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fresh blood
average writing
competent art
historical bonus 2
total score 5
Fresh Blood Funny Book
Only Printing / February, 1979 / 36 pages / Last Gasp Eco-Funnies
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J. Michael Leonard emerged onto the comic book scene for a brief period in the mid to late '70s, too young to cash in on the golden age of undergrounds and not driven enough by creating comics to remain on the scene for long. However, he produced some notable if unremarkable comic books, including Star Weevils and this one here.

When Fresh Blood was produced, Leonard was living in San Francisco and had already produced Star Weevils (a parody of Star Wars) and several stories for other publications. Fresh Blood reprints comic stories from National Lampoon and Barn of Fear but includes several original stories that Leonard sporadically produced in the mid '70s. The stories include a variety of recurring characters, including a sea captain without a boat named Leviticus Seaweed, a talking scarecrow (and crow), and an everyman named Bumboat, whose appearance seems to change from story to story. There are also stories with anthropomorphic dogs, including a harrowing story about war and death.

Fresh Blood ranges all over the map and some of the stories are mediocre, but Leonard is quite competent as a comic illustrator. Several stories incorporate some peculiarities of small-town or Southern culture, which add a certain charm to them, but there's not much here that stands out as particularly special. Even "Night Crawling," which is somewhat compelling, trades on a common EC Comic plot twist. Still, the comic is a solid effort from someone who moved on to greater things in the future.

Leonard now toils in Cleveland, Tennessee, where he has written the rambling (and very funny) political humor column "Out of My Mind" since 1996, first for the Bradley Weekly (a tabloid in Bradley County, Tennessee), and since 2004 for the website hometowncleveland.com (aka HTC to the locals). His columns from 2007 and afterwards are archived at the website. Alas, Leonard went God-fearing Republican on us decades ago, as evidenced by this passage from an October, 2008 column:

"You gotta understand, as a young man I was your typical idealistic liberal hippie. I'm the only person I know ~ and now the only person you know ~ who was actually at Woodstock. I had no choice but to be a Democrat. Just like young idealists today, I was convinced that Republicans were all rich white people. It's like Winston Churchill said ~ if you're 20 and you're not a liberal, you don't got no heart...and if you're 40 and you're not a conservative, you don't got no brain. You think I'm kidding, but my first presidential election, I voted for McGovern. That wasn't bad enough, so I voted for Jimmy Carter, too. Twice. But I couldn't keep plugging all the intellectual and spiritual holes in liberal logic, so at some point during the Reagan years, I became a Republican. I had to. What other choice was there? Independent? Libertarian? Nobody had even invented the Constitution or Green parties yet. You had to be Dem or Repub."

Lest you think he's gone completely right wing, Leonard is quoted on the HTC website (shortly after the site was hacked by the Warrior virus in 2007 and went temporarily offline, yet Leonard continued publishing his column on an ancillary website) as saying, "Out Of My Mind will get you through times of no HTC better than HTC will get you through times of no Out Of My Mind." Reportedly, nobody on the youthful staff at HTC had a clue of what Leonard was talking about. And if you don't either, you need to read more Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.
Last Gasp printed approximately 10,000 copies of this comic book. It has not been reprinted.



J. Michael Leonard 1-36