Do You Hear What I Hear Through The Grapevine

Happy Holidays Rotten Inkers! Tis the season for chestnuts roasting on an open fire and visions of raisins dancing in your head. That’s right, raisins..from California. Yes, I, Juliet will be your guide as we explore the 1980s sensations, The California Raisins and their journey from commercial mascots to masters of media and merchandise. I’m sure you’re wondering, other than figgy pudding, what’s the connection between raisins and the holidays? One of the best-loved appearances of the California Raisins just happens to be in William Vinton’s Claymation Christmas Special, which we’ll talk about more in depth in just a bit. Growing up, I was a huge fan of the special and of the California Raisins Show, the Saturday morning cartoon based on America’s favorite dried grapes, and I continue to have a formidable collection of California Raisins figures. So come along with me as we travel to Raisinville and learn all about the California Raisins, including the Blackthorne 3-D comics based on them.

As legend has it, in 1986, the California Raisin Advisory Board was trying to come up with an idea for a commercial when one of the writers, Seth Werner, said, “We have tried everything but dancing raisins singing ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine'” and thus the Raisins were born. Well, they were born through the claymation work of William Vinton and his Vinton Studios. The four main Raisins commercials were: Lunchbox, which featured the Raisins dancing out of a construction worker’s lunchbox on a high rise. The Late Show featured the Raisins dancing past other, less healthy snacks on a side table while a late night talk show played. Raisin Ray featured the Raisins alongside a claymation Ray Charles, and Michael Raisin featured them with, yes, a claymation Michael Jackson.

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In 1987, the Raisins appeared in something very near and dear to my heart growing up, William Vinton’s Claymation Christmas special. It hosted by Rex and Herb, two dinosaurs resembling Siskel and Ebert, who actually give some great historic context for the well known holiday carols featured in the program. The songs were done as super elaborate (and time-consuming to create) claymation-style skits, some of which were created in such a way to appear fluid, almost paint-like instead of looking like stop-motion. The songs featured were: We Three Kings, which starts fairly traditionally but get groovy thanks to singing camels, a comedic Carol of the Bells, O Christmas Tree which takes us into ornaments, Angels We Have Heard On High, which features two walruses ice skating in what feels like a subtle nod to the Fantastia Hippo Ballerinas. Joy To the World is a stunning collage of constant motion that celebrates African American culture. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer is performed by the California Raisins, putting a little magic into the air after a Christmas eve gig (ala, as the Raisins often were, the Temptations). The hosts get their own story about wassailing, which is mistaken for waffling, waddling, wallowing, etc. This one, upon rewatch, puzzled me a bit. Are the actual wassailers at the end elves or leprechauns? When I was young I thought they were elves, but have they been leprechauns, or perhaps drunken locals the whole time? Weigh in, dear readers. The half hour Claymation Christmas Special debuted on CBS alongside the Garfield Christmas Special and the pair often ran together during the holiday season. I had one night’s CBS holiday lineup (that included Micky’s Christmas Carol, the Claymation-Garfield pairing and A Charlie Brown Christmas) taped on TV on VHS that was yearly, mandatory holiday viewing even after many of these were dropped from regular rotation.

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In 1988, the Raisins became fully fleshed out characters in their CBS special Meet the Raisins. This rockumentary mockumentary (think Spinal Tap, but with vegetables and suitable for small children) was produced by Vinton Studios and won an Emmy nomination. It actually wasn’t until this point that the Raisins got their names: A.C., Red, Stretch, and Beebop. The special also featured supporting characters such as Rudy Bagaman, the Raisins’ manager, who would go on to be one of the leading characters in the 1989 California Raisins cartoon, The California Raisins Show. That cartoon had a 13 episode run between September and December – kind of a shocker as my younger self seemed convinced that it lasted much longer. Instead of claymation, this show featured traditional cel animation from Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, but William Vinton served as creative director and executive producer so it definitely kept with his vision of the Raisins’ story. Many of the fruit and vegetable characters that were introduced in Meet the Raisins were prominent supporting characters in the cartoon, and many characters that were created for the cartoon (including my absolute favorite Lick Broccoli) then made appearances in the 1990 claymation special The Raisins: Sold Out!: The California Raisins II, which, furthering the Spinal Tap metaphor, saw had the Raisins attempting to mount a comeback with a new manager. This would be the last TV show/special for the Raisins, and they wouldn’t have much of a TV presence for many years to follow.

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During their short run, the California Raisins got a lot of merchandise created in their wrinkly image, and many of it has ended up in the Smithsonian permanent collection. Perhaps the most ubiquitous were the Raisins figurines that came out in assorted series from Hardee’s between 1987 and 1991, and were also stellar garage sale finds. I’ve been able to piece together a sizable collection of little guys, some of which I’ve had since the late 80s. In addition to the figure, there were Raisins t-shirts, Halloween costumes, lunch boxes, posters, coloring books, music albums, and a Capcom video game that was created but never officially released – though luckily it has made its way into the world via the homebrew game market. You can also check out a good representation of the California Raisins commercials, Meet the Raisins, The Raisins: Sold Out, and the entire run of the California Raisins Show on a two-DVD set called appropriately enough, The California Raisins Collection.

In 1987, as part of their series of 3D comics based on licensed properties, Blackthorne began a five issue run of comics based on the California Raisins, and these books are the subject of today’s comic reviews.  I heard it through the grapevine that here on Rotten Ink, we grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.  So let’s take the boat to Raisinville and get to know our new favorite band, the California Raisins!

The California Raisins 3-D # 1   *** 1/2
Released in 1987    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 1 of 5

Under the cover of night, the Raisinville Chamber Orchestra is kidnapped and loaded onto a boat by masked bandits. The next morning, two young Raisins happen upon a flyer looking for musicians to play the mayoral election. As they head into town, they pick up another Raisin as a hitchiker and find their fourth and fifth potential bandmates playing a whistle on the street. As suspicious advertisements for Snax pop up around town, the new bandmates visit the music store to pick up some instruments, but find that the beloved owner has mysteriously retired, all the instruments are gone, and the store is now home to a surly French Fry Man selling Snax. The Raisins move on to the Chamber Orchestra’s headquarters where they and other raisins queue up for auditions, but something’s fishy as raisins are going in, but no one is coming out. The Raisins catch site of a group of Sugar Cubes up to no good and rush to city hall to warn the mayor. The mayor, however, is nonplussed. He’s worried that his opponent in the election, Big Burger, is trying to run him out of town, but he stops mid-thought upon chomping down on some Snax. This is when the Raisins realize that there’s something amiss; the Snax are turning their fellow raisins into zombies and the only cure is music. So they commandeer Big Burger’s campaign vehicle, which is equipped with a loudspeaker and do their thing. Mayor Van Raisin is re-elected and Big Burger and his Snax are run out of town.

