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excellent writing
skilled art
historical bonus 3
total score 8
Rip Off Comix #15
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18 Introduction
Table of Contents
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Back Cover
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Only Printing / June 1987 / 52 pages / Rip Off Press
After the "Big Comeback Issue!" revived the once-dormant title, Rip Off Comix #15 becomes "Wildebeest's Choice," which appears to be a euphemism for "Gilbert Shelton Presents More Selections from His Favorite French Cartoonists." I ain't got any problems with that, as he dishes up some tasty translated comics, especially in the first half of the mag. Eight mostly young French comic creators are served up along with four domestic scribblers.

Things get off to a strong start with "Crime and/or Punishment" by Jean-Michel Thiriet, who got his start in the magazine Psikopat in the early 1980s and soon became an editor of Fluide Glacialin. This story follows a criminal investigator named Inspector Thurroly as he tries to solve the murder of an apartment building concierge. One tenant in the building is Thurrroly's niece, who is the first of several people he interviews about the murder. Each of the interviews reveals a unique character with peculiar personality quirks, which sometimes casts suspicion on them. The solving of the murder is relatively humdrum but the array of interesting characters in the story makes it a compelling read.

The second story is "Lucien Helps Out" by Frank Margerin, who was widely published by several French comic magazines. Lucien is Margerin's signature character; a working-class rocker with a bulbous nose and an loopy pompadour that hangs over his forehead like a toy telescope. Lucien was featured in several comic collections that sold very well in France. In this slapstick two-page story, Lucien demonstrates his lack of carpentry skills as he helps a married couple build a bookcase. Simple premise, hilarious execution.

The quality of entertainment is sustained in a very different way with the next story by Phillipe Vuillemin, who got his start in L'Écho des Savanes and has a reputation for flaunting conventions and taboos. "A Bit of History" is about four knuckleheads in a tiny French village in 1944, near the end of Germany's four-year occupation of the country. The belligerent Frenchmen hear that an American platoon is on the way to their village to vanquish the Nazis once and for all, and they want to steal some credit for the conquest. So they set about shooting down a drunk German soldier, which leads to all manner of brutal complications. Caustic, bloody and ugly, "A Bit of History" is a dark comedy from an incisive mind.

Pierre Ouin contributes "Squat Romance," which features his fiendish junkie Bloodi in a tit-for-tat game of swindling. I like Ouin's style (like Evert Geradts on crack) but the story is just okay. It's followed by a snappy two-pager from Jean-Christophe Menu called "Merdeley in Angouleme!" As Shelton mentioned in the introduction, Angouleme hosts the largest comic book convention in France (like America's San Diego Comic-Con), and Menu's nearly wordless story follows a curmudgeon named Merdeley as he tears a path through the convention, raising hell and literally wiping his ass with comics. We probably all know somebody who has the same regard for our favorite form of art.

The second half of the book features the second episode of Frank Stack's admirable story about Amazon warriors and their Greek male adversaries, a violently amusing sex comic from the late Paul Carali, a fairly boring discourse about cuckolds from Daniel Goossens, a pair of Fat Freddy's Cat strips from Shelton, and a tired burlesque about farting from Jim Bennett. The weaker latter half damn near brings down the nice overall score for this issue. At least the mag finishes with a somewhat funny story about an artist in a small town, based on true events and penned by Cracked magazine veteran Bruce Bolinger.

So bottom line, "Wildebeest's Choice" turned out to be a pretty good set of choices. And at least we know that for this issue Frappington T. Wildebeest VII was not Fred Todd or Kathe Todd or anyone other than Gilbert Shelton. Nobody else could have written this issue's introduction, entitled "On the Scene in Paris, France," other than our venerable Freak creator and resident of Paris!
It is currently unknown how many copies of this comic book were printed. It has not been reprinted. Like other magazine-format comics with numbered pages and a table of contents, the index of comic creators below follows the page numbers defined in the magazine instead of counting the covers as additional numbered pages.


Gilbert Shelton - front cover, inside front cover (introduction), 38-39, back cover
Jean-Michel Thiriet - 2-9
Frank Margerin - 10-11
Philippe Vuillemin - 12-17
Pierre Ouin - 18-21
Jean-Christophe Menu - 22-23
Frank Stack - 24-28
Paul Carali - 29-30
Charlie Schlingo - 31
Daniel Goossens - 32-37
Jim Bennett - 40-44
Bruce Bolinger - 45-49