Monday, September 26, 2011

Goin' Underground: Bat Comix #2 (Rodney Schroeter, 1982)

Bat Comix #2 is a rare underground comix released circa 1982 by Rodney Schroeter. A self-published work, this issue features two of Schroeter's original stories, "Death Shoots the Works" and "The Curious Case of the Croaked Calf Caper". Schroeter had previously released a superhero parody comic called "The Weirdo", which also makes an appearance in this issue.

But the show stealer in this one is clearly, "Death Shoots the Works". This is a brilliant story, and after only reading this recently, I consider it to be one of the best (and underrated) underground gems I've ever encountered. This is a story about what happens when Death makes a mistake and collects the wrong soul for God. The current Death has become old, and he is supposed to take Alf Abernathy's life but instead takes Alf's twin brother Ralph. And even though a huge safe falls and lands on Alf's head...he is able to walk it off, while his brother mysteriously dies moments later, leaving Alf dazed and confused.

Death is rewarded with a surprise party and a sparkling platinum watch, while Alf mourns the loss of his brother and eventually moves on, gets married, and raises a family of four. But fate is confused, and Alf makes a bad decision by trying to stop a rapist in action that gets him killed also.

The problem is...Heaven already has an Alf Abernathy (his brother Ralph took Alf's name to avoid going elsewhere) and he is not wanted there, which causes Alf to throw a finger at the keeper of Heaven's gates...and then he takes off on a trip through the nether-worlds, eventually recreating himself and believing he has found his family in a happily ever after moment...or did he?

 Schroeter weaves an intricate tale of death and dying, with an interesting take on what happens when a soul "passes through the veil". This is great stuff, and is the type of fictional story that could lift someone up who might even fear their own impending, future death. It brought a smile to my face and I've re-read it thrice over now. The art is very well done for amateur work and is often hilarious, triggering laughs at images without any text. The artwork during Alf's death-trip is entirely surreal, capping off an end to a unique work. I am very impressed with this story and applaud Schroeter's efforts.

The other stories in Bat Comix #2 are decent: "The Weirdo" introduce us to a superhero of the same name, who has to deal with getting his tail kicked by "The Old Dame Broad Squad" which is a bunch of crazy old ladies. And "The Curious Case of the Croaked Calf Caper" is a strange one about two buddies with a dead pig...and plenty of time to kill.

Pages from "The Weirdo":

It is unfortunate that this appeared to be Schroeter's last work, as any future artistic endeavors seem to be nonexistent. Although he writes a note declaring a third issue was in the works, it was never released, and even the first issue of Bat Comix is extremely rare and hard to find.

There is only one other copy of Bat Comix #2 for sale online right now, which is actually in better condition than the one I have and is available at I would recommend jumping on this copy, as it should be a good long while before any other copies shall surface.


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