Notes on Smax #3

by Foo Sek Han and various people.

Corrections, additions, and suggestions are welcome - please either leave a comment (livejournal account not required) or send me an email.

(Except when otherwise credited, all text © copyright 2004 Foo Sek Han. Please ask for permission if you want to duplicate.)

All characters and art are copyright 2001, 2002, 2003 & 2004 their respective creators.

Publications, titles of publications and characters appearing therein are ©, ® and/or ™ of their respective publishers, authors or creators.

April 14 2004 - Updates in blue
November 21 2003 - Updates in blue
November 08 2003
November 05 2003
November 01 2003


The exterior of an inn is possibly one of the most clichéd elements of High Fantasy fiction, with its great grand predecessor set as The Prancing Pony from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. However this looks to be more like a modern rest stop rather than a typical inn, what with the "Last Garderobes for 30 Leagues" sign on the roof, and the existence of a W.C., which Smax is shown walking out from.

The large sign is "(something) O - Mead - Wyrms". Mead is considered one of the basic food groups alongside protein, carbohydrates and so on in a Dungeons and Dragons setting.

Regarding the signs of the cover -- Peter deGlopper notes: "This is a reference to stores that sell beer and worms for fishing bait, for example see the sign shown at: .

I suspect the O is ending the word "Ammo" - there's apparently a song called "Beer, bait and ammo" by one Kevin Fowler.

The truck stop effect is enhanced by the "Questors Welcome" sign, which is a variant on "Truckers Welcome".

And "Ambrosia Ice" refers to beer marketed as "Ice" beer."

Astrocitizen points out: "Signs on the cover are all variations of the usual signs you see at gas stations, pit stops, rest areas, and the like when you're travelling. "Mead" = "Beer", "Last garderobes for 30 leagues" = "Last gas station for so-and-so miles", "questers welcome" = "truckers welcome" and whatnot."

While it is not apparent at first, the little group of people eating at the table near Smax is part of his party, with Robyn in a green wizard hat (note her toybox) sitting beside Aldric and facing a couple of dwarves.

Is that supposed to be a telephone pole? The little "Missing Children" sign has Little Red Riding Hood. Ambrosia is a mixture of nectar and pollen prepared by worker bees and fed to larvae, used to be considered as a food fitting for Gods.

There's a poster behind Robyn and Alric promising "Earn Big Doubloons Working From Your Cottage". This is the medieval equivalent of the current spam mail of "Work at home and earn big bucks" which, unfortunately, is still conning a good number of people of their honest money. Doubloons are a currency in JK Rowling's Harry Potter series. Also note that the lower part seems to have tear-off phone numbers (phone numbers?) but nobody seems to have been duped. Yet.

I have no idea where "Shrieking Sea" and "Fog of Death" comes from, other than them being pretty much typical names for locations in high fantasy settings.

The sign on the road makes it apparent that this is an inn. The kobold (A kind of domestic spirit in German mythology, corresponding to the Scottish brownie and the English Robin Goodfellow) is one of the few mythical creatures bastardized by Dungeons & Dragons to become basic hack-and-slash fodder, hence the ease in obtaining a pie made of Kobold flesh.

And check out the modern tar road at the lower edge of the cover, complete with parking lot yellow paint!

KOBE 27 says: "On the Cover, you mention Doubloons are a currency in the Harry Potter books. I'm sure you already know this, but Doubloons were also the currency in 14th Century-18th Century Spain. They're FAMOUS as pirates' treasure for that reason. On almost every pirate movie (or novel) you can mention there was a treasure chest packed full with Spanish gold Doubloons." Opps, I forgot this fact...

Marcelo de Castro Bastos says: "Doubloons AREN'T money from the "Harry Potter" books. HP uses Galleons, Sickles and Knuts. But the annotation about it being pirate money is dead on." Ow.

Page 1

Eroom Nala notes that the script for the first two pages can be found here:

Flying objects, from left: A dragon's tail, silhouette of an owl/bat, Hedwig (Harry Potter's owl) carrying a scroll, A stork with a baby, a crow in necktie and hat, a winged donkey, a winged monkey (from Wizard of Oz), an orange (butterfly?), two unidentified black blobs, a griffin (possibly the Gryphon, one of the gatekeepers of Dream's domain in Neil Gaiman's Sandman), and a pair of hands (the way to create a shadow of a pair of wings on the walls). There seems to be a number of bats flying in daylight.

