Story File: Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? seems to me unique among IPC comic strips in that every single episode of its 24-week run in Cor!! followed exactly the same format, and much the same dialogue.
Playing on the Little Red Riding Hood characters, every week would begin with a two-panel first line in which Wolf would be salivating over the thought of eating Granny, and then loitering outside her woodland cottage muttering ‘Drool! The nearer I get, the hungrier I feel!’ Line two would see Granny sitting comfortably in her bed and a knocking at the door, Wolf outside the door, wearing his latest cunning disguise, and then Granny unhooking the latch of the door with the crook of her walking stick. On line three would come the big, pay-off, splash panel, in which Wolf is utterly demolished by whatever weapons-grade defence Granny chooses to unleash from her doorstep. The final panel would see Wolf staggering away from cottage, lesson unlearned, taunted by a suitable pun quip from Granny.
Irmantas, on his wonderful Kazoop!! blog, lists many of the different disguises and defeats worn and suffered by Wolf, and rightly places the strip in the genre of violent, repetitive Looney Tunes cartoon typified by Road Runner and Bugs Bunny – and I’m put in mind of The Simpsons’ ‘The Itchy and Scratchy Show’ too. But that’s no bad thing. In fact, I love it. I love the ridiculous predictability of it; I love the sweet, innocent build-up to the crashing penultimate panel; and most of all I love Murray Ball’s screwy, dynamic, violent, over-the-top cartooning. Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf was the D.R. and Quinch of its day.