Welcome back to Rotten Ink! It’s crazy to think that we are in the month of December and that means we are once more approaching Christmas, that wonderful holiday filled with good food, great friends, cool presents and of course time with family and loved ones. I always have liked this time of the year as the cool air, the chance of snow and the fast pace of the holiday is always a magical time. I want you readers to think back to your youths. Remember back to the holiday season and looking at Sunday paper ads from stores like Sears, Gold Circle and Hearts or even wandering the toy aisle of your favorite store like Toys R Us, Hills or Woolworth’s and seeing all the cool toys, board games and video games that you wanted to put on your list for Santa. Then remember back to the must have toys of the time of your childhood; was it Masters Of The Universe? The Nintendo Entertainment System? Tickle Me Elmo? Cabbage Patch Kids? Atari 2600? Hulk Hogan T-Shirt? or something else that every kid including yourself had to have…I can remember back to many of those times when every kid had to get Thundercats or the NES cart of Adventures Of Bayou Billy but one that lasted many Christmases I can truly remember was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures by Playmates! And even the Archie Comics series called “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Adventures” was super popular with my peers and classmates as everyone seemed to have Turtle Mania! With all popular things come the knock offs, and this update we will be taking another look at a comic series that tried to cash in on the popularity of the Ninja Turtles and that’s the Planet X comic series called The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils! So sit back, relax and have a fun time with me here at Rotten Ink as we scrap the bottom of the Knock Off Turtle Barrel and pull out the slimy sludge that is these Green Gerbils for this quick and quirky update! Oh and look at this knock off Popeye The Sailor below!
So many companies tried to cash in on the huge popularity of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and in fact I have covered many of them here on Rotten Ink like The Toxic Crusaders, Biker Mice From Mars and The Stone Protectors, all of whom tried to capture the money and fame of the Turtles. Those are just a small few that attempted it and never reached it. But while the above mentioned cartoons/toys/comics at least had a fan base that allowed you to pick up their merchandise at major retail stores, there were some knock off toys that only flooded low end discount stores and flea markets. I mean how could the youth not want their very own Amicable Herculean figure that was nothing more than a normal person that came with a turtle costume and some versions of the figure that was just a turtle head on a normal ninja body…real classy and detailed figures these were not. Or who could forget New Style Ninja Tortoise, poorly made chubby Ninja Turtles who came complete with stickers on their stomachs that read “Tortoise.” These cheapies had no mark of quality. What about the amazing Heroes Of The World Fighter figures that had the turtles pint sized and wearing hoods with huge goofy grins on their faces whose molds were taken from the old Dungeon And Dragons toys. Or even one of my all time favorites Ninja Hero Rider that had frogs with eye patches riding horses with lily pads for shells…yes, it’s as cheesy as it sounds. And these are just a drop in the hat as I could go on and on with TMNT knock offs like Turtle Warrior all the way to Terror Toad and many more Mexican and Chinese made figures that flooded the market with poorly made toys that ruined many kids holidays and birthdays! But while many of these toys are super cheap and bad, they still hold a charm for many who did have them growing up and many hold some value now when looking to buy them online or from a vintage toy store. Check out some of these toys below, and man, Ninja Hero Rider needs to be made into a comic book and a homebrew NES Video Game…just saying.
But while toy aisles were flooded with cheap TMNT knock offs so were the comic stores with cheap imitation comics that all wanted to capture the success of the original Mirage TMNT black and white comic series that truly started the rabid fan base of the Turtles. Many independent comic companies blatantly tried to make their own series of comics based on some sort of animal that knew a fighting style and was some sort of age while other companies went the route of parodying it and making very silly comedy comics with the same formula. But one thing is for sure, this mass push of independent comics all following the same formula also really hurt the independent comics industry at the time as it flooded the shelves with poorly made and written comics that just burnt too many readers, and the companies just imploded on themselves as readers would have rather picked up an issue of Superman or Spider-Man for a cheaper price than read an animal fighter parody rip off comic that was made for a quick cash grab. Some of the worst offenders of this was 1986’s Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters from Eclipse Comics, as well as from 1986 from Planet X Comics and the topic of our update Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils! We also had that same year Mildly Microwaved Pre-Pubescent Kung-Fu Gophers from Just Imagine, Cold Blooded Chameleon Commandos & Pre-Teen Dirty-Gene Kung-Fu Kangaroos both from Blackthorne! Now I need to stress that I am not saying all these comics were bad as I enjoyed many of them when I was a youngster, and I am sure we will cover many of them here on my blog in the future. I just wanted to stress that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ruled the landscape of comics and toys for many years in the 80’s and early 90’s!
