9
Aug 03

There aren’t many online pages about Robert Kanigher

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 273 views

There aren’t many online pages about Robert Kanigher, and given that he died last year most of what Google turns up are obituaries. Entirely properly, these tend to stress his many worthy and creative achievements in comics and don’t write very much about what his stories tended to be like. The other sites tend to be dry checklists or hands-folded reverence, miles away from the blood-and-thunder of Kanigher’s writing. (This is pretty symptomatic of the piteous state of online comics crit in general, to be fair).

As a writer, Kanigher was the absolute best kind of hack – inventive, unpretentious, completely unafraid of being ridiculous. Al and I never collected his stuff but if you found a Kanigher-scripted story in the 10p box you were guaranteed a laugh at least. No idea was too hokey for a paycheque – a Haunted Tank? Great! A blind gunner! Terrific! Oh, and let’s do a deaf one next! GIs would fight dinosaurs, Wonder Woman would find herself saddled with Wonder Tot, and I think it was him who turned Lois Lane black for a day. He could do sentimental, and he could do just plain mental. And none of this seems to be really celebrated online, sadly.

You can tap into Kanigher’s lunacy yourself if you like. We used to sit in a pub thinking of stupid ideas for war stories – you’d come up with a title, usually “War’s No Place For A…” and then shove any noun in and the end. “War’s No Place For An Anteater!” “War’s No Place For A Swinger!” and so on. The story would fall into place immediately. One of the obituaries online tells the story of how the art editor returned a page of wrongly-formatted art with “Drop an inch” written across the top. Kanigher spent his lunchtime writing a story called “Drop An Inch”. That is exactly how comics should be done.

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