"Is this some sort of joke, man?"

§ October 30th, 2006 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on "Is this some sort of joke, man?"

So I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of Flying Saucers Stories #5 (Oct. 1969) lately…we recently acquired a copy in a collection and, as is probably evident from some of my posts over the last week, I just can’t put the thing down.

I like how it’s marked as a “collector’s edition.” Clearly it’s marked as such because…um, it has UFO stories? You know, unlike the rest of the issues of Flying Saucers Stories? Maybe it’s the rare treat of a Frank Springer cover.

Before I stopped darkening your virtual doorstep with stories from this funnybook, I did want to at least show you this one last story, “Far Out Physical.” Dig the title font…I seem to remember a time when you couldn’t get away from that particular typeface:

The single caption on the first page splash sets up the story:

“Carl Romain, gentleman farmer, connoisseur, horse breeder and dog fancier leaves his large house on a clear fall evening to walk his favorite show dog on the remote back portion of his country estate. Curious about an odd light glowing in a rear meadow, Carl Romain investigates…much to his great surprise!”

And sure enough, Romain takes his dog, Earl of Derby, out for a walk, and stumbles upon a landed UFO, its occupants pouring out of its portal:

And, like pretty much every alien in this comic (save for the fellas…excuse me, “MEN” on the cover), they’re colored a bright white. No “Greys” here, pal!

Romain’s not going to put up with any shenanigans from a bunch of trespassers, and gives them a stern talking to:

Even when the alien critters start getting a little touchy-feely, Romain doesn’t lose his cool:

Now, in a couple of those previous panels, you may have noticed something. The aliens are clearly speaking, but the word balloons are empty. This wasn’t an error…this is the story’s conceit, its shorthand for our inability to understand the alien language. On the face of it, it’s a clever idea, letting an empty word balloon be a symbolic representation just on its own, without filling it with random gibberish or pictures indicating speech.

But after three and a half pages (out of a six page story) that look like this:

…Well, whatever cleverness existed with this particular storytelling choice begins to get silly (or gets sillier, depending on your point of view) through repetition. I would bet money that the vast majority of the copies originally sold of this issue had these balloons filled by their young owners in short order. (And probably filled by some of you in short order as well, you rascals.)

Anyway, the aliens run Mr. Romain through a number of tests (as pictured above) and apparently make a plaster cast of his body, to…I don’t know, mass-produce copies of him back on their home planet, I guess:

And then they let him and the Earl of Derby go, just in time for the shocking “lost time” ending:

And yes, his assistant is named “Sims,” who is no relation, I’m assuming.

So, first…granted, we didn’t see him in his best light, but Romain sounds like a bit of a humorless jerk. I guess we need to take the “gentleman” part of “gentleman farmer” from the opening caption at the narrator’s word. Er, and the “farmer” part, too, I suspect.

Second, again going back to that opening, there frankly wasn’t enough horse breeding in this story. I guess there was some dog fancying, though. And what was he a connoisseur of, exactly?

Third, I would have liked to have seen a sequel, where the aliens unleash a bunch of Romain-duplicates on Romain’s country estate and they wander around, threatening to throw trespassers in jail and basically being dour and cranky. And fancying dogs.

Four, calling this “Far Out Physical” implies, at least to me, groovy aliens taking advantage of half-naked hippy chicks, not pasty-faced critters probing some stodgy middle-aged landowner. Poor show, sirs, poor show.

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