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the funny book 1
 
solid writing
skilled art
historical bonus 3
total score 7
The Funny Book #1
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Only Printing / September, 1975 / 12 pages / Ful-Horne Productions

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REVIEW SCORE 8
If the first issue of The Funny Book had turned out to be the only issue of this title, this 12-page, black-and-white digest would likely have been classified as a mini-comic or small press comic book instead of an underground. But because two more issues followed under the same title and those were full-size, color-cover comic books, The Funny Book #1 is categorized as an underground comic book.

Okay, now that we've cleared up that little issue, what about the comic book? Well, The Funny Book features Gary Figari providing mostly jokey comics about Lardo, the fattest guy in the world, and other one-pagers that make fun of old people and hicks. The Lardo comics are really quite disgusting and I wince at the stereotypical ridicule aimed at fat people, especially because Figari seems to tie Lardo's monstrous obesity directly to his abject stupidity (Lardo seems to qualify as a technical moron).

But is it funny? Hell yes it's funny. As a fan and defender of Robert Crumb, who parodied, satirized, obsessed and exposed about every twisted sickness and egregious stereotype under the sun, I will defend (and enjoy) any form of entertainment that can get an honest laugh out of me, even if I feel a twinge of shame afterwards.

Defending black humor or sick humor or racist and sexist humor reminds me of the times I observed my 14-year-old son and his friends laughing at a few parody songs on the internet that blatantly stereotyped and ridiculed Middle Eastern people. Despite my belief in freedom of the press (and all media), his enjoyment of those songs made me worry that those prejudices would end up ingrained in his personality. But when I scolded him about it, he defended himself in a simple way; "but dad, it's funny."

After giving it some thought, I realized his defense was legitimate. How many times have I laughed at some awful Crumb debasement? How many times have I chuckled at some cruel joke on the TV show Family Guy? And when I was a teenager, what was my favorite magazine? National Lampoon, which relentlessly leveraged black and sick humor for laughs. And having said all that, in real life, do I feel like a racist or a sexist or make fun of people with imperfections or disabilities? Quite the opposite.

So go ahead, laugh at funny songs and outrageous TV shows and underground comics. As long as you can separate your sense of humor from your core value system, it's not likely that you'll turn into a deviant monster who should be mercilessly flogged for true trespasses against real people.

And yeah, The Funny Book #1 is funny.
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keyline
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HISTORICAL FOOTNOTES:
It is currently unknown how many copies of this comic book were printed. It has not been reprinted.


The Funny Book gets an extra historical bonus star because it is the first book in a line of titles produced by a black-owned comic book publisher, which I believe was unheard of before Larry Fuller and Ray Horne teamed up for Ful-Horne Productions. There were several comic book creators of color who worked for the mainstream publishers before Fuller and Horne came along, but few were leading writers or illustrators and none started their own publishing business. Today, there are many black-owned comic book publishers, and I'm guessing the vast majority of their founders have no idea that Fuller and Horne first blazed the trail back in 1975.
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COMIC CREATORS:

Larry Fuller (editor)
Ray Horne (assistant editor) - 11 (ad)
Gary Figari - 1-10, 12