Loose Cannon: Issue #43

Fri, November 9th, 2001 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Larry Young, Columnist

UNCLE SLAM

Well, that's it, then. It's been a solid month of the U. S. military

dropping bombs on Afghanistan, and from where I sit, wearing my

"Brooklyn FDNY Squad 1" t-shirt hand-carried on an actual plane flight

for me by the genius Brian Wood, brought past the security guards armed

with M-16s straight out of JFK airport… it doesn't really look to me

like it's really been all that effective.

Sure, it's gotten folks who normally wouldn't give a thought to such

things to address their new-found patriotism, but there are those who've

always sort of had a thing for the ol' red-white-and-blue.

Ande Parks is one of those guys. Ande's done a book that most people

haven't heard of, because he didn't solicit his work through the direct

market. You can only get his collected Uncle Slam stories from him, at a

convention, or ordered from Ande's

website.

But Uncle Slam and Fire Dog is definitely worth seeking out,

especially now. Because who doesn't need to read a comic book about

America's greatest hero, now living in hiding and hunted by the very

country he'd sworn to protect? With a robot dog. And a hole in his head.

And a bubble pipe. And his girlfriend, the former CIA agent.

Here's the introduction I wrote for the Uncle Slam and Fire Dog

trade paperback collection; see if this doesn't make you want to get a

hold of a copy and forget what's going on in the world for a day or so:

God bless America.

No; really.

Maybe it's the fact that my grandfather was one of the tired, poor,

huddled masses yearning to breathe free when he was a boy of eight years

old, and sailed into this country with his sisters from the Ukraine.

Maybe it's how his by-the-bootstraps, rough-and-tumble youth in Hell's

Kitchen in the 1920s was glorified in our family with the gauze-filtered

reverence of a Francis Ford Coppola film. Maybe it's how it was

impressed upon us that America is the land of freedom, and while his

journey was one of hardship, it all fell away when he saw Lady Liberty.

Or maybe it's because I was an impressionable pre-teen when our country

was gripped by an orgy of national pride in 1976.

Maybe it's Bill Murray's speech in the third reel of Stripes.

Whatever it is, I've always had a big ol' soft-spot for the unapologetic

American patriot.

And whether he wants to admit it or not, so does Ande Parks.

You can tell.

Ande, as well as his partners-in-crime, Phil Hester, Gordon Purcell, and

Andy Kuhn, all, to a man, embrace unashamedly what is, at first glance,

a bit of an old saw in comics: the Great American Hero. In these pages,

you'll find the Average Joe sacrificing himself to Do Good for His

Country; you'll find a powerful hero bedecked in the ol'

red-white-and-blue; you'll find the trusty sidekick, the shadowy

government forces, the villains, the gadgets, the wry pop culture

references, the subtle winks to the audience... in short, you'll find

all the trappings of the standard superhero...

...and Ande and the boys turn it all on its head.

Just when you think you know where it's going, the story careens right

up to that Big Clich...

...and makes a deft and skillful ninety degree turn, and we're all off

to the races.

It starts in the logo, believe it or not. It says Uncle Sam ostensibly,

in the stencilled letters the military uses, but between the S and the

A, shouldering its way into the type, is what looks to be an

afterthought. There it is. An L. Uncle Slam. Before we

even pick up the book, the logo puts us on notice that this

story, this character, these guys responsible are going to take our

expectations and give 'em all a good shake.

Then you open it up, and it's a roller coaster blur of goodness.

The main character: right out of Hollywood casting: chiseled jaw,

confident pose. Stars on his barrel chest and a US belt-buckle. But he's

blowing bubbles out of that Fred MacMurray pipe, and his eye's been shot

out. The dog is the brains of the outfit.

You just don't see comic books like this in the Ukraine.

Only in America.

God bless America.

No; really.

Uncle Slam Dot Com. Tell Ande I

sent you his way.

Some of the men have obviously been shot, but not bad enough to drop

them. We're back far enough to make out the details of the environment,

now: the absolute middle of larry@comicbookresources.com

Of course, most answers to simple questions you may have about me or my

company can be gleaned from http://www.ait-planetlar.com.

While you can get your news about the funny books all over the Internet,

I usually make it a point to let slip at least one bit of information at

the Loose Cannon Message Board that I post nowhere else.

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