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Bunny No. 12
Sunday, April 29 2007 @ 11:16 PM PDT|
Contributed by: MacQuarrie
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April, 29, 2007
Issue #1154 of 1156
Issue: Vol. 1, No. 12
Date: November, 1969
Publisher: Harvey Publications, Inc
Cover Artist(s): Hy Eisman
She’s hip! She’s mod! She’s boss! She’s embarrassing! Yes, it’s BUNNY, the beautiful, blonde teenage “Queen Of The In-Crowd”, who started out as a girl’s doll – that never existed! This time, she’s leading a “yvoorg” tribute to Native Americans! Also, don’t miss Bunny’s little sister, Honey, in a “zoovy” story titled “Expanding Your Consciousness”! Plus, everyone’s favorite ODDBALL COMIC superhero and “superpeachy crime cruncher” -- Fruitman -- is here, too! Face it, gang – the Swingin’ Sixties were never like this! (And aren’t you glad?)
If this cover featuring blonde and red-haired hippie “Indians” wasn’t un-“P.C.” enough, check out those awful puns! But puns-by-the-ton was a staple ingredient of BUNNY. Unfortunately, this issue of BUNNY contains not a single situation that is remotely similar to this cover!
BUNNY first came into existence when a toy company approached Harvey Comics with a proposal to co-create a counterpart to Mattel Toys’ “Barbie”, with its own line of accessories, including a car, a house and a boyfriend. The gimmick that made Harvey’s participation necessary was that the doll be directly tied into its own comic book series. When the toy company went out of business, its deal with Harvey fell through, so the publisher decided to publish the comic book without the toy tie-in. Drawn by cartoonist Hy Eisman, and originally written by Warren Harvey, a son of one of the publishers, the first issue of BUNNY was cover-dated December, 1966, the first of the company’s “Harvey Teen” comics. A “Harvey Giant”, BUNNY was a thick 64-page funnybook until its 19th issue, when it shrunk to 52 pages. Without the doll aspect, BUNNY was Harvey Comics’ attempt to compete with Archie Comics’ wildly successful line of comics starring teenagers. In her early stories, Bunny Ball wasn’t much different than Archie Andrews’ blonde girlfriend Betty Cooper, just an average, gorgeous American teenager. But it wasn’t before long that Harvey’s brass decided that BUNNY needed the sort of obsession shared by the rest of their stable of characters. Just as Richie Rich was surrounded by wealth, Little Lotta constantly craved food and Little Dot had the unique obsession of loving anything with spots on it, Bunny’s schtick was to keep up with and embrace all of the latest fads and trends in fashion, music and general youth culture foisted on American teenagers. But since the folks running Harvey were all middle-aged men, completely out of touch with the cultural changes sweeping across late-60s America, Bunny’s obsessions bear little relation to reality. Therefore, the BUNNY comic book features no mention of the illegal drug use, morality-free promiscuity and acts of outright revolution in which many American teenagers were indulging. Instead, the squeaky-clean “Queen Of The In Crowd” concentrated on the most superficial traits of the hippie era: hairstyles, clothes, jewelry, “psychedelic” display lettering and coloring, music, dances, etc. BUNNY’s writers even attempted to replicate the slang of the youth movement, but instead of doing their research – would it have killed them to consult their teenage children? -- they came up with slang – “Yvoorg” (“groovy” spelled backwards) and “zoover”, among them -- that never existed outside of an issue of BUNNY! In fact, the entire series seems to depict a version of the Swingin’ Sixties that never existed! The series also borrowed two gimmicks from previous comics from other publishers; like Marvel’s MILLIE THE MODEL, Bunny worked as a model, and like “Bossman” Bill Woggon’s KATY KEENE (published by Archie), her book would encourage reader participation in the form of submitted hand-drawn designs for hats, dresses, hair styles, vehicles, etc. Bunny also had a little sister who was slightly reminiscent of Katy Keene’s younger sibling, Sis. Additionally, Bunny had her own arch-enemy, the brunette, slightly witchy Esmeralda. With BUNNY No. 20 (December, 1971), the series ended its five-year run…almost. Because five years after that, a 21st issue of BUNNY appeared on newsstands, cover-dated November, 1976, the final, last-gasp issue of BUNNY was published, and it consisted mainly of reprints and inventory material. Harvey Comics also published two issues of another related “Harvey Teen” funnybook, HARVEY POP COMICS -- the second issue of which was titled ROCK HAPPENING (November, 1969) -- features many of the fictitious rock groups introduced in the pages of BUNNY. Perhaps comic book writer/historian Don Markstein expressed it best when he wrote, “A Bunny story could never be reprinted without looking like a late 1960s period piece.”