So as you can see, this update we are having a little fun at the expense of generic brand TMNT items as I figured this would also be a great way to combat the stress of this time of the year. Plus I have been itching to re-read the first issue of the Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils as I used to have this comic back in the day as I bought it at Mavericks Cards And Comics for like $1.00 and can remember reading it in my room in Waynesville. And now in 2017, I found the whole set of this series at Dark Star in Yellow Springs and knew I had to cover it this year. I want to also stress that the Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils started out in a comic series called “Prime Slime Tales,” and the creator of the Gerbils claims he is not a copy of the TMNT and that he got permission from the creator of the Turtles to make his own silly and off the way book based on the idea the made popular at the time…I think the laughable part of this all is he almost comes off acting as his rip off is more legit because of this blessing…call it what you want, but sorry Tony Basilicato, it is what it is and you were trying to cash in on the fame of the Turtles and made a knock off universe. So with this, let me remind you all that I grade these 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 sit back and relax and let’s take a trip down memory lane with a comic series that is now in .25 bins far and wide!
Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils # 1 **1/2
Released in 1986 Cover Price $1.50 Planet X # 1 of 3
At the Grubby Acres Rest Home, some very old gerbils are living the remainder of their lives arguing about the good old days of TV as well as just being grumpy toward each other. Our old and crabby heroes are Zeke, Duffer, Geezer and Codger, and they get a visit from the lovely Dr. Christina Proper who has a letter from their creator Dr. Milton Meltdown about an experiment he made called The Esoteric Rap that is a fake god and is now roaming loose in the world and to make things worse Samurai Sam, a simple minded brute with a massive sword is wondering the land and killing hot dog venders! The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils gear up to help stop The Esoteric Rap, and this is their first mission in over 30 years! As they make their way to Dr. Meltdown, the good Doctor is visited by his evil creation The Esoteric Rap who sets a trap for our heroes that will make them come face to face with Samurai Sam in a showdown to the death!
Okay, this comic is super silly and while it is making fun of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it really does have its own style and comedy that makes its own world seem important. The plot of issue one is: a batch of government created gerbils who are crime fighters are brought out of retirement in order to try and stop a created monster with a God complex, but with the time off our heroes are old and out of touch with the modern world of crime around them. Our heroes The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils are a team of four very old and grumpy gerbils who are Duffer, Geezer, Codger and Zeke all who have their own weird quirks as Duffer thinks he is still a crime-fighting machine, and Zeke spends every moment sleeping! So while we don’t get to know them all that well, I would say the The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils are just old goofs who know how to defend themselves and our short tempered and out of touch. Dr. Meltdown and Dr. Proper are government workers who do weird experiments that create life and while they do so with good attentions it appears that not all they do goes well! The Esoteric Rap is a floating monster who is childlike in nature yet also very ego driven as it views itself as a god. So far we as the reader don’t know what he is capable of, but I am sure it will be reveled in the upcoming issues. Samurai Sam is a massive chubby man who carries a huge sword who for some reason hates Hot Dog vendors and has bad flashbacks that makes him snap and attack them! Is Sam just a confused person or a killer this issue does not give us the answer but I would say he walks the line of both and I almost see him in the end teaming with The Gerbils to defeat The Esoteric Rap! While this is by all means a very silly comic that does not take its self serious it does have lots of heart and the characters and story is things that 80’s independent comics was made of. The cover is fun and eye catching and is trying so hard to get the attention of the TMNT readers of the time, and I for one would say it would have worked on me. The interior art is done by Tony Basilicato and is silly good stuff and is fitting for this kind of a comic and story. So to sum it up, this comic was just as fun as I remember it being from my youth and makes me look forward to reading issue two for the first time and seeing how this adventure of these Geriatric Gerbils plays out!
Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils # 2 **
Released in 1986 Cover Price $1.50 Planet X # 2 of 3
The Esoteric Rap has in fact used mind control on Dr. Meltdown in order to lead The Geriatric Gerbils to a trap fight with Samurai Sam who is ready to slice and smash our heroes and with some dumb luck of spitting false teeth in the eye of the raging Samurai, our heroes are able to escape for a short time in order to try and come up with a game plan. But they made one mistake as they left the sleeping Zeke behind who is now been snatched and about to be crushed to death by massive hands of Sam! As Samurai Sam is about to crush Zeke, the sleeping Gerbil awakens and blasts the massive Samurai away with a fart! As the other Gerbils rush to their friend who saved the day, the evil The Esoteric Rap uses his power and turns Geezer back into a normal gerbil and is about to eat him when Zeke aims and fires one more fart at the fake god as his pals hold a match causing a gassy fireball to hit The Esoteric Rap….but we will have to wait till the next issue to see if it worked!
