Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month (for a while) I will be showing pages chosen by you, the readers. Today’s page is from Hanna-Barbera Wacky Races #7, which was published by Western Publishing Company (or, if you prefer, Gold Key, which was the brand name) and is cover dated April 1972. This page was suggested by Keith Alan Morgan, whose web comic “The KAMics” you can find here. Enjoy!
I can’t find who worked on this comic, as the Grand Comics Database has no information about it. If anyone knows, that would be great, but that can’t stop us from checking out this splash page!
Obviously, this “series” (this was the final issue, and the schedule would have made Kevin Smith proud, as the first issue came out in August of 1969) is a spin-off of the television series, so the art on this page is very much in that vein. The page is laid out fairly well, all things considered. The title is at the top, and “The Scavenger Scramble” gives us a clue as to what’s happening with all the cars (bear in mind that I haven’t read this issue, so I’m going by what’s on this page itself). The first narrative box tells us what we can see and is probably superfluous, but that’s the way it is with a lot of comics. In the back we get the dialogue simply explaining what a big race it is and how much money is at stake, which might also seem superfluous, but it at least tells us that the racers are really keen to win this particular race. I rarely watched Wacky Races, so I don’t know many of the characters. Unless Wikipedia is wrong (and we all know that’s not possible!), the guys in the tank are Sergeant Blast and Private Meekly (why the American government allows them to race in such a crass event is a question for another day!) and the person saying he could use the money is Professor Pat Pending. Coming down the rise in the olde-tymey limousine is the Ant Hill Mob. The artist gives us other characters – Luke and Blubber Bear; the Slag Brothers; Dick Dastardly and Muttley; and Peter Perfect (I think that’s who’s in the middle facing the reader). It’s a pretty well designed page, as the cars slowly move our eyes across the page and down it until we come to the second narrative box, where the writer lets us know that there’s something strange about the race, as each car is going in a different direction. We even get nice sound effects for each car, which helps show us what kind of competitors they are – the “blat” of the Ant Hill Mob’s limo suggests an ancient car horn, and the other noises point out how the cars move, with Dick Dastardly’s “zow” showing that his racer is extremely speedy. At the bottom of the page Penelope Pitstop speaks directly to the reader, even ordering us to turn the page so we can find out what’s going on, even though we can probably tell based on the title and the fact that the cars are going in different directions. As rude as Penelope might be in ordering us around, it’s certainly effective!
There’s a lot of energy and movement on this page, so although it’s a silly story, it does what a first page is supposed to do – engage the reader, give us a clear idea about what’s going on, and get us to turn to Page 2. There’s nothing wrong with that!
Next: Bringing the funny! Well, I thought so. Feel free to disagree! This page might have been in one of my theme weeks, but I had other ideas about this creator! Suss it all out in the archives!