A while back, we featured a 80s black and white boom comic that was notable for its amateurish artwork, its incoherent storyline, and for the running text commentary at the bottom of each page detailing the struggle faced by the creators in trying to bring their artistic vision to fruition. This was called 'The Protectors' and its status as a terrible self-published super hero comic is legendary. Well, the story did not end with that first issue, and recently we uncovered the thrilling second adventure of our heroes. And yes, there's more running text commentary on every page. We present this comic not JUST for the amusement of sarcastic mockers like ourselves, but as a cautionary tale to anyone desperate to shove their super heroes into the world's maw. Not only does the world not want your super heroes in its maw, the world will sometimes make you pay dearly in the process. So, let's begin.
Wow. Uh, so, that's the cover you're going to go with? Can you tell me what it is? Because I don't know what it is. Static on a broken television, an oil slick in a rain-soaked parking lot, a big butterfly, a friendly toad making shadow puppets, who knows? I can tell you what it is NOT - it is NOT convincing me to shell out a buck-seventy. That's definitely not happening.
Let's meet our heroes, stiffly-drawn, poorly defined, living just across the bridge from hipster Williamsburg. Yeah, that's a real address. Also real is the first of our typed memoranda explaining their crash-and-burn comic book adventure. Jeez, sorry, I didn't mean to spoil it for you, I bet you thought "The Protectors" was going to become a giant success. Right?
On their last adventure The Protectors saved a cruise ship full of kidnapped 'white slavery' victims being abducted by an evil genius with an undersea lair. They also somehow got vaguely-defined super abilities. The very 1980s hairstyles were always with them, however.
We also continue the story of Brett, the creator of The Protectors, who in May of 1987 had a finished comic book and desperately wanted it printed and distributed and sold. Knowing nothing of this world, he enlisted the services of someone known as "Crazy Gary", which is what we like to call "getting off to a bad start."
Meanwhile actual real world events intrude upon The Protectors as the US Navy prepares to cross "The Line Of Death" and defy that zany Libyan dictator with the wildly varying name, Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi. Or just spell it any way you want. And if you think he's a sweet guy then you've been watching too many Care Bear movies!
Meanwhile in Tripoli, we're given a surprisingly sympathetic view of "Kadafi", who apparently has just been helping refugees and not being judgemental or supporting terrorism in any way, and while he's ordering his jet fighters to buzz the American ships, they're only going to fire warning shots because that's just the kind of reasonable fellow he is. This may be the only piece of American media anywhere in the 1980s to portray Gaddafi as anything other than a whacked-out lunatic.
Meanwhile it's smirky New York Liberal Blame Reagan day at the Pain apartment, as we get a list of famous counterculture heroes including Norman Mailer and "Jack Karvack," whom I believe invented the car vacuum. Also a great attempt at a Keith Haring on the wall. Man, if he'd drawn this comic, it would be worth millions!
Don't let impending global war interrupt your litany of personal hippy icons, Randy!
Meanwhile, let's check in with the amazing TRUE story of how The Protectors #1 got published.
So far New York Comics has given "Crazy Gary" the re-inked artwork for their comic and $6300 to pay for printing. In return, "Crazy Gary" printed the comic, sold it to distributors, kept those profits, and gave New York Comics 600 copies of their own comic. Such a deal!
Wait a minute.
The editor would like to remind you that these scenes of terrorism taking place at Pace University are fictional. I'm guessing the scenes of "boring guy ranting about Abbie Hoffman in his living room" are, sadly, entirely truthful.
You dogs in Life Functions will learn not to antaganize the PLO! You'll also learn how to spell "antagonize"! That's if you learn anything after we shoot you!
Like all great super hero teams, our heroes take mass transit to their adventures. And the subway cars are great places to change outfits! Now stop argueing, you two! Gene could be (quiet voice) dead
Yes sir, nothing says "kick ass" like tight dance leotards with "P" emblazoned on the chests! Your enemies will be trembling with fear, or laughter, either one is fine.
Wait a minute, this terrorist act is an INSIDE JOB! Rangers, Cubs, Yankees... BLUE JAYS? Is the frosty hand of Canada behind this heinous act?
Handy super hero tip, just wander up to the cops in your masks and leotards and find out what the situation is. They will probably ask "Who the hell are you people!?" just as we see here. And then the cops will sort of yell uselessly as you go in and dispense justice. That's how it works.
And sometimes the cop you talk to is ACTUALLY in cahoots with the bad guys, coordinating their evil false-flag terrorism operations using ordinary Radio Shack walkie-talkies. So evil.
Radio Shack, I mean. No, I don't want to give you my zip code, just sell me my damn batteries.
And in the great tradition of super heroes, the Protectors burst into classrooms and just start blasting away with their special super hero guns. That's what makes them super, the guns! Well, I bet those are special hero guns that only put people to sleep, or something.
Nope, those are guns that just blast holes right through people like ordinary regular guns. Super Heroes, people!
This is actually a super power I wouldn't mind having. If only there was some way to actually set people on fire! But that's just a wonderful dream.
Nothing says "defender of justice, protector of the weak and innocent" like the insane grin of a teenager about to toss a dart into somebody's brain.
But wait, you ask, what's going on with our heroes at New York Comics? Does it involve artists becoming drunk and violently angry?
Yes! It's an amazing story of debts mounting up as bills went unpaid waiting for the big payday from "The Protectors #1" - the money from which didn't go to New York Comics but instead went to the people who printed and sold it, Solson. I'd get drunk and angry too, if it turned out I'd paid $6300 for the privilege of packaging a comic book for somebody else's profit! Thankfully, Brett's mother-in-law came through with a couple thousand dollars and they were able to print their next comic book, a Watchmen parody. And the world breathed a sigh of relief. Or got drunk and angry, whichever.
But back to our exciting terrorism dart-throwing gunfire super hero story!
Our terrorist leader smirks and pronounces "mission accomplished." Buddy, your mission just got shot to pieces by three people in Danskins, if that's a complete mission I'd hate to see your failures! He then gets punched in the face, which he probably describes as "a wonderful caress."
And after a swirly - yes, the first American comic to feature BOTH a sympathetic portrayal of an Arabic dictator AND a head-in-toilet scene! - after a swirly it's revealed that these so-called terrorists were wearing 'Arabic makeup' to impersonate Libyans. I guess when you're spending all your time losing thousands of dollars publishing terrible comic books in an apartment on Broome St in NYC you can't be bothered to actually pick up a National Geographic and see what Arabs actually look like in terms of skin color, which to be honest varies widely, as it does with all peoples, so think about that mister New York Liberal the next time you're boring everybody with the names of your hippy counter-culture heroes.
Did our president set this up? Doubtful, because at this point Reagan was letting Ollie North run American foreign policy out of the basement of the White House, selling guns to Iran to raise cash to give the Contras. Yes, that actually happened, and all Reagan had to say about it was "I forget." At any rate, the Danskin Trio and ESP Girl have prevented World War Three! He said it right there and super heroes don't lie! But what of New York Comics and their financially punishing foray into the world of self-published comics?
"Our paid ads in CBG appeared, and a few magazines mentioned us!" Well worth thousands and thousands of dollars, I'd say. And what's behind all this sacrifice and pain? What drives our fearless, iron-balled "Protectors" author? He just wants to read a better comic book and he wants his name on it. Well Brett, here's a Sharpie, and an issue of "Love and Rockets." Just put your name anywhere you like.
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