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THE LEATHER NUN

A Review By: Tor Arne Hegna

The following review is by the Norway-based Tor Arne Hegna.

There are lots of funny comics out there, but the comics which the gentlemen Paul Gravett and Peter Stanbury document in The Leather Nun & Other Incredibly Strange Comics are so strange that they surprise even me…

The Leather Nun...  is built on the idea that one can judge a series by its cover. Well, not quite, so each comic is presented, 60 in all, also with a reference, where you have a short text with a picture sample, usually just a panel on one side from the series on the opposite page. In other words, smoothly and clearly.

The series presented range from Teen-Age Romances to Reagan’s Raiders (yes, that Reagan!). Here is the Hitler Jugend-turned-Jesus-fan, Muslim hell-descriptions, mail-order series for bondage fans, and super heroes you can hardly imagine. The vast majority are from either unknown comics creators, but you also get more familiar names who have stained their record. Names like Jack Kirby, Jerry Siegel, C.C. Beck and Steve Ditko are among those who get their famous name dragged down into the mud.

The texts related to each comic are to-the-point, often written with an ironic distance and spiced with lovely quotes from the comics, both in terms of dialogue and narraton.

Several of the comics presented are involuntarily funny, others are planned send-ups or reactions to social currents. A common feature is that several of the series came from the early 50’s, a time when the comic book market exploded in the U.S. and no genre was too remote to be explored, no concept too unheard-of to be tested. For some of the comics, such as the religious ones, we can assume that there is a genuine interest behind them, while most of the comics seem to be a calculated attempt to find the next big thing.

Regardless, the book is a source of great anecdotes and if you’re thinking of a textbook about comics that is not very solemn, this is a good choice.

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