With so many big names and big events plastered across the shelves of your LCS, sometimes great comics get left behind – buried in longboxes until someone comes along to find these Hidden Gems.
The Amazing Screw-On Head
Written & drawn by Mike Mignola
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Mike Mignola is an unquestioned master of visual storytelling. His dark, moody images are immediately recognizable, and his love of folklore and mythology is weaved into the stories he crafts, most notably in his creator-owned Hellboy and B.P.R.D. series. In 2002 Dark Horse released a one-shot by Mignola that quickly became one of his most popular works, but still remains unknown to many comic readers. I’m talking, of course, about The Amazing Screw-On Head.
The one-shot wastes no time in introducing us to this bizarrely interesting world. After a robbery at the Museum of Dangerous Books and Papers, President Abraham Lincoln calls in his number one operative, Screw-On Head. Correctly suspecting that the evil Emperor Zombie is behind the theft of the Kalakistan Fragment, Head screws into one of his bodies (lucky Number 13, of course) and with his butler Mr. Groin and tracker Mr. Dog takes off in pursuit. Meanwhile, Zombie and his crew have used to Fragment to find the tomb of Gung the Magnificent in order to steal the powers locked in a melon-sized jewel, which turns out to be a turnip containing the small parallel universe of Shamballah. Tapping into it unleashes a trademark Mignola monster, which Head defeats as Zombie flees. After employing a bold plan of action to catch up with Zombie, Head blows up his enemy’s Evil Skull Balloon and saves the day. Finally, in lieu of Head’s origin story, we get portraits of three horrible old women and a monkey. The end.
I cannot emphasize how much fun this book is. I’m not alone in that belief either, as it was won the 2003 Eisner Award for Best Humor Publication. While Hellboy and B.P.R.D. are both fantastic, I truly believe this one-shot is Mignola’s best work so far. The story and dialogue are absurd and wonderful, and his artwork has never looked better, some credit of which should go to the moody palate of colorist Dave Stewart. I implore everyone who hasn’t yet read it to check out The Amazing Screw-On Head. And if you’re up for more Mignola goodness, Dark Horse has released a hardcover volume, The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects, that collects not only the one-shot, but several other Mignola works from other anthologies like Abu Gung and the Beanstalk and The Magician and the Snake, the latter written by his then seven-year-old daughter Katie. It’s a bit pricey at $18, but hopefully Dark Horse will eventually put out a softcover. I give The Amazing Screw-On Head 5 out of 5 giant fire-breathing robots.
But wait, there’s more! Did you know The Amazing Screw-On Head was adapted into an animated TV pilot featuring the voices of such talents as Paul Giamatti, David Hyde Pierce & Patton Oswald? It didn’t get picked up, but it was released on DVD. Stay tuned, PoP!ulation, as I’ll soon be featuring it in an upcoming installment of Outside the Longbox!