This latest opus from publisher Craig Yoe is a celebration of the truly oddball characters burped up in the early years of America's comics industry in the never-ending battle for children's dimes. It's called "Super Weird Heroes Vol. 2: Preposterous but True!" — a new hardback that hit comic shops Sept. 5 and will come to bookstores Oct. 2.
Ready yourself for such crime-fighting curiosities as: Hip Knox — a hypnotist who wears an eye on his belt and a colander on his head! Pat Parker, War Nurse — a medic who wears out the enemy while not wearing very much! Mr. Whiskers — a lad whose old-man disguise confuses ageist criminals!
There's no one better suited to bring us this gaggle of goofiness than Yoe. He was the creative director and general manager of the Muppets, working on everything from theme parks to TV shows for Jim Henson. He's head of Yoe! Studio, which creates publications, style guides, packaging, logos and such for cereal companies, toy makers and more. And he created Yoe! Books, which reprints classics like Popeye.
So it was almost inevitable that Yoe would turn his restless hands and roving eye to bizarre superhero comics, which resulted in "Super Weird Heroes Vol. 1: Outrageous but Real!" in 2016. There we saw The Hand (a crime-fighting, disembodied hand), Yellowjacket (who battled the underworld with bees) and Phantasmo (who fought crime buck nekkid). "Super Weird Heroes Vol. 2" (IDW, $39.99) continues this grand tradition.
"I loved comic books as a little kid," Yoe said about the project's genesis, "the brilliant Donald Duck and Little Lulu stories. But it was superheroes that rescued me from the usual painful adolescence. I was smitten by and found great pleasure in what Stan Lee and Steve Ditko did with Spidey and the rest that Marvel's assembled.
"But, I quickly became enamored with the whole history of comics and soon realized that superheroes were only a small part of the rich tapestry. When we started the Yoe Books imprint for IDW, the nearly 100 first books avoided the heroes.
"Then it hit me, nearly six years ago, to do a book on the old wacky heroes everybody never knew or forgot. Those bizarro old guys and gals are new to a new generation! It took me years to collect the full-length stories, though. Those comics are buried in locked-away collections and finding full stories for quality book collections, and painstakingly restoring them, was quite a task."
I was also fascinated by The Eye, who was, of course, a gigantic disembodied eye. Where did it sleep? "The Eye valiantly continued his Super Weird Hero exploits as a giant eyeball," Yoe responded somberly, "until one day he was, inexplicably, out of sight."
And with two "Super Weird Heroes" books out, is the field now exhausted?
"I actually have a couple more books planned," Yoe said. "In old comic books, as in the world at large, there's no shortage of weirdness!"