even testified before a Congressional subcommittee over the rights of freelance artists and both sides MAD and Martin seemed to have had enough of each other. Don Martin worked six years for Cracked Magazine and was happy working for them even though they were not as well respected by comedy magazine readers, and later he made his own very short lived comedy magazine called “Don Martin Magazine” as he also worked on a comic strip called “The Nutheads” that was syndicated in newspapers. During his time as a comedy magazine artist he won many awards such as the National Cartoonist Society in 1981 and 1982 and even was inducted into the Comic Book Hall Of Fame in 2004. Don Martin suffered from eye issues his whole life and even had two surgeries on them and later in life needed special magnifying equipment to draw. Don Martin was a quite man who enjoyed spending time with his family and playing jokes on tourists near his home in Florida and loved drawing and creating his off the wall characters and stories. Sadly Don Martin passed away on January 6, 2000 of cancer at the age of 68 and up until his death he was still at odds with MAD Magazine and was still a very respected comic artist. While Don Martin is gone, his work still entertains readers and his style influences many artist still to this day.
I am sure many of you like myself grew up reading MAD and or Cracked Magazine and enjoyed the silly nature of the jokes and parodies, and I am sure many of you like myself always enjoyed the work of Don Martin as well as fellow comedy artist like Wally Wood, Al Jaffee, Don Edwing, Antonio Prohias and Sergio Aragones who delivered funny comic strips to these magazines. And I am also sure many of you remember the amazing Captain Klutz, who was a favorite of my brother Bryan and I growing up as we had his paperback book adventures. And I am very happy to be going back to my youth and revisiting this goofy hero and his zany adventures and would like to say a big thank you to Game Swap Kettering and an Amazon Seller for having these paperback books in stock so that I could go back and revisit them for this comedic update. Wait a minute, my phone is ringing….and it’s a collect call and it’s Captain Klutz himself who wants me to remind you that I grade these comics on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s gear up and hit the streets with Captain Klutz and see if these comic paperback books are as good as I remember.
MAD Adventures Of Captain Klutz # 1 ***1/2
Released in 1967 Cover Price .50 Signet Books #1 of 2
“Sissyman” in this first adventure Captain Klutz is awakened from a nightmare by his archenemy Sissyman, who taunts him with names and causing our hero get onto his scooter and track Sissyman down at his mom’s home! While getting lost trying to find the house, he runs into Police Chief O’Freenbean who informs him that diamonds have been stolen by Sissyman and when they get to the crime scene they find a handkerchief that has the evil goofy thief’s address on it. Captain Klutz goes to the house alone and uses a disguise to get into the home but is soon trapped under ice cream thanks to Sissyman’s new gun and now he is off to steal gold. After escaping the ice cream trap, Klutz gets a message from Police Chief O’Freenbean that Sissyman has just robbed the bank and is now heading to a jewelry store, Klutz jumps into a phone booth to get into a new disguise that is Count Of Monte Cristo and by accident strips down a woman who was using the phone! As she runs away naked, he enters the Jewelry store and stops Sissyman only to be himself put under arrest for stripping down the woman and in this story crime does win as Sissyman gets away free for his crimes. “The Case Of Chicken Soup” is the second goofy adventure and has Captain Klutz getting ready to give Granny Santini an award for all her good work with the homeless, and before Captain Klutz leaves, he gets a call from his downstairs neighbor who is jarring her famous pickled pigs feet and needs fast drying pectin to finish her batch. After getting the pectin, he meets the Mayor and they stop into Granny’s soup kitchen. After the Mayor tries the chicken soup he along with the homeless turn into mindless zombies who go to work at Granny’s gift shop and soon it’s seen that Granny Santini is evil and has Captain Klutz hung above a vat of boiling chicken soup! But thanks to the bag of pectin that rips, he just bounces off the once scalding soup and is ready for action and hides in a totem and shoots and kills Granny and soon finds out the effects of the soup will wear off on the homeless and mayor in a few days. Our third adventure is called “Captain Klutz Meets Gorgonzola” and has a father and son being chased by the giant spider named Gorgonzola. They run into Captain Klutz who is homeless sleeping on a bench and who says he will help them until he notices that he is face to face with a very mean giant spider and he passes out! Once awakened he and Police Chief O’Freenbean travel to a carnival on Gorgonzola’s trail. When they find him, the giant spider beats up Klutz until our hero figures out the spider is really just a machine and after plugging his leg into an outlet the man inside the suit pops out and it was Lousy Louie, a man who has been arrested before for Trick Or Treating with out a license and now is going to jail for life for his last stunt in a Halloween costume. “ Captain Klutz Meets Mervin The Mad Bomber” has our hero waking up in his rundown apartment he answers a help wanted ad from Police Chief O’Freenbean who needs help to stop and capture a mad bomber loose in the city! Captain Klutz finds that he and the police are the target of the bombs and call after call Klutz finds himself getting blown up! Finally he figures it all out and saves Police Chief O’Freenbean who is tied to a giant bomb and brings Mervin The Mad Bomber who has been disguised as the Police Chief and saving the day once more our hero in the end is blown up once more by the very last bomb he thought he stopped.