BUNNY cartoonist Hy Eisman was born on March 27, 1927, in Paterson, N.J.. "Cartooning has been a passion with me since I was five... it hasn't abated!" he’s said. Raised in an orphanage, Hy was first exposed to the “funny pages” in most of the newspapers published in the New York area, with Chester Gould’s DICK TRACY, Alex Raymond’s FLASH GORDON and Hal Foster’s PRINCE VALIANT all particular favorites of his. Hy began his career as a cartoonist when he created a comic strip for his high school newspaper, but near the end of World War II, he entered the US Army. The war ended while Hy was still in basic training, so he was assigned to a hospital unit at Camp Pickett in Virginia. He started drawing for the army base’s newspaper, THE CAMP PICKETT NEWS, a publication that was started by noted cartoonist Bill Mauldin. There, Hy met and worked with another aspiring cartoonist, future creator of PLAYBOY magazine, Hugh Hefner. After Hy got out of the service, he attended The Art Career School in New York City’s famous Flatiron Building. There, he became good friends with Frank (RED SONJA) Thorne and Al (ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE) Kilgore. Since the Kefauver Committee’s investigation into the comic book industry was severely affecting the funnybook business, Hy first big break was not drawing comic books but instead, drawing valentines for the Fuld Company on a freelance basis. At the same time, Hy developed a local comic strip that featured the goings-on in and around New Jersey, which he self-syndicated. Around this time, Hy also began “ghosting” Bil Holman’s SMOKEY STOVER comic book for Dell Publishing, thanks to a tip from Frank Thorne. He also began to work for Richard Hughes, the editor and primary writer of the American Comics Group after a recommendation by Kurt (SUPERMAN’S GIRL FRIEND, LOIS LANE) Schaffenberger. Then, at a National Cartoonists Society meeting, Hy approached Alfred Andriola, inquiring if he needed any help with his popular comic strip, KERRY DRAKE. (A few years earlier, Hy had auditioned for work on the strip, but was turned down.) Since Andriola was spending a lot of time working on the development of a new comic strip, IT’S ME, DILLY, he was in need of an assistant on KERRY DRAKE, and hired Hy in 1950 in that capacity, “ghost” penciling the detective strip. In 1959, he lost his gig on KERRY DRAKE when Alfred Andriola returned to penciling the strip, but thanks to a recommendation by Lank (MICKEY FINN) Leonard, Hy began working on the development of JOE PANTHER, a comic strip based on a series of novels written by Kelly Masters under the name “Zachary Ball”. The strip was about a Seminole Indian private detective operating in Miami, Florida. Although the property never sold as a comic strip, despite some promising offers, it was eventually adapted into a feature film, JOE PANTHER (1976) starring Brian Keith and Ricardo Montalban. Following this frustrating experience, Hy began to get a variety of assignments in comic strips and comic books. He “ghosted” daily strips of King Features’ BRINGING UP FATHER for Vernon (THE SHADOW) Greene, as well as doing uncredited work on Chic Young’s BLONDIE. Hy also began drawing stories for comic books, including Gold Key’s BORIS KARLOFF’S TALES OF MYSTERY, TOM AND JERRY and LITTLE LULU, as well as a single issue of Harvey Comics’ RICHIE RICH and, of course, BUNNY. In 1967, soon after Hy started working on BUNNY, he received a call from King Features, asking him to take over the Sunday pages of the Jimmy Hatlo-created comic strip, LITTLE IODINE – a kid-strip spin-off of Hatlo’s THEY’LL DO IT EVERY TIME -- which was being written by Bob Dunn and drawn by Al Scaduto. After years of “ghosting” other cartoonists’ features, it was the first strip that Hy was allowed to sign with his byline. (Dunn continued