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Roadrunner Comics: Translatius Strangius

All this month, we’ll be helping Children’s Hospital Los AngelesMake March Matter campaign, which aims to raise over a million dollars in March alone for CHLA through the efforts of its corporate partners, among which we are proud to be numbered. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles sees over 528,000 patient visits annually, and is the top ranked pediatric hospital in California by US News & World Report. You can help Make March Matter by simply attending one of the many events or participating in one of the many initiatives being offered by CHLA’s partners (including our event on Saturday, March 17), all listed at www.makemarchmatter.org.

 To help remind us all to Make March Matter to support children’s health, we’ll be focusing on kids’ comics and childhood favorites, because we firmly believe that escaping into literature is just as important in keeping children healthy and happy.

 

Last week we discussed the odd phenomenon of translating animated cartoons into comic books, focusing on the Pink Panther, if you recall. Well, by special request, we’ll be returning to the topic this week, for the benefit of a certain reader who demanded to know what a “BEEP BEEP THE ROAD RUNNER” comic looked like. We’re nothing if not reader-friendly around these parts, so ask and ye shall receive. Let’s get right to it.

In specific, let’s take a closer look at BEEP BEEP THE ROAD RUNNER #55, dated December 1975.

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The opening story, “Beep Prepared,” actually kind of freaked me out a little as a kid, for reasons we’ll get to momentarily. First, though, a couple of explanatory notes. To begin with, you’ll notice right away that there are three Road Runners; those would be the three sons of the titular Road Runner from the cartoons. Even stranger, they all speak in verse; to be specific, in rhyming couplets.

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Wile E. Coyote is also much more verbose than in the cartoons, where he only spoke in his two appearances with Bugs Bunny. It’s that lead that the comics take for their characterization, though, giving him an urbane, sophisticated voice befitting a coyote of his obvious intelligence.

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The Coyote is hiding there inside an “ACME Artificial Rock,” in case you hadn’t noticed. Anyway, Papa Road Runner has spotted the Coyote’s hiding spot, and gives him a roommate, one whom the Coyote’s not too happy with:

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As always, Wile E. is undeterred by his latest failure, and moves right on to his next scheme: setting up audio-animatronic versions of himself, to lure the junior Road Runner right where he wants them:

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I don’t know why, but these “pseudoselfs” the Coyote’s got going here seemed kind of creepy to me for some reason as a kid. Maybe it was that giant spring sticking out of the lower torso. Anyway, soon the Coyote has his pseudoselfs surrounding the Road Runners at all sides…

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…at least until the cliffside the Coyote is standing on gives way:

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Luckily for him, he lands right on Papa Road Runner, who had been keeping an eye on his sons from a distance, to see if they could handle the Coyote by themselves. And by the time the li’l Road Runners realize they’ve been duped, the Coyote is heading back to his cave for supper:

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Thinking on their feet, the Road Runners grab up one of the Coyote’s pseudoselfs and position it at his cave window, making him think another coyote has come along to mooch a Road Runner drumstick (which, to be honest, doesn’t look like it would have much meat on it).

While the Coyote is busy arguing with his pseudoself (and for a super-genius, it has to be said that he’s not much on attention to detail), the junior Road Runners sneak into the cave and untie their pop, and soon they’re on their way.

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This issue was also notable for the inclusion of another comics fixture to the Road Runner concept: the crossover! In “The Bill Ducker,” we see Wile E. Coyote finally make the connection that perhaps the products he gets from ACME may not be of the highest quality.

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Incensed, the Coyote decides not to pay his ACME bill, which must be astronomical considering how much he orders. I hope they’re at least giving him a frequent-customer discount. As you can imagine, ACME’s not pleased with this turn of events, so they send in their ace bill collector: one Daffy Duck.

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Daffy, by the way, seems quite happy with his new vocation:

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At first, Daffy tries to be civil about it, paying the Coyote a visit in an attempt to secure payment:

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I love the fact that the Coyote has taken to eating the ACME bills. Lord knows he needs to eat something. As Norm Peterson famously noted on CHEERS, you never see him eat anything. That’s probably why he can’t catch the damn bird, low blood sugar.

After Daffy gets the boot from Casa Coyote, he teams up with the Road Runner to help shake some coinage out of old Wile E. Faking a chase after the Road Runner, Daffy plants in the Coyote’s mind the notion that feathers will somehow give him the necessary speed to catch up with the speedy bird.

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Now obsessed with locating feathers, the Coyote happens across a conveniently located feather stand, manned by a slightly familiar-looking duck-billed proprietor. Daffy offers to sell him their entire stock of feathers, for just the amount that the Coyote owes ACME. Luckily, the Coyote brought his checkbook.

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Now flush with feathers, the Coyote dives off a nearby cliff, with fairly predictable results.

rr16Why isn’t anyone at Warners or DC on top of this? I’d buy a WILE E. COYOTE comic every damn month…

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