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Righteous Produce of Justice – Flaming Carrot Comics #7

October 25, 2011

I’m of the opinion that one thing could have saved 1999’s Mystery Men from the depths of box office bomb ignominy, from clinging to the tattered old “cult classic” rags. Well, maybe this one thing wouldn’t have saved it. But it would have been a nice addition. And that would be adding the Flaming Carrot to the Shoveler and Mr. Furious et al., fellow members of the original D-list comic team. Picturing folks pitching the idea of a talking vegetable hero to bottom-line minded studio execs with their nice suits and expensive lattes and empty heads is something that can get you through dark times, let me tell you.

Created by Bob Burden, the Flaming Carrot was/is a character whose title that felt like a drawn out strip that one would find in an urban alternative newspaper. That can be good, with all the quirky humor that you’d expect from funnies back near the want ads and phone sex adverts. “Man Seeking Man For SEXY EROTIC JUNGLE FANTASY” (and check out this new strip by Derf!). That can also be bad, with the attendant “Huh?” obtuseness that leaves readers scratching their heads like Rock Hudson walking out of the 2001 premier.

The Flaming Carrot’s adventures are nuts, but they aren’t obtuse. There’s nothing sailing over a reader’s head. So relax.

Here’s the “Previously on L.A. Law” summary to get you up to speed on the character and this issue:

Kind of says it all.

In this one little comic the Flaming Carrot is overcome while rescuing a kitten from a sewer, found in a catatonic state by fat polygamous junk collectors, sold at a flea market, turned over to an anti-Flaming Carrot gang, rescued by pro-Flaming Carrot bicycle-riding youths, and revived by a mad scientist. That’s a whole pile of surreal bang for your buck, and that’s not even including the side-stories of cellulite-collecting madmen and baby-headed politicians. It all works, in spite of everything that screams it shouldn’t.

I was particularly taken with the trippy way that the Carrot is brought back to life after his brush with death, which includes Mars Attacks trading cards and busty strippers:

I’m still in that stage of life where I can’t process that I’m not going to live forever. I don’t have a living will or any of those other trappings of mortality. If I ever do make out such a document, when specifying what resuscitation methods may be employed on my person I’m going to include ample cleavage amongst the licensed arsenal. And hell, throw in some Magnum, P.I. cards, like ice cream after a tonsillectomy.

I had forgotten that the “carrot” of the Flaming Carrot was a mask (it’s been a while) and that there was a dude underneath. A mystery man indeed:

“Dr. Heller, am I a root or tuber?” Is that deep?

Among kindred independent books that’ve been featured here before, Burden’s material is leagues better than the insipid Reagan’s Raiders, and a more nuanced effort than the Boris the Bear charnel house. And it doesn’t get as wordy as the worst of Cerebus, which is a series rightly regarded as a pinnacle of independent publishing but one that could at times make you want to shoot yourself in the face with cobra venom bullets. The Carrot is sometimes funny. His title often makes you smile.

Long live the Carrot.

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