as the writer of LITTLE IODINE.) Hy left the strip in 1986. Since 1976, Hy has been teaching lettering at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, New Jersey. With the demise of LITTLE IODINE, Hy took over the creation of the Sunday editions of King Features syndicate’s THE KATZENJAMMER KIDS in 1986, which remains the oldest comic strip still in circulation in some fifty newspapers all over the world. (The strip, created by cartoonist Rudolph Dirks, began over a century ago on December 12, 1886.) Hy continues to draw the feature, following such former cartoonists as Harold Knerr, Doc Winner, Joe Musial, Mike Senich and Angelo De Cesare. In 1994, Hy Eisman began doing the Sunday installments of the King Features syndicate’s POPEYE newspaper comic strip, created by E. C. Segar in 1919 as THIMBLE THEATRE; Popeye himself was introduced in the strip in 1929. In addition to Segar, Hy follows former POPEYE cartoonists Doc Winner, Bela Zaboly, Bud Sagendorf and Bobby London. He currently continues to write and draw the Sunday POPEYEs. In 1975 and 1984, the National Cartoonists Society awarded Hy their Reuben Awards’ division award for “Best Humor Comic Book Artist”. In 2002, as the current American cartoonist drawing "Braccio di Ferro" – that’s Popeye’s Italian name; translated, it means “arms of steel” -- Hy was invited to visit Milan, Italy to participate in "Cartoomix 2002", attended by about 45,000 people over three days. Hy and his wife Florenz, who he married in 2004, currently live in New Jersey
This issue’s 9-page lead story features “Bunny And Marcy” in “The Great Camping Scare”, drawn by Hy Eisman. It begins as Bunny and her African-American girlfriend Marcy are dropped off n the wilderness by Marcy’s boyfriend, Gideon – leader of Harvey’s non-existent funk-rock group, “The Soular System” -- after a “zoovy flight” in his psychedelic-painted helicopter:
MARCY: BUNNY BALL:
I wonder what he means?
Well – you can never tell what you’ll find up here in the mountains!
The two girls take a hike up a scenic trail, climbing a mountain. But on their way up to its peak, they keep hearing a loud growling, which they convince themselves is a ferocious grizzly bear. Then, when Bunny gathers wood for a campfire, she reacts to some even stranger sounds:
Terrified by the weird noises, Bunny and Marcy fearfully visualize their possibly monstrous sources. After cooking hotdogs for dinner, their pinch their tent, but as the sun sets, they hear even more of the unearthly sounds:
And these noises are followed by more growling! Scared for their lives, Bunny and Marcy take off, running through the woods, until they unexpectedly run into Fredric, long-haired guitar-player in the rock group, the Beagles.
Fredric! Are we ever glad to see you!
Way, what are YOU doing here, Fredric?
The Question – my dear girls – is what are YOU doing here? The boys and I came up here for a SECRET REHEARSAL – follow me – We’re experimenting with some revolutionary sound effects – Meet Beethoven the bear!
Soon, Bunny and Marcy join the Beagles – and their trained, chained grizzly bear – as they rock out in the wilderness (although the question of where they’re getting power for their electric guitars is never addressed!)
Also included in this “giant” 64-page issue of BUNNY are the following stories, features and advertisements:
- A black-and-white, inside-front-cover ad for a variety of practical jokes, gadgets, tricks and miscellaneous novelties, all available through mail-order from the “Johnson Smith Co.”
- An introductory page – re-using some of the cover-art – to this issue of BUNNY -- drawn by Hy Eisman --featuring these Oddball song lyrics: “We swiftly stomped the Indian STAMP…While the phantasmagoric fire lit our CAMP…We did not dance to bring down the rains from ABOVE…We danced to ring in joy and LOVE!”
