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Dollar Bin Discoveries: Wholesome Heroes Edition

Jessika: [00:00:00] My brother's friend keeps bringing over a puppy and I'm just like, do I need a puppy?

Mike: The answer is always yes. You always need another dog.


Jessika: Welcome to Ten Cent Takes, the show where we know that Crime Fighting's real gift is friendship, one issue at a time. My name is Jessika Frazer and I'm joined by my co-host, the Crusader of Kindness, Mike Thompson.

Mike: God dammit. You got me again.

Jessika: How you doing tonight?

Mike: Um, fine. I'm a little tired because Sarah and I, for some reason, bought exercise equipment that I have inexplicably decided to start using. So yeah.

Jessika: Purposefully exercised. I fell down my stairs. [00:01:00] That was accidental. Accidental exercise. I feel like I've been exercising. I am sore.

Mike: I was gonna say, you're sore in the bad way.

Jessika: I'm sore in a bad way. I'm sore in a, I had to figure out whether or not I had dislocated my shoulder way.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's never fun.

Jessika: No. Well, if you're new to the show, our main episodes drop every other week and provide in-depth looks into interesting moments in comic books and how they tie into pop culture and history. But today is one of our Dollar Bin Discoveries. Many episodes that we do in between those deep dives. We spend a lot of time, Mike, especially rooting through the dollar bins at local shops, looking for interesting stuff just to bring to you all.

And while a lot of the issues we find are fun and weird, there may not be enough for us to do a deep dive on at the moment, but we do always [00:02:00] reserve the right to change our mind later. Each episode features both of us talking about one random issue we came across in the dollar bins, what it is, what goes on inside it, and why it's interesting.

These are many episodes that are meant to provide you with some weekly content. Between our more in-depth discussions about the weirder and more interesting moments of comic book history. This week's theme is Wholesome Heroes. So Mike, what is your gift to us today?

Mike: Man. So first of all, we have to note that you suggested this and it was a great suggestion.

Jessika: Thank you.

Mike: But this topic really had me struggling to find something. Like I have a lot of weird, a lot of tacky, a lot of awful comics, but I don't have many that fit the label of wholesome. So, yeah. But I was at the Harvey Doss second anniversary sale up in Rohnert Park, and I stumbled across the true story of Smokey Bear.[00:03:00]

So this is the 1964 reprint. The original was put out in 1960, and it was published by Western Publishing. I have no idea who the creators are because there aren't any credits listed. So you know, we're going a little bit more blind than normal.

The comic is narrated by an eagle who tells us about how he's going to tell us a true story that begins in the Lincoln National Forest of New Mexico during an especially hot may. They don't tell us the actual date, but just, you know, in case you're interested for reference, this was in 1950, he tells us about a quote, brown colored bear cub for reference, Smokey was actually a black bear. So, you know, it feels like a little bit inaccurate, but, you know, whatever. The cub loved playing in the meadow when his mother was asleep. And then the eagle tells us about how someone either flipped a lit match or left a campfire burning or forgot to crush a cigarette out.

But whatever it was, it caused a blaze that quickly spread into a forest fire. And regardless of the fire's origin, a lookout tower [00:04:00] spots the smoke, who then calls in wilderness firefighters. We get a montage of the firefighters cutting down trees and using heavy machinery to head off the inferno, along with forest animals trying to escape the flames.

The army even sends in troops to assist with the firefighting. So then a group of two dozen firefighters almost gets taken out by a fire when the wind changes, and the flames sweep towards them, they hole up and manage to ride out the firestorm. And then they start looking around afterwards and they find a badly burned bear cub clinging to a charred tree trunk.

They carry him through the burnt down forest and we get images of what it used to look like, which you know, is green and vibrant, juxtaposed with the charred ruins. So basically it's telling readers about how everything is ruined now. You know, people can't go camping, animals can't live there. And then the rangers work with vets and wardens to take care of this cub and bandage his legs.

And he is basically raised by the forest service. There is this whole [00:05:00] sequence that is just really actually kind of adorable because he's this like chubby little bear cub with cute little bandages and he is getting fed and like cuddled like a baby. It's.

Jessika: Oh my gosh.

Mike: It's really cute. I'm like, as someone who you know currently is dealing with a puppy, I am very susceptible to small, cute animals and this fits the bill.

Jessika: Yes. We did just have a long conversation about puppies.

Mike: Yeah. The answer is always get the puppy.

Jessika: Always get a puppy. If you see a puppy, get the puppy.