This was such a fun read! It threw me at first because the Raisins (the main ones that is) don’t use their names at all in this book, but that’s because this came out before they had names. That said, all of the hallmarks of the developing California Raisins world were present: the power of music, junk food more often than not being portrayed as the villains of the story, and the delightful little details like the picture on the wall of a bottle of wine labeled Uncle Vino. The artwork was really well done by an unnamed artist, especially considering that the majority of the characters were raisins and you could still distinguish who was who. I liked the 3D effect, though quite honestly, I would enjoy this comic entirely on its own merit so it wasn’t necessarily a selling point for me (in fact, I had a harder time reading it, not because the 3D was poorly done, but just because my eyes have trouble focusing with old school red and blue 3D glasses). This five issue run is off to a strong start, so let’s see how the rest go.

The California Raisins 3-D # 2  ***
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 2 of 5

In a prologue, Big Burger looks at Raisinville from afar and vows that the town will be his as his junk food henchmen bring a display of the Raisins, Big Burger’s new sworn enemies. But never fear, our villain has a plan….we cut to the Raisins receiving an invitation to receive their complementary mansion earned by virtue of being the official Raisinville band. The Raisins are, of course, excited to reap the benefits of their newfound and begin exploring the mansion and discovering its various perks and quirks including some trap doors. Three Raisins are captured by the ever bickering Cookie and Candy, and the other two narrowly escape multiple traps looking for their friends. The fourth Raisin gets captured, but the last is able to discover the evil plot against them and devises a plan. Using the house’s recording gear and sound system, he minimicks Big Burger’s radio and lures Cookie and Candy away so he can free his bandmates. Together, they roll Cookie, Candy and some Sugar Cubes into a carpet and dump them into the water. When they float back to Big Burger, acknowledges that the Raisins may be more formidable foes than he anticipated, but the next round is his.

This is another solid comic that capture everything charming about the California Raisins. Interestingly, the Raisins’ mansion in this one does remind me of their house in the California Raisins Show (the cartoon), and an episode where Lick Broccoli’s manager bugs the Raisins’ home to steal the Sweet Currants’ new song. But this remains firmly in the pre-Meet the Raisins realm of issue #1: no names for the Raisins. It does, however, establish Big Burger as our main villain and brings back his henchman for more hijinks. I like the continuity, but I do hope that we get to see food characters in the next issue for the sheer fact that I like to check out the different character designs. The art is once again solid, and it’s easy to figure out who’s who among the Raisins. Onward to Issue 3!

The California Raisins 3-D # 3  **1/2
Released in 1988    Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 3 of 5

This issue feature two stories. In the first, Waisin Wipeout, the Raisins are lounging at their mansion when they get a call to come down to the beach to film a surfing music video. It’s there that they’re introduced to famous fim director Steven Spielbug, his frog assistant, surfing expert Gnarly Cobb and beach babe Cher Pear, who turns out to be a Valley Pear. While the Raisins surf for the camera, Big Burger and his henchmen (decked out, of course, in pirate hats!) lurk below the water in their submarine base. They use their device to create a tidal wave, knocking the Raisins off their boards and ruining the shot. But Raisins don’t let a little water defeat them. They get back on their boards and surf so well they create a whirlpool that knocks out Big Burger’s submarine…and looks super cool in the music video.

Story number two is X Marks the Spot. While out on a picnic, the Raisins find a map, which they assume will lead them to the treasure of Blueberry the Pirate. Of course x marks the spot right under where they were picniccing so the Raisins start digging, and find nothing. They then realize that they were digging in the wrong spot, and after several repeated instances of this, begin fighting amongst themselves. This results in tears until one Raisins realizes that the seemingly shifting x on the map was shifting because it was actually a spider.

While I didn’t hate this issue by any means, this is definitely the weakest of the first three issues. First of all, why two stories? Especially when the second story, for me, was pretty weak. The first story was good, but messed with a few of the things that I love about the Raisins in general and that the first two issues honored: why are the filmmakers bugs and not food characters? Also while I get that Cher Pear is supposed to the typical valley girl/beach bimbo, it took me entirely too long to realize that she was a pear because she was drawn entirely too human. These are minor complaints in the grand scheme of things as the art is still great, but for me, the fun comes from the food characters. It’s a formula that works so why mess with it? Speaking of messing with things, it looks like the next issue is going to deviate again by being an adaptation of Meet the Raisins. So let’s take a deep breath and dive in.

The California Raisins 3-D # 4  ***
Released in 1988     Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 4 of 5

The Raisins (there are four of them now) are excited because their show is getting ready to come on. We go into the TV documentary where our host tells the humble origin stories of A.C., BeeBop, and Red (names!) as they formed their first band with bass singer Zoot, who introduced them to his eventual replacement, Stretch. From there we see the Raisins’ slow rise to fame with the help of their young manager Rudy Bagaman. From impressing Ed McMelon and being literal smash sensations to rebuilding their shattered careers by working with quirky director Frederico Rasperini and playing a series of concerts in the arctic. Their eventual, triumphant return comes when Rudy Bagaman nearly crashes a plane, providing an amazing introduction to the band. The documentary concludes there, and the Raisins are pleased with what they saw.

Admittedly, I’m a little torn about this one. I would have preferred an original story as opposed to a straight adaptation of Meet the Raisins, but this was extremely well done and captured the charm of the TV special so I can’t be too mad. As I’m sure you noticed above, the Raisins now have their names, and they’ve gone from being a band of five to a quartet with a completely different back story. I wonder if these Raisins are the next generation of California Raisins, or is there some sad fifth Raisin out there in the word waiting to write his tell-all book about how his band abandoned him. The artwork in this one is the same as the rest of the comics so far: really great! Needing to be able to distinguish the Raisins from each other isn’t as big a deal though, because along with their names come new, more distinct character designs. The cover features our newly revamped Raisins rocking out on the stage. I wonder if the next issue will be an original story or another adaptation (though the next special wasn’t for a few years). Might as well take a look and see….

The California Raisins 3-D # 5  **1/2
Released in 1988   Cover Price $2.50    Blackthorne Publishing    # 5 of 5

Back to multiple stories so: In the Music Mash, the Raisins (there are still four of them, but they’re not the same four from the last issue) are in the studio preparing for a gig and arguing over a new song. They decide to visit their friend Gigo who’s created a new machine that can create hit songs on the spot. Everything is going well, and they bring the device to a gig with them, but when a workman leaves his toolbox too close, the machine malfunctions creating chaos onstage. In the end, the Raisins realize it’s best to go back to basics and sing one of their classics.

In California Battle of the Bands, the Dough Buys and Richter are headed to the semifinals, and the Raisins (all FIVE of them) are late to their recording session. When they arrive, an oddly cartoony Rudy introduces them to three Lady Raisins who are their new backup singers. Back at the battle of the bands, Cookie, and Candy French Fry are sabotaging the competition for their boss, Big Burger. They plan an earthquake device and play a few more pranks on the Raisins when they show up to play. When the Raisins discover the mischief, they interrupt Ratchet’s set to warn them about the earthquake device, and the two bands work together to defeat the bad guys. They celebrate their victory with a concert all together.

