Stupid #1 (1993)
There is a long tradition tradition of self parody within the comic book industry. Sure, we’re all familiar with Mad and Cracked (National Lampoon got in on the comics occasionally too), but Marvel would take the format even further with books like Not Brand Echh and What The–?! . In 1992, as What The–?! was ending its run, Image Comics was rising. As I’m sure you know, Image was founded by some of the hottest creators in the industry, many of whom had just done some of their most notable work for Marvel. When reading early Image, you’ll see a distinct influence from Marvel and an admirable attempt to revolutionize the industry as Marvel had thirty years earlier. It should come as no surprise that Image would release their own parody book in 1993, Stupid, not to be confused with the Image published Stupid Comics from Jim Mahfood from 2002.
Oh, the cover question.
Yeah, it has a similar gag in the book, but since not much story is teased on the cover, I’m not going to give it the full nod.
Writer/Artist Hilary Barta receives top credit here, and his appearance should be no surprise. Barta was perhaps the most prolific contributor to What The–?! and, as was Image’s strength in those days, they utilized his most perfected skills for their company. Barta’s art is indisputably gorgeous here, and though appropriately wacky, is greatly enhanced by the coloring of Steve Oliff. Oliff worked as colorist on Spawn in its golden era, which is notable for its gorgeous coloring, and he brings that style with him. Doug Rice, who had collaborated with Barta on 1988’s Plastic Man mini-series, backed him up on creative duties here, though his specific contributions are obscured even in the letter’s column.
Yes, issue #1 has a letters column, oh you guys.
Anyway, the comic is pretty funny, very much in the vein of its aforementioned predecessors. It is a little weird that it is almost fully a parody of Spawn, but the book was still wildly popular at the time, so I suppose it is fitting. I’ve had a hard time finding much information on the book, and though they do advertise a second issue, I suspect it may have been intended as a one-shot nod to What The–?!. If I knew the sales numbers, I might be able to back that up a little more.
Regardless, if you’d like to check out this weird moment in comics history, it’s not going to set you back much.