Wednesday, January 6, 2016


The blurb on the upper right-hand corner of the cover to The Adventures of Kool-Aid man (a one-shot produced by Marvel Comics in 1983) indicates that the book in question constitutes something along the lines of a "sixty cent value," which I suppose is a claim best left to the philosophers of a future age. I paid a quarter, I think most people got it for free. Perhaps it's got sixty cents' worth of sentimental value attached to it. I can only imagine it was possibly a lesser luminary's slightly beloved comic, like if Mother Teresa's big-hearted second-cousin fondly recalled finding a soaking wet, half-torn copy of this book washed up on the shore of the lake where he received his first kiss during a languid summer of his youth. A memory worth sixty cents. Tops.

What part of him is she kissing, exactly?
Is that a cheek, a boob or an armpit?
The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man is one of those comics which pops up on every list of weird comics, or weird crossovers, or shameless corporate pandering in comics, and yet few of them ever do much to explain what actually happens within the comic. It's almost as though the authors of internet listicles just scour other internet listicles in order to farm them for their own internet listicles! Scandalous if true!

What The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man actually describes is a pair of conflicts between giant-sized troubling urine specimen and enthusiastic spokesjar of Kool-Aid brand powdered kids' drink The Kool-Aid Man versus a coterie of tongue-dangling, sizzling hot fiends from outer space known as The Thirsties. Let's stop for a moment and genuinely appreciate internet culture for bringing us a new slang term which makes The Thirsties ten times funnier even in the abstract.

The Thirsties resemble what it might look like if the Muppets had anuses which were, themselves, Muppets, complete with feet, eyes and arms. Kool-Aid Man, as you know, is the legendary Holy Grail and is filled with the blood of Christ. That's why he busts through walls - his father's house is not a house of parched throats!

Populating the rest of the world caught in the brutal war between the Kool-Aid Man and the Thirsties across the two stories presented in this issue are two individual sets of anonymous suburban children, which is all of them. Specifically, each of these quartets contains the boy who is also a nerd (Sigmund Smart/Warren Wilkinson), the boy whose job it is to be the girl (Cynthia Crystal/Jean Stevens), the kid who has no personality but no one thought to tell to shut up already (Gloria Greene/Scott Stevens) and a ethnical type (Mickey Richardson/Maria Lopez).

I remember watching the last helicopter leaving
Number One Kool-Aid Plaza right at the end of
the Vietnam War...
The kids' suburban locales - a little league baseball game and a trip to an amusement park - provide the targets for the Thirsties' attempts to satisfy the strategic conquest of the world as directed by their boss, The Big Thirsty. The means by which the Thirsties do this is by "making people thirsty and ruining their fun," Weirdly, there are already places on Earth where drought and a lack of access to safe, clean water claims thousands of lives, and where there is clearly no fun unless you happen to really like dying in misery. Still, the Thirsties concentrate their attacks on ... well, markets in which Kool-Aid is sold vigorously. A suspicious individual might entertain the notion that the Thirsties are fully a creation of Kool-Aid set out to harass the American middle class so as to generate a cultural panic that directly profits the makers of Kool-Aid. But that would be madness...

In the first story, having routed the Thirsties' attempt to wreck a kids' baseball game by closing the nearest snack bar (call in the SWAT!), the Kool-Aid Man brings some of the kids back to his secret headquarters, which happens to be the only secret HQ I've ever seen with a parking lot attached. It's also shaped like a giant pitcher of Kool-Aid, so imagine if you had a sanctum sanctorum which resembled a blown-up version of your own headless, limbless torso from the hips up. Erotic, right? I thought so.

Having kept the kids at his weird body house until well after dark, just like Michael Jackson used to do, Kool-Aid picks up his assault against the Thirsties the following day at the baseball game. While the sun-spiked beasties literally burn their way through human flesh, Kool-Aid waits for his cue before busting in and throwing them all in a lake. Branding is everything.

This man is dead now.
In the second story, the Thirsties attack an amusement park, and Kool-Aid takes off in a nearby, fully functional rocketship which has been left lying idly around the boardwalk. That seems like litigation just waiting to happen, but it works out as he makes his way to the Thirst Star (or whatever, that's just what I called it) and defeats the Thirsties at their intergalactic source. Oh, they were aliens, no one mentioned that until just now.

The manner in which The Adventures of Kool-Aid Man closes -- with a full page, inside back cover ad for a kid-centric motion picture -- is where the real eye-raising begins. "Kool-Aid salutes 'Kidco,' a motion picture in the spirit of free enterprise..." says a cheery Kool-Aid Man, having crammed his huge red ass into a director's chair. The tagline reads "There's no business like kid business!" and describes the film as "an exciting motion picture about a small business, big government, and a great idea!" Uh-oh. Kool-Aid Man's going full Galt.

For the record, Kidco is about kids who work at a horse ranch and who start a side business selling horse manure as fertilizer, and then get bent out of shape because they have to pay, like, the same business taxes everyone else does. Sounds like one of those movies they make you watch at a school assembly -- you know, fun AND mandatory.

There are only three posters I could find for Kidco; one, a trio of sweaty, exhausted kids leaning on shovels in front of bags upon bags of horse manure; the same shot of those kids and the manure but a giant smiling kid in a suit and sitting in a leather chair towering over them all, because god forbid the boss should get his hands dirty; and a crying girl covered in horseshit and getting laughed at by another kid. Kool-Aid Man ain't wrong, this movie sure does capture the essence of capitalism...


Unknown said...

If you really want to watch Kidco, you can find it here:

Calamity Jon said...

I kinda don't? Thanks for finding it though, for the curious, I appreciate it.

They filmed this in Tucson when I was a schoolkid, and collected extras from the local elementary schools, so I remember when this blew through town. They paid the extras with a t-shirt, just so you know how strongly they felt about free enterprise.

John said...

This is a great entry to start 2016. And a belated thank you! for the Adent(ure) calendar. I admire your restraint in not going for a "drinking the Kool-Aid" joke, especially when raising the specter of a Kool-Aid conspiracy.

Got to go now. I has the thirsties.

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