Have You Seen This Lost Dog: Foofur

Welcome back to Rotten Ink!  This update is all about that blue dog Foofur. Dogs are a man’s best friend, and they are loving as well as loyal.  Growing up I have only had two dogs in my life but have been around many.  From the chubby old dog Two who lived at my grandparents’ house all the way to Conan who is my cousin Stephen’s hyper little Chihuahua, I have always been around dogs. The first dog that we had was a mutt named Droopy, who from what I understand was a very fun loving little guy who loved my brother Bryan and I. The sad part is I was very young and don’t remember him all that well, and to add to his sad story while my family was away, my uncle was watching him and someone stole him from the backyard! I mean what kind of scumbag steals a family pet? The second dog we got was Stella, a German Shepard, when I was around 16 years old.  She was a sweet dog who was my best pal when I first moved back to Kettering.  She used to follow me around the yard, and we would have all kinds of adventures walking around the neighborhood. Stella was a scaredy cat for the most part, but if she thought I was in trouble, she would spring into protective mode. Stella lived to an old age and I find myself missing that goofy knucklehead. If you’re a dog owner, cherish the time you have with your furry buddy and give them an extra treat after dinner. Below is a picture of Bryan and I with Droopy, and I have to make a note that for some reason I can’t find my pictures of Stella I took when I was a teenager.

Bryan and Me with Droopy

Back in the day, many of the top watched cartoons were made by Hanna-Barbera who was the company who brought us such great characters as Yogi Bear, Scooby-Doo, Jabber Jaw and Huckleberry Hound, all popular and beloved cartoon characters. Hanna-Barbera were at the top of what they did, but by the late 80’s while their classic work was still popular, many of the newer stuff was not as iconic as the past work.  Shows like Yo! Yogi, Flintstone Kids and A Pup Named Scooby-Doo were all great shows and all ones I watched when they aired in the 80’s and early 90’s, but most of those shows didn’t have the life and staying power as their classic toons did. In 1986, they made a character that was pretty well liked by the kids of Wayensville but now in 2015 is pretty much forgotten, and that’s the loveable blue dog Foofur. In 1986, on NBC during the station’s Saturday Morning Cartoons, a cartoon made by Hanna-Barbera called Foofur started airing and is about a skinny dog named Foofur who finds a mansion to live in that’s abandoned! But living in the big house by himself is lonely so Foofur, along with his niece Rocki, free fellow dogs from the kennel, and they all now live with him and dodge the dog catcher and a realtor who wants to sell the house from under Foofur’s paws. Foofur lasted for two seasons and a total of 46 episodes and was canceled in 1988, but for those of us like myself who watched Foofur when it aired those two seasons were very entertaining and had that Hanna-Barbera charm. It’s odd, with WB putting out their Warner Brothers Archive Discs for many Hanna-Barbera shows, that this series has never made it to DVD on demand. While his run was short, Foofur still made his mark on Saturday Morning Cartoons and remains a cult favorite among the fans that remember his adventures.

Foofur Cartoon 1Foofur Cartoon 2Foofur Cartoon 3

While characters like Scooby-Doo had tons of merchandise from toys to keychains, poor Foofur had very little merch.  So if you were a fan, it was pretty slim pickings to get collectibles of your blue furred pal. So let’s take a quick second to talk about some of the things that were made that included VHS tapes of some of his episodes that quickly came and went at retail stores.  I can remember finding some of these tapes in the cheap bin at Hearts and Gold Circle. Sticker story books of FooFur also came out and were geared toward young readers that helped kids not only to read but also survived as a way for kids to get more FooFur hijinks. The last thing I can remember is the stuffed doll of Foofur made by R.Dakin Co./ Phil Mandez productions that was very long and looked as lazy as possible and captured the goofball loving nature of the character. I never had any of these items, and I can remember that someone I knew had the doll and it was either my friend Joanna or my cousin Nick…but I am not 100% sure on that one.

Foofur DollFoofur BookFoofur VHS

So we just learned a little about the show as well as the merchandise so now I figure we should take a quick crash course on the side characters that made up the show. Let’s start with Fencer; he is a black and white furred cat who loves karate and thinks he can fight. Louis is a strong as an ox bulldog who can fight as well as be a loyal friend to all his fellow housemates. Annabel is a sweet female dog with long bangs that cover her eyes and is the girl of Louis. Fritz Carlos is a proper dog with a sweet mustache and has total manners as well as tall tales. Hazel is a curly eared female dog who is a clean freak and is buddies with Fritz. Dolly is Foofur’s girlfriend who is owned by a well to do woman and her best friend is Burt a snob dog. The show had many “bad guys,” but we will get to them when we cover the comics. I should thank Lone Star Comics and Bell Book And Comic for having these issues in stock and should as always remind you that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on entertainment value, quality of the story, the art and how true it stays to the source martial.  So with that let’s head to the old mansion and see what Foofur and the gang are up to, shall we?

