Written by: Harold Buchholz, Joel Hodgson, Matt McGinnis, Seth Robinson, Sharyl Volpe, Mary Robinson
Host Segment Art: Todd Nauck
“In-Comics” Art: Mike Manley
MST3K is now a comic! On board the Satellite of Love, Jonah stumbles across a vent he’s never seen. Before he can look too much into it, Kinga Forrester calls in from Moon 13 with a new invention. Without much warning, Jonah, Tom Servo, Crow, Gypsy, and the rest of the bots are thrown into an unfamiliar medium; the world of Johnny Jason, Teen Reporter.
When I saw that MST3K was going to be in my life, in comic form, I was instantly excited beyond reason, but at the same time, very confused. I have loved MST3K since I was but a wee nerd. I remember stumbling across a VHS copy of The Brain that Wouldn’t Die (That’s right… VHS. Kids, ask your parents. Don’t Google it. And always remember to Be Kind!). From that moment, I was hooked. I still go back and rewatch Manos: Hands of Fate from time to time (because I enjoy life).
The best part of the show for me, was always the riffing. It’s why I watched. I even worked on a project called Spoof-n-Cinema for many years that was inspired by MST3K, (See: Blood Orgy of the Damned) and loved every minute of it (well almost every minute. See: Blood Orgy of the Damned). So going into this issue, I was very curious and concerned on how they would pull that off in a comic medium. Curious was the correct feeling to have. Concern was not. Joel Hodgson and this talented staff of writers remind me why I love this franchise so much. Pair that with the artwork from Todd Nauck and Mike Manly, and it’s like you’re watching a brand new episode in the series.
As I said, I worked on a project that was inspired by MST3K for many years. We played open domain movies with the volume off, and we redubbed the entire movie. New story, new sound effects, and new dialogue; most of which was improvised. I know how painful it can be to slog through some of the original movies trying to find fun anchor points for our story and really good bits to come back to if we were bombing. I also know how cheesy comics in 60’s could be and how some were just unreadable. Because of this, I was so happy to see that Jonah and crew get sucked into an actual comic from 1962 for their riff. My brain also wanted me to look at the actual comic while I read this, and it made me love this issue even more.
Johnny Jason, Teen Reporter #2 (http://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=33172) is as 1962 as the title would lead you to believe. A well know actress, Shelley Marks, is kidnapped in broad daylight, but a flat tire is all it takes for her kidnappers to run away scared (btw, are you really ditching a car with a flat tire, in the middle of gridlock traffic? Rude). Johnny Jason must go undercover to Shelley’s ranch in order to get the real story.
Tom Turbine takes on the role of Johnny Jason, and boy is he happy to have legs (although, now he can fly, so legs may be a step backwards… see what I did there. God, I’m clever)! The issue is filled with pop ups from Crow and the rest of our beloved bots, delivering quick one liners that just keep you engaged. My favorite part of the issue was the new dialogue (indicated with a small circle at the bottom of the bubble).It called out how ridiculous the story actually is, while also taking little jabs at the art style of that era (see: “My whistle is clogged!”).
One thing I have to make mention of is Mike Manley’s artwork. I liked Nauck’s artwork in the first few pages a lot, but the way that Manley incorporates the robots into the Johnny Jason makes it look as if they were meant to be there. Even when they add in panels that weren’t in the original (for some delicious product placement), it matches the original artwork perfectly. Without matching the original artwork like Manley did, I don’t know if this issue would have worked nearly as well. Yes, it would have been funny, but it would have probably lost its appeal quickly.
This first issue of MST3K brings us everything we loved about this show (and continue to love with the Netflix revival). If I am being perfectly honest, I enjoyed this issue more than the new season; and I very much enjoyed The Return! This issue shows that when done correctly, this format can work in any medium. Much like the show, there are a lot of bits that I am sure I will reference in everyday conversation (sure people will be confused, but I will be thoroughly amused). This issue only cracks into the first act of Johnny Jason, Teen Reporter #2, so there is still a lot more fun to be had, and I can’t wait!
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