The Unfunnies: Fishin' With Shorty

Shorty's hectic, mile-a-minute lifestyle finally catches up with him, leading to laffs:

Three things:

1. Shorty's friend showed a remarkable amount of patience. Followed by a well-executed revenge, of course.

2. Wearing a bow tie on a fishing trip is probably a warning sign of some kind.

3. I think that that fish might be a Nerf product.

- From Detective Comics no. 138

The Unfunnies: Shorty vs. Facial Hair

Did I ever mention that Shorty was in the Navy during WWII? Yes, he went from office boy to Ordinary Seaman and then to high school student in the 50s, so evidently he was able to lie not only about his height but also the fact that he was roughly 12, thus his problems in keeping up with the Navy Hipsters that seemingly infest his ship:


NOTE: I sincerely apologize if the last joke seemed out of date; the hipsters here still love their beards. I hope yours are the same.

- From Superman No. 32

The Unfunnies: The Other Shorty

Somehow, my four-day weekend has turned into the sort of social whirlwind that precludes actual comic-reading, so while I have purchased such highly-anticipated books as the Superman vs Muhammad Ali reissue and the Kill Shakespeare trade I as yet have no opinions to share on 'em.

But since part of the social insanity has been a houseguest and that houseguest is a dog and that dog is a Welsh Corgi, I think that it is time to introduce DC Comics' other character named Shorty:


This particular Shorty is part of a loose society of cartoon dogs from the early days of DC. Pretty standard stuff (the wiener dog doesn't realize how long he is! LOL!) but interesting in that the dogs that they feature are basically all criminals, concerned only with fighting and stealing. Kind of like real dogs, actually - thankfully, our dog-guest is too short to steal and too prudent to fight, so things are going smoothly.

- From Superman No. 3

The Unfunnies: Shorty in the Rain

I'm sitting here waiting for Hurricane Earl to finish crawling up the coast of Nova Scotia to trounce us - okay, I'm sitting here reading old Superman comics, but I'm aware that the storm hasn't started yet and I'll know when it gets here, and that's almost like waiting - and so I thought I'd try to get topical with my Unfunny. This is as close as I could find:

This is middle-era Shorty, after his stint in the Navy but before he becomes a scuba diver. He takes no guff.

Oh hey, the wind is picking up. If Halifax is unexpectedly flattened and I'm never heard from again, consider that punchline as proof of my prophetic genius. Otherwise, have a good Saturday.

- from Superboy No. 22


The Unfunnies: The Rise of Shorty

Shorty is an odd character. Below you'll see his earliest incarnation (or at least the earliest that I've run into), a pocket-sized office boy. Later on he showed up as a sailor, a small-town teen and a salvage diver - basically he was around for as long as DC Comics was running allegedly-humorous strips in their magazines. No matter what happened, Shorty adapted to the times - it's possible, in fact, that I just figured out the secret origin of Oberon.

The weird thing about Shorty, at least in these early cartoons, is that he's funny, yet not funny. Here, read this:

See? Shorty is funny: he looks funny, he talks in an amusing manner ("Un-ungh! A century note!!"), he has a boos who is basically always acting in a slightly surreal way, he shoots little puffs of smoke out behind him while he walks... But when we get to the end, poof. No punchline, because of course Shorty is happy to have gotten a bunch of candy for free. I would, and I'm not a bizarre man/child/homunculus.

This one's from World's Finest Comics No. 25

Part two of that last thing! A long time later! By Johnathan!

I may seem to be in the grip of some sort of late-Winter/early-Spring frenzy of procrastination  but I am totally working on really cool things! With Paul! Also, I'm procrastinating a lot. But with a girl! Which isn't as bad, I think?


Mr Terrific - Would there even be a Mr Terrific in the Thirtieth Century? Terry Sloane started crime-fighting because he was the very best at everything and was super-duper suicidally bored by it all. But was he smarter than Brainiac 5? A better fighter than Karate Kid? More roly-poly than Bouncing Boy? No, no and no. I figure that a Mr Terrific somehow thrust into a Legion audition would find himself feeling suicidally inferior. He'd probably end up living in the sewers underneath the Clubhouse, eating future-vermin (astro-snakes! cosmic sand fleas! plasma eels!) and writing bad poetry about rejection. And everyone would forget about him until Five Years Later, when he shows up in two panels before getting shot by the Dominion. Poor guy.

Sandman - In contrast, Golden Age Wesley Dodds is just too damn hard to stop for him *not* to get into the Legion. Seriously, I don't know about his solo adventures but in the old All-Star Comics days he was easily the most bad-assed of the normal JSAers. As far as I can figure it, Lightning Lad or someone would have a scary dream about Sandman (and possibly also Sandy, the Golden Boy) punching him in the head and then he'd wake up and go to get a cup of coffee to steady his nerves and then Sandman would bust through the door and punch him in the head. He wouldn't even have a vote - no one would. they'd all wake up one day and Sandman would be just finishing screwing his name-plate onto that big horseshoe-shaped mass podium they have and that would be that.

Spectre - Well, he's got the power, but I don't know if his methods are in line with standard Legion non-homicidal practice. Also - and I know I made a very similar joke about Dr Fate - I think that "as old as time" is a bit too far past the age of eighteen to be ignored.

Starman - Let's ignore the fact that he wouldn't get in in a million years because he gains his power from a Cosmic Rod (and that thing really never did work too well, to tell the truth. It seemed like he lost it or found that it was completely useless about every other adventure) and think about how much more interestingly confusing the Legion would be if he got in. Star Boy! Starman! Together at last! Oh no, here comes Starfinger and Pulsar Stargrave! Aiee!

Wildcat - If his "nine lives" power was in effect, Wildcat would totally get in, but even if it wasn't I think that he would be a valuable addition to the Legion lineup for one simple reason: costume diversity. Essentially, most of the Legion (and a decent percentage of the JSA, actually) are wearing spaceman clothes with some sort of fancy-pants logo on the front. Whither the themed costumes of yore, super-teens? Wildcat, with his right-down-to-the-jowls attention to detail (okay, I haven't actually seen a jowled cat, but there must be some reason for those little flaps) could show those young punks a thing or two about looking good while cracking skulls. Picture Brainiac 5 wearing a hat shaped like a brain. Are you delighted? The answer is yes.

Wonder Woman - The Justice Society's secretary, which is kind of heinous, yes. It's not quite as bad in the context of the stories ("We can only have eight members for some dumb reason, but we think that you're cool! Want to be our secretary?") but yeah: stupid. Despite (because of?) all of the bondage, Golden Age Wonder Woman actually kicked a fair amount of ass, and her own comic was delightfully weird. I can't really think of any powers that she has that aren't duplicated by half of the legion membership, though. Maybe having Etta Candy around could count (Etta Candy is the most delightful Golden Age sidekick since Slam Bradley's pal Shorty. So I have decreed). If not, I'm sure that she could get into the Wanderers, no problem.