Foofur 1

Foofur # 1  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #1 of 6

Curly Tale” has Foofur and the gang almost being found in the mansion when it was being looked at for purchase.  Once they are safe, Dolly stops by and invites Foofur to her tea party that will be attended by many of the town’s top dogs! Foofur gets the help of Hazel to look nice for the party but uses too much conditioner and ends up putting a curl to all his fur! When he gets there, at first he’s looked at as a joke, but when the smart fashion dog likes the look, he becomes a trendsetter. “Alone Again” has that Kung-Fu cat Fencer doing his moves in the house and annoying Foofur and Annabell, who are cleaning the attic of the mansion.  When he goes outside and thinks that his pals are captured by the catchers, who he actually frees is the Ma Baker gang who kidnap Fencer and hide in Foofur’s mansion.  Once inside, they beat up Fencer and Foofur, but the gang of bad animals meet their match when the raging bulldog Louis shows up and beats them up and makes them run to the dogcatchers to be captured and safe away from him! “Trial And Error” has a group of rats living in the mansion who want to throw out Foofur and the gang and get the help of a lawyer rat who banishes Rocki from the house.  When the young dog is sad and is crying over being kicked out, Louis shows up and beats up the rats and throws them out of the mansion!

This is another kids comic that takes the route of doing multiple stories in a issue instead of one solid onem and while in the days of Goldkey and Whitman, that style worked for the likes of Bugs Bunny and Pink Panther, in my opinion it does not work for Foofur in 1987 as it clearly should have been one continuous story that helped add to the world that the cartoon was building on Saturday mornings. Each of these stories, while cheesy, packs a fun feel, and I must say I really like the abandoned mansion backdrop. Thus far only three of the characters shine and that’s Foofur, Louis and Fencer so I will give you a little of my first comic book impression of these three characters. First up is Foofur; while he is very laid back, he clearly cares about his friends and is trying his best to keep the mansion theirs. The one negative thing I noticed is when is niece Rocki is crying, he pays no attention and keeps playing cards, and it’s Louis who checks on her and takes care of the issue. Speaking of Louis, he is one tough bulldog who whoops butt not once but twice in this issue and is clearly the muscle of the group. But while he might be the meathead, it’s clear that he cares about his friends and will protect them at all cost. When I was younger and watching the cartoon, this next character was my favorite and it’s the cat who knows karate named Fencer who while noble at heart is really just a goofball who tries more then he knows, and means well when trying to stick up for his pals. Now I should also pick the best story out of the three, and I would say Alone Again not only because it shares the name of a power ballad sung by Dokken but because I love the idea of a gang of rough and ready animals taking orders from an old dog named Ma Baker who is straight out of Batman 66 if that show was played by animals. The art is pretty solid and is done by Ben Brown who captured the look and mood of the cartoon, really good stuff and reminds me of Archie and Harvey comic art. So far I would say that this Star Comic series based on the cartoon Foofur is pretty entertaining and I can’t wait to see how the rest of this series goes, so let’s move onto issue # 2!

Foofur 2

Foofur # 2  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #2 of 6

The first story is called “Unreal Estate.” In it relator Mrs. Escrow is trying to sell the mansion and fills it with furniture to give it a more homey feel.  So Foofur takes an idea from Fritz Carlos, and they put the furniture in crazy places! As the open house starts all the people are mad at Mrs. Escrow and think she pulled a joke on them because of this, but it backfires as one strange man loves the mansion and the way it’s set up and agrees to buy it the next day! Foofur and the gang spend the night making the mansion look normal again and stops the buy when the man gets mad about how normal the house looks and Mrs. Escrow in the end thinks the mansion is haunted. The second story is called “Costume Canine Caper.”  Those rats are at it again and use a dog costume to try and sneak into Foofur’s group to gain secrets on how to get rid of them, but the plan is cut short when the rats are captured by the dogcatchers and must ditch the suit.  Fencer witnesses it with his own eyes, and Foofur in the end scares off the rats by wearing a giant rat costume! “User Unfriendly” has the Mayor firing Mel and Harvey from being the city’s dog catchers and replaces them with a robot named 4-D who can capture dogs super fast! 4-D goes on a capturing rampage and even gets Louis, but all things backfire on the robot when Foofur over loads its circuits by using a ton of wind up dog toys! At the end Louis breaks free from the pound and 4-D ends up in a trash can.

