LEONARD STARR'S MARY PERKINS ON STAGE VOL. 8 (Classic Comics Press, First Printing, 2011; Softcover)
Collects Mary Perkins On Stage strips originally published on May 5, 1966- November 19, 1967
Writer and Artist: Leonard Starr
It was 1966, and the times they were a-changin'. Topics like the Cold War, divorce and drugs crept into the strip. There was still plenty of lighthearted fun, as evidenced by the wafer thin metaphor for the 1966 Batman television series by the way of Captain Virtue, but the world was a rapidly changing place that bled into all forms of art and entertainment.
We see the return of beloved characters like Major Grisha Volkov, who is unwittingly caught in a plot to retrieve a defected actor Valerian Stepanovsky to Russia. Sabakin and Katerina Verna are trying to bring the famed Stepanovsky back because they believe that he is a cultural treasure who belongs to the Soviet Union. Things go horribly wrong for them, with it escalating to kidnapping and a hostage situation. This arc has one of the most intense sequences in the strip so far.
The Beauchamp family storyline is another example of the strip reacting to the changing times. Much like today, the old guard back then was so clearly out of step with the way things were going that they do things which are bizarre and even downright harmful in order to keep up appearances. The Vanna Croy arc shows how ruthless ambitious people are. People today seem to believe that folks have never been as self-centered or self-serving as they are today. I think that some people have always been out for themselves, but either they were better at hiding it or maybe it was because they didn't broadcast it on Facebook.
The Vanna Croy arc flows into the return of Johnny Q, where Eddie the assistant stage director is caught up with Johnny Q's friend Hickey, who manages his dischoteque. While the “white powder” is referred to as “dope” it is apparent that growing drug use among the youth was a cause of concern for everyone. The arc ends with Johnny Q telling Mary goodbye for good. We have heard that before, but will it really be goodbye this time? Time will tell.
This is some of Starr's finest artwork yet. I am always blown away by strip artists who put so much effort into their work when it was intended to be read once and then thrown away. It makes me wonder why they didn't cut corners or omit details. It almost feels like art for the sake of art at times. Starr plays with shades and solids a lot during this era to great effect. His scripts are becoming increasingly complex, with more moving parts in each story arc. Starr keeps thing moving fast while not bogging the proceedings down with endless recaps. Many strips lose a full panel every day bringing in new or lapsed readers up to speed. Starr doesn't waste any time.
I give this strip my highest recommendation. It really doesn't get any better than this.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- Like most strip books, this is presented in landscape format.
The Sundays are presented here in black and white. They were originally printed in color.
Linework restoration: Excellent throughout.
Paper stock: Uncoated stock paper.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Cardstock coating has a matte coating that is resistant to scuffing.