Chris Murphy says: "The magpie with the fedora and necktie is either Heckle or Jeckle, the chatty, well dressed magpies of cartoon fame." Heckyl and Jecyl are from Terrytoons, the same company which produced the more famous Mighty Mouse.

Diello notes: "Next to the Griffin (the little ball with the fluttering wings) could also be from Harry Potter, the flit from the Quidditch game." That would be The Golden Snitch, which flies around in a hyperactive daze around the field during a play of Quidditch. Harry Potter is, in fact, the Seeker, who is the player in a team in charge of grabbing the Snitch.

Diello continues: "The pair of hands is similar to the "rabbit ears" from isssue 2, it was a hand holding up two fingers."

Evil Bastard points out that the two black blobs are "bludgers", another type of ball played in Quidditch from Harry Potter.

J. Kevin Carrier says: "The bird in the hat and tie reminds me of a character from Jeff MacNelly's comic strip "Shoe"."

Astrocitizen notes: "Among the birds (and otherwise) is one of the crows from "Dumbo" and Donkey from the scene in "Shrek" when he was sprinkled with Tinkerbell's fairy dust."

Note the cartoon sunrays coming out from the sun.

I can't place the three persons in the lower end of the page, but the leftmost is dressed up in Robin Hood gear. He doesn't look like Kevin Costner, though. The koala looks like a famous 80's cartoon character which I can't place.

There's a little house in the tree with the M of SMAX. I think it's one of the huts of LoTR's Lothlorien.

J. Kevin Carrier: "The monkey-like creature climbing the tree limb looks like a Monchichi (those cutesy dolls and cartoon show from the '80s)."

Astrocitizen notes: "Interesting... the trees form the title character's name a la Will Eisner's The Spirit.

On the right is Hanna Barbara's Quickie Koala.

The title could be referring to John Rae's children's books such as "Grasshopper Green and the Meadow Mice", etc."

Andrew Leal points out: "The Hanna-Barberra character is Kwicky Koala."

From the script, Pegasus, The Flying Nun, Faeries, and That Stupid Looking Thing From Neverending Story do not appear among the flying creatures. Since Mr. Moore noted them in the script, I think they deserve some annoatation.

The Flying Nun is a fantasy sitcom shown 1967-1970. More info here:

Neverending Story is a 1984 children's fantasy movie, which spawned two far-from-decent sequels. The Stupid Looking Thing From Neverending Story is referring to Falkor the dragon, which looks something like a talking shaggy flying carpet.

KOBE 27 notes: "you mention The NeverEnding Story as an 1984 children's fantasy movie. I'm sure this was a simple oversight, but you failed to mention the novel by Michael Ende on which it was based on, which is actually MORE famous than the movie (a rare feat these days), save for America as usual. The other two movies also borrow from the book, but very slightly."

The title is from Syd Barrett's song "Octopus", like the previous episodes of Smax. The original part of the lyrics is "Grasshopper's Green Herbarian Band", altered to be "Grasshopper's Green Burying-Band".

Page 2

This might be just imaginary, but is the Lion of the wardrobe responding to Smax's dialogue through facial expressions? On Panel 3, when Smax says, "Now that's over, we can hop the first magic spell home", the lion looks slightly upset. It looks disapprovingly at Smax on Panel 7 after he says "So no quest, okay?", then almost shares Robyn's possible expression in the following panel. This might be true, since in one of the Narnia books (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), Aslan the lion's face appears on the book Lucy is reading when Lucy seems to, metaphorically, lose faith. The fact that Smax is losing faith in adventuring and quests, shown in this page, seems to assert this assumption.

Alan Moore's script never mentions anything about the Lion. Guess I might be over-speculating.

Diello points out: "The lion on the wardrobe automatically makes me think of the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I guess here, Robyn is the witch." I didn't think of including this because it was noted in the #1 annotation, hence Robyn's being the witch escaped my mind. Nice one!

Robyn is wearing a shirt with the slogan "Never Mind the Balrogs". The Balrog is a centuries-old flame demon in Lord of the Rings, featured in the first book in a battle with Gandalf the wizard. This reference is from the Sex Pistols 1977 album "Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols".

KOBE27 notes: "On Page 2, you mention the Balrogs and LotR. Despite the appearance of one in the first book of LotR,
technically, the Balrogs belong to the First Age so they should be mentioned alongside Tolkien's Sillmarillion."

