Adventures of Jerry Lewis #121 (November-December, 1970)
"Schnook and Ladder"
"Pizza Pie in the Sky!"
"A Boob in the Woods"
"Low I.Q. High SNAFU"
Sole (signed) Credit - Bob Oksner (artist)
Probable Writers - Alan Riefe & Howie Post
Probable Editorial - Murray Boltinoff & Carmine Infantino
Cover Price: $0.15
Never let it be said that we are not purveyors of some pretty strange comic books. As if comics aren't strange enough... today we're going to discuss quite a pip.
I don't have much of a history with humor comics... nor Jerry Lewis. Growing up, outside of his annual MDA Labor Day Telethon signalling that Summer vacation was over and my return to school was imminent, I didn't really know much about him... still don't really. Most folks who know me "in real life" know it's pretty hard to get me to sit down for any period of time to watch a movie... though, I did see a bit of that really uncomfortable interview with him that was floating around the internet a few months back. That was a rough few minutes!
As with many books of the time, the credits are a bit nebulous. I was able to deduce Oksner's involvement because... well, he signed his work. The rest of creative comes from the wonderful resource, The Grand Comics Database. I figure they'd know better than me!
Our first story, Schnook and Ladder, begins with Jerry meticulously oiling and over-securing his brand-new bicycle to a lamppost outside the fire station. He is invited in to play checkers for money,
Jerry heads down the fire pole to give chase... with his super-oiled hands, making it rather slippery. Wouldn'tcha know it... at that very moment the fire-alarm goes off and he is soon piled under a gaggle of firefighters. One burly fireman grabs him by the seat of his pants to throw him out of the station... and unfortunately, right into the back of the fire engine. Our man can't drive... hell, he can hardly ride a bike!
It's a wild ride as to be expected, including Jerry steering the rear into a whole mess'a stuff... including a pickup truck full of chickens! One such bird lands on our man's head... and lays an egg in his mouth. Umm... glad this isn't in first-person!
Finally Jerry and the gang arrive at the sight of the fire. The engine screeches to a halt sending Jerry flying, and... wouldn'tcha know it, he winds up atop the ladder as it ascends all the way to the top of the building... where he meets the source of the "inferno", a fire-eater. Whoops.
The two dangle from the top of the ladder... they're both afraid of heights, ya know. Jerry looks into a convenient skylight to see the thieving thugs with his bike!
They both fall... the fire-eating lady safely lands in the life-net below, Jerry falls through the skylight where he finds the baddies spray-painting stolen bikes. He suddenly shows some uncharacteristic bravery and threatens the goons! I'm not sure if Jerry had some sort of brave-guy alter-ego any time he bonked his head or anything... either way, he starts blasting them with paint!
Before we know it, we're in full-blown Splatoon! mode, paint everywhere. Jerry knocks over a crate that conveniently (?) had a lit torch resting on it... it falls and starts heating up a box...
... of popcorn! The sound of the popping corn is mistaken for machine gunfire, and the baddies give themselves up.
We wrap up with Jerry not recognizing his own bike because it's covered in paint. Though, to be fair, he hasn't had it all that long yet... he's repeatedly said he's only made one payment on the thing. The Fire Chief turns the hose on him... and the bike before telling him to get out of his face.
We follow up with the short subject, Pizza Pie in the Sky!, and in it Jerry applies for a job at a pizza place. I'm thinking a lot of these shorter pieces have to do with Jerry taking on new jobs... we've got another one ahead of us. Anyhoo... he's about as adept at making pizza as you might expect.
A couple of tiny children arrive and start giving him a hard time. When their pie winds up in the belly of a bird, they threaten to beat the hell out of our Jerry... and I'm not sure that's an idle threat!
The story ends with Jerry tossing dough with such a severe "spin", that it takes flight... with him attached to it! He flies away from the pizza stand as his boss informs him he's fired. No duh.
A Boob in the Woods begins with Jerry attempting to play the guitar, much to the annoyance of his nephew, Renfrew. Jerry, as we might expect, is terrible... so terrible in fact, young Renfrew kicks him out of the house. Not sure it oughta work that way... but we'll play along.