I have SO MANY questions. Are there multiple bands performing as the California Raisins? This kind of follows my theory from last issue, and we do learn that there’s a whole Raisinville from which these bands could have been formed. This is all to say that these Raisins are different, unnamed Raisins than the ones we saw last issue. And then there’s the numbers issue. Was Fifth Raisin on vacation for the last story and a half? Also, what is Gigo? He’s not a discernible fruit or vegetable? Is he an alien? That said, there are so many things right about this, like Shrapnel, one of the battle bands that are clearly an homage to Guns N Roses. It was also amazing to see Shirelle, Dixie and Crystal, aka the Sweet Currants, in this issue even though they, like the Raisins this time around, weren’t called by name. I’m also glad we got one more chance to see Big Burger try to thwart the Raisins and thus conquer Raisinville. The art was great, but the latter story was a little more cartoony than anything else we’ve seen in this series. All told, this was an extremely fun and solid comic series that served these classic characters well.

So there you have it, the life and times of the California Raisins with a sprinkle of holiday cheer.  I hope it’s merry, warm and bright for you and yours, and that you’ll join Matt back here on the blog for his big holiday update.  He’ll be taking us from the land of singing fruits and vegetables into animated knights and dragons when he covers the comic adaptation of Dragon’s Lair. In the meantime, make sure you’re well stocked on hot chocolate, support local and indie businesses as you’re able this holiday season, and read a comic or three.

Avoid The Noid In 3-D With Extra Cheese

Welcome back to Rotten Ink.  Today’s update we will be taking a look at that pizza hating mascot of the 80’s, The Noid, and Blackthrone’s two issue series based on the little booger. Growing up my family didn’t order out for pizza very often, and when we did, it was from places like Dagwood’s in Waynesville or we would pick up a pie from Pizza Hut or Marion’s. But most of the time we would make our own. I can remember my mom and dad letting me and my brother pick what ingredients went on our pizza and than watching it go into the oven and waiting for it to bake as the smell of cooking cheese and crust filled the air. I enjoyed eating homemade pizza, and when I was younger I always drank Mountain Dew, Kool-Aid or chocolate milk with my slices…I know the milk sounds kind of gross, but it was good! To be honest though, I have never liked pizza all that much and always found that it hurt my stomach after eating it.  Oddly enough, the only pizza that doesn’t hurt my stomach is homemade or Pizza Hut! Before we really dive into Dominos and The Noid, I should say that I am a fan of just cheese pizza, sausage and only some places deluxe like Marion’s.

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Dominos Pizza started in 1960 when brothers Tom and James Monaghan went in together and bought DomiNick’s, a small pizza joint in Michigan, for $975.00! James gave up his half of the business in trade for a car giving Tom full control only eight months into them owning it, and by 1965 the name changed to Dominos.  By 1967 the first franchise opened sparking it to becomes a major player in the pizza restaurant war. A cool little fact is that the famous logo that has the three white dots on the blue/red domino was supposed to have more dots as they were going to add a dot for each store that opened! By 1978 they had 200 locations and more planned, so in loose terms of the rock band Megadeth: Pizza was their business and business was good! Starting in the 1980’s, they got so big that they were able to open pizza joints all over the world in such places as England and India making them grow even bigger as a Pizza Empire! In 1998 Tom wanted to retire and sold 93 percent of the company to Bain Capital for a billon dollars, and by 1999, they made David A. Brandon the new CEO of Dominos. Over the years Dominos slipped and became one of the lower pizza places.  When it came to the taste tests via customers, it tied for last place with Chuck E Cheeses.  So in 2009 they revamped their menu and used better ingredients to make their pizza better, even taking shots at themselves for making poor tasting pizzas over the years. This marketing has helped them bounce back and become a fighter once more to try and compete to be the # 1 pizza place in town. Dominos doesn’t only serve pizza though, they have added chicken wings, subs and even salads over the years. The only major media issue the company has had was with there “30 Minutes or It’s Free” promise that told customers if you order a pizza from them and it comes after 30 minutes of placing said order, then you got your food free. This pressure on delivery people was high, and many of them were involved in serious accidents as they would run red light to make it on time.  The company was sued for millions by those the drivers hurt making the promise disappear from their marketing. So after reading all this about Domino’s, are you thinking about ordering a pizza?

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1986 was the year a strange imp claymation man wearing a red body suit with bunny ears and a chest piece with a giant N creeped his way onto TV screens across America trying his hardest to ruin the pizzas made by Dominos that were out for delivery with the 30 Minutes Or It’s Free promise. The Noid became such a popular mascot with kids and adults that a computer video game was made based on him as was other merchandise. The actor who did the voice of The Noid was Pans Maar who later went on to have roles in films like Return To Oz, The Golden Child, The Blob, Theodore Rex and even played Saurod in the live action Masters Of The Universe film. His TV credits include the popular show Dinosaurs where he played multiple smaller characters. But like all good things, The Noid was put into the mascot retirement home and only gets dusted off once in a while when Dominos sees fit to try and squeeze a dime out of the little guy. I can remember watching the commercials on TV and always being so hyped to see The Noid try his darnedest to ruin the pizza. I kind of always wanted to see him be able to do so at least once just to help his self esteem.  In fact he reminds me a lot of Looney Tunes character Wile E. Coyote who tries so hard to catch Roadrunner but just can’t. In the late 80’s, The Noid was everywhere including a Michael Jackson video/movie showing he was truly an icon and always was a hit when seen by the young Brassfield brothers. It’s a shame that Dominos didn’t bring him back when they redid their menu as it would have been amazing to see The Noid try and make not only the Pizzas cold and trashed but also chicken wings, subs and cheesy bread! While The Noid has been off TV for many years and not a mascot of the pizza place any more.  His impact on pulp culture is still felt thanks to things like Family Guy, The Simpsons and The Irate Gamer all who have had the little Imp in episodes. While not as iconic as Ronald McDonald or as beloved as Billy Bob, The Noid remains a favorite to all those who remember his fun and zany antics.

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In the 1980’s Nintendo was the top video game system a kid could have.  Sure Atari had the 7800, and Sega had The Master System but the classic NES put them all to shame. In 1990 Capcom, the company that makes games like Street Fighter, Resident Evil and Ducktales, released a video game called Yo!Noid that was a side scrolling action game that had you playing as the red suited imp going from town to town in New York to stop the evil Mr. Green (a green suited imp) who is using slime people to ruin the city.  The promise to The Noid if he can save the day..is pizza..yep. The game in Japan is called Kamen No Ninja Hanamaru and has another hero and villain instead of The Noid and Mr. Green.  It was only in the United States that the pizza mascot was used. The game was by no means a classic but was a fun playing experience.  I can remember renting the game from K&L Video years and years after it came out and enjoying it as did my brother at the time. Over the years the game has become a punching bag by many because it’s a tie in to a massive company that sells pizza, but put all that internet B.S. and wannabe Angry Video Game reviewers reviews out of your mind and enjoy a fun silly side scrolling adventure game.

