Back in my Season 12 Journal, I noted how one of the spin-off options the MST3K crew chose to explore was a comic book adaptation published by Dark Horse in which they would riff public domain comic books. But how, you may ask, would such an endeavor be realized?
Well, it wasn’t easy. The first idea was to mimic the show by superimposing the Shadowrama image at the bottom of each panel, from which speech bubbles were emitted with riffs concerning the action. It quickly became apparent that this wasn’t going to work, as the panels got far too crowded. So, taking a page from What’s Up, Tiger Lily? and Fractured Flickers, Jonah, Tom, and Crow became characters in the comic books. In addition, Gypsy, M. Waverly, and Growler would do the occasional lean-in to deliver their own riffs.
Though the comparison to What’s Up, Tiger Lily? and Fractured Flickers is somewhat misleading. Rather than having the storyline rewritten wholesale, the original script remains more or less intact, though with several alterations. In that respect, it’s more akin to the infamous gag dub of the anime series Ghost Stories.
So how does the SoL crew wind up trapped in a bunch of nickel-and-dime publishing company comic books? Well, it would take a scientist to explain. But instead, here’s Kinga with the lowdown.
As seen above, she demonstrates by inserting Max into the Bubbulat-R and feeding in an issue of the whimsical, cutesy-wutesy Funny Animals. It does not go well for him.
Having determined that the process is completely unsafe, it’s now time for Jonah and the Bots to endure their own trials as the Satellite of Love is flooded with Kingachrome medium.
First off is the 1960s comic book series Johnny Jason, Teen Reporter, who investigates an attempted kidnapping of a teen movie starlet and whether it was real or a publicity stunt. Only now, it’s Tom Servo appearing in the lead role. And later, in your nightmares.
To give Jonah and Crow something to do, Kinga decides to add in an issue of the 1940s costumed crimefighter comic book Black Cat (not that one, the other one), with Jonah taking on the Rick Horne role.
Crow, being the rebel he is, breaks free. He then finds himself interacting with some leftover residue from a prior test run of the EC-style horror anthology Horrific.
New technologies like the Bubbulat-R are expensive to develop. Sponsors expect some return for their investment. As with free streaming services like Tubi and Freevee, this means ads.
Of course, there are some who take umbrage at such brazen commercial intrusion in art. No matter how poorly drawn it is.
Since the series concluded nearly four years ago, there has been no word of any more such undertakings. It’s probably for the best. While this take on a different medium was an interesting and often amusing project, their true passion is riffing movies and shorts. At the end of the day, it’s probably better for them to stick with their core concept and not get too sidetracked by these alternate ventures.
I actually wish they’d followed up and come out with more of these. I like having MST3K I can read on the can.