Mike: Exactly. Anyway, they named the bear cub Smokey after the character from the ad campaign that had debuted a couple of years prior. He is taken to Washington, DC and he is immediately immediate sensation, he even has a Ranger hat put on his head and then poses for some posters.

We get to see Smokey becoming the media sensation. We're told how he's going to get a new home in the Washington Zoo soon, where he'll never be lonely again. We're then told how forest fires are bad for a [00:06:00] number of reasons, including how they burned down timber that would otherwise be used in construction, furniture and paper making for comic books.

And the final page shows how people should put out campfires, stomp out cigarettes and not throw away a match until it's cold. And then the final panel reminds us to listen to Smokey, so no other cub will suffer like he did. And remember, only you can prevent forest fires and then find

Jessika: That's kinda fucking devastating.

Mike: It is.

Yeah. And then the inside back cover shows us a bunch of Smokey the Bear posters along with a letter from Smokey reminding us all to be careful. Yeah, I went with this one because as a kid, Smokey the Bear was like such an iconic part of messaging that I got exposed to that I feel like he was his own kind of form of a superhero.

Like I remember going to wildlife museums with my schools and hearing about wildfire risks and just seeing his image everywhere. And Smokey, wearing that hat and holding that shovel [00:07:00] is just such an iconic image. But everything about this comic is actually, it's just, it's very sweet and wholesome.

And like I said, like Smokey as a bear cub is just one of the most adorable things, especially once he starts rocking the Ranger hat. And then I thought this was really cool to finding the dollar bins because this is now the oldest comic in my collection. Before that it was a couple of comics that I had from like 65 or 66. But this one is from 1964.

It is 59 years old. Yeah, it's really cool. And also I found another copy, so I've got one set aside for you on, the pile of Comics that I'm sending your way next time that we hang

Jessika: Oh. Thank you friend.

Mike: Yeah,

Jessika: To get my, my borrow pile ready for you too. I think I put a bunch of them away cuz I, I'm just silly.

Mike: Well, I mean tomorrow is free RPG Day, which we discussed about with Kelly from [00:08:00] Goblin Bros recently. So we might run into each other at Goblin Bros in Petaluma.

Jessika: I will probably actually be going to a march for the gays instead. I know I'm with the gays. I know if I have to choose, I'm with the gays above the nerds.

Mike: I, I get,

Jessika: It's just the way these things play down for me.

Mike: See, I'm a, I'm the opposite. I go with nerds before gays.

Jessika: You know? I know. You know what? Here's the thing, I don't have much to advocate for, for the nerds.

Mike: No, it's true.

Jessika: The nerds be nerding, and everyone's cool with that, right? The gays be gayin' and, oh no. Now we got a problem.

Mike: Man. Remember how back in the nineties it was like, if you were a nerd, you were fucked. And now -

Jessika: Dude. A hundred percent.

Mike: And now it's like, totally cool. But I remember getting picked on so much as a kid because I played Magic, The, Gathering, and read comic books.

Jessika: Oh yeah,

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: that. Absolutely. I was toxic to my brother about his Dungeons and Dragons habit. Absolutely, that's something I regret.

Mike: [00:09:00] Yeah.

Jessika: We all live and learn. I was a toxic person to some people, sometimes. I get that.

Mike: I mean, we all are, or we were.

Yeah. Like we all have things that we.

Jessika: And now I play Dungeons Dragons. You know, now I tell 'em about our adventures after I get off my Dungeons and Dragons game.

Mike: Good. All right, so I've talked for a spell, so I'm curious, what is the wholesome comic that you were bringing to the table tonight?

Jessika: Buckle up. It's so fucking wholesome. So, I just enjoyed Catman and Kitten. This is a one shot published by Dynamite in 2022. So it's a more recent.

Mike: Yeah, I've never heard of this either. Like, do we know if this is like an ongoing series or like, have, have these.

Jessika: This particular one was a one shot. I don't know about the characters themselves. I'll have to check it out.

Mike: Alright.

Jessika: They were very cute. I do hope there's more of them.

Mike: I mean, I would assume that they were gonna be cute just from the name.

Jessika: Yeah. This was written by Jeff Parker, art by Joseph Cooper, [00:10:00] colors by Irancia Studio, lettered by Jeff Berry, and package and editor was Nate Cosby. So this one shot is starring Catman, Kitten, Marvelo, Sky Man, and a reporter named Lindy. Catman is in his normy form at a charity benefit where they have a priceless item on display, the Eye of the Queen.

Shortly into the party, the party is crashed by a group called the Lavender Mob, which sign me the fuck up.

Mike: Love it. No notes. Yeah, I was gonna say happy Pride.