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Besides Yo! Noid for the NES and the BlackThorne comics, some other merchandise that came out included a game that came out for the Commodore 64 called Avoid The Noid, PVC figures of The Noid in all types of outfits like boxing gloves and wizards hat, stuffed dolls, bendable figures, halloween masks, t-shirts and key chains among many other small things that had his goofy face on it. The only thing I had growing up was the bendable figure that I got from a garage sale as a kid, and I can remember eating home made pizza at the kitchen table while acting as if The Noid  was trying to ruin my dinner…that damn Noid. So if you’re a collector of mascot merchandise or just a fan of the claymation character you can find some really cool stuff based on the little nut job.

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All my friends can tell you I love old mascot costumes that were used at restaurants and amusement parks and try my best to buy them when ever I can find them. So I wanted to take this brief moment to share some pictures I have found that are amazing and creepy all at the same time. Two are people wearing mascot costumes being silly and the other is a odd Halloween mask that looks as if its melting before our eyes. So sit back and enjoy the wonders of these pictures!

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Husband and wife Steve Schanes and Ann Fera opened BlackThorn Comics in 1985 after they left the defunct Pacific Comics that closed in 1984. The company started small and was built from the ground up thanks to credit cards.  The first comic to come out from them was based on the classic character Sheena Queen Of The Jungle that was reprints of her old adventures. The company grew over the years and gained attention for putting out comic books taken from old newspaper comic strips from such characters as Dick Tracy and also for breaking the mold and not just selling their comics at normal comic stores as they got their titles into Hallmarks, Spencer Gifts and 7-Elevens making them more distributed than other smaller comic companies. The company also was able to nab some important IP’s for comic series like Battle Beasts, Battle Tech, Rambo, Waxworks and Werewolf based on the FOX TV Show. They also were the masters of making 3-D comics and cornered the market with such titles as Bozo The Clown, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Bravestarr, Gumby to name a few but it was the 3-D series based on the Californian Raisins that proved to be the big hit and money maker for them. By 1987 the cost and low sales of their normal comic lines caused them to cancel those titles and focus only on the black and white reprints of classic characters and the 3-D comics. Sadly they made a very poor choice in 1989 when they over paid to get the license to the film Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker that they turned into a 3-D comic that didn’t sell well causing them to have a huge financial loss for the year. By the start of 1990, the company was on its last legs even though they were the 5th largest comic publisher in America.  That major blow they took at the hands of Moonwalker was too much, and they closed the doors for good. This really bums me out as I respected this company.  Even at a young age as I could recognized they took chances and were not so cookie cutter like many other companies at the time. I for one would have loved to see what they would have made if they would have made it through the 90’s and were still making comics to this day. Some projects have leaked on what they were working on before they closed up that included A Nightmare On Elm Street as well as a WWF comic that would have focused on The Ultimate Warrior…Now I am even more pissed off about them closing and have to say thanks Moonwalker for ruining everything! Below is some of the original art for those two never published comic series that were taken off EBAY that were up for sale. Over all to this long time comic reader, Blackthorn is truly missed.

WWF 3D 1blackthorne logoNightmare Elm Art 1

So now that you have the history of Dominos Pizza, The Noid and even Blackthorn Comics I feel we are at the point now that we are ready to dive into the comic reviews and enjoy a slice of pizza and a part of mascot history. And I must really say I would have loved to have read Blackthorn’s A Nightmare On Elm Street 3-D adaptation as well as see what the WWF 3-D comic would have been about..dang that Moonwalker, it’s a curse on comics I tell you! I need to remind everyone I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So with that let’s NOT avoid The Noid but instead see what kind of adventures he is having! 

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The Noid In 3-D!  # 1  **
Released in 1989   Cover Price $2.50   Blackthorne   #1 of 2

The first story is Mondo Rotundo who is the overseer of mischief and mayhem, and he is very upset over the failure of The Noid who has yet to make Domino’s Pizza cold and gross for customers, so Mondo has his little electric ball side kick Fister to bring The Noid to him. Mondo takes The Noid into a room and shows him the past Noid’s and how they succeeded in their quests to be food pranksters and that The Noid himself is the reason he fails as when he was “born” to be a food ruining imp, he lost the one and only Noid handbook.  He then tells The Noid that he will give him one last chance to prove himself, so as The Noid leaves he decided to ruin Mondo’s dinner! The second story has The Noid thinking he is a super hero after he reads his own 3-D comic and wants to join the Super Hero club but is laughed at by all the other heroes.  This hurts his feelings and he decides to play some pranks on them and as well as keep them prisoner and by doing this he is asked to join the super villain club!

The first thing I would like to point out is that the 3-D aspect of the comic doesn’t really work well and for the most point while reading the comic I had my left eye closed and only read with the right.  Why, you ask, cause that’s the only way the comic even looked like it should have! I must also point out that pages in the comic were in the wrong order, showing that this title was not on the top of Blackthrones list of A-List comics. The first story was kind of lame and while very cool seeing Noids of the past, the pay out of The Noid ruining the fat Mondo’s dinner was very ho-hum. The second story as well was lame and had The Noid tricking super heroes in dumb ways.  For instance, he gave one hero who is like Wolverine a glass of milk and that fact it’s healthy knocks him out….yep. I didn’t expect much from a comic series based on a fast food mascot from a small comic company that used a terrible gimmick like 3-D to try and sell it to the masses.  I did however think that it would hold a little more entertainment value than it did. The Noid in the comic is very likable and really comes off as a goof down on his luck that was born to be a prankster who just can’t get it right. The art in the comic (via 3-D) looks a little bland with very little backgrounds and lots of use of white empty spaces. The Noid himself looks good and is how I would picture him in comic book art. I went back and fourth on what star rating I should give this issue, and I decided to go two stars only because while idea and presentation of the comic made me very nostalgic for 80’s gimmick comics and the fact it was all about that loveable goof The Noid, if your removed The Noid from the picture and inserted some Blackthorne made up character I would have given this issue a one star…so with that let’s hope issue two is better! 

The Noid 3D 2

The Noid In 3-D!  # 2  **
Released in 1989   Cover Price $2.50   Blackthorne   #2 of 2

The Noid is sick of being yelled at by Mondo over losing the Noid Handbook and decides to go back to school in order to learn what he couldn’t from the missing book. While at college he pulls some pranks like acting as a professor and tricking students.  He also joins the football team and comes up with new plays that make no sense and he also ruins Homecoming for the elected Queen by ripping her dress off. In the end The Noid is booted from the school once some frat boys learn he never even went to high school. The second story has The Noid and Fister traveling to the jungle to find a Temple of Noids that may hold secrets of the missing handbook, but while in the temple The Noid keeps making the wrong choices and Fister has to keep saving him.  In the end they both find that there is no secret as a note has been left behind that blames The Noid for the missing book!

