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Should you dine at a Big Boy restaurant during your holiday travels, remember that Big Boy himself IS A LOWDOWN DIRTY THIEF – Adventures of Big Boy #358

December 13, 2012

bigboy358

Chalk this up as another of the odd corners of the comic book world that fill you with untold delight when you discover them, right alongside Beauty and the Beast adaptations and truck driver superheroes. Yes, Big Boy, the chunky, smiling restaurant mascot, with his big eyes and terrible fashion sense, had his own comic book. Well huzzah, huzzah. Having never once in my life so much as set foot in a fine Big Boy establishment (the first time I had ever heard of the chain was in Austin Powers, when Dr. Evil launched himself into orbit with his Big Boy escape vehicle), the Big Boy mythos stretches out before me like a dream, a limitless horizon of untold potential. As it might for you. We are all Big Boy. Or something.

Adventures of Big Boy wasn’t a flash in the pan promotion that faded after a few editions, as the number in the above post title will attest. The title ran from the mid 1950s-to the mid-1990s, which means Big Boy had exponentially more staying power than, say, Aquaman. (It’s just so easy…) That’s forty years, people. Forty. Years. The very first Big Boy comics were actually published and sold by Marvel, and for a long time the series had variations according to what part of the country they were distributed in and what franchises were located in those territories (Bob’s, Abdow’s, et cetera). Which would make collecting an entire run of the books a living nightmare for any Big Boy aficionado — if there is such a monster. (Seriously, you thought the Whitman variants and the 30 cent/35 cent books were/are annoying? Welcome to hell.) Soon enough Big Boy’s title became a handout, a thin, stapled-up version of an activities-laden placemat, one filled with enough puzzles and words and pictures to keep a kid’s mouth shut while the rest of the family tried to down their hamburgers and fries. To wit:

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The covers were printed on the same rough newsprint as the interior, which added to the cheap feel of the affair, and, considering their origins, it’s a wonder that they all weren’t rendered translucent from spilled grease, with enough ketchup stains to make them look like a Dexter scene. As it is, you can almost smell cooking meat rising from the open pages.

During his decades-spanning run, Big Boy encountered any number of foes and friends (in one issue, Superman himself) along with major crises and minor annoyances of a mascot’s life (Big Boy goes on a picnic! Big Boy runs for President!), and at all times he was accompanied by gal-pal Dolly and his faithful pup Nugget. And in this issue (published in 1987) he ran afoul of the law itself. Just to give you an idea of the fine storytelling at play, here are a couple of scans from the Law & Order themed story within (Script: K. Bernhard, Art: Manny Stallman). First we have Big Boy coming upon an interrupted jewelry store heist, where he bumbles his way into being mistaken for the thief:

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As Big Boy is hauled away by a policeman, Nugget runs off Lassie-style to fetch Dolly. Which is perfect, since apparently this young girl is the legal mind of choice for arrested restaurant mascots:

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You know what I’d like to see? Big Boy thrown into the hoosegow. Now THAT’s a story I’d read. Even pay for. Big Boy meets Oz.

There you go. Big Boy: The Comic Book.

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