By Jared Cornelius
While digging through back issue bins at a flea market I was struck with a bit of inspiration. After coming across a stack of comics that would best be described as worthless, I thought to myself who would read these? Why would anyone publish these? Most importantly though was what if I was to read these awful comics for the amusement of others? It was in that moment The Torture Rack was born and I dedicated myself to finding and reading the worst street trash I could get my mitts on and reviewing them here on Bleeding Cool. You might be asking, "Jared, why do you hate yourself?" or "Why exercise this deep psychological trauma here?" Well that's a great question that I don't have a good answer for, so let's jump in with our first foray into The Torture Rack, 1985's Royal Roy from Marvel's Star Comics imprint.
After an unsuccessful bid to buy Harvey Comics in the early eighties, Marvel decided to open up shop with their own kid friendly line of titles. Unlike the superhero centric characters of Marvel Comics proper, Star Comics would focus on popular kid's brands, mostly using pre-existing characters and licenses. Among the notable titles were Thundercats, The Muppets, and Ewoks. Of course no conversation should be had about Star Comics without mentioning their cult favorite series, Peter Porker The Spectacular Spider-Ham. The Star Comics imprint inexplicably lasted until 1991 when it was phased out in favor of publishing kid friendly titles under the banner of Marvel Comics once again.
Hey everybody, white people problems!
Pitch Me The Comic!
Royal Roy is the price of a small country who adore the monarchy so much they regularly stand outside of the palace shouting how much they love the royal family. I can only assume this is because the royal family are horrible despots A 'la Kim Jong Un who require their subject unwavering love and support under punishment of death and torture. Roy and his family are also incredibly wealthy, and while it's never explicitly stated how they got so rich or maintained their wealth I'm just going to go ahead and speculate it's through Taken style sex slavery.
The family rules the country of "Cashalot", that's a mix of the words "Cash" and "Camelot". I learned this thanks to the Wikipedia entry on Royal Roy, I also learned whoever curates that page must've been repeatedly hit in the face with a hammer if they thought explaining that mash up was necessary.
The series revolves around Roy's "comical" adventures with his toothless pet crocodile, Gummy, who's name doubles as a sexual fetish.
So Where Did They Go Wrong?
The first problem with Royal Roy is he's such a rip off of Richie Rich he might as well have Xerox tattooed across him forehead. The second big problem is that by 1985 Marvel should've figured out that no one wants to read about a rich kid solving problems with incredible wealth. Because when you own a goddamned crocodile as a pet there is literally no problem that you can't throw money at to go away. The real life adventures of Royal Roy would go something like this,
ROY "Oh no, this prostitute died of an overdose!"
ROY "Oh, you're right! I'll escape prosecution by leveraging my enormous wealth and family's political influence."
The problem with rich kid comics is they're never opulent enough. Oh sure, there are castles and fancy jewels but where's the overzealous wealth that would make Michael Jackson say enough? A character like Royal Roy shouldn't be trudging through a forest catching poachers, he should be doing laps in a champagne swimming pool and snorting cocaine off the hood of a solid gold Bugatti. He should be eating condor egg omelets topped with white rhino gravy before he solves the mystery of howQatar got the 2022 World Cup.
Just How Bad Is It?
Royal Roy isn't so much a bad comic as it is an inoffensive comic. It's so generic it could be sold as the store brand, like Doctor Thunder, or Pan-Burger Partner. You know what it's supposed to be, but it's a sad copy of something that wasn't all that good to begin with.
Roy Roy's real problem ends up being he's a carbon copy of a character that no one likes. Rich kid comics take every kids fantasy of having anything they ever wanted and reduce it to clichéd jokes about wealth and give every story the deus-ex machina of having vast wealth as a problem solving tool. I say that as a 32 year old man, but these comics never interested me when I was a kid either, maybe it was the times, but I never knew anyone who willingly read a comic book like this. The story of Royal Roy does end up having a happy ending with Harvey Comics suing Marvel for ripping off Richie Rich and the series being canceled after six issues.The Torture-Meter
Royal Roy gets a three out of 10. It's not painful, it's just boring.
That's it for the first edition of the Torture Rack. Tell me what you think in the comments or @John_Laryngitis on Twitter. You can also pick up the brand spanking new issue of Bleeding Cool Magazine in finer comic shops this week.
I interview Chris Warner about the revival of Barb Wire and we talk about chicken fried steaks and the movie that launched Pam Anderson's career into a pile of hepatitis. You can also go read my weekly video game column, Sweet Release! that gives you the scoop on the hot new game tapes on store shelves.
Jared Cornelius is some guy from the Jersey coast who loves MST3K. Tell him your preferred form of fun media torture on Twitter @John_Laryngitis.