Wow! This was just as silly and enjoyable as I remember it being and I must say that Captain Klutz is a character that I wish would still be around till this day and could even have cross overs with other goofy heroes like Impossible Man from Marvel or Bat-Mite from DC! This paperback has four main adventures and two small gag stories and all of them follow Captain Klutz in Megalopolis as he tries his best to stop crime and not get hurt to bad doing so. The thing about Captain Klutz is that while he is a nerd who at times gets beat up and or passes out from fright he does in the end always find away to bring down the baddie in front of him with Sissyman being the only one to escape and Granny Santini being one that he murders with gunshot wounds. Plus you have to feel bad for him as most of the time he is homeless sleeping on the cold streets while other times he is in nasty gross motel rooms. I must say that I also dig that Captain Klutz rides around on a cheesy little shooter and looks like a fool doing it! Police Chief O’Freenbean is a gruff man who while talks down to Klutz still calls on him when the police need help, he is like a mean cornball version of Commissioner Gordon! The baddies of this book are as following Sissyman, a mama’s boy who is a nerd and likes to rob places of their riches! Granny Santini, an old woman who hides behind being super sweet and wanting to help the homeless, but really is using her chicken soup to turn them into zombies to make them slaves in her sweatshops to make cheap products for he gift shops. Gorgonzola is a spider suit warn by Lousy Louie in order to trick or treat and scare people around him. And lastly and the most dangerous is Mervin The Mad Bomber, who enjoys placing bombs in the city and watching them go BOOM! While none of the bad guys are as sinister as Batman or Spider-Man’s foes, they are perfect for the world Don Martin created for his masked hero. The humor of this comic paperback works as well as did the characters and holds up to this day given that its nothing more that sight gags and slapstick style humor, but a few things do stand out as cringe worthy like one of the names of a comic he is reading is very much a slur for gay people and is a little out of place. The cover is eye catching and the art by Don Martin is classic silly stuff and I would say that for me this book has held up and I still enjoyed it every much like I did when I was a kid and am looking forward to revisiting the second book next!
Captain Klutz II # 2 **1/2
Released in 1983 Cover Price $3.50 Warner Books #2 of 2
“To Brusha With Love” in Brusha their leader Ivanovitch Eyebrowski and Comrade Stupidska have a plan to clog high stacks at power plants to cause poison gas clouds and to kill the good people of America and their plan works and three toxic clouds are floating around the city! Meanwhile Police Chief O’Freenbean needs the help of Captain Klutz to stop the clouds and before our hero can come to the rescue he inhales some of the toxic cloud and it gives him superhuman powers like the ability to fly and super muscles! Captain Klutz by accident captures the Brusha Spy who set up the clouds and then just as Comrade Stupidska and more Brusha soldiers are about to attack the city Captain Klutz explodes injuring Chief O’Freenbean, killing the Brushins and leaving Captain Klutz in pieces! “Hollywood Whodunnit” actress Deanna Drano is having her life threatened as accidents keep happing to her while she is filming her movies and she has hired Captain Klutz to protect her, and after more accidents happen to her and Klutz keeps failing at his task she finally comes clean and admits she did this to herself to draw press for her failing career and she and the director run off to get married as Captain Klutz tries to make up a story about when he knew it was her all along. “Agendum For Secret Messages” our masked hero Captain Klutz follows clues that were left behind by his friend Police Chief O’Freenbean and each clue leads him to a new place for only at the end to find out that O’Freenbean thinks this is a silly way for them to talk and cancels these type of meetings. Our final adventure tale is called “The Major Catastrophe” and has Captain Klutz having to watch his cousin Elmer who is a walking disaster causing major destruction everywhere he goes! And when Klutz gets a call from Police Chief O’Freenbean that the mayor has been kidnapped by drugged out terrorist he must suit up his cousin and calls him Major Catastrophe and together they save the mayor and cause the city and the mayor lots of harm!
This second book that features Captain Klutz is good but sadly not as good as the first book as this one is filled with lots of filler pages and short stories to make the page count. In fact in this book we are not only treated to some short adventures but also sound effects and a long song about our hero…each while fun also take away from some of the main stories that seem to have rushed endings. Keep in mind while this is still a really good read and does pack a few good chuckles. Missing in this issue is true super villains as we only get Ivanovitch Eyebrowski and Comrade Stupidska who are only briefly shown and sadly are no major threat as the toxic gas they unleash only brings on their downfall as it gives Captain Klutz even more power. Captain Klutz here is still as silly and goofy as ever and once more falls butt backwards into stopping crime, but odd to say he is lacking a little of the charm that made him fantastic in the first book and I cant put my finger on why he feels off he just does. Police Chief O’Freenbean and the police force are around but they seem like background characters and O’Freenbean and Klutz don’t have the same chemistry that made them a dynamic duo that we all enjoyed from the past book. Not much else to say about this second book besides the cover is really cool, the art and humor stories by Don Martin is good and this was a great blast from the past and was very cool to relive reading it even if it did coast me over $30.00 to do so and it was not as great as book 1! So below I think this one piece of art form these books captures the art style of Don Martin and the spirit of Captain Klutz.
While Captain Klutz might not be a household superhero name that the young and young at heart talk about, he is one that for those who remember him entertained with his goofy adventures and cheesy humor. It was lots of fun going back to the days of sitting in my brothers room in Waynesville and reading MAD paperback books and chatting about the one and only Captain Klutz! If memory serves me right, at one point my brother when he was a youngster wanted to or did make a Captain Klutz fan made comic book! I’ll have to ask him about that and see what he says and if he did we will have to cover it on a future update. So for our next update we are leaving the world of MAD behind us and will be going to Tennessee to visit vampire Horror Host Icon Sivad! So until next time read a comic of three, read a classic MAD Magazine or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update for a shocking good time.