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Memo to Acclaim: Now I Get It

(This  Stripped column originally appeared in the January 22-28, 1998, Long Island Voice. Click on the artwork for a larger image.)

by Beth Hannan Rimmels

'NUFF SAID:

"Woody — this is a murder investigation. Frank Marshal is an arms dealer — a dangerous felon who could walk in at any minute."

 — Quantum

"Which means watching TV is bad, right?"

 — Woody in Quantum and Woody: The Director's Cut

Despite appearances, I'm not always as organized as I should be, which can lead to apologies. Around the time this column launched, Glen Cove-based Acclaim introduced Quantum and Woody, a new superhero series, and publicist Steve Vrattos dutifully mailed me copies. But it was crazy here and the premise sounded odd so I didn't get to it right away. I also kept misplacing the issues so that I never read them in order.

But even though I wasn't clear as to what was going on, what I did read was a lot of fun. So much fun that my guilt has been compounding weekly. Luckily, Acclaim released Quantum and Woody: The Director's Cut ($7.95), a trade paperback compilation of the first four issues plus bonus pages. Do yourself a favor and get a copy now. If you like superheroes, it will tickle you.

The tag line for the series is, "The world's worst superhero team," which our heroes more than live up to — these guys truly suck. But as a book, they're great. Their misadventures play out along the lines of TV's The Odd Couple, as in "Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?" Felix and Oscar have nothing on Eric Henderson and Woodrow Van Chelton. The pair grew up in upscale Connecticut, where their dads owned a scientific research firm. Even as kids, Eric was the buttoned-down serious one and Woody was headstrong and a magnet for trouble. They lost track of each other when Woody and his mom moved away after a divorce. The two meet again at the funerals for their fathers, who both died in a helicopter crash.

They only tolerate each other to investigate their fathers' deaths. Can you say comedy of errors? One thing leads to another, including each donning an armband designed by their dads even though they have no clue as to what it's for (how's that for brilliant?). They then end up in an accident that fuses the bands to their arms and requires them to touch bands once every 24 hours lest they revert to an energy matrix.

It sounds convoluted but the fun is in the characters. Eric is a West Point grad, stick-up-the-butt type that only Clarence Thomas could love. He has managed to complain to Woody about being oppressed while also insisting to a cab driver that his blazer being torn necessitates an emergency trip to his tailor and referring to the kids who ripped his jacket as "those black guys."

Woody was always a bit of a smartass and Eric seems to bring out the worst in him. Woody left the lap of luxury after his parents' divorce and has "interfaced" with the cops. He knows street lingo because he has hung out there. He's the type who asks a girl for a date during a hostage situation. Eric leaves a building by going out the window and climbing down the side. Woody takes the elevator to the ground floor.

The series is a blast. I liked writer Christopher Priest's work before and loved M.D. Bright's Icon art (check out the Milestone in-joke on page 44 of the trade). The series is inspired by their own relationship, which sort of worries me.

If you want an antidote to angst-ridden superheroes in need of Prozac, Quantum and Woody definitely deserves a look. A second trade paperback covering issues #5-8 will be out in April.

And for those Stripped readers from the Web, writer Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Mr. Punch, Stardust, Neverwhere) resumes his Guardian Angel Tour to raise money and awareness for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving First Amendment rights for creators and retailers in the comics community.

Gaiman will give dramatic readings from his short stories, including tales from his books Angels and Visitations and The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish. Gaiman will also premiere new stories from his upcoming book Smoke and Mirrors, due out in October from Avon.

Gaiman will appear in the ballroom of the Queen Mary in Los Angeles on Feb. 12. Acclaimed science-fiction author Harlan Ellison will introduce Gaiman. On Valentine's Day, February 14th, Gaiman will read at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. The tour concludes on February 16th at the Crocodile Club in Seattle, and will also feature musical performances by several local bands. All shows start at 8 p.m.

Due in part to donations by White Wolf Publishing, all proceeds from the Guardian Angel Tour will directly benefit the CBLDF. The Guardian Angel Tour, which stopped in New York City last April, has so far raised more than $30,000 to continue the fight censorship in comics.

General admission tickets for the Los Angeles reading are available for $20 each; premium seats are available for $50 each. The Los Angeles appearance is being underwritten in part by 21st Century Comics. For additional information and tickets, please contact Barry Short at 21st Century Comics, (714) 663-3440.

In San Francisco, tickets start at $10, with $50 premium seating also available. The San Francisco stop is being underwritten in part by Comix Experience. For tickets and information, contact Brian Hibbs at Comix Experience, (415) 863-9258.

All tickets for the Seattle show are general admission and cost $10. The Seattle reading is being underwritten in part by Fantagraphics Books. For tickets and information, contact Eric Reynolds at Fantagraphics, (206) 524-1967.

In addition, Neil Gaiman and CBLDF merchandise will be available at all the readings.

Information and tickets for all of these events can also be obtained through the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund at (800) 99-CBLDF or http://www.cbldf.org.

 

Column 1998 Long Island Voice. Artwork 1998 Acclaim.