Before I get on with how hilarious and engrossing Uncouth Sleuth is, I’d like for a moment to bring your attention to one of pop culture’s most beloved characters – Indiana Jones. Mention the guy’s name and you can bet that the image of an adventurous archaeology professor moonlighting as a US spy in World War II will pop into just about everyone’s mind. But have you ever imagined what it’s like to have Indiana Jones mixed with the qualities of a loony chum like Austin Powers, aka the International Man of Mystery? Or what would you do if you learned that the fictional hero created by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg turns out to be a bit of a smutty character?
Well, that’s the long and short of Uncouth Sleuth. It’s an Indiana Jones parody that tells the story of Harrison “Harry” Johnson, a hard-hitting private detective who manages to insert double-meaning sleazy lines in almost every panel in the book and somehow gets away with it (even the guy’s name has that obscene ring to it or is it just me?). This explains the parental advisory on the cover. Even so, I find this satirical comic book as a welcome relief to all the interdimensional crises, superhero deaths, shared universes and other dark moments that are common in mainstream comicbooks.
Set in 1937, the story opens with a damsel in distress named Selena Crabbe hiring Harry Johnson to look for her father who disappeared without a trace. After two pages of kinky one-liners, our seasoned private investigator accepts the job. But Harry can’t just go around the world all by himself looking for Ms. Crabbe’s missing dad. He needed an assistant and there’s no better place to find a dedicated, smart backup than in a stripper club. Enter Fanny Sellers, a stripper from the Temple of Poon. Together, Harry and Fanny must face cannibals, a former Majaraja and his henchmen, typical Nazis, and a squad of Swastika-clad femme fatale bodyguards. Question is, will the tandem accomplish their job?
A self-contained book, Uncouth Sleuth compiles three episodes of raw Harry Johnson adventures or – more appropriately – misadventures. Writer and creator Charles Fulp tells a good story that really entertains. The book is a Director’s Cut that also includes the sketchbook by legendary Playboy Magazine gag artist Dean Yeagle, who designed the characters in this satirical comic book. With playful pencil work by Craig Rousseau and inks by Norman Lee, this one will surely tickle your funny bone. True, the book doesn’t offer clean humor, but it’s great fun to read.
More than the erotic temptresses that are scattered within the pages of the book and more than just being a funny and smutty take on a very popular Hollywood hero, Uncouth Sleuth is a straightforward detective story where there’s no need for explanations. In fact, there’s nothing new to the overall plot of the story and this is not surprising as the book is supposed to be a parody. But this is not to say that the book is cliché-ridden. Quite on the contrary, with the mind-blowing number of cockiness and subplots in the book, readers can only expect the unexpected from Harry Johnson.
My only complaint is that I find the frequent and instantaneous shifting of the locations in the story to be somewhat disruptive of the story’s general flow. But what the heck, who cares about the story flow when you’re having fun? Once you open the book, you’ll find yourself seduced and easily carried away by Harry Johnson’s hilarious story. The witty and perky one-liners make this comicbook a very macho piece of literature with a healthy dose of adventure story to tell.
Uncouth Sleuth comes to your favorite comic book shop this August.