SPOOF #4 – Blecchula, Santa Claus, Maykus Wellby, M.D.

March 1973
Marvel Comics

And here we go again. You may remember that SPOOF &1 had an October 1970 cover date. SPOOF &2 came out in November of '72, just over two years later. Clearly hiatuses are nothing new in the biz. But SPOOF came out regularly after that, every two months till the end of its run (with issue #5).

(Interestingly, it alternated with the comic-book version of CRAZY, which was nothing but reprints of NOT BRAND ECHH and only lasted three issues.)

The lead horrible story – I mean, horror story is "Blechhula!" Script by Stu Schwartzberg, Art by Marie Severin. (In a way, it's odd that Marie would have to draw so many horror stories – when she worked for EC, she sometimes objected to the blood 'n' guts. Famously she colored the scenes of a baseball team using their nemesis' body parts for equipment with a flat blood red. The difference, of course, is that these "horror" spoofs keep the real gore offstage.)

An African Prince and his wife are visiting Count Dracula to try and convince him to help stop the slave trade. The Prince and the Count are the only two realistic caricatures, of William Marshall and Charles Macaulay, respectively.

To the Prince's request, the Count replies (SLUR ALERT!) "Somebody gotta pick d'cotton." This is a paraphrase of a line from a song that is definitely non-PC, even in '73:

Someone had to pick the cotton,
Someone had to pick the corn,
Someone had to slave and be able to sing,
That's why darkies were born.

The Prince reacts to the Count's boorishness (and his making a pass at his wife) by announcing: "W-Why, you're nothing but a... a SPIGOT!"

"That's BIGOT, dear!" his wife helpfully adds. Then they see Drac is growing fangs.

"H-He's turning into an... an UMPIRE! Er... CAMPFIRE! RACING TIRE?"

"That's VAMPIRE, dear!"

Drac knows how to treat difficult guests: "Throw these two into the dunjohn... er... dunjane? Joan? Oh, YOU know... the dark JAIL place downstairs! (SHEESH! They got ME doin' it now!)"

The Prince and the Princess fight valiantly, but futilely (or else no story, of course). The Prince is bit but not his wife.

Flash forward to 1972 and Drac's estate sale. His effects (including 47 black-lined capes and "Bat Breath" aftershave) are bought by a couple of decorators, one black, one white. (The synopsis for the movie says that they're gay but that's not touched on here.)

They've just managed to open Blechhula's coffin when they get distracted by Dracula's collection of "Tales from the Crypt" comics. Slowly the coffin creaks open.

"This may be to much to hope for, but did YOU make that noise?"

"I was sorta hopin' that was YOU!"

Of course it's Blechhula, who announces himself: "I'm going to SLUCK your BUD! (Hmm... needs practice!)" (Well, Schwartzberg's had four issues already – how much more practice does he need?)

Next panel: the black decorator, Heeshee, (okay, maybe it WAS touched on) is laid out at a local funeral home. (See what I mean about keeping the gore offscreen?) His sister is a dead ringer for the Prince's wife. (Of course she was played by the same actress.) Blechhula tries to sweet-talk the girl, Teena, but scares her off. Before he can follow he's clipped by a taxicab.

"Ah'll bet this was a set-up so's you can SUE me," says the (female, black) cabbie. "You really gonna put the BITE on me, ain'tcha?"


Teena meets her sister and her sister's boyfriend (not named here – call them, "Not-Michelle" and "Not-Gordon") at her favorite restaurant, the Chez Leroy. Not-Gordon puts the pieces together: "Two puncture marks in Heeshee's neck, a creepy guy with long fangs and a black cape... it all adds up! It looks like another BLACK EXPLOITATION film!"

Just then the Prince comes to their table and starts to put the whammy on Teena, or as Not-Gordon puts it (SLUR ALERT!): "He doin' somethin' unwholesome to thet woman!"

The Chez Leroy is one of those places that has a girl taking pictures of the happy revelers. One shows up now and scares Blechhula off. (Only, if he just woke up, how does he know about photography and its non-effect on vampires?)

The lady shutterbug develops the picture and sure enough, the Prince isn't in the prints. "I've read about people who don't show up on film or cast shadows in mirrors or somethin.' What're they called again? Umpires? First basemen? Second lieutenants?"

