underground comix at comixjointarchiveswebcomixfeaturesmarketplaceforumsearchmickeybacktosection go to sample pagesgo to next comicblank sidebarblankbrickblankbrickgo to head comix samplesgo to hear the sound of my feet walking  blankbrick review-ugheaderheaderblankrightheader spacerlink to abclink to d-efghijklalpha mnoplink to q-rstlink to u-v-wlink to x-y-zalpha blank right
excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 3
total score 9
Marching Marvin, the Red Watcher!
If you like this comic,
you might also enjoy
Lenny of Laredo 3rd
Lenny of Laredo
Only Printing / December, 1966 / 20 pages / Sunbury Productions
Marching Marvin, the Red Watcher! is the third of three comic books that Joel Beck produced in the mid 1960s, when he was barely in his twenties. As a teenager in the early '60s, Beck's cartoons were published in the University of California campus newspaper, The Pelican. By 1965, he had produced Lenny of Laredo and was chosen by a national panel of humor magazine editors as the Top College Cartoonist (ironic for a high-school dropout), which Beck proudly trumpeted on the cover of his 1966 comic book, The Profit.

At the end of 1966, Beck created one more minor masterpiece with Marching Marvin, an often hilarious satire on morality and marketing. Beck conveys this allegory through the words of an unemployed Santa Clause, who regales a beautiful (and horny) princess with his tale of Happy Land. In Happy Land, everyone gets along great and there's no such thing as stealing, lying or cheating. But then Hugh F. Hare, publisher of a popular nudie magazine, comes along to corrupt the citizens of Happy Land with dreamy visions of Best Land, where everyone's desires are fulfilled! Best Land is augmented by Dizzy Land and Meakey Moose, who will keep all the children entertained (for a price) while their parents indulge in the modern conveniences and pleasures offered by Best Land.

All these fantastic promises are undermined with the arrival of Marching Marvin, a moralizing jingoist who instantly challenges the patriotism of even the most innocent of children. Marvin's arrival is quickly followed by an impending invasion of "Kommies," who Marvin says will force Happy Land into a dictatorship! He immediately initiates a plan to kill the Kommies with a bomb, leading to panicked frenzy amongst the citizens of Happy Land. Santa Clause is just getting to his favorite part of this story when the princess stalks off in disgust, but Santa isn't about to give up his princess so easily....

In Marching Marvin, Beck exposes the devious greed of corporations who aggressively market shallow cures for invented inadequacies to an audience of eager-for-the-easy-life consumers. He also shows the flip side of fanatics trying to protect the status quo by instilling fear (both fear of God and fear of anarchy) into the psyches of the masses. The devious greed of corporations might cost you your wallet; the fanatical demagogue might cost you your life. The best thing to do in either case is to do what the people of Happy Land did: run away.

After producing Marching Marvin, Beck wasn't heavily involved in the post-Zap Comix 1 frenzy of the late '60s, but he contributed to a number of underground anthologies throughout the '70s, including San Francisco Comic Book, Yellow Dog, and Snarf. He was spotlighted in Ban Zai!, a terrific 1973 Kitchen Sink comic book that also featured Kim Deitch and Roger Brand.

Beck's productivity dropped significantly in the '80s and '90s as he suffered bouts with alcoholism and homelessness. He passed away in 1999 at the age of 56 due to complications from alcoholism and tuberculosis. His tragic passing is lamentable, as Beck's comic work was consistently funny, expertly illustrated and usually well written. The underground comic world is justly proud to have him as one of its forefathers.
It is currently unknown how many copies of this comic book were printed. The comic book itself has not been reprinted, but the contents of the book were reprinted in
the anthology Joel Beck's Comics and Stories.

Joel Beck - 1-20