The most peculiar '80s comic event was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle boom. Or rather, it was the flood of knock-offs inspired by TMNT's incredible success (for a while issue #1 was selling for a couple of hundred bucks). Pretty much every publisher put out something black-and-white involving funny animals, most of which didn't make it past the first issue. A lot of them skated dangerously along the "parody" line -- a quick poke around the web to refresh my memory turned up Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters, Geriatric Gangrene Jujitsu Gerbils, Adult Thermonuclear Samurai Elephants, Naive Interdimensional Commando Koalas, and Pre-Teen Dirty-Gene Kung Fu Kangaroos. It felt like Blackthorne Publishing printed nothing but them for a while. It was a weird time, kind of similar to the record companies' rush to Seattle after Nirvana hit big...hmmm, Stone Temple Pilot Turtles? Nah.
Anyway, one nice side effect of it was that for a while other more original B&W funny animal stuff would get printed, and a lot of very non-mainstream stuff snuck through. The quality was pretty uneven, to be kind, but there were gems. One of my personal favorites, forgotten by me until I stumbled across their one-shot from Eclipse this afternoon, was Weasel Patrol.
Ken Macklin has dropped off the map, unless he's this Ken Macklin, which I have a funny feeling he might be -- I vaguely recall he was Canadian, and so's this sculptor. Whatever happened to him, it's a shame he's apparently stopped making comics because the guy had serious talent. His signature work was Dr. Watchstop, a Vaughn Bodé-esque SF strip that started out in Marvel's Epic magazine and then became a back-up series in Eclipse Comics' Fusion. It was beautiful.
On the other hand this collaboration with fellow Fusion artist Lela Dowling was a throwaway. But it was funny and the art was nice, which is two more points than many of the funny furries of the TMNT Land Rush had.
For no obvious reason their one solo outing sent them to the Old West. Well why the hell not? We'll begin with their recurring villain, Reefer Rick:
It's so crazy it...just...might...work!
(You can tell this was published before the Web, as Rick has to find a way to get the cows to Alaska -- in 2011 he'd just set up BovineCompanionsForLonelyPeople.com and his customers would beat a path to his door. Don't kid yourself that they wouldn't.)
Meanwhile the Weasel Patrol have pulled into town and after a discussion with the sheriff decide to get to the bottom of things:
Weasel Attack indeed. It's like something from Discovery Channel's Shark Week. If you watch it with the aid of military-grade hallucinogens.
Reefer Rick decides to brazen it out, but the sheriff and the crack weasel analytic minds only take two-and-a-half pages to figure out that something's fishy, and it's cows. But wait, our villain has something up his sleeve!
And he would have got away with it too if it weren't for those pesky kids, the Weasel Patrol, and that turtle in a hat! Oh, and the UFO too, I suppose. I'm surprised they didn't manage to work in Pope Calixtus III and spontaneous human combustion at that rate.
Somewhat amazingly, this story as well as the shorts from Fusion and elsewhere were reprinted by About Comics in 2009.