What Superman Does Not Like

I was originally going to write about this story (from Lois Lane No 20) for one of our recent theme weeks, but since the funniest in the story - as well as the reason that it was appropriate for the week in question - came at the very end and would have been telegraphed too much by the giant banner at the top of the post, I rejected it.

But I just couldn't stay away, so here comes "Superman's Flight From Lois Lane" - see if you can figure out if it was rejected from Hat, Fat or Cat Week before the shocking final panel!

We open with a typical Lois and Clark reporting assignment: 


Yes, back in the day being an intrepid reporter sometimes meant that you were like the guys in those reality shows where they try out extreme jobs and get stung by giant Japanese hornets and the like. I think I have a comic somewhere that has Perry force his staff to recreate a Donner Party-esque doomed trek through the desert - the man would go to any lengths to sell a paper.

And of course Clark's parachute malfunctions, but it looks like it happened about five seconds after he left the plane. The ol' super-speed should give him plenty of time to fix the problem before Lois notices that anything's wro-

You know, if legitimate skydiving mishaps resulted in perfect person-shaped holes in the ground I think that we'd all feel a little worse about enjoying old Looney Tunes. 

Clark manages to cover for himself with a speedy application of super-breath, of course (and boy, did he get a lot of use out of that power in the 60s. I demand more super-breath, DC!), and you'd think that this would be one situation in which he wouldn't have to fall over himself trying to allay Lois' suspicions. After all, her eyes were closed throughout the incident, right?

Nope! That lady would take literally anything as a potential sign that Clark was Superman. I guess that you have to give her credit: she had the right man. Trouble was, the right man didn't want to be found out, and this was the last straw. It's super-power time!

Yes, Superman decides to fly into the past, endangering, I'm sure, the very fabric of space and time and abandoning more than a decade's worth of friendships and hard work, in order to make sure that a cute girl will no longer want to be his girlfriend. That guy. Not shown: Superman murdering his past self in order to take his place.


So Clark Kent: reporter is no more. What's a youngish, unattached, nigh-omnipotent man from the near future to do? Become a stock speculator? Spend a lot of time preventing wars? Go to work for a different newspaper?


Use his super-powers to ace a job interview and become a disc jockey! Hooray! This is one of those times that I am wholeheartedly behind Clark, instead of slightly off to the side, scratching my head. Just check him out here:

Imagine with me now: a world in which this was a permanent change. We might have a goateed Beatnik Superman in our past, right next to Mullet Superman. At this point, who knows? Clark might have a fart-sound-riddled morning show with Jimmy Olsen and Ron Troupe as his foul-mouthed sidekicks and a rich legacy of radio station problems - Dabney Donovan makes a DNAlien that eats vinyl! Brainiac attacks just as Clark convinces a caller to put her phone somewhere inadvisable! Morgan Edge buys the station and gives the boys an ill-advised morning show! Oh where are Elseworlds when I really need them?

But it's not all great tunes and lovely melodies for the Sultan of Song. This being the Silver Age, Superman can only go for so long without at least one of his recurring themes surfacing.

In this case, it's the fact that he can't walk four steps without tripping over a cute girl with the initials "L.L." Of course, there's always more to the LL package than the initials and the hourglass figure:

Yes, in common with many of the Double-L girls, Liza is observant enough to suspect Clark of being Superman while simultaneously deluded enough not to consider that Superman might not be overjoyed to have his carefully-kept secret revealed on a whim.

Also note that DJ SUperman has traded in his old "cowardly Clark" cover for a new "sleepy Clark" version. 

"Clark, where were you when Luthor was attacking the station?" "Well, at first I was looking for help but one thing led to another and I ended up catching forty winks in a supply closet."

Liza tries out a few of the standard tricks, like the invulnerable hair-snip test, but the cheap perfume gag shown above is her master plan - I'm not sure if she's not quite as smart as Lois and Lana or if she just doesn't have the attention span to keep thinking up new little schemes, but after Superman solves the problem in a typically over-the-top manner:

... the resulting failure is potent enough to destroy her life.

Yes, Liza's dreams are crushed, she quits her job and presumably moves back to whatever small town she was originally from, there to marry the manager of the hardware store she works at part time to pay her parents rent. She never, ever listens to the radio, because it reminds her of what might have been.

Clark, meanwhile, couldn't be happier.