- “It’s Me – The Supergroovy Esmeralda” in “The Dancing Contest”, drawn by Hy Eisman. – Esmeralda and her crony, the Bottleby Kid – who considers himself to be “the greatest dancer in the world” -- push their way through a crowd to get into the Kaleidoscopic Zoo to practice for “a zoovy dance contest for all you zoovers”. Once inside, Esmy really takes over, ordering the house band, “Marmalade Mirage” to play a “special beat” to show off her “fabulous sense of rhythm”. The more Esmeralda and Bottleby dance, the more they annoy each other, but they’re too determined to win the dance prize to admit it. After dancing a “fast frug”, the contestants line up to be assigned their entry numbers…and wouldn’t you know it, Esmy and Bottleby both wind up with the number 13. Then, the contest’s judges are introduced: Elmira Puff (“groovy Kaleidoscopic Zoo waitress”), The Soul (“of souls, Gideon”), Professor Snugg (“ballet critic and Terpsichore historian”) and Myrtle Bimblebam (“famous TEENYBOP magazine editor”). The dance contest begins, with the contestants gyrating to the sounds of the Marmalade Mirage – which includes a cute blonde singer with the proportions of the Mamas And The Papas’ Cass Elliot! When Esmeralda and Bottleby botch their dance-moves, Esmy winds up dancing on her egotistical partner’s backside. Finally, the dance contest’s judges arrive at a decision – Couple No. 13 are the winners…in the “Most Comical Dancing Team” division!
- “Bunny Ball Fashion Design – Honor Award Winner”, three dress designs submitted by Alice Braun of Napoleon, North Dakota, re-drawn by Hy Eisman.
- “Bunny” in “Newsing Your Mind!”, drawn by Hy Eisman. – While reading a copy of the DAILY PANDEMONIUM, Bunny falls asleep and dreams of wacky visual interpretations – including a pussycat who thinks in Hebrew! -- of the newspaper’s headlines. When Bunny finally awakens, she addresses the reader, asking, “Aren’t YOU glad you’re reading such a peaceful soothing COMIC?”
- “Special Offer! New Mod ‘I’m IN With Bunny’ Pop-Art Poster”, an ad for a “groovy-zoovy decoration for your room of BBIC Clubhouse”, available via mail-order from “Bunny Ball”.
- “The BBIC Is Happening!”, an ad for membership in “The Bunny Ball In-Club”, including “an (sp.) groovish ‘I’m IN With Bunny’ pop art button” and “an (sp.) yvoorg BBIC membership card”, all for 25¢ and available through mail-order from “Bunny Ball”.
- “Bunny And Honey” in “Expanding Your Consciousness”, drawn by Hy Eisman. – When Bunny catches Honey hanging by her knees from a chandelier, her little sister explains, “Oh, Bunny…You don’t understand! You see, Sis – I’m trying to expand my consciousness! The world looks completely different upside down – you wouldn’t believe it! And it’s extremely important to experience new and diverse visions of the world these days!” Later, Mrs. Ball sees Honey wearing a glass fishbowl on her head; her daughter explains that she’s trying to see things from a goldfish’s point of view…and it’s “really mind-blowing!” Then, Mr. Ball encounters Honey, who’s covered with a sheet. He thinks she’s “playing Casper The Friendly Ghost”, but she’s merely attempting to see life “from a mummy’s viewpoint”, describing the experience as being “Mummysville”. The next day, Bunny finds Honey surrounded by flowers, with her feet buried in a box full of soil; she’s seeing things from “a petunia’s point of view”. In an attempt to “rescue Li’l Sis from her silliness”, Bunny arranges for “Honey’s dreamboat doll fave-rave date” Walter Wondersound to drop by the house to take Honey to the movies, but Honey is so immersed in “flowerism” that she fails to notice the doorbell ringing! That’s all it takes to snap Honey out of her obsession with expanding her consciousness; she vows that she’s “turning over a new leaf”!
- “Dear Reader”, a one-page text feature, illustrated by Hy Eisman, supposedly written by Bunny Ball herself.