The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils are out matched when coming face to face with Samurai Sam and once more its shows these old heroes just don’t have what it takes to be the crime fighters they once were. And to beat their massive opponent they use a fart that levels him…yep, this comic, as you can see, does not take itself seriously at all and the ultimate weapon our heroes have is massive farts! The main thing that happens in this comic besides the fact passed gas defeats both of the issues enemies is that Geezer is turned into a normal baby gerbil, and this could be the end of The Geriatric Gerbils as we readers know them! Samurai Sam while a brute and super aggressive seems to be more than a match for The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils as a whole, but was not ready for Zeke and his butt vapor powers. The Esoteric Rap is a egotistical super powerful false God creature who can control life and death it’s self and while he has all the power in the world he as well is no match for poop gas escaping from the backside of Zeke! The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils are heroes but they not super powerful and by luck is the only way they seem to be winning these fights! Zeke is clearly the MVP of the team as this sleeping goof is the one who has won the fights for them thanks to his gas. While this issue loses a little of the charm of the first, it still is a silly good read that entertained me on the night of reading. The cover for this one is pretty lame and just shows an arm with the Earth on a string and is not eye catching at all. The interior art was done by Tony Basilicato again and seems a little rushed this time around. So over all this one is kind of one big fart joke and is fun, goofy and silly and worth a read for fans of TMNT knock off comics.
Geriatric Gerbils # 3 **
Released in 1987 Cover Price $1.50 Planet X # 3 of 3
The Esoteric Rap has been defeated by the flaming fart of Zeke, but the explosion has also left him as well as Duffer and Codger knocked out with only baby Geezer awake! As his friends are knocked out baby Geezer remembers back to when they were all babies and they had to be dropped off at a daycare by Dr. Meltdown that was for gifted mutated youngsters and they meet Dr. Bombastic The Mad Bomber who wants to use all the gifted babies he is watching to join is crime wave. Well this alerts the Geriatric Gerbils to his evil plans, and they try and stop him as he sets a giant robot free on the city and Zeke takes out Dr. Bombastic with a lethal fart and along with the other gifted babies, they enter the city to try and stop the robot who makes the mistake of eating Zeke who once more lets out a fart that destroys the robot. We cut back to present day and baby Geezer is happy in his memories as his friends still are knocked out.
I am sure you noticed this third and final issue had a name change as it was cut down to just Geriatric Gerbils and that it ends with our heroes being knocked out and Geezer still being a baby and all the major baddies have been beat by farts. I think the silly nature of this series was lots of fun but also the over use of all the bad guys being defeated by farts is what lead to this being the final issue in the series. The story of this issue has the Geriatric Gerbils being babies and teaming up with babies of The X-Men in order to beat a crazy mad doctor who is hell-bent on ruling the world. The Geriatric Gerbils even as youngsters are goofy, cranky heroes who are not as skilled as they think but have enough luck and gas on their side to win. The X-Men babies are background players and in order to not be sued they are not said by name and for the most part don’t do anything in the final battle. The Evil Robot tries what he can to cause chaos and destruction but in the end is not match for one baby gerbil’s bad gas. Dr. Bombastic is a conman who runs a mutant baby daycare in order to try and get an army of baby troopers who is outsmarted and defeated when he crosses the path of our hero Gerbils. This sort lived comic series was a fun read, and I would say that this should have ran at least two more issues and then gone to the big comic rack in the sky as while fun it could easily also ran its course with its simple stories and same crude gimmick of farts and grumpy old gerbils. The bad guys never really got to shine as they always seemed to be dangerous until the fight started and each are defeated by the same means…and yes, it’s getting very lame having to keep talking about gerbil farts! The art is once more done by Tony Basilicato and is on par with the other two issues and the cover is pretty cool and shows baby Geezer stumbling around trying to do jujitsu. Over all this TMNT knock off comic series was lots of fun even if it was a one trick pony that’s stories were rice paper thin and the series never got a real true ending and was just one dig fart joke that the creator claimed was not a TMNT rip-off. So if your enjoy silly comics about talking animals that know martial arts this short lived series is for you! Check out the artwork below to see the glory that is the Geriatric Gerbils.
The weather outside is chilly and Christmas is getting closer and I want to say that I hope you don’t get a pile of gifts under your tree that is filled with knock-off toys, games, watches, cloths and comics running your holiday…well unless your odd like me and enjoy the weirdness of these generic knock-off items! And I hope you enjoyed our look at The Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils and their three-issue run they had back in the late 80’s and while they might not have been ground breaking like the TMNT they ripped off, they did make their mark on the world of comics and added crude juvenile humor to their approach of showcasing talking animals who are heroes and know how to fight. But with the Gerbils behind us and my work getting busy, I think it’s time to once more bring in Juliet to be a guest blogger for me and have her share some Holiday cheer with you all! So for our next update Juliet will be covering The California Raisins and will share some Christmas memories and her connection to her topic of choice. So until next time stay warm, read a comic or three, watch a Christmas Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! Until next time readers and friends make sure to spend some time with your loved ones and take a few moments to remember this time of year from your youth.