This second issue is just like the first issue with three stories and a one-page joke, and like before, each of the stories have a charm and each are well done and silly. Much like before, most of the time the plots are set in and around the mansion making the old structure almost feel like a character on its own. Foofur in this issue is much like the first and does show he has a prankster side as he helps move around couches and place beds in the kitchen not to mention wears a costume to scare off those pesky rats. Fritz Carlos is a proper little dog who is very British and very much a supporter of the abstract. So we should also take a look at the “bad guys” of this series.  Let’s start with the three rats who are named Sam, Chucky and Baby.  They want the mansion all to themselves and are trying to do whatever it takes to run the dogs off.  Sam is the brains of the rats and bullies the other two. Mrs. Escrow is not fully bad in the comic and is only doing her job of trying to sell the mansion, but her little dog Pepe is a jerk and hates Foofur and the gang. The last two are the dogcatchers named Mel and Harvey who once more are just doing their job but do seem to target Foofur and the gang and patrol that area a lot. Out of all these “bad guys” I would say the biggest threat to them has to be the Rats as I feel they would murder Foofur in his sleep if they could figure out a way to do so! The best story out of the three this issue has to be Unreal Estate as I like the fact Foofur and the gang are running around changing things to save their home from being sold, and I could see the Three Stooges doing something like this. The art is once more all done by Ben Brown and is fantastic for this kids’ style of comic.  I must also point out for some reason I really like this cover with the rain and Foofur being so tall he is blocking his friends from getting wet. This is another good issue, and this makes me hopeful that this whole series will stay entertaining and steady with the two and a half star ratings.

Foofur 3

Foofur # 3  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #3 of 6

Foofur and the gang’s first adventure is called “History Defeats Itself!” and has Mrs. Escrow selling the mansion to land developer Cashman who wants to build a condo in the spot where the mansion sits! Foofur, along with Dolly and the gang, try to figure out how to stop the buy and most importantly stop the mansion from being torn down. They try to use some of Fritz’s old arrowheads to get the historical society to step in but that turns into a bust.  Finally Louis has an idea just as things look bad and gets a giant bone from the butcher shop and the demolition stops.  Cashman rips up the contract after what he thinks is all a waste of his time, and the mansion is saved and once more put up for sale. The second adventure is called “A Close Encounter” has an alien landing on earth and meeting the rats who he thinks are the kings of the planet.  They tell him that they are indeed and are under attack by the K-9s! The Alien takes Foofur and his friends off the planet and is about to leave them when he finds out he has been played by the Rats! And with the help of Foofur, the Alien is able to scare the Rats away from the mansion. The last story is called “Plant You Know, Dig You Later.” Annabel has her sister and her kids over at the mansion, and her sister brings her a plant as a gift and they leave it on the porch. During the visit the plant grows and grows and covers the mansion! Louis uses his brain and grabs the plant’s root and places it in the freezer causing the plant to die and detach from the mansion.

Issue three is another solid Foofur adventure packed from page to page with cartoon inspired goodness. Much like all the issues before, all three stories are well done and each hold their own charm.  If I had to pick one as my favorite, I would say History Defeats Itself would take the spot, not just cause it’s a good story but it also makes me think of the big mansion and woods in Sugarcreek that was torn down so they could build a soulless Coastco…but let’s not harp on that. But A Close Encounter comes in close second and that’s because I love the whole alien comes to Earth story that reminds me of so many classic Sci-Fi films I watched when I was a kid. Foofur remains the same in this issue, and it’s really clear he loves to play cards, cares about his pals and his girlfriend Dolly. Annabel is a sweet dog that has bangs that block her vision as this is said many times o far in the series.  We also get the fact she has a sister and is the aunt to many puppies, and she is married to Louis. Ben Brown is still doing the art, and it’s fantastic and really does make it feel like the cartoon.  One other thing I should note is that the inking in this series so far is very bright and this helps add to the over all fun feel of the comics. Not much more to say besides another good issue that brings all the Foofur action to comic readers.