But all good things must come to an end, and for this story "the end" is synonymous with Lois Lane, who comes to WMET to interview the hot new disc jockey that everyone's talking about. And here's where I start scratching my head again, because rather than sit through one interview with Lois, he returns to the future - presumably going a few weeks into the past to murder his recent-past self before he could murder original Clark and begin this whole mess - to hang out with her every day.

Now here's the theme week stuff. Do you have a guess? Write it down before going any further.

Yes, it's Fat Week for the win! Liza Landis, in the original continuum, married the station manager and plumped up! Or maybe this is one of those weird Silver Age stories where time travel has effects on the present even when it's been undone, and this is what she did after resigning in shame. Either way, despite her evident contentedness and "Wife of the Year" status, Clark reacts exactly as one might expect:


Yes, Superman once again rigidly sticks to his "No Fat Chicks" policy. Intrepid careerwomen need only apply if their waistline has a smaller diameter than their head and they intend to keep it that way. 

Happy Free Comic Book Day! I'm off to... get free comic books!

Herbie Popnecker: King of Fat Week

What would Fat Week be without an entry about Herbie Popnecker? Pretty slim, I'd say.

If you haven't read the Darkhorse Herbie Archives that chronicle the meger twenty or so brilliant issues of Herbie—get on it! This comic is phat! Large! A HUGE SUCCESS! Ok, I'm done.

But seriously, Herbie is absurd and surreal, with laugh-out-loud hilarious moments. And the pristine silver age art just adds to the strangeness of it. Such weird and wonderful stuff.

If you're not familiar with Herbie Popnecker, I'm going to provide a pictoral tour through Herbie Archives volume 2 ('cause that's the one I have on hand), so you can get to know him. If you are familiar with Herbie, feel free to post your favourite Herbie memories or your Herbie fanfic.

So, Herbie:

Herbie is more hip than happy. And by, "hip" I mean, "fat."

He speaks in a curt monotone, like he just can't be bothered to use articles when he says anything.


This is one of the reasons why Dave came to the conclusion that Herbie may have been Alan Moore's inspiration for Rorschach.  Herbie is a sort of anti-hero, an abrasive, sardonic fat kid, who you eventually can't help but root for.

He's inexplicably famous, he can time travel, and every woman alive is voraciously attracted to him.

His Dad's a total dick, but that don't bother Herbie none. 


But the best part is, Herbie is unapologetically fat. He loves his lollies and feels no shame about it.


 Herbie's no yo-yo dieting Kirstie Alley.

Dude calls his superhero alter ego THE FAT FURY! That's some serious plump pride.

One time, Herbie went to Canada, and it was possibly less confusing than when the Archies did. It also resulted in this panel:

In honour of Fat Week, I'll leave you with a montage of Herbie getting some serious play.



 P.S. Living Between Wednesdays contest: the first person to get this tattoo...


 ...wins my undying love and respect.

Hip-happy Heroes Part 6: The Futuristic Finale!

Hip-Happy Heroes comes to its inevitable conclusion with the tale of the proudest fatty of all: the indomitable Bouncing Boy!

Bouncing Boy, aka Chuck Taine, is a special case, as he didn't just become fat, he started out fat and got fatter. In fact, Chuck was one of maybe ten fat guys left in the far-off and evidently calorie-conscious world of the Thirtieth Century, and possibly the only one who wasn't a decadent crime-boss or corrupt politician. No, Chuck was a simple delivery boy in a blue suit:


Even the moost brilliant scientist has a fatal flaw, however, and this one's was his extreme frugality. More specifically, his tendency to put top-secret formulae into old pop bottles instead of investing in proper transport containers.

He probably should have spent a bit more money on his delivery guy, too, instead of hiring Chuck. See, Chuck is the stereotypical fat guy, which means that a) he has no self-control, and therefore is unable  to resist stopping off at the robot fights on his way to deliver the fluid.

b) He can't go fifteen minutes without a snack of some kind, so he buys himself a pop from a vendor.


And c) he's just a bit stupid. So not only does Chuck pick up the wrong bottle, he, like Jimmy Olsen before him, manages to drain the whole foul-tasting thing before he realizes that he's probably just poisoned himself.


 Happily, this all takes place in an origin story, so not only does Chuck gain the power to turn into an even fatter guy and bounce around instead of staying the same size and dying, but he isn't fined and/or jailed for destroying an important scientific discovery. Presumably he was fired, but that just paved the way for him to join the legion of Super-Heroes and eventually marry a girl who could split into two. So... good job on the gluttony, Chuck.

