Showcase #69 (July-August, 1967)
“Poor Richard’s Maniak!”
Writer – E. Nelson Bridwell
Pencils – Mike Sekowsky
Inks – Mike Esposito
Edits – Jack Miller
Cover Price: $0.12
Still in the interests of keeping things around here “light”, we’re going to take a look at the second (of three) appearances of the Maniaks in the pages of Showcase. I was really hoping to cover Showcase #71, which features the group teaming up with, of all people, Woody Allen… but, I came across this one first in my bin-room dig. By the time I found it, I was already a sweaty mess… and so, decided to quit before a longbox-slingin’ hernia set in. We’ll get to Woody though, I promise!
Anyhoo, as you can see… my copy of Showcase #69 is… uh, beat ta hell. Not too shabby for a quarter though! Anyhoo, I’ve wanted to discuss these folks for awhile, so without further ado…
We open with an introduction to our team… which, considering a) they’re incredibly weird, and 2) this is only their second appearance, makes a lot of sense. They are… The Maniaks, and their names are Flip, Jangle, Pack Rat, and Silver. Our spoilery splash-page reveals that Silver… is going to be married this issue… to a rich fella (named Rich!) who looks to be about twice her age… and probably smells like a mixture of casino carpet and breath. We’ll get there…
… but first, the story proper opens outside a New York Hotel, where it looks as though somebody is going to jump to their death! A Lou Costello-lookin’ Officer spies the jumper, and rushes into the joint… finding himself inside the room of Slim “Sardine” Pipdyke. The son of an Oil Magnate. The Officer pops his head out the window, and whattaya know, Flip of the Maniaks is just hangin’ out.
The Officer and Slim try and get Flip to remember all the reasons he has to live… his wife, his family, his family… the Alamo. When he reveals that he doesn’t know what the Alamo is, Pipdyke calls him a “Yankee” and demands he go through with his suicide attempt!
Flip thinks on it a minute, as a crowd begins to form down below. Firefighters show up with one of those trampolines they use to catch people jumping from burning buildings… and, here, Flip sees his chance to stir up some great publicity for that night’s rock show! He jumps… right into the trampoline! Kids… don’t try that at home.
Flip has such a good time, he decides to climb up the side of the building and give it another go! On his way up, one of the Firefighters claims he’d never spied a man who could climb buildings like him. Uh, ya geddit? Spied a Man… does whatever a Spy duh can? The Fireman is yelled at for plugging the competition… which is a lot of fun.
We jump to that evening at Shea Stadium, where the Maniaks are set to perform… annnnnd, the joint damn near completely empty! There are only four people in the crowd.
Turns out, these four folks are the Pipdykes (and company)… who reveal they’ve bought out the entire Stadium for a more personal show. The Maniaks are cool with that, and start rocking the place. Well, maybe “pebbling” the place is more accurate.
The mustachioed Pipdyke (this is Rich), asks Jangle to do some of his world famous impressions… which, I suppose is something Jangle is known for? His bio suggests he’s “The cat with the real wild sounds!” so, fair enough. Anyhoo… Jangle doesn’t disappoint.
After the show, Jangle recognizes the Pipdyke Crew as some old friends from school… Thomas, Richard, and Harrison (not to be confused with Tom, Dick, and Harry). Thomas Sampson is one of the strongest men walkin’ God’s Green… and Harrison H. Harrison is stupidly smart…
… finally, Richard Pipdyke XIV is… the son of the second richest man in the world. This is certainly enough to get Silver’s attention… and she thrusts her body into his direction. Looks like Silver’s diggin’ for Gold!
The Pipdykes promise the Maniaks a great night on the town… which gives them a great excuse to indiscriminately toss tremendous wads of dough around. First stop, a “posh” night spot, where the Maniaks are turned away for not complying with dress code and wearing ties. Richie the Pip steps away… buys the entire club… and lets the gang in.
Inside, the fellas are attended to by some “imported” Playboy bunnies… oh yeah, he bought the Playboy Club too!
After they nosh, they return to Richie’s ride… which, he’s disappointed to see is pointed in the wrong direction. Rather than having his driver hop in and flip a U-y, he drops a quarter-mill buying another car that is facing the right direction.
They are driven to the Pipdyke Estate on Long Island… which is known as, well, Long Island. Yes folks, he owns the entire fish-shaped island! After a good night’s sleep, the next morning the gang is whisked away via helicopter to the actual Pipdyke home… which is, ya know, gaudily rich. He’s probably the sort of guy who would choose the giant porcelain dog statue back when Wheel of Fortune let you pick prizes.
We get a few more assurances that Richard Pipdyke is wickedly wealthy… we see his cars, his boats, all sorts of trappings of extravagant opulence. Richie suggests Pack Rat and Big Thomas head down to the wine cellar to grab a big ol’ cask of some very expensive sauce. We can see that the sub-sub-cellar goes so deep that… well, it actually serves as an access-point to Hell!
After carrying the cask, and poppin’ the tap (I’m guessing the gang is of legal drinking age?)… the Maniaks are shocked to learn that their very own Silver Shannon… is now betrothed to Richard Pipdyke!