Foofur 4

Foofur # 4  **1/2
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   #4 of 6

Fernando’s Hideaway” has Foofur and his pals finding hiding spots for when Mrs. Escrow comes to the mansion to show it to a buyer. After they master the art of hiding, they all go to take a nap when crooks break in and are hiding from the police. Foofur and the gang use their new hiding spots to act as if the mansion is haunted, and the crooks run back into the arms of the police. In the end, all ends well besides the fact The Rats are mad about them being around the inside of the walls for the hiding spots claim that’s their territory! In “Show Business” Fritz Carlos is on a date with Hazel, and they see a hypnotist that by accident hypnotizes Hazel and turns her into a slob when she is the clean freak of the gang! When home she trashes the place, and worse the house is about to be shown, so Fritz and Foofur rush back to the hypnotist and have the spell broken get he back to the mansion just in time to clean it up and all ends well. The final story is called “The Buddy Guard” and is about Louis and Annabel wandering the streets looking for food when a gang of dogs led by a pitbull shows up and start calling Louis a chicken, and instead of fighting, the bulldog leaves! Foofur tells Annabel, who is worried about her man, that the dogs they ran into was once lead by Louis and he left them to become friends with Foofur. The Rats hear this and bring in the gang who attack the house, but the bad dogs soon learn Louis is no chicken as he wipes the floor with them and proves he is a smart fighter.

Louis once more shows that he is the biggest and baddest bulldog in the comic world as he beats down a pitbull and a pack of other dogs by himself! Plus I like the backstory given to him that he once was a bad dog who ran the streets and would beat up other dogs just because he could, but once he met Foofur he changed his way and became a dog who only fights when it’s called for like to protect his friends. But to play What If like The Watcher does for Marvel, imagine a world were Louis beat up Foofur instead of friending him, would Louis go on to beat up the likes of Snoopy, Odie, Scooby-Doo and so many more K-9’s in comic and cartoons…makes one wonder. My favorite story has to be The Buddy Guard just for the backstory of Louis and the fact it has Foofur being put in some major danger as a pitbull wants to rip his head off. The other two stories are well done, and I love the fact they have taken them out of the mansion and into the world a few times in this issue. One thing that I also think this series is doing right is while Foofur is the clear star of the comic, he is not over used and each character has their time to shine even if it’s only for a panel or two. The Rats are back also in this issue and once more try so hard to chase off the dogs, but as always fail at their plan. The art is done by Ben Brown again and as always looks like a classic 80’s kid comic. I should also note that this is the final issue of Foofur to come out under Star as the next in the series has the Marvel logo. So let’s see of Marvel put the care into Foofur like their kids branch did.

Foofur 5

Foofur # 5  **1/2
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #5 of 6

The Bear Facts” is the opening story and is about Mrs. Escrow having the mansion treated for termites that has Foofur and the gang going camping, but before they leave they also warn the rats who think the dogs are up to something! Rocki can use the trip to get a badge in the scouts, and while out in nature, a nearsighted mama bear takes Rocki by accident as she thinks she is one of her cubs. In the end Foofur uses cola bottles and makes the bear glasses, and she and her cubs hang out with them and get food as a way of saying thanks. The second story is a continuation of the first story and is called “Fur Better Fur Worse” and has the Rats taking fur from Fencer and pull mean pranks on the fellow house dogs trying to get the K-9s to turn on the cat. In the end Louis and Foofur are the voice of reason as all the others in the house are ready to beat up the karate cat.  In the end Louis finds out the Rats are the ones causing the issues, and he gets even by placing them on a log in the harbor! The final story is called “Pipe Down” and has those two numbskull dogcatchers Mel and Harvey get a magic flute that attracts dogs, and it’s up to Fencer and his trusty baseball to save his friends from being captured.

Marvel took over Foofur after closing Star and was smart enough to keep all those working on it intact. Foofur as a character in this issues shows compassion and that he really wants to make the world he lives in a better place as he helps a bear to see and even warns the Rats that they could be caught or killed when a exterminator comes. Say what you will, but Foofur, while a silly comic based on a cartoon ,does have some positive messages and teaches readers to honor friendship, keep positive as well as try not to hold grudges. Louis in the issue goes 1-1 as he is able to beat up Mel and Harvey in an ally but gets knocked out when he tries to tackle the nearsighted bear. My favorite story has to be Pipe Down because who doesn’t like a silly take on the Pied Piper legend? Ben Brown takes the duty of art again as like the others it’s solid and shows I think he enjoyed doing this series. So are our next issue is the last issue of Foofur so let’s see if it can end as a solid cartoon adaptation comic.