I'm not sure why there is a white mouse on the wardrobe. The closest I can think of is the little white mouse (or, a bunch of pixels) in the first Prince of Persia computer game, which helps the prince (you) and princess (object of desire) to communicate.

Page 3

Panel 1: I don't know what the hanged stork means, unless someone decided to kidnap the baby in Page 1 and kill the messenger.

Regarding the hanging stork:

Diello: The hanged stork may be a refernce to a famous urban legend from the film version of the Wizard of Oz. Alledgedly, in one of the scenes (either when Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, or when they meet the Lion, can't remember which), you can see one of a little person hang himself from a tree, in silhoutte. The rumor was he was a depressed actor and decided to end it all on screen. Obviously this was far from the truth. The truth being that it was one of the large birds used in the film that got away from its handler and jumped down off a branch. The truth blends with fiction here.

Chris Murphy: In the film version of "The Wizard of Oz", in one of the many scenes where Dorothy and company are waltzing down the yellow brick road, there can be seen, in the far background, a shadowed stork, bending at the waist. An urban legend has it that it is not a stork at all, but rather a depressed set designer/technical staff person who is committing suicide by hanging himself. My guess is that the hanging stork is a conglomeration of the two stories.

Being that I haven't seen the movie myself (before my time... well) the most accurate reference I found referring to this urban legend is, unsurprisingly, Apparently the legend is that one depressed Munchkin - those cute little folks rejoicing when the bed slams into the Wicked Witch of the East - actor commited suicide and was caught in film. This was in truth, as mentioned by both Diello and Chris Murphy, a crane which just happened to be having a nice and very undepressed stroll.

Astrocitizen gives another point of view: "I never knew about the "Wizard of Oz" urban legend... the hanged stork reminded me of the drunken, suicidal crow from Tony Millionaire's "Maakies", also animated for "Saturday Night Live"."

Winnie the Pooh is stuck to a rabbit hole. This is the most famous stories written by AA Milne, Pooh Goes Visiting, where Pooh decides to visit Rabbit, and ate so much honey he got stuck in the front door. However, the original story had Pooh's head stuck outside, not the other way round.

KJW says: "Since Pooh is stuck the other way round, his chance of survival will be... well, I think those insects are flies, not bees... and that Winnie has departed to the great honey pot in the sky." Ouch.

Totoro is seen on the right edge, with an umbrella. Totoro is from My Neigbour Totoro, an anime movie done by Hayao Miyazaki, which features a huge feline forest god. Its name comes from the mispronunciation of one of the movie's main characters, who was trying to call it a "troll", based on the troll under the bridge in the Three Billy Goat Gruffs. His first appearance in the movie (excluding smaller Totoros) is at a bus stand with an umbrella.

Diello notes the bottom of the tree by Pooh - it appears as if someone's been evicted.

J Kevin Carrier questions: "Is that a miniature moon that Aldric is sitting on? Don't know what that would refer to." ...

... and Astrocitizen answers: "I try too hard to see Easter eggs; I thought the boulder in the middle of the panel was Gloop from "The Herculoids"."

Panel 3: Robyn's shirt "DIY" seems to be saying something about "If you can't convince him, you might as well do it yourself."

Astrocitizen says: " I thought Robyn's "DIY" shirt was a local variance of the "DKNY" brand, although VH1's "Remember the ‘80s" series recently gave me the idea it may stand for "Die Infidel Yuppie" as opposed to "Die Yuppie Scum"."

Page 4

Panel 1: I have seriously no idea what the lion-hawk-woman-headed being, with the eye as a stomach, with the flaming sword, with the heart in the hand, with the snake body, and with the are-those-zodiac? signs floating around her is. Unless, of course, it is a play on various elements:
There's a floating pyramid with an eye just below the steaming heart, which looks like an Illuminati symbol. The Illuminati is a society rumoured to be behind a number of conspiracies, and knows a good number of secrets including the fate of Atlantis.

The apparition on the left looks like the Phantom Stranger of DC comics. The Phantom Stranger is a mysterious person who appears and aids people in quests, often dressed up similarly to what is shown here.

Eroom Nala of the DC Boards says:

"The apparition on page 4 made me think of "The Lure" in "Greyshirt: Indigo Sunset", this monster has a magic tail, too. The allegorical figure (lady with sword and three heads) looks like a gnostic"

J. Kevin Carrier says: "I don't have my copy of FROM HELL handy to check, but I believe that 3-headed deity is the same one that William Gull sees during his seizure. The silhouetted figure with the top hat and butcher knife is Gull himself."

