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Issue #43

UNCLE SLAM

Well, that's it, then. It's been a solid month of the U. S. militarydropping bombs on Afghanistan, and from where I sit, wearing my"Brooklyn FDNY Squad 1" t-shirt hand-carried on an actual plane flightfor me by the genius Brian Wood, brought past the security guards armedwith M-16s straight out of JFK airport… it doesn't really look to melike it's really been all that effective.

Sure, it's gotten folks who normally wouldn't give a thought to suchthings to address their new-found patriotism, but there are those who'vealways sort of had a thing for the ol' red-white-and-blue.

Ande Parks is one of those guys. Ande's done a book that most peoplehaven't heard of, because he didn't solicit his work through the directmarket. You can only get his collected Uncle Slam stories from him, at aconvention, or ordered from Ande'swebsite.

But Uncle Slam and Fire Dog is definitely worth seeking out,especially now. Because who doesn't need to read a comic book aboutAmerica's greatest hero, now living in hiding and hunted by the verycountry he'd sworn to protect? With a robot dog. And a hole in his head.And a bubble pipe. And his girlfriend, the former CIA agent.

Here's the introduction I wrote for the Uncle Slam and Fire Dogtrade paperback collection; see if this doesn't make you want to get ahold of a copy and forget what's going on in the world for a day or so:

God bless America.

No; really.

Maybe it's the fact that my grandfather was one of the tired, poor,huddled masses yearning to breathe free when he was a boy of eight yearsold, and sailed into this country with his sisters from the Ukraine.

Maybe it's how his by-the-bootstraps, rough-and-tumble youth in Hell'sKitchen in the 1920s was glorified in our family with the gauze-filteredreverence of a Francis Ford Coppola film. Maybe it's how it wasimpressed upon us that America is the land of freedom, and while hisjourney was one of hardship, it all fell away when he saw Lady Liberty.

Or maybe it's because I was an impressionable pre-teen when our countrywas gripped by an orgy of national pride in 1976.

Maybe it's Bill Murray's speech in the third reel of Stripes.

Whatever it is, I've always had a big ol' soft-spot for the unapologeticAmerican patriot.

And whether he wants to admit it or not, so does Ande Parks.

You can tell.

Ande, as well as his partners-in-crime, Phil Hester, Gordon Purcell, andAndy Kuhn, all, to a man, embrace unashamedly what is, at first glance,a bit of an old saw in comics: the Great American Hero. In these pages,you'll find the Average Joe sacrificing himself to Do Good for HisCountry; you'll find a powerful hero bedecked in the ol'red-white-and-blue; you'll find the trusty sidekick, the shadowygovernment forces, the villains, the gadgets, the wry pop culturereferences, the subtle winks to the audience... in short, you'll findall the trappings of the standard superhero...

...and Ande and the boys turn it all on its head.

Just when you think you know where it's going, the story careens rightup to that Big Cliché...

...and makes a deft and skillful ninety degree turn, and we're all offto the races.

It starts in the logo, believe it or not. It says Uncle Sam ostensibly,in the stencilled letters the military uses, but between the S and theA, shouldering its way into the type, is what looks to be anafterthought. There it is. An L. Uncle Slam. Before weeven pick up the book, the logo puts us on notice that thisstory, this character, these guys responsible are going to take ourexpectations and give 'em all a good shake.

Then you open it up, and it's a roller coaster blur of goodness.

The main character: right out of Hollywood casting: chiseled jaw,confident pose. Stars on his barrel chest and a US belt-buckle. But he'sblowing bubbles out of that Fred MacMurray pipe, and his eye's been shotout. The dog is the brains of the outfit.

You just don't see comic books like this in the Ukraine.

Only in America.

God bless America.

No; really.

Uncle Slam Dot Com. Tell Ande Isent you his way.

Some of the men have obviously been shot, but not bad enough to dropthem. We're back far enough to make out the details of the environment,now: the absolute middle of larry@comicbookresources.com

Of course, most answers to simple questions you may have about me or mycompany can be gleaned from http://www.ait-planetlar.com.

While you can get your news about the funny books all over the Internet,I usually make it a point to let slip at least one bit of information atthe Loose Cannon Message Board that I post nowhere else.

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