thrift store finds: saturday night live’s coneheads #3

Today we’re looking at Coneheads #3, written by Terry Collins with art from Tom Richmond and Marie Severin. Coneheads was published by Marvel Comics in 1994; original cover price was $1.75, I happily paid a quarter for this beauty.

Great Renior parody, right?

The 1990’s were salad days for Saturday Night Live in Hollywood. The decade began with Wayne’s World, a gigantic comedy blockbuster. Although not the first SNL characters to make the jump to the big screen, Wayne’s World was the first in like 12 years. WW was not only a blockbuster, it was a cultural phenomenon, sparking catchphrases and a legion of copycats.

WW opened the floodgates for a whole slate of SNL movie adaptations. Characters who could barely pad out a five minute sketch like the androgynous… person from It’s Pat and The Ladies Man were now being tailored for two hour comedies. It’s hard to argue any of these films were very good outside of Wayne’s World… but if you had to pick, Coneheads is probably the best of an unimaginative bunch.

Based on the classic sketch, the movie featured a origin story for Beldar and Primat Conehead and their teenage daughter Connie. Would-be alien conquerers barely assimilated into Earth culture, the Coneheads were featured prominently in the first three years of Saturday Night Live, to audiences’ delight. Of all the SNL sketches turned into movies in the 1990’s, The Coneheads was probably the one concept which showed the most promise for life outside of SNL. The characters had previously been featured in a 1977 Rankin/Bass animated special which broadened out their goals and world.

In fact, the 1993 movie Coneheads lifts aspects of the animated special’s designs and origin, whole cloth.

I’m not going to tell you Coneheads is a great movie, but it’s a passable one and probably the best Coneheads movie anyone could make. Original SNL cast members Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtain reprised their roles as Beldar and Primat, respectively. The cast is studded with veteran comedy performers like Michael McKean and Jason Alexander. It also provided some of the first substantial film roles for future SNL stars like David Spade, Adam Sandler, and Chris Farley. Farley in particular is a stand-out, displaying a mix of manic comedy and tenderness which would mark his best cinematic outings.

Apparently, someone misguidedly thought Coneheads might inspire a merchandising bonanza. Among other knick-knacks, Playmates Toys released a series of Coneheads action figures… and Marvel Comics published this four issue mini-series.

The cover to Saturday Night Live’s Coneheads #3 promises a natural extension of the characters and the concept. The cover story in both the movie and on television is that The Coneheads’ weirdness could be explained away to Americans by pointing out they hailed from France.

Why not take The Coneheads TO France, with the unlimited budget a comic book could provide?

In fact, the mini-series is a direct sequel to the movie and explains the overarching plot in an able fashion.

Two renegade Conehead aliens have come to Earth and discovered Beldar’s subterfuge in faking his death. They are trying to find him to bring him and his family to justice and have brought with them Eli Turnbull, David Spade’s character who was marooned on Remulak at the end of the movie.

As you can see already, Coneheads is an early example of ace caricaturist Tom Richmond‘s work. Richmond is today best known for his excellent work on MAD Magazine‘s many film and television parodies, carrying the torch for such cartoonist stalwarts like Mort Drucker and Angelo Torres. The likenesses in Coneheads #3 are quite excellent

…while Richmond clearly gives himself enough room to get silly with his drawings, rather than let them be stiff likenesses. Richmond’s caricatures aren’t regimented; they have a kinetic flow to them that even the great Mort Drucker’s work didn’t have. In particular, he seems to be having fun with his version of Chris Farley’s character Ronnie.

I also love the way Richmond designs his pages to facilitate the gigantic Conehead noggins. Richmond designs the panels around the cones, letting them crack through the panels multiple times. It’s a cute touch that unites the pages cleverly and one I haven’t often seen in his MAD work.

We even get some of those classic MAD Magazine eyepoppers. Check out whose carrying The Coneheads’ luggage to their hotel suite!

I’m not sure who to subscribe that last gag to… writer Terry Collins has a varied career, crafting comics, picture books for children, and (beat still my heart!) movie novelizations. His script for Coneheads #3 is quite well done is a great example of a comic book you could hand to ANYONE and, even with no prior knowledge of the series or the characters, they’d understand what was going on. The books ends on a cliffhanger and I’m genuinely interested in seeing what happens.

I’m not sure there ever should have been a Coneheads comic book but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a solid humor book with smart writing and great art. It’s kind of a gem! In a weird way, I’m looking forward to the blank stares I’m sure to receive from dealers at comic book conventions when I ask if they have issues 1, 2, and 4 of Saturday Night Live’s Coneheads.

Addendum: I decided to drop a link to Mr. Richmond on Twitter. Here’s his response:

I’ll be sure to let everyone know if he does!

3 Responses to “thrift store finds: saturday night live’s coneheads #3”

  1. […] had run across an old issue of Coneheads at a thrift store, and wrote a blog post about it in a feature called “Thrift Store Finds”, where he says a lot of nice things about my […]

  2. […] In last week’s TSF, I wrote about my enjoyment of a random issue of a Coneheads mini-series Ma… I tweeted about it to the book’s penciller, MAD Magazine‘s Tom Richmond. […]

  3. Giuseppe Says:

    There worth over $100 each now. I paid $80 for the first and $70 for the second edition. They are very valuable.

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