Gnatrat: The Dark Gnat Returns
File this under not at all webcomics related: To celebrate the release of “The Dark Knight” tomorrow, I’d like to take you back to one of the all time best parody works ever created. “GnatRat: The Dark Gnat Returns” was written by Mark Martin way back in 1986 to spoof Frank Miller’s influential work, “The Dark Knight Returns.” It’s much more beautifully illustrated than it has any right to be, and may actually be better drawn than the thing it’s spoofing. Crap, I consider some of the illustrations (like the one where GnatRat pours salt all over a slug) to be more iconic than the originals.
Yet, Martin doesn’t just stop at poking fun of Miller. In that era, there was a popular spoof that somehow managed to survive to this day: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which was largely a spoof of Daredevil). Their success spurred an entire cottage industry of imitators. I used to own one: the Pre-Teen Dirty Gene Kung-Fu Kangaroos. Something indie gets popular, and everyone jumps on the bandwagon. (That never happens nowadays, does it?)
Isn’t “GnatRat” doing the same thing? Maybe, maybe not. The comic itself addresses this issue, and it doesn’t come to a definite answer. It does, however, have a fairly sweet homage to Daredevil at the end.
“GnatRat: The Dark Gnat Returns” is surprisingly available on Amazon. You can pick it up for a cool $2.00 used. Martin seems to have done some follow-up work. There’s also listings for Ultimate GnatRat and Happy Birthday, GnatRat! I haven’t read either, so I can’t tell you what I think of ’em.
OK, so since this IS a site about webcomics, check out this recent Batman-inspired Shortpacked! Seriously, no one does a better Batman than David Willis. And it’s much funnier if you’re familiar with the Spoiler storyline.