Issue two is just as lame as the first and only really changes that were made are that the backgrounds are better and the stories are slightly more entertaining than those is issue 1. The 3-D still is bad and really is distracting when trying to read the comic, and I really wish the series would have come out not using this terrible gimmick. The Noid is still likable in both of these stories and is as goofy as ever, When reading these two issues and seeing that he is the verbal whipping boy for a fat slob and that he seems not never make the right decisions, you almost wish he would at least be able to make one of those dang Domino Pizzas cold to boost his self esteem. Mondo Rotundo who is his boss is kind of bland and just seems like a filler character as does Fister who to me seems like he should be in the Kool-Aid Man comics. The better of the two stories in this issue is the more Indiana Jones inspired Noid Temple as we get to see him out of his element and not pulling pranks but just really trying to survive! The art once more is good on characters and better for backgrounds than the past issue.  I should also note that Andy Ice does the art for both issues and I do like his cartoon looking style. To sum it up not much change from issue 1 to 2, and I found it an ok read that I wouldn’t recommend to fellow comic readers. Also below is some 2-D artwork done by Ice from his original storyboards so check em out!

Noid Art 1Noid Art 2Noid Art 3

Blackthrone gave this two issues before the plug was pulled, but I am not sure how many of you readers knew that an issue three was planned and the cover was made! Below is the mock up cover that was planned and it appears as if in the unfinished issue The Noid must have visited Mount Rushmore or had some sort of interaction with the President. Andy Ice did the cover art once more and it looks pretty dang great as did all of his Noid 3-D covers. Even though I was not a fan of this series I would have liked to have read issue 3 and see what kind of odd adventures the little Imp would have gotten into, but I still would have much rather seen the A Nightmare on Elm Street film adaptation and WWF 3-D comic over Noid issue 3. But enjoy a look at what could have been the 3rd issue in the mascot’s comic run.

The Noid 3D 3

On Monday April 14th 2014 while at work me and friend and co-worker Todd The Fox tried the New Dominos for the first time we placed our order online and was treated to Pete the Pizza Maker, a cartoon little guy who acts as the way to track your pizza as its being made placed in the oven and when it goes out to be delivered. On this day we ordered a large bacon cheeseburger pizza, spicy jalapeno pineapple chicken bites as well as an order of stuffed cheesy bread, and I was really wanting to try this new and improved food so that I could talk about it on this blog. The delivery was fast and the driver was a nice guy who even brought us extra plates and silverware just in case we didn’t have any in the store, and I should note he made it under 30 minutes. The pizza was pretty good and was a big improvement over the flat cardboard style they had in the past; the only thing I will say is that it was a little dry. The chicken bites were fantastic and had a rich flavor to them, but the best thing was the stuffed cheese bread that was mouth watering good and even more fantastic when dipped in the garlic sauce. Over all Todd and I both really enjoyed the pizza and we even had to fight off The Noid who showed up to try and ruin lunch…below is photo evidence of that little creeper being around. 

Noid At Game SwapNoid Swap Pizza

While I loved watching the Noid on TV on the classic Domino commercials and even liked my old bendie toy, I am kind of glad that I did not read this series in my youth as I think I would have hated it while the older me just thinks it is ok at best. I also find it very odd that I never even remember Domino’s ever pushing this comic.  In my mind it would have been very smart of them to give the comic out when someone would have bought a large pizza and a 2 liter of pop on carry out or delivery. Another very odd thing is that in both issues pizza is only briefly showed once…why the heck did Domino’s not have Blackthorne make the comic into one giant ad for their product! Major company marketing, who can’t figure it out? Well for my next update we will be leaving the pizza place and heading down DC Boulevard as we take a look at a relatively unknown super hero called Steel…and no I ain’t talking about the metal man one time NBA Star Shaq played in a crappy Superman tie in film.  So come back next time and learn all ’bout Commander STEEL, The Indestructible Man!

STEEL Logo

Walking In A Greasy McDonaldland

Welcome back!  I hope you all are having a fun and safe winter so far.  I used to love the winter when I was younger because there was always a chance of a snow day away from school, and if one did happen, that was a day spent playing Nintendo, reading a comic, watching a movie and playing toy wars! Of course this would also be a day of snow ball fights, that wonderful way to throw frozen ice balls at your friends face and pass it off as a fun time.  I remember having snow ball fights in Waynesville against my brother and friends like Mike Censsna, Bill Hamm, Brad Burns and so many more kids from the neighborhood.  This would also carry over to Kettering when I was working at Kroger as a teenager, and my pal Josh Weinberg and I would spend time throwing snowballs at each other while pulling carts. But one thing about winter always made me upset, the weather men who would predict snow and lots of it and poof, the next day not a flake had fallen.  Being a kid, I would stay up later the night before in my room reading comics or watching my little black and white TV and be grumpy the next day when I would find I would have to go to school. My brother Bryan and I use to always make fun of Carl Nichols, the weather man for Channel 2 who would predict “Winter Storms” and the next morning his reporting was wrong. But here is to winter and here is to all the fun memories that go along with this season, from building snowmen to sledding, this is a fun season to be a kid. Next update I will share a little more of my winter memories and fun times.

snow woods

Fast food restaurants were running wild in the 1980’s, and most of them were all trying to get the youth of America to choose their place to eat over the others and would use all types of things from kid meal prizes to cookies to get customers’ money. The thing the worked for me to choose a place to eat was the mascots and TV commercials that would show the adventures of these characters, acting as 30 second TV shows hyping the cheap food and fun idea of that place to eat. Most places had some sort of mascot. Burger King had The Burger King Kingdom with guys like Magical Burger King and Sir Shakes A Lot, and later they had the Burger King Kids Club. Wendy’s had Wendy, the cute red head with the pigtails; Captain D’s had Captain D’s, the sailor who loved history and seafood; Dominos Pizza had the Noid, a creepy little guy in a red costume and rabbit ears and so many more.  But the one that always stood out and was super popular for kids back in my time was Ronald McDonald and the rest of McDonald Land characters who were the mascots for the mega burger chain McDonald’s. Everyone in the world would say that when it comes to fast food burger joints, McDonald’s is king, and I for one grew up loving the place. Growing up in Waynesville, there were no fast food chains in downtown.  All we really had was The Hammel House, Dagwoods, Village Family Restaurant and The Dairy Corner, and all were very good and classic style small town restaurants. The Dairy Corner was a place my Mom would take us a lot, and I can remember always ordering a cheeseburger and fries and and enjoying sitting with my family and enjoying the food.  A few times over the years I would drive to Waynesville with girlfriends or friends, and we would eat at the Dairy Corner. Sadly it’s gone now and where once a fun ice cream shop that served food was alive, now sits a shell of a building. Why did it close up you ask.  Well one of the major reasons was the coming of McDonald’s, the first major fast food place to enter the small village of Waynesville and later came Subway. But while it’s gone, Dairy Corner will never be forgotten by this comic book reader.