Later on, Flip is flipping out in glee… so happy to be rid of Silver Shannon! Wha? That’s not exactly the reaction I was expecting, to be honest. Jangle, however, brings him back to reality. He questions whether this marriage is for love… or money. Well, what do you think, everybody? Richard-the-Fourteenth looks like the sorta fella who’d spend time sitting on a stool in front of Chris Hansen… of course this is for money.
Jangle attempts to employ his “world famous” mimicry skill to dissuade Silver from tyin’ the knot… by suggesting that he (Richard) was just drafted into the Vietnam War?! Wow. Only problem is, he forgot to include Richie’s flavor-saver. Once the jig is up, the Maniaks just get down to appealing to Silver’s better judgment. They insist that she won’t be happy marrying this creep-o just for his money. It’s decided that the Wedding will commence.
As Richard is (literally) dressed for the ceremony… like, his handlers are actually putting him inside his tuxedo, the Maniaks are paying a local actress to bust in on the wedding and reveal to be Richard’s real wife. They even give her ten-dollars American to do the deed! She’s… kind of a dolt, and the only thing “Richard Pipdyke” reminds her of is the fact that there’s a horse named Dickie the Pip racing at Aqueduct today. She takes the tenner and heads to the track.
The ceremony begins… and, since the actress doesn’t show up… looks as though it’s going to come off without a hitch!
That is, of course, until Silver Shannon hears the part of the spiel where she has to take Richard for richer… or poorer! She calls off the wedding and storms out.
In other news, that goofy actress won a wad of cash at the track, and pulls up in her brand-new convertible to give the Maniaks their cut. So, that’s a good thing…
We wrap up with Richard Pipdyke on a beach… relieved that the wedding was called off, because… ya see, monogamy ain’t his thang. The final panel is a plea from the Maniaks for all of the readers to buy a bunch of their books so they might get their own ongoing series! That… well, never happened.
Man, how much fun was this?
Definitely not the sort of story we get all that often… a comedy strip, that’s actually charming and funny. And, dang… that Sekowsky art sure is somethin’!
Only problem is… and I’ve said this before… comedy strips don’t really lend themselves to “analysis” (if, analyzing is in fact what I do here). All I can really tell ya is whether or not I thought it was funny… and, I did! It only really overstayed its welcome in depicting just how crazily-rich the Pipdykes were. I think the point was made after he bought out Shea Stadium for a private concert and bought that club to abolish the ties-only policy. Everything after that just seemed like beating a dead horse.
The characters, the main ones anyway, were fun and likable. It kind of surprised me that they were so blatant with Silver-as-a-Gold-Digger. That seemed a bit strange. I think, in my head, I kind of projected Dumb Bunny from the Inferior 5 on her… and was expecting her to be more innocent and sweet. That’s no fault of Bridwell, just something in my own block-head that made me take pause.
A lot of this story, and the gags within were based on plays on words… which, worked quite well. I especially enjoyed the “Spied a Man” bit, which I admit… I had to read twice just to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. Just good stuff all around!
The poor Maniaks don’t really get much play anymore… all they’ve actually ever got was the three appearances in Showcase! Silver Shannon, however, was eventually dusted off for a handful of appearances in, of all places, that Kurt Busiek Power Company series from just after the turn of the century. You can see here, Josiah Power gives her a call…
|From Power Company #3 (June, 2002)
(w) Kurt Busiek / (a) Tom Grummett
Ol’ Silver Shannon’s got that rock of a ring on her desk… which is the same one she’s wearing on the cover of this ish of Showcase! There’s a Confederate Yankees poster on the wall, in reference to the Woody Allen story in Showcase #71 (which we’ll get to just as soon as I can find it in the pile!)… and, if that’s not enough, there’s a framed photo of her fellow Maniaks on the wall as well. Neat little Easter Eggs from Kurt and Tom! Worth noting, she came into the post-Crisis landscape with her gold-digging gimmick intact. She’s still in search of a wickedly wealthy hubby.
|From Power Company #7 (October, 2002)|
Funny bit, in the (posted above) letters page for Power Company #7 (October, 2002), a reader inquires as to just who Silver might be… and dismisses the possibility that she’s Silver St. Cloud. The editor doesn’t spill the beans… and, only solicits more guesses! Unfortunately, only a couple months later DC switched formats from “letter page” to that dumb “Your Mole at 1700” rumor-and-innuendo column to close out their books, so we never got any more guesses or discussion.
|From Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1 (October, 2008)
(w) Grant Morrison / (a) Doug Mahnke
It’s almost not worth mentioning, though I don’t wanna leave it out… Maniak Jangle did appear on a single panel in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1 (October, 2008). It’s more of Grant Morrison playing with Limbo… which is where we see a lot of “these sorts” of character pop up every now and again.
Overall… this was a blast, and… if you ever come across any Maniaks Showcases in the wild, I’d recommend you snag ’em. I’m honestly a bit surprised they’ve never come back “in full force”. They seem like the sort of characters that a contemporary writer would drop into a story simply to prove that they know some obscure DC history! Anyhoo… this was their second (of three) Showcase appearances… I’ll try and get the Woody one up just as soon as I remember where I left it!
|For more information on a rather infamous Cap’s Hobby Hints, click here!|
(Not the) Letters Page: