Comic Shots #11 with Chris Neseman: Flaming Mo and ‘Hawaiian Dick’

October 9, 2008


Every couple of weeks Chris Neseman drops by to pass along a tasty drink recipe and an even tastier comic book recommendation. The cocktail and the comic can both be enjoyed independently, but they have a common theme and when served together they can make for the perfect reading experience.

 



Welcome to the eleventh edition of Comic Shots! This one is full of intrigue, spirits and FIRE! Today I’m telling you about one of my favorite Image Comics series, Hawaiian Dick. This book is an obvious choice for a Comic Shots review because of it’s ties to Tiki culture, and I’ve had this book in mind since I first started writing the column. We were treated to an emergency drink recommendation from The Freaky Tiki a couple weeks ago, and now he’s back to help me even more. Tiki culture and drinks are Tim Rakarich’s passion, so I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t call on his special expertise. Here’s Tim’s… er, Tiki’s explosive drink recommendation to go with Hawaiian Dick:

Hello iFanboy Nation! I gotta say that I am very honored to be asked by Mr. Neseman to be his tag-team partner for a COMIC SHOTS review that is near and dear to my heart…. Hawaiian Dick. I knew that I had to dig deep into Tiki’s Tome of Exotic Elixirs and find a truly unique (and dangerous) beverage to truly represent B. Clay Moore, and Steven Griffin’s indie favorite. So with out further ado Ladies and Gentlemen, Cats and Kittens, Tiki Gods and Hula Babes I present to you… the FLAMING MO!

Disclaimer: This is a flaming drink. This should not be attempted by anyone who does not have proper experience in flaming drinks or those who have not paid up their home insurance.

Flaming Mo
•  8 oz Pineapple Juice
•  3/4 oz Coconut Rum
•  3/4 oz Peach Vodka
•  1 tblespn of Bacardi 151

•  Shot glass
•  Pint glass / Hurricane glass (or a damn sexy Tiki Mug)
•  A Match

This wild concoction is simple to create. Pour the pineapple juice into your Tiki Mug and set aside. Take your shot glass and fill it with the Coconut rum and Peach vodka. Float the Bacardi 151 on top of shot glass. Carefully light the 151. I stress that you need to be very cautious. Even though YOU MAY NOT SEE a flame on top of the drink at first, 151 can burn an invisible flame before the mystic blue inferno begins to dance its alluring dance for you. The flame will tease you like the seductive hips of a grass-skirt beauty but don’t give in just yet.

Let the liquor burn itself off for a few seconds. Gently pick the shot glass up at the bottom and drop it in whole into the Tiki mug (DO NOT pour shot glass’ contents in). Let the sweet sea of pineapple juice swallow the up the dangerous spirit whole. The treasure will sink to the bottom like a treasure chest. Now is your time to strike! Grab the mug and pound the drink, take control of the deadly firewater!

My fellow islanders, sit back and enjoy warm smile of the Tiki Gods flow through your being. Life is good. Aloha.

A very big thanks to Tim for the amazing and amazingly dangerous drink this week! Now on to this week’s main event:

Hawaiian Dick
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: B. Clay Moore
Artist: Steven Griffin

Hawaiian Dick was the first series I thought of when I started writing Comic Shots. It’s a perfect series to match with a drink. It celebrates Tiki culture and half of the scenes seem to be set in a bar. That’s my kind of comic! To be honest, the first time I heard the title “Hawaiian Dick” I chuckled. Pretty quickly I realized it was about a private detective in Hawaii and it made a lot more sense. Once I dug into the pages of the first trade, Byrd of Paradise, I was completely sold on the series. In a word, Hawaiian Dick is “cool”. It’s one of those concepts that makes you want to kick yourself because you didn’t think of it first. A down on his luck P.I. that gets caught up in supernaturally tinged cases in 1950s era Hawaii. Like I said, COOL. Everything in this book just reeks of coolness. The men are men, the cars are big, and the women are exotic and beautiful. The setting of 1950s Hawaii adds more to the book than you can imagine. Like Basin City in Frank Miller’s Sin City almost becomes its own character, the still mysterious islands and culture of Hawaii are the backbone of Hawaiian Dick. Post WWII Hawaii was a place of rapid development and suddenly exposed to a variety of legal and illegal influences from mainland America. There was a lot of money at stake, and plenty of people willing to use any means necessary to get their share. When you mix in the old world culture of the natives and the dawn of the world’s nuclear age you get a powder keg of story possibilities. How a guy who lives in Kansas is able to make this series so convincing I’ll never know, but B. Clay Moore might as well be writing this from the beaches of Maui. Steven Griffin’s art has to get a lot of the credit here as well because I never felt for one second that the story was taking place anywhere but 1950s Hawaii. To be fair, I wasn’t alive in the 50s, and I’ve never been to Hawaii, but it feels 100% authentic and that’s what counts.

