So it's another long car trip with the kids in the back seat, squirming and hollering and shoving each other and climbing all over the luggage because it's the 70s and the idea of strapping those kids safely into giant car seats, let alone giving them portable electronic media to occupy their eyes, has not occurred to anyone yet. How are we going to keep those kids quiet so we can concentrate on smoking endless Salems and dodging Smokey? Comic books, that's how. Comic books handed out for FREE at chain restaurants.
If you're on the East Coast you may very well pull in to a Hot Shoppe, the restaurant chain operated by the Marriott Corporation and here inexplicably promoted by a carload of skiing hillbillies!
Here we see once-ubiquitous fried chicken giant Pappy Parker and his brood of mountain children as they take a day off from chicken farming and head out to the ol' fishin' hole. Uh oh, looks like trouble at creekside!
You can easily clear those riverbanks of annoying fishermen merely by bribing them with fried chicken. They really didn't want to eat those fish anyway; we're downstream from the paper mill and some of them fish have 3 eyes.
And there's more where that came from down at the Hot Shoppe! Sadly the Hot Shoppe went out of business sometime in the 1990s, but nostalgic Washington DC restauranteurs have revived the brand, and you can now purchase a Hot Shoppe "Mighty Mo" burger for the bargain 2015 price of... $17, because WHAT THE HELL
Hot Shoppes Boys And Girls Magazine fulfilled its educational requirements by taking us back in time to the enchanted, wonderful time before the Civil War when lovely antebellum plantations dotted the Southland, because by golly that's all anybody knows about Atlanta, is that there were antebellum plantations somewhere around there, until some sort of important national event happened that people don't like to talk about because it makes people uncomfortable. Even today, people get off the plane and want to go straight to Tara so they can wallow in a pretend romantic white-supremacist fantasy life. Instead, they're taken to the World Of Coca-Cola and forced to drink glass after glass of "Beverly". Don't ask, just drink!
Here's an informative page for the women who are, for some reason, getting important Women Advice from the pages of "Hot Shoppes Boys And Girls Magazine." Have an old purse? Cover it with fabric! Have an old mattress? Don't throw it out immediately because of how incredibly filthy and bedbug-infested it no doubt is, merely cover it with fabric and let the kids play on it! Old pie tins? Hang them from trees for the birds! Frances Jean needs to learn how to throw things away every once in awhile.
Another restaurant that jumped into the kids free comic game was none other than our salty, breaded friend Captain D's!
Boy, that Captain D had some exciting adventures. That's why he no longer uses his full name! Cops are everywhere! I wonder what kind of thrilling escapades he's up to this time. Will it top the thrills of his first mate's birdhouse construction?
That's how exciting Captain D's life is; reading mail from kids. How boring! Well, let's be honest, since his third triple bypass Captain D can't handle much excitement.
But in the world of free restaurant giveaway comics there can be only one king; one plump, overalls-sporting king. His name? Big Boy.
Yes, Big Boy! Able to leap tall buffet tables and bend french fries in his bare hands! Mascot of an international restaurant chain with a confusing web of franchisees and ownerships! Favorite dinner spot of film director David Lynch! And who, with his faithful companions Dolly and Nugget, started off in comics way back in 1956 in comics written by Stan "Millie The Model" Lee and drawn by Bill "Venus" Everett, and soon thereafter by Dan "The Man" DeCarlo! Sadly by the 60s, the patina of comics royalty had worn off and Big Boy and Dolly's adventures were produced by slightly less stellar talent.
World-spanning adventures of the increasingly rotund Big Boy were mixed with local print ads and exhortations for you to pick up the phone and order a "Big Boy" or a "Brawny Lad", piping hot and ready to take home or to the motel down the interstate where they don't ask any questions.
In the early 70s the artwork improved somewhat and Dolly got to wear pants, finally.
Here Big Boy is shot into space in a fine sequence - illustrated with Craftint style by Bob Bindig - featuring Big racing towards a firey mass of indigestion caused by one too many Brawny Lads, no doubt.
Meanwhile in another part of the country, another Big Boy franchisee was producing its own line of free Big Boy comics starring an alternate universe version of Big Boy whose very existence drives obsessive-compulsive comic book continuity freaks insane. And they deserve it.
When natural disasters strike there's only one person to call, and that's Shoney's Big Boy!
Shoney's Big Boy has a jet boat and a helicopter, and a robot called Vat II, and pals Katie and Tripp who help him on his amazing world-spanning rescue adventures. I'm glad to see he's spending his corporate restaurant profits on these public-spirited endeavours.
Next up, Tripp has to work at the circus. So you're watering the elephants? Listen pal, there are much worse jobs you could get working around elephants. Let's just say they involve shovels.
Meanwhile the most successful restaurant chain on Earth sits back, bides its time, creates a giant cast of cartoon characters to sell its products, and outsources ITS comic book production to the fine publishing company known as Charlton.
Now get back in the car kids, we still have six hours 'til Grandma's!
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