“Read a Damn Book – 017: Spy vs Spy: Casebook of Craziness”

in #comicslast year (edited)

He's always one step ahead!!! (And if you're not careful, you'll fall prey to some elaborate trap that ends in a bomb, bullet, or blade...) Here is a review of a wacky piece of comic art history, a book which collects a number of Antonio Prohias's Spy vs Spy strips into one handy package (which is much easier to carry than a stack of old Mad Magazine back-issues!) This review was originally posted at The Primitive Entertainment Workshop on 28 Mar. 2017, and it's being reposted here so that it can be archived forever and for always on the Steem blockchain!!!

“Read a Damn Book – 017: Spy vs Spy: Casebook of Craziness”

Mad Magazine was a staple of my childhood. I didn’t read it regularly, but devoured every issue that I did get my hands on. I loved the fake adverts, the parodies of popular films, the back cover that you could fold over to reveal a NEW picture that you couldn’t really see even though it was right before your eyes, and the great comics by Sergio Aragones, Don Martin, and (my favorite of all) Antonio Prohias.

spy-vs-spy-2014.jpg
[This is a photograph that I took of the actual book that I read. The image is included for review purposes only!]

Antonio Prohias – Spy vs Spy: Casebook of Craziness (2014)

If you’ve never read Mad Magazine, or played any of the Spy vs Spy video games, or happened across the animated shows, or seen the board game or blah blah blah, (seems unlikely, but you never know) here’s what the story is all about: deception. Prohias (who was born in Cuba) chronicles the escapades of a pair of spies who look exactly alike, except that one is always dressed in black, one always in white, and who are constantly trying to find new and inventive ways to do each other in. By the end of every strip, one or the other of them is usually shot, stabbed, poisoned, mauled, or blown up, but neither spy is ever the clear “winner” of the war.

Imagine Wile E. Coyote meeting up with Rube Goldberg, in a series of black and white, pantomimed, Cold War espionage films. The comics are violent, but not gory—sadistic and ironic for certain—and often stretch believability to the breaking point, but they are also downright fun, and oddly, there doesn’t seem to be any clear GOAL to the attacks beyond outwitting and destroying the other guy. (And, like Kenny from South Park, they always come back to life ready to be killed again in the next adventure.)

This collection has very few words in it (other than some sound effects and the occasional label on a button or package), and can be flipped through fairly quickly. Some of the gags are a bit corny, and anybody bothered by violence probably wouldn’t like it, but for fans of The Three Stooges, Rube Goldberg, or of Mad Magazine, it’s not a bad little compilation of Prohias’s late-70s / early-80s material. Just make sure you check the book for ticking noises or strange, protruding wires before you open it!

—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)

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My brother and I used to get Spy vs Spy books when we were kids. I loved those things! We always ended up fighting over them and getting them taken away. I remember years later finding them. Those books were just as great the second time around too!

Yes! I loved Spy vs Spy as a kid. We even had an old computer game where you were a spy and you set traps, and then whoever you were playing with took a turn and had to find "the formula" (or whatever it was) before they set off too many traps and died. Great stuff!

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