Foofur 6

Foofur # 6  **1/2
Released in 1988   Cover Price $1.00   Marvel Comics   #6 of 6

Raising Spirits” opens our last issue and has the mansion being the subject of being called a haunted house and brings an oddball to try and find if the legends are true. Of course the oddball sets up the house to appear haunted so he could buy it dirt cheap,and when Foofur finds this out, he turns the fraud haunt back on them and scares them away. “Smitten Kitten” has Fencer falling for a cute grey cat named Miss Mitzi and asks her out on a date.  To get ready for the date, Fritz tries to help him get manners and ditches the karate look for a more preppy look. During the date, a group of cats start trouble and Fencer kicks into action and finds that Mitzi likes him for him and that’s the karate cat. The final story for the issue and the series is called “The Outcast” has Dolly’s snob friend Burt, a purebred dog, thinking he is a mutt and running away from home to stay at the mansion and after getting himself caught by Mel and Harvey. Foofur and the group go to save him and in turn get caught! In the end Burt saves Foofur and finds out he is indeed no mutt!

So much like the cartoon, the comic series of Foofur comes to an end way to fast! This final issue is well done and doesn’t lose a step from the rest of the series and is a good kids comic based on a cartoon that was only mildly popular. Foofur is a cool dog who has a kind heart and a sharp mind and always thinks about the well being of his friends…for the most part because if he’s playing cards he shuts down on caring. I am a cat person, and I have to say Fencer in this issue gets to shine as he goes on a date, learns manners and even whoops some butt on cats who are hassling his girl. Burt, who is a friend of Dolly’s, is also a snob and stuck on himself and treats Foofur like a fleabag.  It’s only after he thinks he’s a mutt that he shows Foofur and the gang respect. Marv and Harvey almost, and I mean almost, have Foofur in this issue but are once more outsmarted by a pack of dogs.  These two guys are as goofy as they come and are great “bad guys” in a comic series like this. What made Foofur work as a comic is the over all good nature of the stories and characters. I mean most kids love talking animals, and Foofur is a perfect fit for those type of readers. Hanna-Barbera and Star made a perfect team on this, and I wish the team up would have continued with other properties they made like The New Yogi Bear Show, The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley or even Paddington Bear! Imagine a Star Comic based on Ed Grimley.  I know that I as well as many others including Jason Young would have read it. Ben Brown did the art for the whole run, and his style is the kind of art I love for kids comics based on toys and cartoons, I would like to see Ben make more comics of this nature. With Disney owning Marvel Comics, I am not sure why they have not reopened Star Comics and make retro style kids comics based on old Disney Shows like Ducktakes, Goof Troop, Darkwing Duck and Gummi Bears, all that wonderful stuff that was played after school in the late 80’s and 90’s. But to wrap up the look at Star’s Foofur I will say it’s a series that stayed true to its quality and stayed steady on entertainment and held true to it’s source material so I would give this series a must check out for fans of the cartoon. Below is some of Ben Brown’s artwork for the series, and it showcases the main cast to the series.

FooFur Art 1Now I am sure many of you readers don’t remember Foofur and those who do probably only slightly do so I hope that this update helped inform you about his existence in the world of comics and cartoon. One thing I should also point out is the fact that much like many classic kid comics of the 70’s and 80’s, the cover to most the issues has nothing to do with the stories inside.  Not once did they go skiing nor did Foofur and Rocki race a kangaroo and joey! And while the rats and dogcatchers were a threat to them somewhat, the main drama comes from them always living in fear that the house they live in will be sold from under their feet and they will all be homeless. Our next update will have us leaving the mansion of Foofur behind as I once more will turn Rotten Ink over to Juliet and she will take a walk on the dark side with The Witching Hour! So until next time make sure to pet your pet, read a comic or three and support your local comic shop.

The Witching Hour logo

Chuck Norris as Chuck Norris in Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos!

In the late 70’s and throughout the 80’s, larger than life action stars were box office hits.  Names like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Charles Bronson, Jean Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren and many more were flooding the market and being idolized by young males across the world. I was a huge Stallone fan and loved his films like Rocky, First Blood and Cobra, but there was always one action star long before it became “cool” and a “fad” to like that always captured my dad, brother’s and my attention – Chuck Norris! Way before hipsters thought Walker Texas Ranger was funny and before his facts were an internet sensation, Norris was kicking ass in films like Missing in Action, Breaker Breaker, Hero and the Terror, Silent Rage and Lone Wolf McQuade proving that he was one of the best B-movie action stars of the time. I remember as a kid watching Missing in Action 1 & 2 and wanting toys of lead character Colonel James Braddock, and while I understood that being a P.O.W. was a bad thing, years later when I was a teenager I understood the real message in the film. Another funny story about Chuck Norris is when my brother was younger he loved the movie Meatballs and one day my dad was watching Silent Rage on HBO and told him that it was Meatballs II.  My brother sat with wonder and watched waiting for the Alien to appear, instead he got a film where Norris was going up against an un-killable killer! This freaked my brother out and added for chuckles many years about Meatballs II. If you want to check out any of Norris’s films you can find them on Beta, VHS, Laserdisc, DVD and Blu-Ray!