Jessika: Who demand all, yeah, right. Who demand all of the jewels and riches from the upper echelon that is attending. So, catman sends a a cat to turn off the lights cuz he can communicate with cats, of course, in which time he changes into his hero fit and proceeds to take down the mob members.

However, the Eye of the Queen has gone missing and it wasn't a [00:11:00] member of the lavender Mob, cause everyone's accounted for and that thing is not there anymore. So Catman follows the trail of the culprit only to be hit with a ray gun and KO'd, only to wake up and find that in his stupor, he has involved, Lindy, and that Lindy Catman and Kitten were on the way to see Marvelo who uses his powers to summon wait for it.

A demon who discovers that Vasthusis had found the relic and they were all headed for the Mayan ruins in the land of Kalek Mol. So Catman uses a wait for it, ham radio to call Sky Man who picks them up and drops him off in parachutes over the area where the ruins are.

It's heavily implied that Sky Man can never leave the sky, by the way.

Mike: Oh wow. Okay. I was gonna ask.

Jessika: Which is interesting. Which is why they drop out of a parachute.

Mike: Oh man. I was [00:12:00] wondering, like, so did, did Archie and his friends train catman how to use a radio?

Jessika: I wish they had,

Mike: I mean, that's the cannon in my head.

Jessika: To do it. Yeah, right. I bet. Kitten was taught by by Archie. So, but Sky Man like goes off and fights pterodactyls, which we, we don't get any other information.

Mike: Okay.

Jessika: No other information other than he is like, I'm off Pew Pterodactyls.

Mike: Why not? Hey,

man, you know what, th this is the, this is the exact kind of bonkers bullshit that I'm here for.

Jessika: Oh, I know. I knew you'd love this. I'll put this on your borrow pile.

Mike: Oh, great. Thank you.

Jessika: So they land and are immediately attacked by these like snake guys with reptilian features and two arms and a long serpent tail. They're gnarly dudes, big old teeth. So they're in the middle of not doing so hot against these things, when Lindy uses her camera to momentarily blind them, uses the flash on her camera and a large [00:13:00] Jaguar attacked one of them while it was dealing with that light.

And Catman has this really sweet moment with the Jaguar who tells him that she'd been watching for him and to go touch the statue at the temple and that he will quote unquote, find answers.

So they go to aforementioned temple, he touches the statue and he has this flash of a vision that he's this cat person hybrid.

Mike: Huh?

Jessika: And then he like snaps out of it. They race to the top of the temple and out pops this absolutely gorgeous woman wearing basically metal underwear, Mayan style metal underwear, and.

Mike: There it is.

Jessika: Yeah. Yep. That is, that is it. And after she blasts one of the serpent dudes who was trying to wander up on them, we discovered that she's actually the person that had stolen the queen's eye because it had been originally stolen from this temple.

So she was returning it to where it belonged.

Mike: Okay.

Jessika: So she gives the three of them some lore about the Eye.

She has [00:14:00] kaman put the eye in the statue within the temple, and it transports all of them to this beautiful land that looks like it's basically if the Mayan empire, if it had had the chance to grow into modern times.

Mike: Oh, that's, that's actually, that sounds pretty cool.

Jessika: Yeah. It was pretty neat. And Lindy's camera is conveniently out of film at this point too.

So she gets nothing. No, like no shots in here, like they're all writing dinosaurs, you know? That's pretty neat.

Mike: Good.

Jessika: But the woman mentions that they have been granted permission to visit again, and that they can help if he wants to complete his feline transition, quote unquote.

Which he's boing what?

Mike: Yeah. That, that, that choice of words may have made me kind of do a double take.

Jessika: Yeah, exactly. She then takes them back to their world where she explains that she had used a temporal knife to temporarily kill the man who stole the Eye, so [00:15:00] that he would kind of be out of the way when she was getting it back and putting it all back in. And so he wakes to Lindy, Catman, and Kitten at his bedside.

He asks if he would also be granted access to this magical place. They basically tell him like, fuck no, dude. Temporary death should be the biggest clue. You will not be allowed in.

Mike: Like you fucking stole the eye and they had to temporarily kill you. Like, come on.

Jessika: Why? Like why are they gonna let you in now? Yeah, exactly. Then Lindy shows them the mockup of the magazine article that she's doing about the whole situation, only to show a not so flattering pick of the two of them being completely demolished by the serpent people from the first fight, and complains that she couldn't have found a pick where they were getting some licks in.

Mike: good. I mean like also good with the double entendre of getting some licks in with Catman. Love it.