- A page featuring two advertisements: “Order By Mail Specials”, an ad for decals, magic tricks “crazy” signs and other novelties, available via mail-order from “Dollar Bargains”; and “Boys And Girls!...Be Our Guests At Palisades Amusement Park N.J.”, an ad for a popular East Coast amusement park, featuring a coupon good for free admission and a ride on “Wendy’s Cups And Saucers”.
- “Your Letters To Bunny”, a three-page letter column, illustrated by Hy Eisman.
- “Bunny” in “A Dancing Romance”, drawn by Hy Eisman. – On a “special modeling assignment”, Bunny reports to the Bumble Bee Theater, where her agent, Mr. Dandelion, told her she was to meet a group of fashion photographers. Arriving at the theater, Bunny’s excited to see that Alexander Grandspin, the famous ballet dancer, is appearing there that night, with a dance partner named “Rose Bowl”. Waiting at the stage door, Bunny is greeted by a young man who mistakes “Miss Ball” for “Miss Bowl” and rushes her into a dressing room to don a costume, then into a rehearsal session. Meanwhile, outside the Bumble Bee Theater, the photographers arrive, but not finding Bunny waiting for them, decide to blow off their assignment and attend the ballet instead. At that same instant, across town, Rose Bowl lounges around her hotel room, as she decides to “teach the world how important I am” by not showing up for her ballet performance. Back at the Bumble Bee Theater, Bunny demonstrates that she’s naturally talented to perform ballet, but still assumes she’s there on a modeling assignment. The show’s choreographer tells Bunny to return to her dressing room; while she waits, she worries that she’s going to miss Alexander Grandspin’s performance. When Bunny hears that the curtain’s going up, the choreographer escorts her to the stage – where some of the other dancers are murmuring “Yvoorg” to themselves! – explaining that her partner “demands perfection in his ballerinas”. As the curtain lifts, Bunny finally realizes that she’s in a real ballet…and has no choice other than to start dancing! Suddenly, out of the wings flies Alexander Grandspin. The crowd goes wild – and so does Alexander, who’s “panting with love”!
- “Giant Electric........Doll House – Big Enough For A Child To Get Inside And Play”, an ad for “your little girl’s dream”, available through mail-order from “Honor House Prod. Corp.”
- -- “Fun Is A Harvey Comic!”, a one-page house-ad, featuring covers for RICHIE RICH, LITTLE AUDREY AND MELVIN, TUFF GHOSTS, LITTLE LOTTA, CASPER, SAD SACK, HOT STUFF, SPOOKY and LITTLE DOT DOTLAND.
- -- A page featuring two advertisements: “250 Magic Tricks Revealed”, an ad for a variety of magic tricks available via mail-order from “Magic Collection”; and “Hi-Power Binoculars – See Up To 18 Miles”, an ad for “powerful folding opera glasses” available through mail-order from “Hi-Power”.
- -- “Here Are The GIANT Harvey Comics Now On Sale!”, a house-ad featuring covers for BUNNY, DEVIL KIDS, TV CASPER AND COMPANY, SAD SACK’S ARMY LIFE, LITTLE DOT’S UNCLES AND AUNTS, RICHIE RICH DOLLARS AND CENTS, CASPER AND NIGHTMARE, LITTLE AUDREY TV FUNTIME, SAD SAD SACK, WENDY WITCH WORLD, LITTLE LOTTA FOODLAND, RICHIE RICH MILLIONS, CASPER’S GHOSTLAND and SPOOKY SPOOKTOWN.
- “Bunny Interviews Alexander Grandspin”, a fictional text-interview tying into “A Dancing Romance”, illustrated by Hy Eisman.
- “Bunny’s Whiz Quiz”, a test on “Bunny” trivia, illustrated by Hy Eisman.
- An untitled page of fashion designs submitted by various BUNNY readers, re-drawn by Hy Eisman. It includes such entries as “Esmeralda’s yvoorg peace marchers”, “Bunny’s zloony heart-stopping fashion”, “Bnnny’s mind-grinding ‘Rose Pleasure’” and “Bunny’s ultra-ultry mind smasher roadster”, a sports car.