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In 1986, Chuck Norris also was involved in a cartoon called “Chuck Norris and the Karate Kommandos” in which Chuck Norris plays a government operative in charge of a team of martial arts commandos that battles a organization called VULTURE lead by The Claw and his right hand man Super Ninja. It lasted one season for only 5 episodes and was made by the great Hanna-Barbera company. The cartoon also from time to time airs on Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network. Growing up I never watched the show that much, and while I remember it airing, I never found myself wanting to view the animated adventures when I could just watch the live action films. The Karate Kommandos has been released on VHS and DVD-R and has become a cult classic.

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In 1986 Kenner also made action figures to go along with the animated series and much like the toon it was based on, the toy line was also very short lived. Multiple figures based on Chuck Norris were made as well as all the Kommando’s and Super Ninja. Also vehicles were made as well as plastic weapons rounding out the merchandise that was made around the short lasting series. I did however own some of the figures, and all the ones I owned were Chuck Norris.  The figures themselves were well made and well sculpted toys for the time. In school I knew a few kids that had some of these figures, and the most popular one I saw the most kids have was the purple Super-Ninja. In fact, I still have my Norris figures, and Game Swap in Kettering, a place I get some of these comics has one in store!

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Chuck Norris fever has died down a little and seems to have passed as one of those annoying hip references that made you want to punch the hipster spewing it who clearly never seen a Norris film in their self absorbed life. But this did not stop the wave of Norris-inspired merchandise that included books, t-shirts, mugs, folders, posters, notebooks, key chains, stuff dolls, bobble-heads and so many other products! So if you are a true Norris fan, there is some great stuff out there for you!

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Chuck Norris, who as of early 2012 is 71 years old, was in the Air Force as an Air Policeman, and while stationed in South Korea, he decided to learn the art of self-defense in the forum of Tang Soo Do.  This started the path of an action superstar, but not before Norris became a karate champion and a teacher of the art of self defense teaching such stars as Steve McQueen, Bob Barker and Donny and Marie Osmond in schools he opened. In 1969 Norris began his acting career in the Dean Martin film The Wrecking Crew and has been making movies since! Some of his best known film work includes Missing in Action, Delta Force, Way of the Dragon, The Expendables 2 and Lone Wolf McQuade. Norris also made it into the TV world, not only known for the 1986 short lived cartoon “Chuck Norris and the Karate Kommandos” but more so for his 1993 series “Walker Texas Ranger,” which ran on CBS for over eight years.  Norris also became a spokesman for products like The Total Gym Work Out Machine and the computer game World of Warcraft. Noris is also known for being a diehard Christian and Republican has also written several books on his beliefs. In 2005, Norris also became a internet hit when “Chuck Norris Facts” started to infect everyone’s Myspace page who thought of a funny way to show just how kick ass Norris is in a tongue in cheek kind of way. Norris continues to be an icon in the world of action stars and will always be known as one bad ass dude!

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Before I get into my look at the 4 issue run of The Karate Kommandos from Star Comics I would like to share some memories I have of Chuck Norris. I always remember watching Chuck Norris on the then Ted Turner owed station TBS, that seemed to always be showing a Missing in Action film or Breaker, Breaker, and I can’t count how many times I would sit and watch these films over and over.  I always remember wanting an action figure of Norris’s character Colonel James Braddock of Missing in Action because of watching those movies on TBS. That’s one thing I miss about TV, now that Turner is no longer in control of TBS and TNT, all the amazing programs those stations delivered to me in my youth. I mean I grew up watching many of the programs they would air from all the old reruns of The Andy Griffith Show, Gilligan’s Island and Little House on the Prairie to hosted programs like Joe Bob Briggs on TNT’s Monstervison, Grandpa Munster hosting Super Scary Saturday and even Dinner and a Movie with hosts Paul Gilmartin, Annabelle Gurwitch and chef Claud Mann. One of the things on TBS in the 80’s my brother and I would look forward to was watching NWA and then later WCW wrestling, and nothing was more epic then the PPV type event that was free to watch called Clash of the Champions where you would be able to watch wrestling legends like Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Sting, The Rock n Roll Express and many more battle in matches that had so much build up.  Those truly were the days. I have great memories of watching old NWA shows on winter Saturday evenings at my grandparents’ house as the fire place was warming the room, and my grandpa, dad and brother all sat around and watched the likes of the Four Horsemen and Dusty Rhodes. Also I love how back in the day all shows on TBS started five minutes later like 6:05.  Odd, I know but a great gimick. I wish Turner would come back to bring a new station to airwaves and give us back some of this classic shows he once aired.  Say what you will about the man, but he knew what he was doing when it came to cable TV.  I mean his stations gave you a little of every thing if you wanted to see sports, news, classic shows, movies, horror hosts, wrestling, original programs and much more then look no further then a Turner owned station. So here is to Chuck Norris, Ted Turner, TBS and TNT for some great memories growing up, and here is to hoping Turner will return to doing what he does best, making one hell of a great TV station.