Dairy Corner

In 1940 Richard and Maurice McDonald opened up a restaurant that was a BBQ place, but in 1948 they changed into a hamburger joint and started to use drive-thru service, paving the way of “Fast Food” along side White Castle. In 1955, Ray Kroc became a partner in the company and later bought out the brothers to become the owner of McDonald’s, and he turned it into the The King of Fast Food with changes in how the company ran and franchises it supported.  But the buyout was not a smooth one as Kroc and the brothers feuded over the business, and this went on for years. Kroc won the battle, and McDonalds expanded outside the United States and has restaurants all over the world. The restaurant is known for selling hamburgers, chicken nuggets, milkshakes, fish sandwiches and McRibs and has expanded its menu to cafe-style drinks, chicken wings and gourmet salads. McDonald’s also was a pioneer in kids meals when they introduced The Happy Meal in 1979 that had food placed in a box or bag that came with a toy.  Growing up, I loved to a Happy Meal and eat the tasty food and also collect toys based on the likes of The Muppet Babies, Barensteen Bears or Charlie Brown. McDonald’s is still the top fast food joint in the world and it continues to evolve and stay on top by doing so.

Mcdonalds logo

I don’t eat McDonald’s very often, but I still do enjoy it from time to time.  The charm of the place has been lost to me once they cut back on using Ronald McDonald and phased out the rest of the McDonald Land characters. But when I do go, I have a order that is a must for me and consists of the same items I have ordered for a very long time:  two cheeseburgers (sometimes a double cheese burger), a large french fries and a medium orange Hi-C.  The fries for me are the highlight of the meal, and I would say out of all the fast food places they have the best french fries followed by Burger King. I know some people will trash the food and spew out the same gargage that Morgan Spurlock did in his documentary Super Size Me, but if you don’t eat the food every day in extra-large portions, then you’ll be all right. I say if you’re out and are looking for a cheap burger, get yourself a Big Mac and enjoy it!

Mcdonalds CheeseburgerMcdonald FriesMcdonalds Orange Hi-C

In 2013 McDonald’s unleashed on the market their own take on chicken wings when they put out Mighty Wings! My girlfriend and I love chicken wings and have tried every major wing place in our area.  For me, the four best have to be Roosters, Wing Zone, Buffalo Wild Wings (BW3s) and Fricker’s.  So when McDonald’s said they were getting into the wing game, I knew I had to try them. I was working hard on editing a Baron Von Porkchop episode and needed to take a break for lunch.  So I called up my Mom, and we decided to go to McDonald’s to get a quick bite to eat.  In the drive thru I saw the advertisement for Mighty Wings and ordered a 5 pack. I ate them before I touched my fries or took a drink from the Hi-C, and I must say they were pretty good.  They had a nice spice level, and the meat, while a little fatty, was very juicy and flavorful. The downside to them is price at almost a dollar a wing, and the meduim size of each wing makes you really wonder just how much you overpaid. But if you like wings and are looking for a snack, a 5 pack of Mighty Wings might just hit the spot.

Mcdonalds Mighty Wings

Growing up I have many memories of McDonalds and many of them have to do with the whole McDonald land characters and merchandise. I can remember going to the local McDonald’s and pestering my Mom and Dad to get me a Happy Meal so that I could get the Baby Fozzie from the Muppet Babies on his rocking horse and they did! It always felt magical to open up the Happy Meal box with all the cool artwork around it and pulling out your food and seeing what prize you got this time. It’s a shame that nowadays they have switched meals to putting them in a paper bag and put less time pushing these meals. Another thing that always stuck in my mind was The Apple Pie Tree statue that was placed inside the stores and also outside in the playground area.  The giant grinning face also made you as a kid feel welcome. I can remember climbing all over the Tree with my brother and cousin Norman.  The Tree is burned into my memories and if I ever get a house in the country like I want, a McDonald’s Tree will for sure be in the backyard. Another memory has to be the birthday parties that McDonald’s would have.  I can remember going to one for my cousin Norman and having a fun time on the playground and being around my family. I remember the cake not being all that great but thinking it was cool to see all the McDonaldland characters on it, but to be honest I dislike cake and am not a fan of it at all. So there you have it, Ronald McDonald and his magic fast food are apart of my youth, and I am okay with that.

McDonalds Happy MealMcDonalds TreeMcDonalds Birthday Cake

McDonaldland pull back racers aka Fast Macs were a hit with me and my brother Bryan.  I can remember getting them and turning our kitchen in Waynesville into a drag strip as my brother and I would race them. He had gotten the Hamburgler in a slick red dragster built for speed and tricks, while I had Officer Big Mac in a bulky yet fast police car. We spent awhile racing them, and most the time they would crash into the kitchen table or get caught up on the walls.  I can remember losing a lot in the races, but I am sure that my brother bent the rules in his favor by saying things like “if I pop a wheelie, I win the race.” Later on we got Ronald McDonald in his yellow car of doom and Birdie in her pink race car. Over all these were great cheap toys that delivered a lot of fun for the Brassfield Brothers.

Fast Mac HamburglerFast Mac Officer Big Mac

Besides the Fast Macs and The Muppet Babies toys, I also remember liking the Changeables aka McRobots who were generic style Transformers that would change from food items into simple robots. I had a few of these growing up and would use them in toy war and even had them get crushed many times by Transformers and GoBots. The simpleness of these changing robots was their charm, and the fact that McDonalds jumped on the popular 80’s robot boom was a given. My favorite was the Big Mac one because my brother and cousins all use to say he was the leader of the others much like Optimus Prime and Leader One were in charge of their robot friends. The second best one was the milk shake one who in my mind was like the right hand man and the fighter of the group. The store I am the manager of has an Amazon store, and I have sold many of these McRobots to the masses! I am sure many of you readers have a smile on your face as you are now thinking back on these generic transforming robots.

McRobots

Not only were robots and fast food places big in the 80’s but so were collector glasses that restaurants, pop companies and even gas stations would sell and give out. Growing up I remember drinking Coke out of a Superman glass or strawberry milk from a Bugs Bunny one. Even as an adult as I am writing this I am drinking water from a Rocky The Squirrel glass put out by Pepsi. I know many of these glasses used lead paint so maybe that explains why I still love to read Star Comics. Some of the cool ones that were put out at this time were the 1977 McDonaldland character glasses.  You could choose from Ronald McDonald, Mayor McCheese, Officer Big Mac, Captain Crook and the others! Collector glasses are awesome and always helped add to a bland meal at home.  Sitting at the kitchen table and having to eat spinach chicken and peas was always a terrible time, but add in a Batman glass filled with Kool-Aid and the meal is still bad but a little easier to have to deal with. I have many of the McDonaldland glasses as well as many other character glasses and these are a super fun and cool way to make drinking fun. You can find these cool glasses on Ebay, Thrift Stores and Flea Markets.

