... 1981

"Thunderdogs! Thunderdogs! Bow-wow-wow!"

This is the battle cry of Hunt Emerson's berserk Thunderdogs characters, from their eponymous one-shot comic published in 1981 by Rip Off Press. The story, told in Emerson's typically surrealistic style, involves Major Mongrel, leader of the "world famous, swash-buckling" Thunderdogs, on the trail of a criminal mastermind who is stealing treasures from a number of primitive tribes. While following up a lead aboard their mighty aircraft, the Typhoid Mary, Major Mongrel slips into a two-dimensional world where he meets the sinister Professor Zipcrinkle.

Eventually he finds a way to communicate with his men, and they follow the clues which lead straight to a Mr. Toody-Threedy who is revealed to be both the treasure-thief they sought, and also the same Professor Zipcrinkle. The villain reveals the intricacies of his master plan before he is soundly trounced by the Thunderdogs. Major Mongrel, however, remains trapped in the 2-d universe; years later we learn that he "used to have a whole comic book, but now he's just a newspaper strip churned out by hacks."

Submitted by Mikel Midnight.
Mikel added, "I knew it was a bit dodgy seeing Thunderdogs as Blackhawk imitations exactly ... Major Mongrel is much more a Sgt Rock type ...but the name of the team, the weird aircraft, and the battle cry (Thunderdogs! Thunderdogs! Bow-wow-wow!) all were reminscent of the Blackhawks to me."

Thanks to Mikel providing the URL for Hunt Emerson's website, I contacted Mr. Hunt and he sent me the following description of how he created Thunderdogs.

"Thought you might be interested in some T-Dogs background.
     When I was at school, around 10 yrs old, a kid brought in the Ballantine paperback reprint of Utterly Mad. I saw G.I. Schmo in there, and it knocked me out! Along with the rest of the book. I'd never seen anything like this before (late 1950's Britain), and as I gradually found a few more Mad books I continued to be amazed. But I never saw Black and Blue Hawks until MUCH later- in fact, it wasn't until Gilbert Shelton pointed them out to me, some years after publication of Thunderdogs, that I knew Wally Wood had done 'em. Nor had I seen or been aware of Blackhawks until later, and never got to read any (my knowledge of their existence was only from Comics History books). Gilbert couldn't believe that I did T-Dogs without knowing the original or the Wood parody, but its true!
     At the time of my childhood, most American comic books were rare in Britain, and I didn't see any until the later '60s. Plus, the shock-horror-scandal about "Horror Comics" meant we were discouraged from seeing any that did come around - I remember getting hold of a copy of The Haunted Tank once, and having it swiftly confiscated because it was American and therefore presumably, would lead to Juvenile Delinquency or worse. Anyway, all this meant that my initial knowledge of American culture was strangely limited. I knew about Frank N. Stein before I knew about Frankenstein, and Plastic Sam before Plastic Man, and Batboy and Rubin before Batman and Robin, and Superduperman before ol' Supes himself. And Howdy Dooit? What was that all about?
     So Thunderdogs is a Blackhawks parody only by default, really. The Rip Off Press edition you have pictured is long out of print, and that cover artwork disappeared years ago. Knockabout Comics (10 Acklam Road, London W10 5QZ, UK) has republished it with a new cover, and it continues to sell as poorly as ever."
Hunt wrote since the above to say that he has done a major update to his website and has added a number of sections, including original art for sale. I recommend this site highly. It is hilarious.

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