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I want to remind everyone that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material.  So with that, let’s kick some butt with Chuck Norris and his Karate Komman

Chuck Norris 1Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos # 1  **
Released in 1987     Cover Price .75    Star Comics    1 of 4 

Too Much is the youngest member of the Karate Kommandos, and while at school he and his classmates are held hostage by evil ninjas led by Super Ninja, who works for Claw. They are there in order to exchange the kids for a government anti-terrorist vehicle that is packed with state of the art weapons. But things don’t go as the ninjas wanted as Chuck Norris along with his Karate Kommandos that include Kimo a sword expert, Reed a young man Norris has taken under his wing as well as his sister Pepper who is a master of repairing and driving cars, wolf the team pet and Tabe a sumo wrestler who loves to eat, all come to the rescue and clean house of the evil doers and saving Too Much and all his classmates.

This issue was pretty weak to start a series off by and focuses way too much on Too Much who for all accounts is a brat who blows off school work and uses his friendship with Chuck Norris to act popular with his peers. Chuck Norris walks around like a silent badass who only gives one liners when needed and then turns into a walking PSA about working hard in school.  The rest of the team for some reason kept reminding me of the gymnastic teens from the Mr. T cartoon mixed with the A-Team but not as nearly bad ass. I think the biggest problem with this issue is the lack of character development, like who are these Karate Kommandos and why is a movie actor like Chuck Norris the head of the team?  Who is Super Ninja and why didn’t he come to the school himself if this was such a huge operation? And why is The Claw never shown? Given the fact that the cartoon was bombing on TV and kids weren’t flocking to Children’s Palace or Toys R Us for the figures, you would think that Star would have put a little more background into this issue to help push this comic series to do better then everything else attached to it. Not to mention the storyline in this issue is weak and seems like a back up story for an issue that ran short. The artwork is your typical Star Comic look so I kind of like that, and the cover is pure cheese so it does have that going for it. Over all this issue is not impressive and a very bad way to start off Chuck Norris’ first comic book run.

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Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos # 2  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   2 of 4 

Chuck Norris and his Karate Kommandos are hired to protect a new super computer that has been targeted by VULTURE, but when it’s Reed and Pepper’s turn to watch the super machine, sibling fighting happens and Reed storms out and meets Margie, a young woman who’s mom is sick and has been hired by The Claw to steal it for cash to help her mom who needs an operation. Meanwhile Ninjas break in and steal the computer and kidnap Pepper.  Reed returns at the same time as his team and all get a shock to find they have failed to keep it safe. Meanwhile the ninjas as along with Margie have Pepper and are trying to force her to show them how the computer works, only for Margie to take a stand and help Pepper escape just as Chuck and the Kommandos come in for the save. In the end Chuck gives the reward money to Margie for her mom’s aid.

This is more like it; a comic filled with action, drama and takes the focus away from the youngest member of the Kommandos, Too Much, and showcases the brother and sister team of Reed and Pepper and has them showing real sibling rivalry. The messages are clear in this one: always be there for family and you should never abandon your responsibility. Chuck takes more of a back seat in this one and is only used when needed. As for action, while it’s not every page, the times it’s used it really works! The bad guys in this issue are all the generic ninjas of VULTURE and Super Ninja nor Claw make an appearance.  This doesn’t make much sense and adds no major threat to Chuck and his crew. I will say that I also feel that this issue captures more of the cheesy charm of the cartoon. Over all this is a step in the right direction for this series. The art work is same as last issue, and the cover is in your face with Chuck Norris landing a flying kick. Let’s see how issue three goes in this “action” series.

