Monday, September 19, 2011

80's Oddities: Hugo #1 ( Fantagraphics, 1982)

Have you ever wondered what a Disney cartoon might look like if the artists were tripping on acid? Well here's your chance. Hugo #1 is the product of one Milton Knight Jr. This was Knight's first independent work, as he had previously worked as an illustrator for magazines such as Heavy Metal and High Times. He has since went on to become character designer for the 1992 animated film Cool World, and is still releasing work today.

According to Knight, he has always wanted to draw adult-style cartoons since he was a kid, after reading the underground comix of Manhattan in the seventies. He got his start in the comics industry writing scripts for Richie Rich comics at eight dollars per page. He then moved on to penciling for Marvel's Crazy series, and his artwork blossomed from there.

Hugo stars a little cat of the same name, who holds the job of Jester for the King of Rottingham. Set in medieval times, Hugo spends his time avoiding the evil Anarchist Brothers while vying for attention of Princess Trish, who carries a sex appeal similar to Jessica Rabbit. Make no mistake about it however, the similarities end there. These toons are all about getting drunk and high and having sex....often. When they aren't busy doing that, they are plotting murders and other criminal acts...or (if it can get worse than that) are subject to sexy demon zombie chicks from hell.

One such story in this issue has Hugo attempting to "get some" with Princess Trish, who is busy that night. Hugo goes up to his room plotting to get high and kill the pain of the rejection. A female feline taps at his window and to his surprise...she gives him the kind of attention he was after. It's a little weird seeing toons with huge breasts going at it, but Knight never takes it too far and remains tasteful for the most part.

Princess Trish catches Hugo in the act with the other gal, and plots to take the girl out when she comes out of Hugo's window. Curiously enough, the girl "flies" into the cemetery, where it is revealed that she is actually a zombie working for the Devil (who hopes to gain Hugo as his own Jester in Hell).

Trish falls down into their domain and is caught by a little demon, but she is able to escape. Her attempts to warn Hugo fail, and as he enjoys another night with the zombie girl, she reveals her true self...decayed breasts and all. Trish comes to the rescue by singing a song that drives the zombie mad, which triggers Hugo's love for the Princess and it's happily ever after in Rottingham.

Knight is one helluva good artist. He draws in that classic cartoon style that seems immediately familiar to the eye. But Knight's stories are completely off the wall and unlike any cartoon-style I've ever seen. He must have been smoking some good stuff to come up with some of these stories, but in any case...Hugo makes a name for itself as the oddest "Fairy Tales for Adults" the world has ever seen.


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