I had the great pleasure of meeting Bob Burden once, back in 1988 at Golden Apple Comics in L.A. My uncle and I drifted into the comic shop, late, for a Burden appearance, and we got there just in time to see the man surrounded by admirers, with an old, dirty sock pulled over his hand with a few holes cut in it for his thumb and a finger or two to slip through. He was holding a pen with the sock covered hand and drawing on a page on table and saying something about how the sock kept his sleeve clean. After a second or two, Burden says, “I need a smoke,” and he got up and went out the back door---and everyone left. Since my uncle and I had just gotten there, we decided to stay and shop for a few minutes. (I found a few Flaming Carrot issues and a copy of Robot Comics #0, another Bob Burden classic.) After we’d browsed about the place for a bit, Burden came back into the shop and said, “Where the hell did everybody go?” I said that I guessed they thought that he was done so they left, and he just shrugged and said, “Oh well, what do you want me to sign?” And, to my surprise, he signed several comics, drew me a picture of Limbo Man on a clean sheet of paper, and we sat and talked for what must have been another half-an-hour, at least! He was incredibly funny, and just a great guy overall. In similar circumstances, I think a lot of artists would have gotten angry and left, but not Burden! He’s a stand-up fellow, just like his most fascinating creation: THE FLAMING CARROT!
Bob Burden – Flaming Carrot’s Greatest Hits (1998)
For those of you who aren’t familiar with F.C. Comics, the Carrot is, essentially, a mentally disturbed man who read 5,000 comics in one night on a bet, then emerged the following day wearing a carrot mask, flippers, and feeling compelled to fight crime---although, honestly, he seems to spend almost as much time chasing women as he does battling evil. This particular collection was the THIRD produced by Dark Horse Comics which reprinted the early, now incredibly difficult to find, independently published issues of Burden’s comic. Even if you’ve never read any Flaming Carrot stories before, this is a great place to start---a fantastic collection of tales. The stories include Carrot doing battle with a dead, flying dog, an army of cloned Hitler feet, various inter-dimensional monsters, and a mail-order jungle bride. There are TWO issues in this book (told as flashbacks while the Carrot dozes in a hammock) about The Mystery Men, a 2nd tier superhero group that Flaming Carrot supposedly belonged to back in the 1970s. (The Mystery Men eventually got their own film starring Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, Hank Azaria, Greg Kinnear, Geoffrey Rush, Paul Reubens and a few others. It wasn’t as funny as the comics, but it wasn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen. That would probably have been Body of Evidence starring Madonna...)
These stories are very silly stuff, absurd to say the least, and quite fun. The first tale in the book, “The Dead Dog Leaped Up and Flew Around the Room” is possibly my favorite comic story of all time! (Definitely the best title ever.) However, Flaming Carrot is not for the thinned skinned, as the stories drift into some rather un-P.C. areas. Some would probably consider quite a few of the jokes to be sexist, and the final story, in which Uncle Billy orders a mail-order bride from an unspecified jungle, is pretty far over the line, but it’s also so silly that I think it’s safe to call it satire. There are also some awkward party sequences in these stories, and as these tales originally appeared in the 1980s, they tend to reflect the atmosphere and the attitudes of that era. (In one great scene, Flaming Carrot even puts on a checkered sport coat to go hang out in the hotel bar and try to pick up chicks!) Think Revenge of the Nerds meets Less Than Zero, maybe…but with more Nazis.
I love Flaming Carrot, and I think the humor holds up well, despite being over three decades old. Again, readers who are sensitive to sexist humor will probably be annoyed by much of the book, but for those who like alternative humor, odd characters, monsters, or really silly “adult” laughs, this collection will be right up your alley!
---Richard F. Yates
(Commander in Cheap of The Primitive Entertainment Workshop)