ABC: A-Z – Splash Brannigan
Below are annotations for ABC: A-Z, Terra Obscura and Splash Brannigan, “Reckless Refrains Presents A Kaput Kartune! Splash Brannigan Conquers the Universe!” note: these ABC A-Z guide stories don’t actually have titles, so that’s the title I’ve given it, based on the titles in the first two panels. (6 pages, March 2006)
Writer: Peter Hogan (Hogan), Artist: Hilary Barta (HB) [Alan Moore (AM) is listed with HB as creator.]
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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: ABC A-Z is sort of a guide to the ABC universe of characters, so this story is meant as a sort of introduction to Splash Brannigan’s world, including his origin and his cast of supporting characters. This is the first Splash story not written by Alan Moore; the writer Peter Hogan pretty much continues to riff on the same themes that AM established in the preceding stories. As far as I know, as of 2014, this is also the last Splash Brannigan story.
- This whole page is meant to be an animated cartoon. The style is even more cartoony than HB’s usual. The black borders make it a bit like the reader is viewing the cartoon in a dark movie theater. (Splash is AM’s homage to early animation.)
- “Reckless Refrains” is a parody of Warner Brothers cartoon series Looney Tunes (that name was probably derived from the earlier Silly Symphonies, mentioned in these ABC 64-Page Giant No.1 annotations.) The orange-yellow circle motif is from the beginnings and ends of Warner Brothers Looney Tune cartoons (see screen capture above, plus more examples.)
- “Kaput” refers to Kaput Comics, the fictional comic book publisher where Splash’s adventures began. “Kartune” is, of course, a silly way of spelling “cartoon.”
- The space setting, spacesuits, dramatic lighting, and idealized female anatomy make me think that this panel is a homage to comics artist Wally Wood.
- The positions that Splash and Miss Screensaver are in is pretty sexually suggestive.
- “Weave gold out of straw” refers to the fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin.
- “Ink 24 pages… by dawn” refers to the sweatshop conditions in the comic industry (see TS6.)
- “Sarcastic Thug” is a Kaput Comics superhero.
- “The hell that is comics” sounds like AM’s critique of the comics industry, which he has likened to “dark satanic mills.”
- “Hey, baby! What’s occurring?” and “Golly-gosh!” are examples of poorly written dialogue… which, readers find out on the next page, was written by Splash himself.
- “Splasham!” sound effect refers to Captain Marvel saying “Shazam!”
- Splash’s hat (a fez?) and that he’s popped out of a rubbed container identify him as a genie.
- Koko (the Clown) is on a page taped to the wall in the upper left. Bimbo (the Dog) is on a page pinned to the wall in the middle of the panel. Both of these are early animated characters that influenced Splash, see my Splash Brannigan background page for more explanation of influences.
- I think it’s clever that Miss Screensaver is drawing each of theses animation panels by hand. Certainly not the 21st Century way that cartoons would be generated, but much in keeping with the Kaput Comics sweatshop.
- There’s also a clever AM convention where characters are acting out comics/cartoons. A similar device in the first scene of the movie Who Killed Roger Rabbit? where “toons” act in front of a movie camera. AM experimented with this Timmy Turbo’s tour of ABC Comics ABC 64-Page Giant. In this panel, Splash is acting out the cartoon, but has forgotten his line.
- “Alan Less” is a play on Alan Moore. Less/More – you get it.
- This summarizes Splash’s origin story, which was told in TS6.
- “This still needs a story” refers to Miss Screensaver’s ongoing somewhat idealistic attitude (mirroring AM’s) that comics should more than just drek.
- “Original art for compost” refers to a lot of great original comics art not having been valued and treated well.
- “Storage” (where apparently radioactive waste is still stored) has been crossed out to make way for the animation department… this refers to the crappy conditions for creators in the comics industry.
- “Ruin the [cartoon] by adding a story” reinforces Sydney Kaput’s very assembly-line lowbrow approach to comics, see TS6 and TS8.
- “Science-Hero” is AM’s ABC universe equivalent of “super-hero.”
- “Ended up in the pen” is a phrase where “pen” is short for penitentiary (prison.) Here it’s a pun, because Splash is made out of ink, hence he would be in a (writing) pen.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION – TO BE CONTINUED