Grimace GlassMayor McCheese GlassCaptain Crook Glass

Now that I have given you all a rundown on some of the cool stuff about McDonald’s we should now get to the main course of this mind meal and take a look at all the characters that made up the magical Mcdonaldland. Before we get into the main cast, let’s take a small look at three that did not make it to the land.

Speedee

Speedee

Speedee is a hamburger headed chief who was the mascot for McDonalds from 1948-1962. Speedee’s main purpose was to show how fast your food would get to you after you placed your order. Speedee sadly never caught on and was phased out and replaced by the 1st Ronald McDonald in 1962. While gone for many years now, Speedee will never be forgotten by fans and historians of the fast food burger place he promoted.

Original Ronald McDonald

Ronald McDonald # 1 

The original Ronald McDonald is nothing like the one we all know and love.  He was dubbed The Ham-Burger Happy Clown and wore a tray on his head, a magic tray belt that kept him supplied with hamburgers and a paper cup on his noise. This original Ronald was slightly creepy, and his voice was deeper and kind of menacing. He really loved to push hamburgers and tried to befriend kids to follow him back to McDonalds…wait, doen’t this kind of sound like Pennywise the Clown from the Stephen King Novel IT? Years later his look was changed and became the more iconic version of the character we all know and love. To me this first version was like the modern’s weird and crazy brother who later was locked up in the McDonaldland Asylum of Mental Health. I should note that Willard Scott played the original Ronald McDonald on TV in the D.C. area, who is known for being a weatherman on NBC, and this version started in 1962.

Mac Tonight

Mac Tonight

McDonald’s was going to start staying open late nights via the drive-thru and needed a way to let people know.  So enter the moon headed, sunglasses wearing, piano playing Ray Charles style Mac Tonight. Mac Tonight started in 1986 and was a smooth operator and gained a following with young and old and became a main stay of McDonald’s ads. Mac Tonight was so big that his image was used for over 20 commercials, was made into Happy Meal Toys and was used to great customers along side Ronald McDonald. But the moon headed man’s fun ended in 2007 when he got a CGI make over and started to be used less and less. While his image can still be seen on signs at McDonald’s, this jazz loving moon man’s popularity has dropped. Here’s hoping at some point he will rise to the charts of mascot history and be used properly once more.

So with this let’s get into the cast of characters that made up McDonaldLand! I will try and make these brief and just give you a little background of each iconic mascot.

ronald mcdonald

Ronald McDonald

Ronald McDonald is a fun loving clown who loves to bring joy and food to his friends thanks to McDonalds. Ronald is the ring leader of all the characters in McDonaldland and has many friends all over the world and even on other planets. Ronald is also very active and likes to go out a play sports and enjoy nature making him a very energetic. Ronald is always in a good mood and makes the mood of any room rise and turns frowns upside down. He is also the face of McDonald’s and is so popular his image has been made into toys, shirts, comics, video games, and he even had a cameo in the movie “MAC AND ME” . Ronald McDonald is more recognizable to children than JFK, Abe Lincoln, Magical Burger King and many more famous people and mascots from around the world. Ronald is the man and remains one of the most iconic characters of all time. 

Grimace

Grimace

1971 was the year kids were introduced to a giant purple character named Evil Grimace with four arms who loved soda and milkshakes and would steal them! In 1972/74 two arms disappeared, and Evil was dropped from his name and the lovable dimwitted Grimace became a well loved mascot for McDonald’s. Grimace acts as the comic relief of McDonaldland and is Ronald’s best friend. Even after turning good, Grimace still loved a good milkshake and soda as does his uncle known as O’Grimacey who loved the St. Patricks Day themed Shamrock Shake. Sadly Grimace was put into mascot retirement in 2011. Grimace in his prime had his image used for toys, cartoons, video games and even cookie cutters. Grimace is one of my favorite characters of McDonald’s. 

Birdie the Early Bird

Birdie The Early Bird

In 1980 an egg fell in McDonaldland. Ronald showed it love and it hatched to be Birdie a yellow female bird who is a terrible flyer and loves breakfast food! Birdie is much like Grimace and is very clumsy and is the first official female character mascot for McDonald’s. Over the years and many different forms of media Birdie has learned karate and even try to find aliens. Birdie has been used to sell toys, video games and dolls. Biride sadly was sent to the Mascot retirement home in 2011 alongside other characters from McDonald’s. 

hamburglar

The Hamburglar

In 1971, a pint size thief entered McDonaldland, and he had one thing on his mind: to steal hamburgers!  When first seen by viewers, he was older with a big nose and was called The Lone Jogger.  In the 1980’s he was transformed into a younger guy who while bad, became friends with all the other characters. Hamburglar spoke gibberish and his catch phrase was “Robble Robble” and was the second major villain to be introduced in the commercials. During the 80’s I always remember him being one of the most popular characters with kids wanting to collect his toys that were in Happy Meals. Sadly like Birdie and Grimace, he joined them in the mascot retirement home in 2011. 

mayor mccheese

Mayor McCheese

In 1971 Mayor McCheese was the silly cheeseburger headed Mayor of McDonaldLand, who tried so hard but was a little dimwitted and relied on the help of Ronald and the rest of the gang. The Mayor spoke with a giggly voice and was mostly a background character for the company. The Mayor was voted out of power in 2008 as McDonald’s sent him to the mascot retirement home. Mayor McCheese remains a popular character and has become a pop culture icon thanks to the internet and shows like Family Guy.

Big Mac

Officer Big Mac

Law and Order was brought to McDonladland in 1970 as Officer Big Mac was on the case to bust the likes of The Hamnurglar and Captain Crook! Officer Big Mac was a by the book character who was the main source of law in the land, also making him one of the good guys. Big Mac was phased out in the 1980’s and made a small appearance in 2008 before being sent to that sad place known as mascot retirement. While remembered, Officer Big Mac did not gain cult status like his fellow hamburger headed friend Mayor McCheese. 

Captain Crook

Captain Crook

Starting in 1970, the people of McDonaldland’s Filet-O-Fish were in big trouble as a pirate named Captain Crook took to the waterways and began stealing this sandwich, making him the first official bad guy of the land. Captain Crook was close friends to The Hamburglar and would translate his mumbles. Crook also spent a lot of time trying not to be captured by Officer Big Mac who always had his eyes on the beady eyed pirate.In the 1980’s  Captain Crook started to be phased out, and in 1999 he was sent to that retirement home for mascots. 

the professor

The Professor 

1971 was the year that a grey haired old man known simply as The Professor also made his mark in McDonaldland and was the inventor for the magical land. At first he was just a minor character, and later he became a major one that was given even a lightbulb hat. But like many other of his friends he was set to the retirement home for good in 2001 but not before being in a few cartoons and a video game. 