Nailing the setting and vibe was the most important foundation work for Hawaiian Dick. That is done so convincingly that it’s just a matter of getting the character on stage. The cast of the series is gradually introduced in Byrd of Paradise, and then continues to grow and fill out as the series has gone on. Byrd is the central character, and he plays the perfect out of place anti-hero. If the setting wasn’t cool enough, our protagonist is a classic down on his luck private detective. Byrd is a former cop from the mainland with a sordid past and ample reason to drink away his days in out of the way bars. While he’s still technically in the U.S., Byrd is almost completely out of his element. The culture of Hawaii is still a mystery to him, and seems as good a place as any to get away from his former life. He’s able to use his skills as a P.I. to scrape by and by the looks of things, barely pay his bar tabs. Like all good anti-heroes, trouble has a way of finding Byrd and leaving him with the reluctant task of doing the right thing. And hey, if he gets paid, then all the better.

Luckily for Byrd, he has a friend to watch his back in Mo Kalama. In addition to being Byrd’s best friend, he is the inspiration for this week’s drink. Mo is a hulk of a man, but his relationship with Byrd goes way beyond being “The Muscle”. The trade of Byrd of Paradise has a healthy amount of bonus material, and this is where B. Clay Moore adds some nice backstory to Byrd and Mo’s relationship. We get a nice 3 page story about the their first meeting during a Pacific island conflicts in WWII. Byrd and Mo aren’t just friends, they’re war buddies, and there’s a big difference. Mo is also a police officer and Byrd’s connection to information he wouldn’t other wise have access to. The two work well together, and Moore has expanded Mo’s role in the series to work his own side of cases as well. The trio of major characters in Hawaiian Dick is completed with the beautiful Kahami. An island girl who plays a more secondary role in the first arc, she soon becomes a central figure in the series as Byrd’s assistant. Together the three become an engaging group that continually find themselves caught in bizarre and dangerous situations.

What makes Hawaiian Dick a little different than most other detective series is its supernatural twists. This could easily be a 50s version of Magnum P.I., but B. Clay Moore’s inclusion of the fantastic gives Hawaiian Dick its own identity. I love basic detective stories, but the spiritual and superstitious additions have served as a good vehicle to explore the island lore of Hawaii. Just as Byrd begins to realize that there are many mysteries in the island paradise, I found my own suspension of disbelief kicking in as well. I would still like to see a more hard boiled detective story, but the occasional angry spirit has become a staple of this entertaining series. The real strength of Hawaiian Dick is in the trio of main characters and how they interact with each other. Whatever situations, supernatural or other, they find themselves in are just the stage that we have to see them act on. And the acting is very good.

Steven Griffin’s art is absolutely perfect for Hawaiian Dick. The pages feel like a 50s movie. Griffin captures the big action and supernatural aspects of the series well, but the quieter moments of character interaction shine just as well. I always appreciate an artist’s ability to make simple conversation visually appealing. I mentioned earlier that the settings feel 100% authentic, and it bears repeating. From beach resorts to jungles to off the map Tiki bars, this is how I now imagine 1950s Hawaii. Griffin has a loose expressive style that gives the art a great pulp feel, but the coloring is where Hawaiian Dick is a step beyond other comics. There is no other comic out there that is colored like this series. Griffin’s use of shadow and his unique choices in color pallet are amazing. Jazz often plays a role in the stories, and Griffin’s coloring is like a great jazz improvisation. It’s outside the lines, loose, unscripted and remarkable. I love seeing comic artists take big chances and pulling it off. Griffin does it big time here.The latest Hawaiian Dick mini series, Screaming Black Thunder, saw artist Scott Chantler take over pencilling and inking duties with Griffin staying on colors and also contributing as writer and artist on a great Kahami back-up story. Chantler is a great addition to the team, and hopefully we’ll continue to see more from the trio in the future.

