#11 Battle of the Titans 4
#11 Battle of the Titans 4
Only Printing / Fall 1982 / 76 pages / Rip Off Press
The Future is for Squares • Fat Freddy’s Cat • Battle of the Titans • Taxi Driver • Stinknee • Dinoboy • My Papa • Frank Crankcase’s Time Machine • FFF Idiots Abroad • Love that Time Forgot • • Fall of Empire • Oat Willie • Special Section Cartoonists of the Netherlands • Herge 50 Years Ago • Weather Permitting • Sales Director • Pete Panty and Eko • Gogo and Gaga • Sharing the Wealth • Firework • Jan Sailers • Titul and Titula
#11 Battle of the Titans 4
about this issue
Rip Off Press converted its signature publication from a comic book to a magazine format with this issue. In retrospect, it seems easy to guess why Fred Todd and Gilbert Shelton would move Rip Off to a magazine format, since Last Gasp's Weirdo debuted to considerable fanfare (for alternative comics) the previous year. Weirdo's launch was preceded by Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly's Raw in 1980, which garnered notable critical praise due to its exceptional, groundbreaking content and unusual (and very large) print format.
I'm sure Rip Off Comix didn't intend to take a back seat to Weirdo or Raw, hence the shift to a larger format to chase the trend and battle apples to apples. They also dropped the Comix from the title, replacing it with the unwieldy subtitle The International Journal of Humor and Comic Strip Art. Over the next several issues, Rip Off would gradually transition Comix back into the title, but the international emphasis survived the remainder of its run.
Through Shelton and his wife, Lora Fountain, Rip Off Press secured an international licensing firm, Interlizenz, GmbH in Germany, which ostensibly opened retail markets worldwide for Rip Off. This is amusingly reflected in the price box on the cover of this issue, which lists 40 countries and their associated cover prices (including Japan and parts of South America).
Not only does Rip Off increase its page size, but also its page count, by 50% over the previous comic book format (from 48 to 72 interior pages). The first several pages of the magazine are now filled with articles and artwork instead of comics. The articles include "The Rip Off Revue," which spotlights underground artists who have shows at fine art galleries. Other articles feature Greg Irons' tattoo artist career, the Church of the SubGenius, and the obscenity bust of Knockabout Comics in London (all excellent reads, I might add).
There's also a brief sampling of Dave Sheridan's fine art, followed by his obituary (written by Jack Jackson for the Austin Chronicle). Sheridan had tragically passed away in March of 1982 of lymphatic cancer. His obituary is paired with an obituary for Gilbert Shelton collaborator Joe E. Brown, who also died the previous year after completing the script for "Wonder Wart-Hog and the Battle of the Titans."
The comics don't begin in earnest until page 13 with the fourth chapter of Wonder Wart-Hog's epic "The Battle of the Titans." In this second-to-last installment, Wonder Wart-Hog, Paranoid Punkpig, Piltdown Pig and Pig-of-the-Future have banded together to track down the instigators of a massive crime wave in Wonder's home town of Muthalode. It takes some doing, but after a few killings, an extended meal break and a corpse-tossing contest, our four heroes finally track down Lefty and Louie at their plush headquarters in an abandoned warehouse, setting up what promises to be an exciting finale in the next issue.
Following "Titans" is a four-page comic by Spanish cartoonist Marti Riera Ferrer (Marti) called "Taxi Driver." As it turned out, "Taxi Driver" would become the first chapter in Marti's acclaimed graphic novel, The Cabbie, which was published in Spain later in the decade and subsequently reprinted by Fantagraphics in two volumes in 2011 and 2013. "Taxi Driver," like the rest of The Cabbie, stars a taxi-cab driver who carries out vigilante justice and commits violent crimes while driving a bizarrely customized taxi.
Marti's illustration style is unapologetically patterned after Chester Gould's, and the stories that make up The Cabbie share elements with Gould's Dick Tracy comics, including bold, stylized penwork and stark violence. The story presented here, which features the armed robbery of a passenger in the Cabbie's taxi, promises "to be continued," and a second chapter indeed appears in the next issue of Rip Off Comix. Alas, after Rip Off goes into a four-year hiatus, "Taxi Driver" does not reappear, so you'll have to buy the graphic novel to read the whole adventure (available on Amazon and at Fantagraphics website). Well worth the time and investment!
Rip Off #11 is probably best known for the first appearance of the Freak Brothers' epic worldwide adventure "The Idiots Abroad," which is reviewed in detail in the Freak Brothers section. The eight-page opening chapter appears here and another 11 pages shows up in the next issue of Rip Off. Though rendered redundant by the publication of the entire adventure in the Freak Brothers comic books, it's still nice to see the story printed in the larger magazine format instead of the comic book size. An even better way to enjoy the large format is to buy the trade paperback The Idiots Abroad, a 96-page, 8.5x11 inch book published by Rip Off Press in 1987.
This issue concludes with a 26-page section on cartoonists from the Netherlands (comprised of Holland and Belgium), with introductions by Evert Geradts and Gilbert Shelton. It's a solid sampling of comics, many of which are deeply influenced by Herge's Tintin, which lends some stylish craft to even the less stellar stories.
The 11th issue relaunches the Rip Off Comix anthology as a fancy-dancy magazine and it does so with great style and exceptional content. It would seem it could, at the very least, compete with Weirdo as a premier alternative comics magazine (Raw being in a class of its own). Unfortunately, Rip Off #11 didn't fill its publisher's coffers with the kind of profits they might have hoped, which would threaten its very existence by the next issue.
It is currently unknown how many copies of this comic book were printed. It has not been reprinted. Like other magazine-format comics with numbered pages and a table of contents, the index of comic creators below follows the page numbers defined in the magazine instead of counting the covers as additional numbered pages.
Gilbert Shelton front cover (collaboration), 2 (logo collaboration), 7 (text), 11-12 (art, text), 12-24 (collaboration), 33-40 (collaboration), 46, 47-48 (text), 48 (photo)
Paul Mavrides front cover (collaboration), 1, 2 (logo collaboration), 4-5 (text), 30, 33-40 (collaboration), 48 (collaboration), inside back cover (art for ad)
Guy Colwell front cover (color), 3 (art repro)
Byron Werner inside front cover
Carlson 2 (photo)
S. Clay Wilson 2 (spot illo for article)
Robert Williams 2-3 (spot illos for article), back cover (art for ad)
Jay Kinney 3 (collaboration)
Adam Cornford (collaboration)
Lora Fountain (photo)
Greg Irons 4-5 (photos of tattoos)
Ivan Stang 6 (text)
Dave Sheridan 8-9
Jack Jackson 10 (text)
Tony Bell 12-24 (collaboration)
Joe E. Brown 12-24 (collaboration)
Charlie Schlingo 29
Frank Stack 32
H. S. Robins 41-44
Evert Geradts 47-48 (text), 52-53 (collaboration), 65-69
Joost Swarte 47 (art), 49-51
Peter Pontiac 48 (art), 61
Jan Smeets 52-53 (collaboration)
Ben Jansen 55-60
Wim Stevenhagen 62-63
Harry Buckinx 70-71
Bob van den Born 72