Happy Meal GangHamburger PatchMcNuggetsMcDonald's Characters

Happy Meal Gang/Hamburger Patch/McNugget Buddies/Fry Guys

The Happy Meal Gang was a group of talking food items such as a hamburger, fries and a cold drink who were all friends of Ronald and brought joy to customers. They were introduced in 1984 and were later joined in 1989 by the McNugget Buddies who later would replace the Happy Meal Gang altogether. In 1973 The Hamburger Patch was the main talking food and were hamburgers that grew on plants and were picked to be eaten by Ronald and customers.  They were phased out in the mid 80’s. The Fry Guys were odd colored short shaggy creatures who like to steal and eat french fries who were introduced in 1972.  They were so popular that they were used all the way till 2008. So many fun and odd talking food characters!

Cosmc

CosMc

In 1980-1985 Ronald McDonald and his gang of friends also befriended an alien from space who had many arms and wore a giant round space suit! He was a kind character who always wanted to trade McDonald’s food and wanted to share the great taste of the food with his people. CosMc was not a mainstay character and was used only a handful of times.  He did however make it into a video game and animated series based on the characters of the restaurant. I should also note he spoke like a surfer dude.

So there was a very quick rundown of some of the amazing McDonaldland characters.  I tried to make them all brief for if we broke them down too much, we would be here for another few pages of who epic and amazing they are! So now you know a little about them and your mind is recharged with memories of these characters making it time for the comic reviews that were free give aways and were called McDonaldLand Comics! I just want you all to remember 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, and I would like to think Mile High Comics and Amazon for having these comics in stock.

McDonaldland Comics 101

McDonaldland Comics  # 101  **1/2
Released in 1976   Cover Price FREE   McDonald Corp. Comics   #101 of 102

It’s America’s 200th birthday, and Mayor McCheese has gotten an invitation to be a guest at the country’s huge birthday party! The Mayor invites Ronald, Officer Big Mac, The Professor and Grimace to go along with him on a magical train, and they decide to leave Captain Crook and Hamburglar back in McDonaldland to watch after things. Crook and Hamburglar sneak aboard the train, and they all take a tour of the amazing sites of America. But along the way the Captain Crook falls from the flying train and could be lost as they arrive at the party! The second small story in the issue is about The Hamburglar who is giving up stealing hamburgers, but now is stealing things that begin with the letter H!

The first story is a silly adventure that is a way for Ronald McDonald to teach the readers American history.  So while you as a youngster read this, you were also learning! It’s odd how in this issue the bad guys of the land, Hamburglar and Captain Crook, are supposed to be the ones left behind to watch over things.  Now don’t they like to steal and cause panic…so why would they want to leave them behind? Plus Officer Big Mac seems to be a one trick pony in the issue and repeats about the railroad being too bumpy and about arresting people.  Ronald is clearly the ringleader of the group as his word is law, and at one point he is being questioned by a cop and escapes without showing his ID so he won’t be late for the party! The story is short and ends with a cliffhanger as they get to the party but Captain Crook has fallen from the train that is flying now, so did he die? The next issue I hope will explain this. The second back up story of Hamburglar stealing things that start with an H is just a cheesy joke as the rest of the comic is filled with puzzles and such. The artwork is great and has that classic 70’s kid comic look and each character looks like they should. The cover is also pretty cool, and I am sure in 1976 kids picked up this free issue like crazy! So over all this is a fun and average free restaurant comic that was worth a read. I am going to say that the best character in this first issue would have to be Ronald McDonald himself followed by Captain Crook.  So with this let’s move onto issue 2!

McDonaldland Comics 102

McDonaldland Comics  # 102  **1/2
Released in 1976   Cover Price FREE   McDonald Corp. Comics   #102 of 102

The McDonaldland gang is gearing up for a silly version of the Olympics that include pogo stick jumps, and hamburger dashes! The gang that includes Ronald, Captain Crook, Hamburglar and Grimace are going up against The Fry Guys! But late the night before the event, a short man named Sneak-Snoop Snoggly of the Sneak-Snoop race who live in the hills comes to town and causes mischief and pranks on all the group! The pranks leave Mayor McCheese falling down a hole, Grimace squashing a giant tomato and Ronald’s pogo stick spring being so tight that he bounces up way to high and smacks into a bird! In the end they confront Snoggly who in turns falls of a high dive board and wins a medal that puts a smile on his face and all is well again in McDonaldland. The second mini story of this issue is about The Professor taking the gang around again on the flying train to see historic sites from around the USA and uses a machine that lets them see the past in the spots they are visiting.

The McDonaldland Olympic Games are filled with silly things that kids would have fun doing, pogo sticks and bouncing, sounds like Field Day events to me! This time around a trickster is causing issues in the fast food land and almost leads to Ronald’s and a bird’s death as they collide in the air and both are stunned. It’s clear that Captain Crook must have lived after his fall in issue one as he is in the Olympic Games, though they should have some how worked in how it all worked out. This main story as well only really highlights Ronald as the rest of them all take back seats, and this is to be expected as Ronald is the main mascot for the company. The second story seems a little lacking and is just more history lesson left over from the first issue.  While very informative, I wish they would have not repeated the American History lesson. The rest of the comic issue is filled with puzzles and such and I am sure had kids of the time entertained. Over all the first story is pretty fun though I wish had a little more to it.  The second story is just okay, making this issue another average issue but well worth the read, and the price it coast when it was released…FREE. 

One has to wonder why McDonaldland Comics only lasted two issues when Big Boy and Captain D’s both had comic series going at the time and years after even. One has to wonder if the cost of making the free comic just didn’t outweigh the payout of making kids have a collectors item based around their mascots. I for one would have loved to have gotten comics for free based on these characters in the 80’s and would have looked forward to getting an issue anytime we ate there. The comic series really focused on Ronald and that makes sense with the surprise two characters that seemed to get a lot of panel time being The Professor and Captain Crook. Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese and Officer Big Mac all had solid roles to play in the two issues, and Grimace was almost a second thought and offered very little to the story lines, and that’s a shame cause he would have been a perfect character for a kids comic. The art, as I stated before, is great and would have been right at home if Star Comics was going in 1976.  The covers were both very well done and eye catching and better than any other free restaurant comic cover. I wish that McDonald’s would bring back all these classic characters for this modern generation who are lacking the fun wonders of mascots.  I also wish they would bring back free comic books based on these characters, and I also wish they would stop being the target of parent groups and TV “chefs” who want to make a name for themselves by attacking the worlds largest burgar chain. Well the chill in the air is telling me it’s time to go, but before we do I must tell you readers that next update will be on Christmas Eve and will be all about Thundercats! So make sure to come back and give it a read! Till then, have a great holiday season, read a comic or two and eat a Big Mac.Thundercats Logo