“The Brownstones”

Cover art by Bob Larkin.

In a previous installment, I told you that in its early-’80s heyday, CRAZY magazine was the equal of MAD or National Lampoon. What I’m about to show you will prove that assertion.

The year was 1982. CRAZY‘s April issue was produced under the legendary editorship of Legendary Larry Hama, and managed by the Editor Formerly Known As Jim Owsley. The Mighty Marie Severin and extremely tall Jim “Straight” Shooter were part of the Marvel bullpen for this rag, and the opening movie parody (“Escape From Fun City”) was drawn by Bob Camp, also known as the man who created everything you loved about Ren & Stimpy.

As if that weren’t enough, the issue also includes work from the greats Bobby (Dirty Duck) London, Stephen (Spider-Ham) Mellor, Mike Carlin, Ross Andru, Kent Gamble, and Gary Hallgren. There’s a parody Boy Scout handbook that I unfortunately cut out of the magazine when I was 10.

On page 50, there’s a piece that has no credited writer or artist. From a practical standpoint, I can understand why this is so, but all the same, I’d love to know who was responsible. Because just as I did when I was ten, I consider this gut-bustingly funny.

First, you get a “public service announcement”, as an introduction/warning. CRAZY reprinted this page every so often, whenever they did a feature that was more “racial” than usual. I always suspected that Dr. JiveTurkey was played by Jim Owsley, because as he could tell you, he was the only black person working at Marvel Comics at that time. (He goes by a different name now, and he can tell you many unpleasant things about Marvel Comics.)

I reiterate: this is from 1982. Aside from some slightly dated references in the “Them” column from panel four, this works just as well in 2019.

Pretty sharp, eh?

Okay. Ready? Here we go.

Feel that? You don’t have a clue what’s gonna come next, do you?

Again- I have no idea who wrote this, but I think the art is by Dave Morris, who used to draw Eleventh Hour Special with Behemoth Jack. Do not quote me on that. See the grey tones in the art? You get that by filling in areas with a Magic Marker on the other side of the paper. Or, using grey Magic Markers, I dunno.

Under critical examination, sure, a few of these jokes are easy stereotypical gambits. The thing is, this isn’t a far cry from dialogue on TV shows of the time, like Sanford & Son and The Jeffersons. Yes, black Wilma Flintstone is fat. What do you want from me? Focus on the starred footnotes, like at page bottom; they’re only gonna get funnier.

  1. “Caddyrock”
  2. “Herb Snobgravel”
  3. rather inhospitable
  4. “Mr. Granitestein”
  5. “Thrilling! How ethnic!”


Look, I don’t want to oversell the next page, but this one has the best footnotes, and that is truly saying something. I wish Brownstones had been a regular feature, but I totally understand why it wasn’t. And hey, some things are better as a one-shot.


Also- have you ever heard a better definition of “whack” than “terminally undesireable”(sic)?!? I haven’t!

“Soul Feud” continues, with a handful of “jokes” that will absolutely get you banned from social media:

As I said, I totally get why they left their names on this one. Totally.

Especially with the following page.

Aheh… yeah. Ham hocks au gratin, and tax money on watermelon. Moving on, that’s Behemoth Jack from Eleventh Hour Special in the lower right corner as a rug, the crux of my hunch that Dave Morris did the art. If there’s a joke behind him reading Darwin, it flew over my head.

Still, couldn’t you see this as a sketch on Chappelle’s Show?

Because Fred Brownstone is black, he remains incarcerated for months. Yes, that’s the joke, but he actually stays in jail, making this comic strip accurate to real life.

Things return to normal for the most part, although Barney (his last name is never revealed) has turned from drink to drugs. There’s even a Lotto gag in Wilma’s final rant, which is kind of a Northeastern thing, because you know, black ladies play the Lotto up there. And there’s grits for dinner, which I think is supposed to be a bad thing, but I actually really like grits. I even liked the grits they served in jail.

Lawd, have mercy!

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