"Try Vampires!" sayeth the Prince.

The funeral home calls to say Heeshee's body has disappeared. Not-Gordon drags Not-Michelle to the graveyard where the white gay decorator was planted; they should eliminate him, at least. But the white kid pops up from his coffin and (SLUR ALERT!) "Hi! Now for tomorrow's headlines: Two Shvartzehs Killed In Cemetery!"

Unfortunately they can't kill him, because they brought the wrong kind of steak. (That NEVER, EVER happens in a Dracula spoof, now does it?) Instead they leave at speed, with the new vampire unable to pursue for some reason. "I'd apologize, but being dead means never having to say you're sorry!"

Meantime Blechhula convinces Teena to marry him. "I know what he is and I don't care!" she tells Not-Gordon. "He'll make a wonderful husband! And he'll keep the place free of mice!"

At least Not-Gordon is able to subdue the vampire cabbie. "There she is! Now I shall hold up that symbol which brings DISGUST and LOATHING to all vampires! In fact, it has that effect on everyone!" What is this symbol? Naturally, it's...

A smiley button. (Did Alan Moore read this?... Probably, dude's read everything else.)

Blechhula and Teena are roadblocked coming home from their wedding. Teena gets mortally wounded. (In the movie Blacula makes her a vampire at this point, but Michelle and Gordon stake her, so we're skipping that part in order to finish up quicker.)

After losing his bride for the second time, Blechhula is disheartened and decides to commit suicide by facing the rising sun. He turns progressively more stiff and wrinkled and shrunken – or as depicted here, he turns into Groucho Marx, then into Howdy Doody, then Walter Cronkite. (Again with Walter Cronkite? What is it with this bullpen?)

Finally the bloodthirsty vampire is reduced to a bloodthirsty mosquito, who flies off singing (SLUR ALERT!): "Ol' Man Ribbuh..."

Not-Gordon sums up: "Oh well... One good thing came out of this mess, anyway... Namely, this should be the last monster film exploiting the Black Movie craze!"

"DAT'S what YOU think!" And we close on a tableau of black versions of the Wolfman, the Phantom of the Opera, the Mummy, Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein, the Hunchback, and (further back) Tarzan, the Lone Ranger, and Superman.

"The End?? No way, baby!"

Second story: "What if famous people were Santa Claus?" Written by Steve Gerber, drawn by Warren Statler, inked by Henry Scarelli.

Steve himself is the narrator, drawn as a 70s-style roving reporter with long hair and 'stache. He's stationed in the bargain basement of "Spacy's" Department Store. (Among the "chicken fat" – i.e., the throwaway gags – is a sign that says, "Put the 'X' back in Christmas". You can see that as just a straightforward reversal of "Put Christ back into Xmas" – but when you see the sign is held by a hot babe, you start to wonder if Steve's not chafing at the Comics Code.)

Steve meets his first target: "My name is Spiro Aggh-new– and I think Christmas should be more patriotic!" He recommends replacing the Three Wise Men with the Spirit of '76 and the reindeer with eagles. Also, some blue trim to Santa's suit. "To me, red looks awfully suspicious without blue and white." (Which means this was before red and blue states, of course.) One of Santa Spiro's elves is a ringer for Dick Nixon. Like Denny O'Neil in that issue of GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW, Gerber is suggesting the Vice President is the one really calling the shots. Yeah, like that will ever happen.

"Today's toys cater too much to the child's creativity– encouraging (blecch!) THINKING!" Spiro offers his idea of "REAL toys! A Hippie Voodoo Doll– A map of the Democratic National Headquarters– TV sets without sound! Good patriotic stuff."

And lastly, "To hold down inflation, I'd have kids pay for their toys. It builds character." Spiro is so taken with the idea, "I think I'll ask Dick to put it before Congress!"

Steve moves on to Flap Wilson, who promises to give Santa some soul!

Kid to Santa Flap: "Man, why you wearin' them crazy glad rags?"

Santa Flap: "The devil made me do it!"

Uh... that's it? Just the catchphrase? No spin or anything?