 


B. Clay Moore is passionate about this series, and it shows in each page. The extras in the first trade show off how much he loves Tiki culture and how Hawaiian Dick is a collection of his interests. You may recall that Moore stirred up a little controversy about comic book criticism and iFanboy’s own Josh Flanagan’s response. In the end, both Clay and Josh got to sit down and talk about it and it made for some great insight into the creative process and the importance of creator owned work. Hawaiian Dick has a lot to offer to a variety of fans and I hope you check it out. If you like detective stories, 1950s America, ghost stories or a good Tiki drink, Hawaiian Dick is your kind of book.

I’ll see everyone in a couple weeks for another round of Comic Shots!

 


Chris Neseman is the host of The Around Comics Podcast and a co-host of the 11 O’Clock Comics podcast. You can contact him at chris@aroundcomics.com and suggest a cocktail or comic of your own, because good drinks and good comics should be shared.

Please obey the law and only drink if you are of age. Drink responsibly and never drink and drive. Buy the comics that make you happy, and when they do, pass them on!

 

Comments

  1. That’s awesome Chris.

    It’s funny I was listening to 11 o’clock comics (ding!) and practically screaming at Vince "It’s from the Simpsons!!  THE SIMPSONS" when he was talking about it.

  2. I hear the creator of this drink says that, as long as it gets you hammered, you can’t criticize it for tasting bad because it did what he set out for it to do.

  3. "Well, it passed the first test.  I didn’t go blind"

  4. I just read ‘Byrd of Paradise,’ it was really fun.   And Griffin’s art is some of the most gorgeous I’ve ever seen.

  5. Perfect drinking book.. haven’t seen one better

  6. Ok, ok…after countless talks with and about B. Clay Moore, I’m officially sold on the book. I’ll add it to the "Gotta Read" stack.

    As for the drink, I was considering switching out the coconut rum for regular (or mango) rum, but it looks like there’s more than enough pineapple juice there to compensate. I look forward to trying this drink.

     

  7. I really liked this book, but I probably would have really loved it minus the supernatural stuff.  I guess I kinda did just want MAGNUM P.I.  Still it was fun.

  8. I just want to thank Chris for the opportunity to tag team with him.

     

    Even though everyone knows the name Flaming Mo from the Simpsons the drink was around before the episode.  The drink has gone by a few other names before hand.  I discovered it at a Tiki Bar called Hali-Kahiki and it was called a Flaming Skull (Now that’s hard core—and very Ghost Rider!).  I picked the drink because of its name (Byrd’s best friend is called MO), it’s Tiki heritage and the fact that it’s dangerous.  😉

     

    the Tiki 

  9. I’m right there with Conor. I would like to see at least one Hawaiian Dick story that’s a straight detective story. I don’t mind the occasional supernatural element, but I don’t think it should be a given.

  10. I think the gritty blue collar noir is coming.  The background story with Chicago and his brother are ripe for the picking.

     

    the Tiki 

  11. I love, love, love, love, love this book!  The only thing preventing me from putting another 17 loves in this post is the shipping schedule…it is the main reason I am trade waiter for Hawaiian Dick.

  12. Yet another "must read" from Neseman.  I just keep spending money on other things (The Goon: Chinatown, for example).  That book seems ripe for a Comic Shot, Chris.

  13. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I have to reiterate Jimski’s comment.  

    Speaking personally, I have a real mental block keeping me from reading the guy’s work.  Maybe if I hadn’t heard the interview.  It just bugs me.   

  14. I believe it was Jimski who said the artist is not the art.  Do I need remind you of that very special episode of Growing Pains.

  15. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Yes. 

  16. I wanna light things on fire and you guys are talking  Kurt Cameron.  🙂

     

    the Tiki 

  17. I just read this today, good stuff, and nice extras. I could have done without the lecture in the afterword and every typical put down of super-heroes though.

  18. Thanks for the love, Chris. More on the possible future of Hawaiian Dick here:

     http://bclaymoore.blogspot.com/2008/09/new-hawaiian-dick-model.html

    And thanks again to Josh and iFanboy for the podcast we did. I had countless people come up to me during con season looking to try the book (and other books) for the first time, citing our conversation as the movitation to seek me out. It’s gratifying to see so many of your listeners understood where we both were coming from.

    -BCM