Of course, the saga of Bouncing Boy doesn't end there. As is the fate of most extremely silly characters, ol' Chuck was somewhat... despised by a fair number of people. And so, the Matter-Shrinking Projector was deployed.

Suddenly, Bouncing Boy was no longer a fat guy who could swell up like a balloon, he was just a skinny guy with a bad haircut. As was always the case in such situations, he was immediately (mostly) booted from the Legion and started devoting all of his time to picking up chicks.

"There we go." said the writers, dusting their hands, "No more fat guy troubles for us." But! The show was not yet over. I'm not sure if Bouncing Boy fans started voicing their displeasure or if a fat guy in the Legion was just right somehow, but the idea wouldn't go away.


The forces of irony must have had a hand in making Superboy the second Legion fatty, considering his terrible behavior when introduced to Iresa: during the terrible reign of Dynamo Boy he was given a two-panel dose of Bouncing Boy's power before being summarily booted from the clubhouse.I don't think that he learned anything from it, but it sure was fun to watch.


Not long after, the entire Legion was imprisoned by arch-fiend Nardo, and the intrepid Matter-Eater Lad attempted to eat his way to freedom. Captured and due to be executed, he was saved by Superboy, but the strange interaction of ray-gun and Kryptonian youth caused a curious change in the lad from Bismoll:

Yes, the curse of Bouncing Boy had struck again! Now the boy who was dinstinguished by his constant eating was morbidly obese! Oh, the humour!

Finally, though, during the Legion's struggle with the villain Evillo (the man so determined to get his point across that he dressed like the Devil) the universe righted itself:

Evillo's chief scientist, a man with a lot of issues to work through, acted as a deus ex machina to fix all of the Legion's physical defects: one-armedness, excessive fat, fat deficit, etc. Finally all was right with the world. Worlds. Galaxy-wide planetary federation.

So for those of you keeping track, Bouncing Boy started out fat, got fatter through the effects of something that should have killed him, got skinny through the influence of something that probably shouldn't have done what it did, briefly got fat again (not pictured) thanks to some crazy ray and was finally restored to his old self for good by a semi-insane scientist with an upside-down face. What fun!

Now and forever, friends, HIP-HAPPY MEANS PLUMP!





Hip-Happy Heroes Part 5: Hip-Happy Supporting Cast!

Hip-Happy Hero: Jimmy Olsen

It was pretty much inevitable that transformation-prone Jimmy Olsen would eventually end up as a big ‘ol tubb.

1. How’d He Get So Big?

Well, it’s like this: Jimmy Olsen, cub reporter, is visiting the lab of Professor Potter, omniscientific genius and weird situation generator for the Superman family. The professor isn’t at home, but is kindly assistant Dr Rance is perfectly willing to give Jimmy a tour and a drink.

Big oops: that wasn’t a soda pop at all! No, Jimmy has managed to absent-mindedly drain a full bottle of thyroid-stimulating vitamin formula without noticing that it didn’t tast the least bit like wild cherry.

But never fear - after all, as Jimmy points out, the formula was designed to work on ANIMALS, not HUMANS.

No, wait. How does biology work again?

2. What Were The Social Implications?

Jimmy Olsen might hold the record for most indignities suffered while temporarily fat. Firstly, there’s the issue of clothing:

He has to wear a barrel until Perry White can dig up something that might fit his expanded girth,

And then all that Perry can dig up is an old Santa Claus suit. It’s like drawing a big line under the fact that the poor kid is so globular. To his credit, though, Jimmy tries to lead his life as normal until Professor Potter can cook up some antidote to his crazy drug. To that end, he accompanies Clark on an assignment to see how… planes… fly.

Please note: a) engine trouble! and b) those people contentedly enjoying their pool while a gaggle of sad children watch them are really big jerks.

As a result of a), everybody bails out of the plane, which is when the next indignity kicks in: big fat Jimmy is too heavy for his parachute. Happily, Superman is available to steer the poor heavy bastard into the b) pool, though the jerky inhabitants of such just can’t resist getting in a few digs while he’s doing so.

At least there’s a happy epilogue.

