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cover
 
excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 3
total score 9
Rip Off Comix #5
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Back Cover
Back Cover
(click for larger image)

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AVERAGE SCORE 9
1st Printing / September 1979 / 52 pages / Rip Off Press
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In a "Griffith Observatory" strip on the inside cover of Rip Off Comix #5, Bill Griffith predicts the fashion trend of wearing underwear on the outside of clothing (like Madonna during her 1990 Blond Ambition tour), but of course Griffith was attempting to be absurd! Of all people, Griffith should know that nothing is too absurd to become reality (and I think he does).

The fifth issue begins with another Freak Brothers story from Gilbert Shelton and Paul Mavrides. "Take Me Out..." is about the Freaks joining a slow-pitch softball league (for three different teams, as it turns out) and Freewheelin' Franklin betting on the games. Franklin makes a small fortune by betting on the best team, but his profits are threatened in the last game of the season when his bookie attempts to fix the outcome. But Franklin's no dope (did I really just write that?) and has his own fixin' in the works.

Despite its unusual (for the Freak Brothers) sports theme, "Take Me Out..." is an entertaining tale and was reprinted the following year in Freak Brothers #6. The story was doubtlessly inspired by the uncredited Dave Sheridan, who was an avid softball player with the Artista Art Gang, an artist collective that once included over 700 members and a hellacious softball squad.

After a one-page "Cartoon Cavalcade" by Joel Beck, Harry Driggs (aka R. Diggs) continues his Mom Squad series that launched in the previous issue. "Mom Squad and the Space Pirates" is a somewhat disjointed 10-page story about a mad scientist on a space satellite who apparently uses space junk to fuel attacks on Earth as he attempts to become a global dictator. Of course the Mom Squad is well equipped to foil his evil plans.

Dave Sheridan follows with "Time Twisted Tales," a close-to-brilliant story about time traveling set in the year 1979, as well as 987 and 4627. Sheridan marvelously blends a triumvirate of characters from distant eras who seemlessly interact with each other, demonstrating his gift for storytelling and consummate illustration skills. Sheridan passed away at the age of 38 less than three years after this comic was published, robbing us of two or three more decades of his extraordinary comic art and imagination.

Shelton culminates this issue with an 11-page Wonder Wart-Hog story, "Wonder Wart-Hog and the Famous Superheroes School." It's a solid satire from Shelton that skewers not only the comic superhero genre but also the evolving (and profitable) market for highly specific "schools" that train multitudes of students in narrowly defined proficiencies.

Rip Off Comix hits another high note in its grand history with this issue.
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keyline
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HISTORICAL FOOTNOTES:
There are two printings of this comic book. The 1st printing (unknown copies) has a $1.20 cover price. The 2nd printing (unknown copies) has a $1.50 cover price. Given the popularity of the Freak Brothers, I'd guess the 1st printing had 10,000+ copies and the 2nd printing had 5,000 copies.
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COMIC CREATORS:

Gilbert Shelton - 1 (shared), 3-11 (collaboration), 39-49, 52
Harry Driggs - 1, 13-22
Joel Beck - 1 (shared), 12, 50
Dave Sheridan - 1 (shared), 23-38
Ted Richards - 1 (shared), 51
Bill Griffith - 1 (shared), 2
Paul Mavrides - 3-11 (collaboration)