- “Fruitman” in “A Whale Of A Tale”, drawn by Hy Eisman. – “Yes, it’s Percival Pineapple, our favorite fruiterer, who looks soooo innocent, but who is really the superpeachy crime cruncher, FRUITMAN!” While polishing apples at his fruit stand, plump Percival watches a TV new bulletin reporting that “Pebble Beach has become the mysterious landing for foreign spies!” When the newscaster claims that no one has been able to figure out how the spies are landing there, Percy decides that Fruitman needs to investigate this mystery. Transforming into a peach – poor Fruitman doesn’t even have a distinctive costume to call his own! -- he secretly hitches a ride in a bag of peaches he sold to Miss Droop, a sexy red-head on her way to the beach – or as a caption refers to it, “Ye olde fruit routine”! Once they’ve arrived, the Percy-peach transforms back into human mode and dives into the waves, where he turns into a watermelon “to pit his skills against the spies”…and is immediately swallowed by a sperm whale wearing a button that reads, “Agent W. W. Whale”. Inside W.W.’s stomach, the Percy-melon discovers two scuba-suited frogmen – the foreign spies! When the hungry enemy agents spot the watermelon – unaware that it’s actually Fruitman – they begin to chase it all over the traitorous whale’s innards, inadvertently tickling it! As the whale launches into a series of belly-laughs, he spits out Percy, who lands on top of a beachcombing seagull. Transforming back into a pudgy human being, Percival rushes to a nearby phone booth (on the beach?) and makes a call to the local police. Soon, the lawmen show up to apprehend the spies, their contact – and W.W. Whale! -- correctly attributing Fruitman as the person responsible for their unveiling! Percival Pineapple addresses the reader: “See you soon, fans! And whatever you do, don’t give away my secret identity!” (On the other hand, er, fin, all W.W. Whale has to say, er, think, is “GLOM!”)
- A page featuring two advertisements: “Boys 12 Or Older Make $1 to $5 Weekly In A Few Hours Of Your Spare Time, And Win Prizes Too!”, a ad soliciting for young door-to-door salespeople to represent GRIT, “America’s Greatest Family Newspaper”, from “Grit Publishing Co.”; and “New Casper Cartoon Show”, a house-ad for ABC-TV’s then-current animated series starring “Casper The Friendly Ghost”.
- “Famous Name Prizes Or Cash…From Olympic”, an ad soliciting for young door-to-door salespeople to vend seasonal greeting cards for the “Olympic Sales Club”.
- “Be A Sales Leader Who Picks The Prizes Fabulous Or Chooses The Cash” a black-and-white, inside-back-cover ad soliciting for young door-to-door greeting cards salespeople to represent the “Sales Leadership Club”.
- “If You Need Extra Money & You Know Just 10 People…You Can Make $50.00, $100.00, $200.00 And More In Your Spare Time – It Costs You Nothing To Try!”, a back-cover ad soliciting for young door-to-door greeting cards salespeople to represent “Wallace Brown”.
ODDBALL FACTOID – BUNNY cartoonist Hy Eisman also drew many stories for Gold Key’s licensed comic book adaptation of THE MUNSTERS television series!
Bonus ODDBALL FACTOID – Cartoonist Hy Eisman has drawn 1,635 pages of romance stories for Charlton Comics!
New Next Week: ODDBALL COMIC #1,172: MONDAY, MAY 7, 2007 – We’re proud to present one of the most obscure ODDBALL COMICS ever – COLOSSUS COMICS! And with features like is “Colossus A.D. 2640”, “Educational Adventures Of Panda-Lin”, “Lucky Lucifer, Flyer Of Fortune”, “Lum Sims”, “Mory Marine”, “The Tulpa Of Tsang”, “Blond Garth, King Of The Isles” and “Ruggey”, perhaps it deserves its obscurity! One thing’s for certain, this has gotta be a contender for the title of “Most Crudely-Produced Mainstream Comic Book Of All Time”!
For more from Scott Shaw!, visit his Web site at http://www.shawcartoons.com/.
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