Finally, Jimmy heads to the circus, where he becomes embroiled in the sordid lived of Mr and Mrs Montaine, the Fattest Couple in the World. Willing to do anything to keep the coveted Fat Couple position at a traveling carnival (and who wouldn’t? I’m sure that they were living in the lap of luxury), Mrs Montaine throws herself at Jimmy to keep him from replacing her too-thin husband. Having a forced date with a large woman isn’t the half of Jimmy’s troubles, however:

Lucy Lane, that most fickle of love interests, doesn’t even give Jimmy the opportunity to explain his predicament. All that matters is that he’s been thrown over by the fat lady - Mrs. Olsen’s boy sure can pick ‘em, hey?

3. Well, How Did He Lose the Weight?

Skip that, all he did was wait for that antidote I mentioned - he didn’t even drink it on-panel, for heaven’s sake. No, the conclusion of this story was not made interesting by the slimming of Jimmy, but rather by the revelation of why Dr Rance had fattened Jimmy up in the first place.

Yep, it was all a complicated scheme to smuggle 300 pounds of stolen jewelry, hinging on the fact that a Maharajah owed Jimmy his weight in riches. How do you plan something like that? How do you coordinate the mad science, the unlikely generosity from foreign dignitaries, the fickle nature of the lab assistant job market? Most importantly, how do you do all of that and then get caught out on the detail that the devoutly Hindu Maharajah wouldn’t go around gorging himself on beef and booze?


Hip-Happy Hero: Lois Lane

Wouldn’t you know it but Lois Lane suffered a very similar fat (er, fate) in her own magazine:

And Superman was an ass to her for the whole issue.

1. How’d She Get So Big?

Actually, it’s a pretty similar story:

Slightly mad scientist, this time working on plant growth. Accidental exposure to, in this case, a ray. Slightly more justified optimism about the ray’s efficacy on humans.

Surprise morning fatness…

2. What Were The Social Implications?

Lois doesn’t get too much flak from regular folks - actually, there are a series of really nice fat ladies in this issue, the ones in the car above being my favourite - but since this is the old-school, obsessed with marrying Superman Lois, she basically worries about keeping her problems from him in every single panel.

This is only exacerbated by the fact that Superman keeps going out of his way to mention how fat she is. Note that he has no complaints about carrying two ladies and a compact car in his other hand, although I guess that there's no reason that he couldn't have shamed them a bit off-panel.

"Gee, these European imports sure are solid - felt like I was carrying a tank! OR WAS THAT YOU TWO?"

No amount of diet or exercise seems to have any effect on Lois' weight. Desperate, she heads to the fair in order to forget her troubles:

Man, what is it with carnies and fat people? Lois isn't exactly huge - does this guy yell that at every largish person who walks by? Does he think that it's charming? I'll bet that he makes off-colour jokes at weddings and then hits on the bride.

The carnival trip isn't just an excuse to showcase the failings of Metropolis society, however. It's also the place where the truth comes out.

Y'see, earlier in the week Lois had witnessed a crime but the criminal was so nondescript that she couldn't give the police a useful description of him. She had resolved to watch for him in her day-to-day activities. Evidently, he had made a similar vow, yet was stymied by the fact that Lois was unrecognizably fat.

Because Superman had made her fat to disguise her! Yup, he'd caused the growth ray to shine on Lois and blown her up like a balloon, and then taken the opportunity to make a lot of jokes at her expense. Hey, it's Truth, Justice and the American Way. Nobody ever said anything about Not Taunting Fatties. but don't worry, Lois gets her revenge: faced with impending ray-based thinnification, she makes Superman take her out to dinner and just pigs the hell out.

YEAH! Take that, Superjerk!

It's a fact: Hip-Happy Means Plump!

Hip-Happy Heroes Part 4

Hip-Happy Hero: Superman


Ah, Big Fat Superman. I had never read the story in which he appears before looking it up for this series of writings, but I was somehow positive that he existed, somewhere, in some extremely chubby form. Big Fat Superman is my new symbol for everything that is right about comics.

A little set-up for Big Fat Superman: one day, Lois Lane and Clark Kent are visiting some thinly-disguised analogue of NASA in order to cover the unveiling of their new surface-of-Mars simulator. By some crazy random chance, Clark is randomly chosen to be the random reporter to have a whirl in the simulator.

Suddenly, something crazy happens in the simulator, and Clark is forced to use his super-powers to flee the scene, fake Mars lander and all. But what could rattle so cool a customer? What could shake those nerves of steel?

BAWOOM! Explosive super-fattening, that’s what!

