Thursday, April 27, 2017


Why'd they justify the text like that, did they not have enough room in the circle?

There's a real dearth of hobo heroes in comics, although there are more than a few straight humor stories involving the Knights of the Open Road. Hobo culture is a big source of fascination to me, so I'm excited to have stumbled across Driftwood Davey -- of the generally excellent Blue Circle Comics line from Rural Home -- a do-gooder railroad tramp with a six-issue run to his name. And nothing else. Because he's broke.

That threat got real dirty at the end.
In fact, Driftwood Davey has little want or need for money, which is a pretty consistent trope when it comes to hobo characters. What's different about him is that, initially anyway, he plays the role of a wandering samaritan, somehow finding ways to help out common and decent folks who find themselves in dire straits.

Davey has no powers except a quick wit, a good heart and a voracious appetite for reading and the knowledge contained therein. This also allows him to pick up a lot of arcane skills pretty quickly -- shucking corn in a corn-shucking contest, or recognizing an early frost on an orchard -- which he inevitably uses for the benefit of others. I did not know you could master corn-shucking with nothing except book-learnin'. I thought you had to learn corn-shucking on the streets.

Driftwood's first story involves him helping a kindly old couple keep their home when a crooked banker tries to bamboozle them out of it. After that, his stories change a little bit -- for one thing, he becomes handsome. He'd previously been depicted as a bit of a fat slob (see above), but gets a lantern jaw and a slim overall aesthetic. He's also joined by a gang of friendly bindlestiffs and a sidekick in the form of a basic moron named Iron Head, whose laziness and love of money is in direct contrast to Davey's monk-like existence.

Also changing in the later stories is Davey's patriotic inclinations. Having made him healthy and fit, there needed to be an explanation as to why he was wandering the country instead of serving it. Well, Davey leads his crew to important sports of agricultural industry, to aid in important war work by helping to bring in vital crops. Is there anything this man can't do? Yes, afford a new jacket.

Davey, like the rest of the Blue Circle line, disappears after six appearances. In his case, however, it's easy to imagine that his journeys have simply taken him somewhere that storytellers cannot follow. Or that he had his head caved in by a railroad bull south of Chicago.

Don't just put the whole bag of salt in there, Boxcar Roy!


Bram said...

Has your entire blogging career just been building to the point where you could publish "bindlestiffs"?

In hobo comics news, this just launched; unfortunately, haven't gotten the opportunity to read it myself.

Calamity Jon said...

Although I am familiar with my local comic shop letting me down (among the books of which they'd never heard: Prophet, Orc Stain, Love and Rockets (!!), and that there is even such a publisher as Fantagraphics), I am particularly furious that they did not order RCM, particularly as I asked them to.

I'll probably get a digital copy this weekend...

BillyWitchDoctor said...

Love and Rockets (!!)

What the actual eff.

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