Monday, May 25, 2009

Marvel Comics Kung Fu is sometimes just...Crazy!

In the early 70s, Marvel's goal was clearly to compete with all other graphic-related magazines.  They were taking on Warren with the monster mags (Dracula Lives, Vampire Tales, Monsters Unleashed, etc).  Marvel also went after Mad and Cracked with the humor magazine CRAZY in 1973.  Edited by Marv Wolfman, issue #7 (1974(1974) featured this cover taking on David Carradine's Kung Fu character:

Crazy 7 - Kung Fu Cover

ABC's Kung Fu TV series featured David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine, a half Chinese, half American dude who wandered the Old West in search of his long lost brother.  In each episode, Caine would encounter any number of racist cowboys who wanted to skin him alive.  Luckily, he was trained by Shaolin monks to be an expert in Kung Fu!  The show was a huge hit on TV when it premiered in 1972.  My schoolmates raved about each episode the next day.

Crazy 1 Kung Fu Parody by Mike Ploog

The show was so big, Marvel did two parodies of it!  Crazy #7 was the second one, with art by Marie Severin.  The first was the lead story in Crazy #1 (1973) with nice art by Mike Ploog.  The opening scene makes a great joke dead on target--Kung Fu always recycled some Western movie plot clich√© that Caine would get involved in during the episode.  Widow having her cattle rustled?  Caine would fight the rustlers and save the cattle.

The success of the Kung Fu TV show definitely prodded Marvel into the genre and gave us Shang-Chi, Iron Fist, Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, and the White Tiger.  It also had an impact on Quentin Tarentino, who gave Samuel Jackson that famous line at the end of Pulp Fiction:  "You know, walk the earth, meet people...get into adventures. Like Caine from Kung Fu."  Nuff said.

No comments:

Post a Comment