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Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos  # 3  *1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   3 of 4 

Chuck and Kimo are practicing with swords to see who’s the best in a friendly way as Tabe is in the kitchen making himself a feast. During a break in the spar Kimo hears Tabe giving advice and life lessons to fellow Karate Kommandos.  First up is Too Much, who is having an issue that involves his friend and him being forced to have spelling bee against each other in school.  So Tabe tells him about the first time he met Chuck that had them sparing with sticks on a log to impress friends. Reed is next and talks about how some friends are going to cheat at a sporting event, and this time Tabe tells a different story about how he met Chuck that pertains to the situation.  This continues with Pepper, who is having guy issues. In the end Kimo asks Chuck who has returned to spar how he met Tabe, and none of the stories he told was correct!

Issue three is all about Tabe, the lovable slob sumo wrestler who loves to eat and as this issue exposes, tell lies! This is not a very good message to teach young readers as Tabe lies several times to trusted friends in order to give them guidance that will help them with an issue that is bothering them, but even a white lie is still a lie.  The worse thing about this issue is the fact Tabe makes himself out to be this amazing hero in every one of his BS stories. Tabe is my second least favorite character from this comic/toon series, and this issue is all about him, making this one a so-so read. VULTURE and all its members take a backseat in this issue, and at no time during Tabe’s stories do you feel that he or Chuck are in any real danger, making this pretty lackluster in the action department. Issue three is clearly the weakest so far, and while some parts are fun, like the silliness of all the different ways he says he and Norris meet, its all the other fluff that makes it bland. The artwork is as it was in the past two issues, and this kind of holds the charm of the cartoon. The cover makes this issue look way more action packed then it is, and with this let’s move on to the final issue in the series.

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Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos # 4  ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   4 of 4 

Chuck Norris has a visitor at the secret headquarters of the Karate Kommandos, and Its Jack Fredericks, who is taking over the West Coast Office that runs secrets teams like them.  While there he is witness to Chuck and gang getting a mission that has them saving the daughter of a snotty Doctor named Johan Belson who has had troubles with Norris in the past. The daughter has been kidnapped by a gang of goons who are working for Claw and want secrets that Belson knows.  With a distrust for the man they are helping, Norris and the Kommandos save the daughter and teach Belson what it is to be a man.

This is the final issue in the series, and they seemed to finally get that what they had was Chuck Norris action superstar along with a team of rough and tough Kommandos who were about fighting for freedom much like G.I. Joe.  In fact this adventure reminds me of a Marvel Joe comic. Chuck Norris takes control in this issue and uses not only his kicks and punches but his brains and out smarts the baddies and uses his leadership over his crew to get the job 100% done. Normally annoying characters like Too Much and Tabe are far less unlikeable, as members Kimo, Reed and Pepper take a back seat to showcase Norris. Again the Super Ninja and Claw don’t make an appearance, and this time they use not even the ninjas but lame normal guys who try to put up a fight just can’t.  This issue should have been the first in the series and all issues after this should have followed this style and formula to have made a good run of comics. The art work is the best it’s been in the series and seems as if someone who worked on Marvels G.I. Joe or Transformers comic lent their talents to this final issue. The cover’s pretty weak but can be compared to other late 80’s action covers from Marvel. All in all I can at least say that Chuck Norris Karate Kommando’s ended on a higher note then it started. I would like to thank Bell Book and Comic & Lone Star Comics for stocking these issues to make this review possible.

Thinking about the comic and cartoon series made me realize that the toon only lasted one more episode then the comic run making one see why this STAR comic run was doomed to being canceled from the start. And this series also got me thinking about pop group the Spice Girls because of the character Too Much having the same name as their 1997 hit song from album Spice World. Then I remember being a teen and thinking how hot those british girls in short skirts and tight cloths were and how damn catchy their songs were. My two favorites to look at were Posh Spice and Baby Spice, and I will not lie, I did have their CDs and also watched Spice World on VHS when it hit video stores. And did anyone else notice Baby Spices love for suckers, and how so wrong yet so right it was? Just take a look at the center picture, and Spice Up Your Life indeed!

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Well in this update we looked at the movie and cartoon career of Chuck Norris, took a look back at Ted Turner owned TBS & TNT and even talked a little about the Spice Girls, but in the next update the gloves are off as we look at shock rocker Rob Zombie’s take on a legend we all know…..no, not his remakes of the Halloween series but his take on the crypto creature Bigfoot! So be here for the next shocking update.

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