Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Kernel Of Truth & Justice: Part 2 of 4

An old saying, dating back to the dramatists of ancient Greece, states that a super-hero comic is only as good as it's cast of supporting players. Imagine Superman without Lois Lane or Batman without Commissioner Gordan. Imagine a super powered piece of popcorn trying to fill 8 pages of comic book story without a team of talking critters and anthropomorphic vegetables to play off of. Dullsville is what it would be. Dullsville, USA, Population: 1. But toss in a wolf, a mouse and some evil bugs and you find yourself smack dab in the middle of Cornville! Population: wacky!

Hoot the wolf was Superkernel's best friend and he performed the duty that every super-hero's best friend has performed since the dawn of time- making his buddy look good. When you're a flying bit of junk food you need all the help you can get, so Hoot pulled out all the stops. He was twice as stupid and twice as cowardly as any sidekick need be, but he made up for it by having twice as much heart! Awww.

In the world of "Superkernel Comics" the cast knew that they were characters performing in a comic book to entertain young readers everywhere. But was the comic that we were reading the comic they starred in or were we reading about the 'backstage' adventures of a comic book performing troop? Sometimes it seemed one way and sometimes it seemed the other... especially when Rudolph S. Crummcake III was a part of the story. Rudolph was the comic book's producer and sometime narrator, but we also saw him interacting with the cast during the course of the comic. Confusing. Rudolph was crusty and cantankerous like Lou Grant and furry like Pogo Possum.

Mort the mouse doctor was a mouse who was a doctor. He was the designated corny joke teller of the group, Groucho with a stethoscope instead of a cigar. During the course of the comic book's run Mort courted and eventually wed his nurse/ receptionist, Mary Lou Flirtly...

Mary Lou was... how to put this nicely? Mary Lou was a bitch with a capital B-I-T-C-H. I think she was supposed to come across as fiesty and free-spirited, but at her best she could rarely rise above sociopathic. I get the feeling that there was supposed to be a kind of "Philidelphia Story" chemistry between her and Mort, but the two seemed to hit it off as well as Bambi and Cujo would. Witness-

And that was the nicest thing she ever did for him. Usually it was just unwarrented mental abuse on her part.

The Dewdrops were a bunch of identical walking and talking water droplets who mostly hovered around in the corners and backgrounds of panels. Like the Smurfs they were small and blue and apparently only had one female member of their species. (She had a ribbon tied around her... head thingie) Unlike Smurfs, the Dewdrops did not wear pants.

The one Dewdrop who liked to stand out from the crowd was Randy, a bad ass rocker and roller who often carried around a guitar strapped across his back and probably rode a motorcycle although I can't remember for sure. Also can't remember if Randy had a last name...

The Unecorns were another batch of cookie cutter critters, these being ears of corn. I assume that 'Unecorn' is meant to be a homophone of 'unicorn' but when I was little I pronounced it 'un-e-corn' and insist on doing so today. The bad guys in Cornville were always trying to kidnap the Unecorns. Presumably to shuck, boil and eat them although that's never specifically stated.

In the chart at the top of this post you may have noticed a punkish looking little Unecorn named Nibbles who is referred to as Superkernel's nephew. Well the only nephew of Superkernel who shows up in any issue of "Superkernel Comics" that I have is a pint size version of the hero himself sans cape and star-spangled tights. Perhaps I missed the very special puberty issue of "Superkernel Comics" when Nibbles blossomed into L'il Kernel as this young fellow is called. As far as famous cartoon character's nephews go, L'il Kernel is about as interesting as Morty and Ferdy.

There is another famous old saying (and this one is actually true!) about a hero being only as good as the villains he faces. Imagine Superman without Lex Luthor. Imagine Batman without The Joker. Imagine Superkernel without the Ugbugs. Go ahead. Do it. The Ugbugs are pretty lame and forgetable. If a hero's worth is measured by the foes he faces, then Superkernel is one of those dud kernels that don't pop and that hide in among the good kernels so that you bite down on it hard enough to break a tooth and then start tearing up right there in the movie theater, which makes the person you're with think that you are actually choking up over the death of the rule-breaking cop's partner when really all you've been doing during the whole movie is staring at the back of the head of the person in front of you attempting to beam your thoughts into his head and make him start jumping up and down like a monkey.

Big Bug was the leader of the Ugbugs. He was green and had four arms and had his initials tattooed across his thorax. If "Superkernel: The Motion Picture" was ever made he would be played by Jamie Farr.

Clarence was Big Bug's right hand man, a sort of Smithers to BB's Mr. Burns, except Clarence (in spite of his name) was not gay and did not harbor a secret crush on his boss. Clarence was blue and had four arms and sold real estate in his spare time. He once sold Hoot an old house that everyone thought was haunted. It was not really haunted although all men named Clarence really are gay.

Videot was the most front and center of the Ugbug gang's knee-breakers, which included Videot's green look-alike Tubes, and the scrawnier & yellow Dial. Videot was purple and had four arms and was once referred to as having hair all over his body even though he's a bug. What is bug hair called?

Tubes and Dial only appear in the background of one issue of one book that I own.

Baggly Bebop was a guitar-playing, cigar-smoking hipster and Superkernel's main non-Ugbug bad guy, although the evil duck did often work for and with Big Bug. Baggly was lead guitarist in the band "Bebop and Loolah," Loolah being the golden-tressed lead singing lady duck. The band's number one claim to fame was throwing a soc hop for the residents of Cornville that was secretly a trap to lure the Unecorns into Big Bug's clutches. The foul plot was foiled by Superkernel who showed up just in the nick of time and yelled at the bad guys who then immediately fled.

Baggly had his own unique speech pattern as evidenced in the panel below-

In later issues of "Superkernel Comics," even more baddies would find their way into the peaceful confines of quiet little Cornville. There was the swami alligator, Hypno and the alien scientist, Dr. Luune. In one particularly memorable issue all of Superkernel's arch-nemeses (technically an oxymoron) banded together into one uber-evil group-

"The Cornville Crime Club, Inc.!"
Starting from the far left, that's Hypno, Dr. Luune, Big Bug, Baggly Bebop, sporadically appearing Ugbug member Wagner and a duck in overalls who had never before and would never again appear in any issue of "Superkernel Comics." Maybe he was supposed to be a member of Baggly's band. (EDIT: While scanning the 'origin' issue for part 4 of these posts I noticed that Baggly and this duck are referred to in one panel as the "Be-Bop" brothers. So the two blue ducks are brothers... whoda thought?)

The next post will present a gallery of "Superkernel Comics" covers that will make a whole lot more sense to you now that you've got this comprehensive who's who of Cornville's elite to reference. Oooh! I've just had a brainstorm! A cross-company comic event- "Superkernel meets Bevo & Buford!" Four prestige bound issues written by Mr. Guy Gilchrist and illustrated by George Perez! My people will be getting in touch with their people...

1 comment:

TomH said...

Holy crap!! I have been looking for information on SuperKernel for years. Even Wikipedia comes up empty on this.

I haven't seen SuperKernel since the day when, apparently, my SuperKernel books were accidentally thrown out. I was beginning to wonder if I had just imagined them. Thank you so much for posting all this. I finally have proof again! :)

And I forgotten that the Gilchrists created this. That's very interesting.

Thanks again for all your hard work!!