From Hell, written by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, is one of Mr. Moore's most famous post-Watchman pieces. A story detailing on the Jack The Ripper murders during Victorian England, Mr. Moore takes a different approach on the story by focusing on Sir William Gull's - both court physician and the Ripper himself - religious fanatism and the concept of magic and beliefs. It has been adapated into a film starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham, receiving mixed reviews.

The three-headed diety Mr. Carrier refers to is Jah-Bul-On, the Freemansory deity. It joins Jehovah (Jah) with two pagan gods, the pagan Canaanite deity Baal (Bul) and the Egyptian god Osiris (On). I'm not sure what Jah-Bul-On really looks like, but the illustration done by Eddie Campbell is quite different. However, Jah-Bul-On could have many different appearances, as do many other Gods.

If the silhouette is indeed Gull (in Ripper gear), this could be referring to the events in Chapter 14: Gull, Ascending in the From Hell graphic novel. This is quite near to the end of From Hell, so I won't reveal what happens there.

Astrocitizen wants to say: "the giant, three-headed whatsit with the flaming sword looks familiar, but that's probably just because I read too much "Promethea". The floating pyramid with the eye is of course the Freemasons' symbol we have on the American dollar. Other than that they resemble the chest emblem of "The Greatest American Hero" or the Druidic thorn tattoo from the last two "Halloween" movies with Donald Pleasance, I don't what the strange flora among the grass is supposed to be."

Marcelo de Castro Bastos points out: "The heart it's holding in its right hand (surrounded by thorns) is pretty standard Roman Catholic imagery. Go to any church, school, hospital or whatever with "Sacred Heart" as part of its name and you will find portraits of either Jesus or Mary (depending on the place's name), sometimes both, with the heart visible over the chest, surrounded by a crown of thorns, and glowing. In this case, the heart is steaming -- that might be taken as an indication that it has just been ripped from the owner's body and it's still warm.

There's also a couple things on the riverbank I couldn't identify -- the square-ish thing at the bottom and the small figure in front of a cave.

The snake at the background seems to have a wig.

Eroom Nala points out that this is Glycon, the ancient snake god Alan Moore currently worships. For those not in the know, an excerpt from the Onion AV Club interview:

With magic, I worship a second-century Roman snake god who, on the best evidence that I can dredge up from that period, was some kind of elaborate glove-puppet that was being controlled by a second-century snake-oil salesman, basically a complete fraud, huckster, and showman. I don't want anybody else to start worshipping this god. I find something a bit unnatural in the idea of being bound together in spiritual ideas with people. I'm sure that, in our natural state, we all believe something entirely different. I don't necessarily want anybody to believe the same things I believe, which is one of the reasons why I've adopted such a patently mad sort of deity. The idea of the deity is all I'm interested in, so that's fine for my purposes.

More info on Glycon, given by Eroom Nala, can be found here:

Diello notes: "the snake with the blonde hair for some reason, vaguely reminds me of the girl Muppet (Janice?) from Dr. Teeth's band."

The little Chinese words hopping around the ground is "Chong", which means "insect" or "worm". It's obvious why there are so many of them here, of course. Trivial fact: While "Big Worm" in English sometimes is synonymous to Dragon, in Chinese "Da Chong" / Big Worm means Tiger, at least in ancient literature.

Panel 3: Rains of frogs is often used as a bad omen. This phenomenon is usually caused by a whirlwind striking a pond full of frogs, thus throwing the frogs in the air before dropping them on some unsuspecting village. Other occurrences include rains of fish and so on. Unlike the usual case, these frogs seem to be mostly alive.

Eroom Nala notes that rains of frogs appeared also in the 1999 movie Magnolia.

Diello points out what most of us would have missed! "That's Kermit falling at the bottom left (or it could be his nephew Robin), note the pattern around the neck."

Astrocitizen provides the history: "Raining frogs was one of the plagues of Egypt, and a sign of warning from God to free the Hebrew slaves."

Page 5

Panel 1: The popular legend of a male animal giving birth to a baby probably started with the legend of a cock laying an egg. While calves with two heads are normal, triple-headed calves are somewhat a different matter altogether.

I don't know what the old man with a golden ear is, but the winged serpent may be Quetzacoatl, the Aztec deity.