Maybe Gerber's just getting warmed up. Let's see what's next.

A little girl, on Christmas morning. "THIS IS IT?? One dumpy doll and a ball that won't bounce?"

And Santa says, "What you see... is–"


I'm sorry, no.

Steve, just repeating these taglines (and this particular performer had almost nothing BUT taglines) is just lazy writing. We know you can do better; you gave us Howard the Duck and Omega the Unkn... you gave us Howard the Duck. Chalk it up to early days in your writing career and let's move on.

Steve says, "I think we need a sanity clause! What next?"


That primal scream heralds the arrival of John Lemmon and Oko Yono, the two of them stuffed in one Santa suit.

Asked what he would do were he Santa, John warbles: "I don't believe– in Santa! I don't believe– in reindeer!" Meanwhile, Oko gives Steve a present. "A grapefruit? Yeesh, Oko– I dug the book, but I'm off that diet!"

So instead, Oko performs her favorite Christmas Carol: "AAIIYAGGHIE – and a Happy New Year!"

Well, at least John gives us a rousing finish by leading the crowd (which includes Spider-Man, Namor, Nick Fury, Hulk, Cap, Luke Cage, Superman, Ed Sullivan and Alley Oop) in a chorus of "All We Are Saying Is– Give PEACE (on Earth and Goodwill to Men) A Chance!"

("But, er..." says Spiro, "Think of the long-term economic consequence...!")

Third story, "Maykus Wellby, M.D." Did this show have a big youth following? I'd say not, but apparently Marv Wolfman (words) and Marie Severin (pictures) would disagree. Among the patients in Dr. Wellby's waiting room are Humpty Dumpty (for 11,000 bandaids) and Pinocchio (for a nose splint).

As before, Dr. Wellby and his assistant Dr. Killer are more realistically drawn than the supernumeraries. There is no real plot, except for Dr. Killer's repeated entreaties to get Dr. Wellby to become a specialist; the story is merely a string of unconnected medical jokes.

A policeman brings Doc Wellby a new patient. "I just found this nut trying to kill herself."

"That's not a nice thing to say, officer! She's disturbed, perhaps... upset, maybe... but you should NEVER call someone a nut. By the way, how did this nut try to kill herself?"

The nut– I mean, patient herself answers: "I tried to watch re-runs of 'My Little Margie' and bore myself to death."

"Good Lord! You must have been desperate!"

After the initial shock, Dr. Wellby goes all conciliatory:

"Life is beautiful, my dear... True, the air is unclean, poisonous, and mankind may only exist for another ten years at most, but look at the bright side... you'll never know the hardships of old age.

"There's never any reason to kill yourself. True, with all the overpopulation there will hardly be enough food for any of us in a few years... but why be gloomy now?

"You're young, beautiful... Soon you'll be married... You'll have kids running around your house, destroying your furniture and your sanity. Isn't that the dream of every woman?

"I know you think life is hard to face... but so is eating creamed spinach... or broccoli, or cauliflower... and what about pig's knuckles? Now they're really awful."

"ENOUGH! ENOUGH! I won't kill myself if you'll shut up!"

"That's better, my dear... Trust me... After all, Doctor Knows Best. [You just knew that line had to be in here somewhere, didn't you? – Roy]"

"I don't want to die, Doctor... But I can't face myself! Not after that AWFUL thing I did. What will my parents think of me now? Not to mention my Draft Counselor!"

"You've got to face up to life, my dear. True, you'll be laughed at behind your back, and you'll be ostracized from normal, decent society... but there's a good side: You won't have to spend so much money buying party dresses any more."

"You're right, Doctor," she says, bravely sticking up her quivering chin. "After all, I'm not the first person this has happened to."

"True. Last week alone I had 758 others with the same problem... If I did't know any better, I'd say it was contagious."

And the encouraged girl leaves with her head held high...

...and her toe still stuck in a bowling ball. (Think Marlo Thomas.)

Well, that's really about it. Just wanted to point out that, after SPOOF folded, Marv, Marie and Steve all got long-running assignments with the black-and-white CRAZY, which started in October of '73 and ran for ten years. I don't know what happened to Stu Schwartzberg and I'm almost scared to find out.