Sunday, November 23, 2008

It's CRAZY, I Tells Ya!

A long, long time ago, I wrote for Crazy Magazine, Marvel's answer to MAD Magazine. While MAD was and remains an institution (and knowing the MADmen as I do, I can vouch for the need for one to hold them), Crazy was, at the time--late-1970s/early-1980s--way more cutting edge. I think it had something to do with the fact that Crazy had nothing to lose and editor Larry Hama (yeah, the G.I JOE guy) liked anything that made him laugh. So did co-editor Jim Owsley, now known as the immensely talented writer Christopher J. Priest (not the British science fiction writer); Jim wrote the hysterical parody, "The Brownstones," the Flintstones done with the sensibility of 1970s Blaxploitation flicks.

You could take chances at Crazy; over the years it drew some very funny stuff out of many writers, including Marv Wolfman's "Gaspar the Dead Baby," the "secret origin" of Casper the Friendly Ghost (if he's a ghost, he had to have died; the grisly story of how is told here, a tale that prompted Casper owner Leon Harvey (of Harvey Comics) to express his shock that anyone would publish such a story; obviously Casper is a different life form and not an abused child killed by lunatics parents. Who doesn't want to play in that sandbox?

For several years, I wrote the movie parodies for Crazy. I did a few dozen, from Star Wars to Superman (several of each), Apocalypse Now, The Shining, American Gigolo, Popeye, The Howling and on. We couldn't get advanced screenings or scripts, so I had to wait until the film came out, see it at the theater and take copious notes, then run home and write something very fast so it could get drawn very fast and then into print fast enough that people might still remember the movie by the time the magazine hit the stands. Sometimes, we planned to parody a movie that, upon release, didn't turn out to be what we expected or simply tanked, at which point we'd pick a new film and run with it.

Two such films were Ghost Story (starring Fred Astaire and John Houseman...what could possibly go wrong?) and Warren Beatty's Reds. Personally, I hated Ghost Story (I have no use for horror movies; I find them stupid and they don't scare me...it's kind of my job to know when something is going to jump out of the dark) and I loved the Reds. There's also a shot at Whose Life Is It Anyway?, a film about a total paraplegic who wants to die while a shrink tries talking him out of it. Somehow, we didn't think this was a winning slate for the kids, so we dumped it all and I parodied something else. I don't recall what, but I did get paid twice that issue so it wasn't a total lose.

Here's the script I wrote, from 1981. If it looks weird, it's because I wrote it on something called a "typewriter." Google it. And, as always, click on an image to view it at a readable size.










3 comments:

The Tone King said...

Crazy was one of the most influential works on me as a young man that inspired me to make mini-comics. While I've yet to gain notoriety for my work (HAHAHAHAHA! By making mini-comics! As if that would ever work!) I still look back to Crazy and Kaspar and The Brownstones and so much more as wells for inspiration. Thank you for making such a great magazine!

negro frankenstein said...

Excellent! I will agree that those last couple of years of Crazy had a huge influence on me. There was something almost surreal about it. Steve Mellor completely knocked me out. The Boy Sprout Handbook, the Brownstones, Fin Fang Foom, Peepeye... I am in the process of re-buying them all, one by one. Without Crazy there would be no Negro Frankenstein: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alfrankenstein/sets/

negro frankenstein said...

PS, your Casper story knocked my brain through the back of my brain.

One of my few times grieving was the last issue of Crazy. I looked for another issue th next month, hoping it was all a joke, but nothing....