Saturday, February 16, 2008

History Of The Beanworld Action Figure

Chapter Eight

For some reason, the years 1989 to 1991 are a bit foggy in my memory. I wrote, drew, and published eight issues of Tales of the Beanworld over those three years, which doesn't sound like very many, but it was the most productive period I had as the creator of Beanworld.

I attended the San Diego and Chicago conventions each year and hung out at the monthly Chicago mini-cons with the rest of the Chicago comics community. It was a tough era for alternative comics. The distributors most friendly to alternative comics were either going out of business or being absorbed into larger nation distribution companies.

Beanworld Action Figures remained a staple of all my convention appearances. As you can see from the 1990 example above, my fliers got a bit slicker.

I decided that those four "faces" were the permanent Beanworld Action Figure line-up. But it was right during this time that elements of the sports card indusry started to influence the comic book marketplace. I hadn't had a bit of interest in any cards since collecting Topps Beatles photo cards during the first wave of the British invasion in middle school.

But I always had my ear to the ground, paying attention to trends, and one phrase I kept hearing over and over was "chase card." A chase card is a nominally rare card that is randomly inserted into individual card packs in a low ratio to the rest of the series. The general idea was that collectors would purchase extra sets while "chasing" after the scarce cards. And of course the chase cards were traded at a higher price than the regular cards. (Not a bad marketing idea, but the general scheme eventually spiraled out of control. )

It became apparent to me that to continue their function as a parody of the industry that Beanworld Action Figures HAD to have chase figures too. Thus entered the last two Beanworld Action Figures. "Crazy" and "Dead."

Each morning as I banged out the days quota of Beanworld Action Figures, I'd sprinkle in a few spiral eyed "Crazies." And most bags of lima beans would have a few broken or shattered beans. I'd slide them over to the side and eventually toss 'em in the trash. One day a fan asked me, "What do you do with the dead ones?"

And the proverbial light bulb went off over my head and I drew two crosses for eyes and gave it to him (or her, I'm sorry to say I can't remember who this was) and said, "Here you go. The very first super-chase Beanworld Action Figure." And from that day forward, all the busted beans found their way into the little dish with the others.


Anonymous said...

Whoa, I'd never seen these two. I guess they really were rare. The dead ones truly look like zombie beans. Kinda creepy. But cool.

Anonymous said...

Are these images created out of several copies of the same bean-image? Did you have these images lying around pre-made? I'm sorry, I can't help asking.

Larry Marder said...

No, they are a step and repeat of one image.

The earlier illustrations of the original four came out of a baggie of ancient BAFs (Beanworld Action Figures) that inexplicably were shoved in the back of a drawer in my desk at McFarlane Toys.

How they got there, I haven't a clue.

They must have arrived in a box of my possessions that I sent from Image Comics when I switched jobs in 1999.

I had to reconstruct the crazy and dead ones. None of those were in the ancient old bag 'o' beans.