Friday, December 15, 2006

It's a Vandal, It's an Outrage

blockadesantahead What the--?! I leave Jeremy alone with the computer for two days while I enjoy a ski vacation with Travis Morgan and the blog goes to hell in a freaking handbasket. Bah, humbug! Well, that's it. I was going to share a costume redesign with you all today but my nerves are just too jangled. It will have to wait until Monday. (It's for Night Girl. I would have done something before now but to be frank I'm terrified of her hair.) So instead, enjoy my description of a DC Universe teenage-themed humor comic from Earth-Riverdale.


In late 1968, DC decided to combine the concepts of "Leave It to Binky" and "Anthro" into a new book. The result? "Ramble with Vandal," featuring Vandal Savage, an immortal Cro-Magnon teen misadventuring through the swinging 60's. Although drawn in a derivative "Archie Comics" style, Vandal lacked the girl-friendly boyishness of Archie Andrews and his clones. In fact, he was intensely hirstute -- a fact that was mined for many a gag. At least once an issue, his bushy black beard would be shaved off by an authority figure or a conniving girlfriend. In the very next panel an identical beard would instantly grow to take its place. (This was typically accompanied by the sound effect "SPROING!") Vandal differed from Archie in another significant way: he had no moral compass whatsoever. Beneath his friendly facade, he was as treacherous and as self-serving as Reggie Mantle, as brutish as Moose Mason, as voracious as Jughead Jones, and as calculating as Dilton Doily.

A typical plot had Vandal leading a protest march on his high school campus, taking over the cafeteria building, and from there proceeding to take over the entire school. After making a series of increasingly ridiculous demands, his movement fell apart when everyone else got bored. A self-effacing joke and a shit-eating grin was all it took to win over the principal and avoid detention. The last panel showed the principal's secretary mussing Vandal's mop of hair and shrugging, "That's Our Vandal!"

Archie may have been torn between the affections of Veronica and Betty, but Vandal steadily gathered a veritable harem of admirers. A girl introduced and dated in one issue would show up in the following issue as part of Vandal's entourage, smiling and cooing and making googoo eyes at him. This process continued until all of his male hangers-on had been replaced by former dates. Vandal had enough girlfriends by the book's twentieth issue that it could feature a story titled "Vandal's Dodecatuple Date!" In that book-length tale, Vandal schemed to divide a single night among twelve different girls at twelve different locations, without having to pay for anything himself.

The book lasted into the mid-70's, although in its last few years it was converted into a horror anthology, "Vandal's Creepy Conundrums." Vandal stayed on in the role of "Your hairy host, Vandal the Savage" but he was restricted to appearing in only the first and the last panel of each story.

More fun facts about "Ramble With Vandal":
  • Charles Manson has cited the book as "a major inspiration."
  • So has Bill Clinton.
  • In 1969, Dennis Hopper made an unauthorized film adaptation of the comic, titled "Savage Rder." Starring in the title role: Richard Kiel.
  • In 1971, Richard Nixon called the comic "a key source of the moral decay that plagues our once-great nation."
  • In 1990, this sentiment was echoed at a press conference by Vice-President Dan Quayle. The diminutive politico seemed extremely put-out when a TV reporter explained that it hadn't been published in sixteen years.
  • Perhaps inspired by Quayle's reference, cartoonist Phil Foglio wrote and drew a four-issue revival of "Ramble with Vandal" which saw publication in 1992. That book showed Savage working as a "tenured radical" professor on a small-town college campus. When a wily teenage student named "Scandal" inexplicably foils his various schemes, Vandal is driven into a comical rage. In the last issue, he becomes so exasperated with the young woman that he ends up in the campus bell tower, aiming at her with a sniper rifle. Suddenly he gets a phone call -- the private detective he'd hired to "dig up dirt" on Scandal has made a shocking discovery! It turns out that Scandal is Vandal's long-lost daughter! He shoots anyway.
  • In Neil Gaiman's "Sandman," Vandal owns the Dreaming's most intimidating mansion, which he calls "the Chateau of Savagery." Vandal muscled out the home's original owner, Cain, and relegated him to the somewhat less-imposing Poolhouse of Mystery.
  • To unlock Vandal as a playable character in the Playstation 1 game "Atari Vs. DC," press up-arrow, down-arrow, square, square, left-arrow, triangle. Vandal has superior resistance to psionic attacks and his melee weapon is an uprooted tree trunk.
  • Vandal served as Lex Luthor's Secretary of Education.
  • In 2002, the Bloodhound Gang recorded the song "Vandal Savage" with lyrics that consisted entirely of quotes from Vandal's comic book appearances, arranged in rhyming couplets. An example: "That groovy chick's bikini blows my mind/I'll be the ruler over all mankind."
  • Vandal was a guest villain in the fifth season of the popular CW series "Leesburg." The episode, titled "The Savage Partytime," featured him as a mummified museum exhibit brought back to life via Kryptonite by Linda Danvers' rival, Lena Luthor. Once revived, Vandal discovers he has the ability to project his savage impulses onto others. Luthor uses him in a plot to turn a local squaredance into a bloody riot with the hopes of destroying Danvers once and for all. He was played by Adam Goldberg.

*Edited around 11:20 AM to change the name of the comic from my original, crappier idea: "Vibrate with Vandal." Ugh. I know. I was trying to do a spin on "Swing with Scooter" and I couldn't for the life of me figure out an appropriate verb that started with a "V." I don't know why I settled on "vibrate." It must have been timebubblelag.


Scipio said...

Don't forget my unpublished fan fic sequel about Paco Ramone's gang years:

"Vandalize with Vibe!"

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Vandal Savage, that names right up there on the Fake-o-Meter with Wolf Blitzer.

HI my name is Defacer Untamed, wanna go out for a soda?