Monday, July 18, 2016

Sugar and Spike #97 (1971)

Sugar and Spike #97 (September, 1971)
by Sheldon Mayer
Cover Price: $0.25

We got Sugar, we got Spike, we got Raymond and Henry (the Nervous Angel)... all that and the opportunity to win ten American dollars for writing our own bad-ass comics page (which... as luck would have it, the kid (?) who owned this gem back in 1971 DID do)... 

Funny thing, I rescued this comic from a Half-Price Books just last night... and saw that the spine was a bit off center.  Off I go searching online for a cover image I can use... lo and behold, the best one I find (and several of the not-so-best) has the same pulpy scoliosis.  Go figure...


Our first story opens with poor Spike standing in the corner.  I miss the days where a kid can stand in the corner and it not be referred to as "time out".  Sugar pops her head in the window, and asks what's the haps.  Spike claims he's been wrongfully incarcerated for knocking over a lamp... it was all their damn cat's fault.

Sugar is pleased to reveal that she's learned two words in "grown up talk"... hey, let's keep it clean Sug'... that will fix everything... and so, to test her theory, she goes on a rampage throughout Spike's house.  When Mrs. Spike comes a'calling, Sugar speaks the two magic words "I Sowwy!".

Mrs. Spike immediately grabs Sugar and celebrates that she's started talking.  She runs next door to share the news with Mrs. Sugar.  After she's outta the picture, Sugar and Spike put their heads together and decide that "I'm sorry" means "The cat did it".

With this discovery, Sugar believes she's found her "get out of jail free" card, and can cause as much havoc as possible and get away with it.  Spike, being the conscience of the duo tries to stop her from further sullying the name of his fine cat.  Their spat is short-lived, as a passing by motorist crashes his car into Spike's fence.

The kids run out to get the skinny, and find the man explaining the situation to Mrs. Spike.  The pair are shocked when he says he's sorry... thinking he's trying to pin the entire thing on the poor cat!

The tots chase down the walking road hazard, and push him into the wall with their off-brand Radio Flyer, when an officer wanders by.  The road warrior wonders just why in the world the kids wanted him to stand in the corner... the end.

Our next story stars Raymond.  Who's Raymond?  Hell if I know.  Anyhoo, he's in the middle of a field in his playpen.  That doesn't seem safe, now does it?  In the background there are some older kids playing ball.  A bird lands in the pen and steals a loose thread from the lad for it's new nest... it's quite the chilling scene.

Raymond is upset that he can't fly away like the bird did, and laments that the only use he has for his non-flight granting hands is the that they have thumbs that he can suck.

At that very moment, we shift scenes... to Heaven!  Here we meet Henry, the Nervous Angel.  He's been shuffled from job to job in Heaven... failing-up so well that all politicians should be taking note.

He is given one job... taking an envelope with the words "Good Luck" written on it to the filing cabinet.  Well, Henry is not only a nervous angel... he's kind of jerk angel.  He opens the envelope and finds that there's a pink cloud inside of it.  Like a doofus, he drops it... and it falls directly into Raymond's playpen.

Ray bobbles the cloud until it falls to pieces.  Suddenly Ray's got the strength of... well, maybe a slightly older child.  He lifts the playpen and sneaks his way onto the ball field... where he just so happens to catch a long fly ball.

The ball-playing kids argue about their being an extra man (as it were) on the field.  It's decided that if Ray Ray's gonna play, he's also gonna have to bat.  Long story short, he manages to accidentally hit a home run.

Back in heaven, Henry and his new supervisor worry about the logistics of the "Good Luck" prayer being used without the proper forms having been filled out.  We close with Henry readying himself for his next transfer... in a much warmer climate.  Wonk wonk...

Our third tale is a shorty.  Some bratty neighbor kid is playing on a pogo stick, while Spike looks on in awe.  The jerk kid realizes Spike's interested, and so leaves the pogo stick unattended... hoping that poor li'l Spike at best makes a fool of himself, and at worst... dies in a pogo-related impalement.

Over the next page we see Spike nearly do just that.  If I were a betting man, I'd say he'd likely caused some brain damage here... clearly his gigantic skull hasn't yet hardened fully, he's lucky to still be walking after some of the bumps he's taking.

As luck would have it, Sugar happens by.  She's acting quite protective of her "doll-boy" here, and wants to give bratty Arthur his pogo stick back, her way.  They press the thing into the fence, and launch it straight for the little jerk.  I guess two attempted infanticides makes a right!

In our fourth... whew... story, Sugar and Spike spend some time together in a dark closet... not like that... Spike wants to show off his new flashlight, or as he calls it his "handful of day-time".

Inside the closet, Spike shines the light in Sugar's direction... which throws her ponytailed shadow upon the wall... Spike thinks there's a large horned monster in there!  Sugar grabs the light and shines it at Spike... his shadow resembles a creature with wings on its head.

The pair run out of the closet and proceed to barricade the beasties inside.  Somehow, Spike loses his pants here.  The sound of furniture being pushed across the room finally draws the attention of a grown-up... Spike's father.  

He proceeds to make things right and much to Sugar's chagrin, puts Spike's pants back on.  Weird.

Spike needs an adult!
The cycle repeats a couple more times until Sugar and Spike realize that the monsters only appear when the flashlight is turned on.  Easy peasy... just toss that bad boy in the garbage, and your house is monster-free.  the end.  This story, I might add was written for Sharon Moir (Age 8) of Clifton, New Jersey.  Hopefully Sharon's the kinda person who googles her own name... maybe she'll find us!

Finally... the final story... and the one the cover is based on.  Sugar and Spike hit the beach!  After some water-fight shenanigans, the pair head toward the angry sea.  As they approach, Spike's dad bellows in their direction... the proceed nonetheless.  What they find is the sea bellows just as loudly and they both get clobbered by a wave.

Spike's dad retrieves the tots and plops'em on the beach blanket.  Spike's mom believes this might give the poor boy a complex about water.  What follows is a couple of pages where Spike's parents continually toss a terrified baby into the ocean.

That night back at Casa Spike, the lad decides he's going to "make friends" with water... and so, overflows the bathtub causing thousands of dollars in mold damage to their home.  For this infraction, the poor boy gets the weakest spanking ever put to pulp.  the end.


Okay, now I'm not gonna lie to you and say this was some amazing must-read book.  It was super fun, and it's a really neat novelty piece...

The art is very nice, probably better suited for a newspaper strip or something, but still very nice.  One thing that was weird is that in all but one of the stories they took special care not to show what Sugar or Spike's parents looked like (even going as far as placing the speech bubbles in front of their faces)... but in the epic flashlight joint, we get the full view of Spike's folks.  It's always a surprise seeing just how much story is crammed into these older books.  Such an incredible value.  Even if you didn't like one of the stories in the book, you were still ahead of the game.

I'd say if you can get your hands on one of these, go for it... just for the novelty of the thing.  I wouldn't spend too much on it, however.  It's sad that the current generation of comics fans (okok, let's not kid ourselves... the same old generation that still buys comics) will think of Sugar and Spike as the detective duo in that ridiculously-priced Legends of Tomorrow book, rather than the precocious tots that they were way back when.  I will say, however, if we ever get a Henry, the Nervous Angel Rebirth... all will be forgiven.


Fun Stuff:

Think this is worth $10?  Sadly, I cannot take credit for it... it was already in the book when I got it.

Carmine dropping truth bombs on the recent DC Comics price increases.

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