1. How Did He Get So Big?

It’s a bit of a complicated story, actually. Tell you what: I’ll let an alien with a moustache tell it:

So: Superman drank some bad juice, but because he’s Superman he didn’t die, he just got really fat. Makes perfect sense, really - the most remarkable part of the whole thing is that it’s one of the few times that something like this has happened to Superman and he hasn’t mentioned that there must have been kryptonite in the juice or the stopper or something. It was, like, a reflex action for him back in the day.

2. What Were the Social Ramifications?

As per the newscast, the affections of the people of Metropolis were extraordinarily fickle. Save the city form destruction five times before breakfast, sure, thanks, we love you. Show a little human frailty, though, and WHAMMO! They drop you like a hot potato.

And of course there was always the issue of Lois Lane to deal with, but for once her snooping was fairly easy to deal with: Clark - with the aid of some A/V Club knowhow - just pretended to be radioactive for a few days. Whether he eventually had to fake a long struggle with cancer in order to put her off the trail yet again is an issue left unaddressed.

3. Well, How Did He Lose the Weight?

Boring old exercise, AGAIN. Superman-style, of course, so it involved digging holes and smashing things and so on, but still… so conventional.

4. Could His Method be Used By the World at Large?

Better not risk it.

Hip-Happy Hero: Superboy

Yes, Superman must have been having flashbacks throughout the course of his journey through obesity, because pretty much the exact same thing happened to him when he was a kid.

Oh, some of the details were a little different, to be sure. Clark leaves Smallville for a few days and when he comes back finds the entire student population of the town fat as can be. He takes the opportunity to make fun of everyone for a bit, but then:

COMEUPPANCE! Soon Fat Superboy is soaring through the skies of Smallville. Since everybody else is already pretty tubby, there’s not too much made of his sudden loss of condition. The perennial “snoopy dame” problem does crop up, however:

It WAS some pretty sloppy cover-up work, really. Superboy allays her suspicions pretty rapidly, though - Lana Lang might be observant, but she’s also gullible as hell.

But what caused all of the fattening in the first place? Superboy is stumped until he gets help from a couple of giant hogs:

Yes, it’s another case of beverage malfunction. Seems the local agricultural college had been using rays to speed the growth of corn, and though the rays had no effect on animal tissue, the corn, when fed to cows and the converted into milk, did. And guess where Smallville High got all of its milk?

Like Superman, Superboy worked off his flab with a series of eXtreem eXercises. Once again: boring. However, and lucky for the junior citizens of Smallville, he also goes to the trouble of figuring out how to de-biggen them without resort to exertion (good thing, too, because most of them seemed content to just keep on being chunky).

Yes, it’s a wonderful example of why all inventors should make sure that their creations run in reverse: cows fed on shrunken corn produce people-shrinking milk! Hooray! I expect to see Shrinkilac on store shelves by Summer!

Keep the dream alive: always remember that Hip-Happy Means Plump!

Hip-Happy Heroes Part 3

Hip-Happy Hero: Fatman

Only two days into my epic, week-long Hip-Happy marathon, I cheat! Unable to discover a comic in which Batman gets real fat (not that I'm not certain there is one, mind you) I instead give Fatman!

All of my rules and fancy questions are out the window! This is a public service announcement for everyone who has never heard of Fatman, the poor fools! View and weep!


Fatman is a member of a strange class of characters that you don't see any more, the clown who dresses up like a super-hero. Green Arrow had one named (I think) Green Error, Superman had the Ugly Superman and Batman had Fatman, who parodied his crime stylings at the local circus.



Trouble was, Fatman wasn't content to merely ape Batman's style and rake in mad circus cash. No, he legitimately wanted to be a crimefighter, a crimefighter who got to ride in a car. 


Happily for Fatman, Batman is never one to let an easily-fulfilled wish go unanswered, and he offered to take the sad little clown on his nightly patrol.

Things go wrong, however, and Batman and Robin end up being captured by the nefarious-but-poorly-named Red Mask Gang. But even though Fatman had been told to stay in the car and play the radio to keep himself entertained, he sallied forth to rescue his hero!


Oh no! Was it all in vain?


Heck no! Fatman, though not a fighter or a detective like Batman, was disguising his true purpose: to bust the Dynamic Duo out of their makeshift jail cell and let them take out the  Red Mask Gang once and for all! And he does, and they do! Hurrah! Fatman is a credit to fat guys and clowns everywhere.


 As I'm sure Fatman knows: Hip-Happy Means Plump!