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A Review By: Bookgasm

The following review by Rob Lott appeared on his web site Bookgasm, which seeks to highlight books to get excited about.

When you brazenly put a superlative in the title of your book — whether ‘best’, ‘worst’ or whatever — you’d damn well better be ready to back that shit up. Paul Gravett and Peter Stanbury knew this, obviously, when compiling Holy Sh*t: The World’s Weirdest Comic Books. About the only sin of omission in this hilarious hardback is the cake-taking crossover The Punisher Meets Archie.

From all stretches of the globe and stretching back about eight decades, our duo has unearthed some unique issues that will give you a serious case of the WTFs. Just flip open to a random page. There’s You Nazi Man, a 1930s parody in which Hitler is served a severed penis on a plate… and he asks for ketchup! See what I mean?

With each of the dozens of examples, the cover and a sample panel are reprinted on a full-color spread, and supplemented with a half-page explanation for background purposes… because, believe me, you’ll want to know how a Malaysian comic book graphically depicting the tortures of Hell ever came into being. Gravett and Stanbury have clearly done their homework… assuming you can call research on comics of amputees enjoying carnal relations homework.

A smattering of the books spotlighted are from major publishers — DC is represented by the hippie-dippy Brother Power: The Geek; Dark Horse gets singled out for Godzilla vs Barkley (as in Charles) — but most are from unknown and underground outfits, plus hired-hand gigs for Christian publishers and various safety boards. There are a few “names” involved, including Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel (here with ‘superlover’ Jon Juan), Steve Ditko (Mr. A), Otto Binder (Tod Holton, Super Green Beret) and, for those auto maintenance mags he did for the military, Will Eisner.

On one end of the spectrum, you have something as happily innocent as Teen-age Romances (with now-amusing lines like “That little cheat will do anything to hold Dick!”). On the other end — far, far on the other end — there’s something like Sh-t Comics, which is a glorified Tijuana bible update. For every The Gospel Blimp, there’s a Tales From The Leather Nun.

Other oddballs include Cold War scare stories, a Mexican Batman parody, an anti-smoking creed, 1947’s All-Negro Comics, a topless Spider-Woman from Italy, a career primer starring Popeye, a Jeffrey Dahmer biography, Ronald Reagan as a superhero and a sex-fantasy thing with an ultra-niche “special extra large lesbian unicorn issue.” (In case you were wondering, it’s the issue that’s extra-large, the authors note.)

For the antiestablishment names on your holiday shopping list, this would make a perfect gift. Name one other title that will school them on Elsie the Cow and gay truckers within a single flip of the page.


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My Books

Comics Unmasked by Paul Gravett and John Harris Dunning from The British Library

Comics Art by Paul Gravett from Tate Publishing

1001 Comics  You Must Read Before You Die edited by Paul Gravett

All contents © Paul Gravett, except where noted.
All artwork © the respective copyright holders.