Jerry winds up in the (back)woods, and starts a'strummin'. As soon as he plucks his first string, he finds himself in the middle of a hail of gunfire. He attempts to flee, and finds himself running smack into Shacknasty and his family of odd cretins. They inform him that he's a'comin' with them.
They take him to their creep-cabin, and make him play with their jug band. It's almost like we're watching one of those awful episodes of Andy Griffith where they sit around singing, hooting, and hollering.
Outside we meet Maw Jugbender and her three sons (all named Irving) as they wrap up a sing-along. They are at odds with the Shacknastys (Shacknasties?), and now that Jerry appears to have joined them, they are out-gunned by one. As they run off with their rifles a strange fellow emerges from behind a rock. He has a tape recorder, and he has designs on the Jugbenders.
The Shacknastys wrap up their jam session, and head out to kill them some Jugbenders. Jerry uses this opportunity to make a hasty escape. As he flees he hears the horrid twang of Shacknasty music, which causes him to freeze. Lucky for him, it's not the 'nastys, it's that strange fellow from earlier (we now know he's Wardell Schvetz)... he taped the Shacknasty jams (on a second tape-recorder). He offers $200 to Jerry to help find them, but our man insists on $140 so he might pay off his guitar. Master negotiator!
They decide the best way to draw them out is to continue playing the recording of their "music"... and whattayaknow, they immediately start shooting! This causes Jerry to trip and fall on top of both tape recorders... causing the Shacknasty music to sync up with the Jugbender vocals! It's hillbilly music magic!
Jerry and Wardell are able to smooth out the differences in both back-woods families. Schvetz offers to become their agent, and make them all rich and famous.
They all load up into the Schvetz-mobile, and Jerry is handed his dosh. We wrap up with Jerry returning home to his disappointed nephew. He's decided to spend his earnings on... a tuba! Renfrew runs off to the deep woods... and is never seen or heard from again.
Our final short is Low I.Q. High SNAFU, and is another "Jerry gets a job" story. This time he applies to a hardware store, and unfortunately the gig isn't for "sign-tearing", because he's pretty good at that!
The job is painting a flagpole, which is no biggie for our man. Before we know it, he's sitting atop a freshly painted pole. That sounds dirty, I apologize. The joke here is that he should have started from the top and worked down... but he didn't.
Unfortunately for Jerry, his jerk-ass boss gave him slow-drying paint... so he's gonna be stuck up their all night. Mister Boss tosses him a sandwich... and Jerry spends the night getting pecked by birds. Whoops.
I was prepared to dislike this. I thought it was going to more annoying than entertaining... and I was (mostly) wrong. This was so much more fun than I expected... despite the cover copy, it wasn't quite ha-ha funny, but comfortable and inoffensive enough to enjoy.
I really thought there'd be more to say about this... but there isn't all that much. This is a humor book... the art was on-point, even if many of the gags were not. The jokes were hacky, but had a bit of a charm... and I swear if I squint hard enough, it's as though I'm reading a comic starring Pee-Wee Herman.
I do appreciate that Jerry is something of a menace to just about everyone around him. Nobody seems to wanna give him the time of day... unless they can scam a cool couple bucks off of him. I think we all know that one person we kinda wince when we notice, and hope they didn't notice us... and that's Jerry Lewis... at least the comic book version anyway.
I like the way this book is formatted. The longer bits separated by shorter-subjects really breaks things up. It gives the reader a breather and change of scenery, and it's definitely a net-positive for the book. The shorts are just a single gag stretched over a few pages... the payoffs were silly, but it was a nice break from his longer-form misadventures.
If you're interested in checking this out... you'll probably be shocked to find that this has... not been collected, nor is it available digitally. I can't say you need to go out of your way to track this bugger down, however if you're a fan of comics history and odd novelties, I wouldn't sway you against nabbing an issue of Jerry Lewis (or Bob Hope) if you come across them for a good deal.
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