Finding the name of God / the image of Christ / the image of Mary in mundane places, while all too commonplace, often gets lots of spectators flocking the area. The latest I have heard is the fence broken in such a way that when a shadow is cast, it shows the image of Mary. Unsurprisingly, worshippers gather there at the designated time the shadow would appear everyday.

Panel 5-7: The perspective of these panels is gradually changing, going on a panning angled shot to the left. Hence Smax and Robyn appearing larger, and explains the mystery of the disappearing chocolate mat.

Astrocitizen points out that the chocolate mat is in fact, a Hershey's bar.

Page 6

Panel 1: Notice Smax's footprints (they don't sink into the ground when he's calm), the broken door and the poor tree that dared to be at its path.

Panel 4: The clouds seem to be sprouting legs. I don't know what reference this is? Eroom Nala says these are from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

There's a little "Vote" poster lying on the ground.

Diello points out: "Page 6, Panel 1-3 - Along with Smax's footprints, note the front door has been knocked off its hinges.

Panel 4 - The Clouds and Sun with legs are indeed from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, specifically from one of the many Terry Gilliam-animated segments."

Astrocitizen notes additional points: "By the pond we see the mother cat from the legend of how pussywillows got their name. Not sure what the "vote" paper is about. Poor Treebeard." Treebeard is an ent (ancient tree spirit) who appeared in the second book of Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers.

Marcelo de Castro Bastos: "On the lower-left corner, beside the pond, there's a small plant-thing that seems to have eyes. This could be the Swamp Thing (another Moore book) growing another body after the first one was destroyed. The first time he did it (I can't recall the issue) it took him quite a while."

Page 7

Panel 1: I'm not sure why there is a little starburst at the tip of the mountain in the background.

Evil Bastard notes that this is the Eye of Sauron, from Lord of the Rings (or specifically, the Peter Jackson movie version.)

Peter deGlopper says: "This looks to me like a bird, which is suggestive of parables of eternity in which a bird sharpens its beak on a mountain top. The vertical bar is the beak, and there are two eye-specks visable above that. It's not very distinct, though, and if it is a bird it's odd-looking enough that I'm sure it's a reference to something I'm not familiar with."

Panel 2: Now, we wouldn't want public transport to prey on each other, would we? The pumpkin carriage pulled by mice is the one directly from Cinderella, while the "No" sign is the Nekobus / "Cat Bus", which comes from Miyazaki's "My Neighbour Totoro". Instead of wheels, the Nekobus has caterpillar-like legs, with its eyes headlamps, and the interior completely flesh and fur.

J. Kevin Carrier says: "The pumpkin-carriage pulled by mice is from Cinderella (the Disney version at least, I don't recall if they're in the original story)."

In the original Grimm story (which includes the sisters chopping off their heels to fit their feet into the silk - not glass - slipper), Cinderella ran to the ball by herself. I'm not sure whether the Walt Disney Company, or the persons who made fairy tales kid-friendlier, were responsible for adding the mice and the carriage. The original translated version can be found here: with more gory tales on its main page.

There's a "East Side Orcs Rules" graffiti on the bench. I think it has a better reference, but it could be related to the gangs in "West Side Story". Orcs are a race of warmongering brutish people, used as the servants of both Sauron and Saruman in the Lord of the Ring trilogy. This race is also often used in Dungeons and Dragons as the primary nasty race you can beat up without your conscience berating you.

Panel 3: A frog is working on the carriage.

Manos99 notes: "On Page 7, panels 3 and 5 in SMAX #3 there is a pumpkin carriage being worked on by a frog, and pulled by a mouse. I see this as a reference to the famous folk song "Froggy Went A Courtin'", covered by a number of artists including Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley. Full lyrics as sung by Bob Dylan It was also animated by, I believe, The National Film Board of Canada.

Panel 4: I'm not sure what these two characters are.

According to Eroom Nala:

"the 2 characters from the recently (about 20 years or so ago now extra chapter to Alice in Wonderland called the Wasp in the Wig)" Continued: "The Wasp in the Wig was published by PanMacMillan in 1977 and is also included in the Annotated Alice (Updated Edition 1999) by Martin Gardner."

Wasp in the Wig can be found here: and also some illustrations here:

According to MacKenzie: "The mouse in the carriage is likely Vladek Spiegelman, father of Art Spiegelman in his acclaimed work Maus. The book details the artist's relationship with his father and his father's experiences during the Holocaust; Art also portrays the Jews as mice and the Nazis as cats. In the scenes where Art interviews his father to create the book, Vladek wears glasses very similar to those on the mouse in the panel."

