Thursday, August 18, 2016


Well, that was a short mystery.

Rarely has a comic book character been so dependent on the placement of commas in order to maintain an almost infuriating degree of ordinariness. Move that comma over one space, and you’ve got “Disco Boy, Detective,” a comic I’d been reading from issue one until the grave. Take out all of the commas and you’ve got “Disco Boy Detective” which is a title that not only raises more questions than it answers, it’s guaranteed to sell a million while it does it.

It's poison, you nitwit.
For that matter, put in some more commas and you’ve got the answer to the multipart question “Hey, what’s your favorite place to go dance to popular music, and also what’s the funniest word when pronounced by Foghorn Leghorn and, since I have your attention, what was the rank which you thought Lieutenant Columbo held in the Los Angeles Police Department before you started watching the shows more carefully?” It would be with certainty and pride that I’d be able to answer “Disco, boy, detective.”

On top of everything else, are we even a hundred percent sure what being a “Boy Detective” entails? Is it a detective who is a boy, or a detective who investigates boys? Or, banning commas altogether, is “Disco Boy Detective” a whole branch of investigative discipline which has been criminally under-acknowledged in our contemporary society?

He's gonna do a ventriloquist bit with that thing. "Hi, I'm
Hosey, the Short Length of Rubber Hose! Won't you
tell these nice cops everything you know?"
But more to the point, Disco (the) Boy Detective was a sleuth in short-pants in the vein of Encyclopedia Brown (originally I’d written that sentence to say “In the Encyclopedia Brown vein,” but decided against putting the word “brown” and “vein” next to one another). Using his preternaturally well-developed detective skills to solve mysteries which adults are either too distracted or too dimwitted to figure out for themselves, Disco makes his debut and bow in a two-part adventure with a high body count and an incomprehensible story-telling style.

Disco’s father is an unnamed scientist (one suspects, if the lineage of popular music is any indication, that he’s named “Glam Rock”) who’s developed a secret formula for depth charges. A trio of creeps named Harkaway, Beaumont and Morlin ingratiate themselves to the father in order to swipe his chemical formula, but first run afoul of Disco’s pet pup Nicodemus. “Nick” gets a bellyful of poisoned hamburger for his trouble.

When one of the treacherous trio is found murdered at Disco’s house during a squall-enforced sleepover, the cops come up short of solutions except to pummel their one suspect with a length of rubber hose (no jokin’, kids). Disco ends up solving the case for them by boating out to the accused’s yacht and uncovering all the tools of the murder – including the raw hamburger meat, sitting right next to a bottle of poison, which was pretty much left out at least for two days.

That dog is blown away.

The revelation is difficult to comprehend, largely because the writing style is so disjointed. For one thing, quote marks seem to indicate everything except quotation – it’s used to indicate parenthetical asides and emphasis in different balloons, and seemingly makes no difference at all in other uses. For example, here are a few sample sentences shouted at ear-splitting stupidity:
  •  You and your men many thanks, chief!
  •  YOUR! Dog poisoning methods!
  •  This isolated point, you see Nick!
  •  I’ll get the veterinary right away!
  •  He’ll be o-k-“just” POISONED!
  •  Dad, is bewildered Nick!
  •  “Daddy he should, now is my golden opportunity!
  •  O’K’ Dr.Berne

The pivotal discovery on the yacht appears to be the murder weapon, an incriminating note and the clothes the murderer was wearing on the night of the shooting, none of which the cops identified as evidence. There’s a chance they knew all this just fine and were only giving Disco a little thrill. Maybe Disco’s in the Make-A-Wish Foundation pool. Maybe he’s the Bat-Kid of his day.

At the end of the adventure, the cops are sufficiently impressed with Disco’s detective skills that they invite him to consult on another case. “Oh, you know about it” says the cop, presuming that Disco keeps up on the latest crimes, “That case involving Joe Knott in a payroll stickup!” Or maybe the cops are just lazy and they like having this eight year-old kid do all of their legwork. Well, I guess it’s up to Disco, Nicodemus, and another few obvious clues to see justice done.

"...because I am too lazy and stupid to do it myself."


Unknown said...

Your notes on their bizarre punctuation issues combined with that last panel makes me wish Disco Explaining was an actual thing.

"Disco Explain your theorem, Doctor, and perhaps this grant money will be yours!"

::bass beat kicks in as coloured lights begin to flash as the aged scientist strikes a Hustle pose::

Calamity Jon said...

This guy gets it!

♫ untz untz untz untz untz untz untz untz ♫

Frankipop said...

Disco and Nick kinda remind me of Tintin and Snowy...

neofishboy said...

I can assure you that Disco Explaining, or "Discoplaining" is a real thing and it's not okay.

Disco drummer: "So you see if you start opening up the hi-hat juuuuust a little bit it creates a subtle ... "

Jazz drummer: *grits teeth and smiles politely*

Johny Longtorso said...

Dammit Discoboy Detective, I thought you were going to be a new breed of kid adventurer. I was so excited to see his tiny pygmy horse companion in those first two frames, only to realize it was just a badly drawn dog. I'm not really sure what advantages a pygmy horse would bring to the world of child sleuthing and I guess now I'll never know.

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