ABC 64 Page Giant 1 – Splash Brannigan
Below are annotations for America’s Best Comics 64 Page Giant, No. 1 “Specters from Projecters!?!!” (6 pages, February 2001)
Writer: Alan Moore (AM), Artist: Kyle Baker (KB)
>return to Splash Brannigan annotations index
Note: some of this stuff is obvious, some very very obvious… but you never know who’s reading this and what their exposure is to any given reference. Apologies for stuff that’s too obvious to you. Sometimes there’s an obvious reference, then a deeper pun or connection that Alan Moore is making – yes it’s Ayn Rand ink… but why is Moore associating Splash Brannigan with Ayn Rand? If there’s stuff I missed or got wrong, let me know in comments, or email linton.joe [at] gmail.com
General notes: Overall this story acknowledges the early (c. 1930s) black and white cartoon as one of AM’s primary influences for Splash Brannigan, plus a cameo acknowledging Plastic Man as an influence.
- “Bunko the Dog” is a stand in for Bimbo, a cartoon dog who appeared in black and white cartoons in the 1930s, including the 1931 short Bimbo’s Initiation. Bimbo is Betty Boop’s boyfriend, see below. Bimbo and Betty often appear with Koko the Clown, who are also referenced in other Splash stories: TS No.8 (P4, p3) and ABC A-Z (P2,p1.)
- “You stole our whole inky shtick” (continues to be a plot point through page 6) seems to be AM acknowledging that Splash’s morphing shape resembles the shape-changing bodies of 1930 cartoon characters.
- The second building from the left looks like Bill Ding – a vintage wooden block toy.
- See below for explanation of the woman appearing in silhouette. There’s a clever trick reveal here: From the silhouette in this panel, it looks like this is a woman wearing a large hat. On the next panel she’s revealed as a woman with a large head.
- “Bunko’s Girlfriend Bitty Beep” is Betty Boop, who first appeared as Bimbo’s girlfriend in Bimbo’s Initiation.
- “Merciful Méliès” refers to pioneering special effects filmmaker Georges Méliès. He is probably best know for the short 1902 film A Trip to the Moon which mixes animation with live action.
- Examples of “photo montage” in early animation include lots of Koko the Clown Out of the Inkwell shorts, example near the end of Koko’s Earth Control 1928. It’s used in Betty Boop cartoons, too, and probably plenty of other places. Splash Brannigan owes a lot to the zany imagination of Koko the Clown, as mentioned my annotations for page 4 of Tomorrow Stories 8.
- The Bunko holding Miss Screensaver proportions here begin to resemble King Kong holding Fay Wray.
- “People only watch my cartoons for those legendary subliminal naked shots” refers to Boop’s risque cartoons, see the video here. I think it’s a bit racey, but I wouldn’t quite call it subliminal.
- The biplane makes the King Kong homage even clearer.
- Barely legible lettering on the tail of the plane reads “George Evans.” Evans was a comic book artist who was particularly into aviation themes.
- “Foetally-proportioned Labrador-Lovers Monthly” refers to Betty Boop. Boop in her earliest incarnations was also a dog. Over time, her face was changed to be more human, but her head was still out of proportion with her body, hence foetally-proportioned. It’s, of course, fairly common for funny animal cartoons to be oddly-proportioned and, generally, large-headed – though somewhat less common for people to be depicted that way.
Page 5 (no specific references I spotted)
- “Antiquated relics claiming I ripped off their routine” and the “distinctively-patterned carpet” refer to the comic book character Plastic Man created by Jack Cole. Plastic Man is, as far as I know, the earliest stretching superhero, similar to Splash Brannigan. “Plas” is also a kind of zany manic humorous superhero, same as Splash. Plastic Man sometimes (see third panel above) hides as a carpet in order to eavesdrop, though the reader can spot him because of his distinct costume. Plastic Man’s arm is stretching out of the floor about to tap Splash’s shoulder. (Kyle Baker went on to write and draw a Plastic Man on the Lam series in 2004.)