Oct 2, 2017

Herbie the Fat Fury

I had never heard of Herbie Popnecker until Dark Horse began publishing archives of his comics in 2003, but apparently the bizarre creation of Richard Hughes and Ogden Whitney was quite a sensation in the Swinging Sixties.  After appearing in four issues of Forbidden Worlds, he got his own title in 1964, which ran for 23 issues, until the American Comics Group folded in 1967.

Herbie is  fat preteen with round glasses and a scrunched up Orson Wells face, who is constantly sucking on a lollipop.  He lives with an abusive father and a helpless mother or sister (the relationship seems to vary), has no friends, and doesn't do anything but eat and sleep.

He has a strange, halting way of speaking, leaving out words, especially pronouns: "Story about it.  Tell you."

A "fat little nothing."

But in some other world, some other reality, he is a god, with unlimited power.  He can walk though the air.  He can breathe underwater.  He visits other planets and the underworld.

He cannot be hurt.  Bullets bounce off him, or refuse to hit him altogether.

He may even be God, the creator of his world.  How else can you explain why everyone knows and loves him, from presidents to historical figures to animals and inanimate objects?  His few enemies are not aware that he is Herbie; they can be subdued by a stare, or by a threat to "bop you with this here lollipop."  Plot complications mostly involve how to get the job done without letting his Dad know his true identity.

The source of his power is unexplained -- Herbie is just Herbie.

So, the fantasies of a lonely child,  the grandiose hallucinations of a schizophrenic?    Often his adventures have consequences in the real world, suggesting that at least some of his powers are  real.  Maybe Herbie is a god in human form.

You're probably wondering why he's on Boomer Beefcake and Bonding:
1. A lot of beefcake.  Herbie runs into a lot of shirtless men.
2. Every woman he meets, from Cleopatra to Jackie Kennedy, finds him irresistible, "my dream man."  They are always trying to kiss him, but he rejects them.  He is not interested in women.

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