Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Shark Wrasslin' Part 2: The Revenge of Jaws

Over at Comic Book Resources BR, we got a good thread about Shark Wrasslin’ Covers going and the issue of the movie Jaws and its impact was raised by Kirk G. That got me thinking, all the way back to the mid-70s when I was still a pre-schooler (albeit one with a shark poster in my room). Bicentennial fever was high (and so were gas prices, and the Montreal Olympics were putting a great city into unfathomable debt. In the funnybook business, it seems that many editors decided that sharks should become the new gorilla. Here are some examples of how many comics tried to cash in on the success of Jaws.

An direct homage to the image from the Jaws poster was used for Spidey Super Stories #16 . This title always had some slightly subversive humour going on (much like the Electric Company TV show) as can also be seen from the Star Wars cover published a little later in the run. The only real difference between this cover and the poster is that Spidey is not in his birthday suit. Overall, it's a pretty snazzy cover, with Mr. Parker showing Olympic level form in the Freestyle. The only real negative for me is that they didn’t use a cover of Spidey waterskiing a few years later to celebrate the release of Jaws 2.

Over at DC, home of the gorilla cover, Mike Grell was commissioned to draw the cover to Action Comics #456 putting Supes right into the line of fire. Boy, are these sharks ever vertically inclined. My good pal Prince Hal commented that this is a very stiff looking action scene from Mr. Grell and I cannot disagree. A bit more fluidity is badly needed. Unless that shark has swallowed kryptonite, I am not sure why Supes is at all worried. Certainly not one of the more iconic Superman covers; so it’s probably best for us to simply move along.

A much more enjoyable (and believable cover) comes courtesy of the fine folks at Warren. Like the Action Comics cover, the word Jaws is highlighted on the cover to Creepy #101, but this time it’s to the point of dwarfing the actual title. Mr. Warren was never one for subtlety. Perhaps indicative of the organizational skills at Warren, this one was published 3 years after the release of the Spielberg movie – maybe they thought Jaws 2 would be the real moneymaker. IIRC, this one actually features a story involving sharks, drawn by the cover artist, Rich Corben, as well as some other waterlogged tales (reprints, I think). This one I liked a lot, especially since the colour scheme harkens back to Krigstein’s cover to Piracy #6.

Finally, we have Ghost Rider #16 and the absolute nadir of the cashing in on Jaws craze. When dealing with a comic book about a satanically possessed motorcycle stunt rider, it’s a good idea to suspend your disbelief, but the premise of this cover actually calls for the use of hallucinogens. I don’t actually own this comic, so I cannot explain to you exactly how Johnny Blaze got himself into this predicament – but knowing some of the scripts that were cranked out during this era at Marvel, you are probably better off coming up with your own story. The only thing that would make this book ‘in the gripping tradition of Jaws’ would be if GR said “I’m gonna need a bigger bike”.


rob! said...

i have a Power Record called "Jaws of the Shark" that is such an amateurish cash-in on the movie i couldn't believe it. the superhero records are Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" compared to it.

Anonymous said...

I actually read Ghost Rider #16 recently. Oh sweet jesus was that a wretched issue. Johnny drives down to Mexico and meets an alcoholic father (with a tendencey to yell at his daughter who is old enough to move out) who hunts dolphin with a rifle. Thats right, page after page of the man shooting dolphins from the beach with a rifle. During the course of the story, Ghost Rider and the man fall into the water, get attacked by a shark and saved by dolphins. The man finally realizes that attacking sharks may not be the best hobby. Unfortunately, the dolphins then line up and jump out of the water which would have given him perfect target practice if he had continued his "hobby."
I am NOT making this up.

Izbot said...

Kubert also did a pretty nice shark cover for DC's Tarzan in the early 70s