More speculation on the two characters in the carriage --

Astrocitizen: "If I'm not mistaken the guy in the suit made of newspapers is the criminal in "Shazam" #15, wherein a burglar stole a formula that made paper indestructible and thus fought Captain Marvel, Jr. in a suit made of newspapers treated with the stuff. If that's true, his traveling companion is the Goat-Man from Mr. Mind's Monster Society of Evil saga in "Captain Marvel Adventures" during the '40s."

MHS in Manhattan: "The panel is actually based on John Tenniel's illustration for Chapter of "Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There". Robyn is slouched in exactly the same position as Alice, Smax is standing in the same posture as the Guard demanding her ticket (but without the binoculars), and the two other characters are described by Carroll as "the gentleman sitting opposite to her, (he was dressed in white paper)" and "A Goat, that was sitting next to the gentleman in white." Cannon elected to dress his gentleman in newspaper; otherwise they are nearly identical to the Tenniel illustration.

Panel 5: Grasshopper Green is from the book Grasshopper Green and the Meadow Mice by John Rae.

"Welcome Careful Dark Riders" seems to be pointing to the Nazhgul, which are known as Dark Riders in the Lord of the Ring trilogy. I'm not sure why "careful" is needed though - unless it's pointing at Easy Rider, the Dennis Hopper-Peter Fonda movie on Harley Davidson riders.

Both Peter deGlopper and Astrocitizen points that this sign is a variant of the "So-and-So-Town welcomes careful drivers" signs, albeit with a Tolkien bent.

Page 8

As if missing most of the references in Page 3 wasn't humbling enough, Page 8 really delivers the killing punch. ARGH!

Clockwise from top left:

The stegosaurus tail has some form of armour - I think it's from James Gurney's Dinotepia series, where humans and dinosaurs live together.

I'm not sure what the houses in the tree branch are, and what significance the golden towers have. One of the towers seemed to be pointed, while the other resembles more like a mosque. zachd from DC forums note: "Rapunzel is waiting for her love" There is a braid of hair hanging from one of the tower windows.

The Mock Turtle of Alice in Wonderland is held in stocks "For the Cryme of Mockery".

Peter deGlopper says that this resembles Larry the Lamb, a British children television character.

The caterpillar-like creature on the steps is based on the MC Escher lithograph Curl Up 1951.

Trogdor the Buninator is featured on the poster "And the Dragon Comes in the Night". This is a Homestar Runner reference.

The signs are pointing to "Bull Market", "Bear Market" and "Goblin Market". The Bull and Bear markets are jargon used for stock market trading, where Bull means improving economy, and Bear contrasting it. The Goblin Market is... well.

J. Kevin Carrier says that "Goblin Market is a poem by Christina Rosetti about two sisters who stumble across an enchanted marketplace."

The store is hanging signs of a steak, a loaf and a candle. I'm not sure what this means, but the steak resembles an ear, which might point to multiplayer games in Blizzard's Diablo (killing another player will earn you the medal of said player's severed ear). There are "four+20 blackbirds pie" being sold for "6p" , and Jack B.Quick's Memoriam Olympic entry forms. Jack B.Quick is a character in Alan Moore's Tomorrow Stories compilations.

J. Kevin Carrier notes: "Lots of nursery rhyme references here: The signs showing a steak, loaf, and candle are a reference to the rhyme about Three Men in a Tub: "The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker". Blackbird pie is from "Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye, 4 and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie". The "Jack B. Quick Memorial Olympics" probably refers not to the Tomrrow Stories character, but his nursery-rhyme namesake: "Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick.""

KJW also says "Jack B.Quick is referring to the song by Don McLean, American Pie. A part of the song goes something like Jack be nimble, Jack be quick." According to The Annotated American Pie, this is a reference to Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, on the 1968 release "Jumpin' Jack Flash".

Basilisks, Manticores and possibly Griffins are being sold as meat, as shown on the posters of the shelf. Sickles is a currency used in the Harry Potter series.

The child being chased by the dog is Nobby from celebrated British children's book author Enid Blyton's Nobby series. Eroom Nala notes that both dog and wagon are from the old Chuckwagon commercials.

Is that a fairy prostitute receiving money from a fishy john? I'm not sure where these two characters come from. I'm not sure what "Whingding Dillymeat" of the sign above the john means either.