Jessika: It was pretty funny. This comic, it's, oh, it's incredibly cute. [00:16:00] In a lot of ways, the way that Catman and Kitten interact is super sweet and it's revealed that while Catman has cat senses and other cat related superpowers, Kitten is just a normal girl who's really good at acrobatics.

Mike: Hmm.

Jessika: Catman isn't afraid to show emotions either and has a couple of really sweet moments interacting with the cats that he's asking for assistance in different situations

Mike: I mean, that makes him prime relationship material

Jessika: Yeah.

Right, exactly.

Mike: Like, dude sounds pretty good. Like he's in tune with his emotions. He likes cats.

Jessika: He's a good communicator.

Mike: Sarah and I had a whole conversation recently about how it's actually like a big red flag if guy don't like cats because it means that they don't like it when they don't have something that's like completely devoted to them.

Jessika: Right? Yeah, it is a little sketch. It's a little sketch. The art was great. It had a lot of really nice movement like jets and Dinos flying through the air and like the fight scenes with the serpent [00:17:00] guys and the scenes where they show the woman coming out of the stonework of the temple were all really cool, and it was all super colorful. And I like that Catman and Kitten are wearing legit the same outfit.

We are talking down to the cut, so there's none of that scantily clad woman and overly dressed man.

Even their shorts were the same length. Yeah.

Mike: I love that. That's great.

Jessika: It was super refreshing. The other thing that was refreshing was the anti colonizer vibes. That is right. Like it was very pro giving artifacts back to the people they were first stolen from.

But because I don't know much about Myan culture or temples, I don't know how much like quote unquote Mayan influence received or if it was just kind of one of those Mesoamerican compilation kind of situations that we've seen from other things. I don't know, and I, I can't speak to that.

Mike: Yeah. And that's the thing is like, you know, it's, that's not something that I'm [00:18:00] an expert in or have really any familiarity in.

Jessika: Yeah. So I don't know how they did in that arena, to be fair.

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: But I mean, overall I really liked it. And I thought it was really cute. And it was really sweet. You know, I like a good one shot where I can just kind of have that, that one wrapped up story and.

Mike: Yeah, that's always great. Like where you've got that one kind of, you don't need to worry about like a lot of backstory, you don't need to worry about like, you know, the cliffhanger ending. Those are always great, man. I love those.

Jessika: Yeah, yeah. Very digestible. So. All right, well, I think that is our episode for today. Thank you so much for joining us. We will have another deep dive next week. I, I don't know, I don't know what it's gonna be about. We're kind of doing these all outta order at this point.

Mike: Man. Yeah, I.

Jessika: We're re-recording this one. Fun fact.

Mike: Yeah,

Jessika: I'm throwing it all out there, Mike.

Mike: Yeah. Yep. My, uh, my microphone got fucked up last time and so the audio wasn't usable.

Jessika: If it wasn't you, it was gonna be [00:19:00] me one of these times. So this is our first time we've had to re-record one of these, so that's pretty damn good.

Mike: Yeah. I feel like we're doing okay. Yeah.

Jessika: Yeah. Yeah. A lot of other, a lot of other podcasts talk about re-record stuff a lot,


I, I don't feel too bad


Mike: of our deep dives, man. That's

Jessika: Oh


Mike: uh

Jessika: seriously? Yeah, three hours later.

Mike: mm-hmm.

Jessika: Oh. All right folks. Well, again, we will see you next week for a deep dive, in two weeks, we'll see you for another one of our dolla-dolla bin bin Discoveries, and until then, we will see you in this stacks.

Mike: Thanks for listening to Tencent Takes. Accessibility is important to us, so text transcriptions of each of our published episodes can be found on our website.

Jessika: This episode was hosted by Jessika Frazer and Mike Thompson, written by Jessika Frazer and edited by Jessika Frazer. Our intro theme was written and performed by Jared [00:20:00] Emerson Johnson of Bay Area Sound. Our credits and transition music is Pursuit of Life by Evan McDonald and was purchased with a standard license from Premium Beat.

Our banner graphics were designed by Sarah Frank, who's at Look Mom

Mike: If you'd like to get in touch with us, ask us questions, or tell us about how we got something wrong, please head over to tencent or shoot an email to Tencent takes You can also find us on Twitter. For now, the official podcast account is Tencent, takes all one word. Jessika is Jessikawitha, and Jessika is spelled with a K, and Mike is Vansau, v A n s A U.

You can also find us on Instagram, Mastodon, Facebook, TikTok, and Blue Sky. A full list of our socials will be listed in the show notes.

Jessika: If you'd like to support us, be sure to download, rate and review wherever you listen

Mike: Stay safe out there.

Jessika: and support your local comic shop


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