Starman #7 (May 1995)

A (K)night At The Circus

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Teddy Kristiansen
Inkers: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist: Gregory Wright
Letterer: John Workman
Editors: Archie Goodwin & Chuck Kim (assistant)
Part of: A (K)night at the Circus
Reprinted in: Starman: Night and Day, The Starman Omnibus, Volume One
Art by Tony Harris, image from the Grand Comics Database

Page One
Panel Four: This is the first time that we actually visit Turk County, although Jack and Charity desicussed it back in issue #2.

Page Two
Panel One: “Hopalong” is Hopalong Cassidy, a fictional cowboy who appeared in a series of novels, which later became a series of 66 movies, a tv show, a radio show, and, as Jack notes, a merchandising empire to rival the Simpsons in its day.
Panel Two: Colliers may refer to either Colliers Encyclopedia, or Colliers Weekly Magazine – my feeling is that it’s the magazine.
Panel Three: Jack drives what appears to be a retired U.S. Army ambulance, although I cannot identify the model.
Panel Five: Fiesta ware was a range of dinnerware featuring strong simple colours and art deco designs, created and sold by the Homer Laughlin China Company in the latter half of the 1930s. I have been unable to identify Harry Beckoff.

Page Three
Panel One: Fenton Glass was the name given the assorted ranges of decorative glassware produced by the Fenton Art Glass Company. The company opened in 1905, and continues to this day.
Panel Three: You’ve seen “American Gothic” by Grant DeVolson Wood – it looks like this. It is perhaps the most frequently parodied painting in American history, in fact – and it’s also everything Jack says about it.

Pages Four & Five
Panel One: not entirely unexpected – Charity predicted this back in issue #2.

Page Six
Panel Six: Tod Browning was a horror film director of the 1930s, best remembered today for the 1932 film “Freaks” and the 1931 version of “Dracula” (Bela Lugosi’s first outing as the Count). Tim Burton, likewise a film director, shares Browning’s love of the grotesque. At the time this comic was written, he was best known for “Batman”, “Batman Returns” and “Beetlejuice”, any of which could be the inspiration for Jack’s thoughts here. “Fantasy Island” was a tv show of the seventies and eighties that also frequently included grotesquerie.

Page Seven
Panel One: “One of us, one of us, one of us” is the chant of the freaks in the aforementioned Tod Browning film.
Panel Two: Finnegan Fish Boy’s name is a reference to his state: “Fin Again”
Panel Three: Octavia’s name somewhat more subtly refers to the octopus she resembles.
Panel Four: The difference between circus freaks and superheroes is not a great one – Superman’s iconic costume is based on that of 1930s circus strongman, for example.

Page Eight
The blue-skinned gentleman is Mikaal Tomas, an alien and former superhero – he was Starman III, first appearing in 1st Issue Special #12 (March 1976). As for the rest:

  • “House of Wax” was a 1953 horror movie directed by André de Toth, who, as Jack notes, was unable to see the 3D effects himself, having only one working eye.
  • The Yanomamo are an indigenous tribe of the Amazon rainforest, whose women are typically married off at puberty, and who thereafter are kept pregnant for most of the rest of their lives. A married woman is forbidden to have sex with anyone but her male partner, under threat of exteme violence – no such limitations apply to the men.
  • The Benders were a family of serial murderers who lived in Osage, Kansas, in 1872 and 1873. Their killings being discovered, the family fled, and although various vigilantes reported killing one or more of them, the true fate of the Benders is unknown. The incidents referred to here by Jack appear to be based on these reports.
  • Lon Chaney Sr. (American horror movie actor, born 1883); Edmond Rostand (French dramatists, born 1868); Phil Niekro (American baseball player, born 1939); Samuel R. Delany (American science fiction author, born 1942); Debbie Reynolds (American actress, born 1932); and Sergei Rachmaninoff (Russian composer, born 1873) were indeed all born on the same date: April 1.
  • William Blake was an English poet and painter of the Romantic Era, and wrote the words quoted by Jack in this poem.

Page Eleven
Panel Two: the images seen in this panel are of Mikaal and his time on Earth.

Page Twelve
Panel Two: this is the first appearance of Lyle, a.k.a. Crusher. We’ll be seeing him again, one day.

Page Fifteen
Panel Three: introducing Sadie Falk, although we won’t learn her name until she returns to these pages.

Page Eighteen
Panel Two: Bud Abbot was the straight man in one of the world’s best known comedy duos.
Panel Three: His partner was Lou Costello, the comedian. Together, they produced the “Who’s On First” sketch, one of the funniest things in the history of the world. If you haven’t see it, go to YouTube right now and watch it. You won’t be sorry.

Page Nineteen
Panel One: The Marx Brothers were a comedy team, of whom the three best known members are Groucho, Chico and Harpo. Harpo’s character was always mute, and communicated with gestures, facial expressions and a not inconsiderable musical talent.

Page Twenty-Three
Panel Four: and again we see the ghost pirate, and Jack smells his familiar scent.

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