Diello: "The sign reading "Wing Ding Dilly Meat" is a reference to the childrens story Wind Ding Dilly by Bill Peet."

Astrocitizen points out that the fishy john is actually a variation of the plant monster from the cult horror film, "Little Shop of Horrors".

I'm not sure what the two little goblins playing dice on the street are from.

The dark cloaked figure seems to have some reference, seeing that the weapon he is holding is a bit unusual - I just can't place him from anywhere.

Diello comes into the rescue again, pointing out: "The "dark cloaked figure" isn't cloaked. It's one of the armored cockroach-type soldiers (Hunters?) the Skeksis used in the Jim Henson film "The Dark Crystal." And strangely enough, the thing he's holding is the Glaive from the film "Krull." (last seen on the cover of issue 1). Don't know what the blue thing on its head is."

Incidentally, Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean have finished production a few months earlier of Mirrormask, a movie project which also involves Jim Henson's daughter.

Note the little triangle sign on the back of the carriage!

Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater! Sherlock Holmes' silhouette is above the Pied Piper's music school sign "Hamelin Music", which is located at Knockturn Alley from Harry Potter. The chimneys probably have some significance; there is a "DNKA" sign - playing on DKNY "Donna Karen New York". I'm not sure what DNKA means.

A number of people, including Evil Bastard, Ed Hopper, Rob, MHS in Manhattan, Astrocitizen, and William Bardon, corrects the error I made on DNKA -- it's actually part of the word "WONKA", from the book "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". This is later mentioned in the next page.

Humpty Dumpty is prevented from falling down and breaking apart in the cruelest way possible.

Page 9

Panel 1: The person in orange with the double swords is Sergio Aragoné's Groo The Wanderer.

Who is that yellow giant?

Diello notes: "The "big yellow giant" looks kind of like the big brute who would always antagonize Bugs Bunny in various medeival/fantasy themed Warners shorts. Is that Robin and Friar Tuck next to Smax?"

There is also a knight in a red cape under the "Blank Signboard" beside Goblin's Deli and the grey building. (I'm sure the buildings and the signboard has some references) The "Blank Signboard" building has something looking suspiciously like a makeshift satellite dish above its roof.

Astrocitizen says: " It could be that the middle building on the right (between the spikey dildo building and the Goblin Deli) is the local variation of the Taco Bell, what with the upside down bell on the top."

Panel 2: Smax talks about the Department of Quests, Trilogies and Sagas. Trilogies are important fantasy novel-wise because of LoTR, and almost every epic high fantasy novel wants to be a trilogy after that. Sagas are novels which couldn't fit into just three books and expanded into too many, the prime culprit being Robert Jordan and the never-ending Wheel of Time series.

Not sure what the flask-like building is, and there is a Mexican hat on the ground (Speedy Gonzales?). Considering the value most RPG games and campaigns hold among amulets and gold eggs, the beggar seems to be asking for the equivalent of a thousand dollars in the real world. His sign also says "Would Marry For Food"

Panel 3: The Bean/Cow scandal points the old man as Jack of the Beanstalk fame. Jack is credited as the lazy youth who always want the easy way out, hence causing his family to have so little money as to having to sell their sole cow.

The Miller VS Cobbler event Smax is describing in Panel 3-4 is suggesting that Willy Wonka (the miller) has overtaken Santa Claus' (the toymaker) empire.

Panel 4: Smax is talking about one of Roald Dahl's most famous children stories, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory". WW, an eccentric man, created an empire of chocolate and candy factories. The description of toffee rivers and Oompa-Lumpas are accurate.

I don't know who the black-haired child is. I don't seem to find any significant reference to the Skullboy quote. The white spectral kid is Casper the Friendly Ghost, a Harvey Comics' character.

Christopher Murphy points out: "The solemn looking chap next to Casper is either an ABC version of DC-Vertigo's Death, or one of the other Endless." Death is one of the siblings of the Endless, which comprises of Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium, who was once Delight. This is from Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, and just recently featured in Endless Nights, the Vertigo ten-year anniversary graphic novel. The child looks a lot like Dream in both hairstyle and eyes, though wearing a t-shirt with an ankh, which suggests Death. This could be referring, too, to Jill Thompson's "The Little Endless Storybook", which featured the Endless family in kiddy cute form.

Astrocitizen points out regarding the Skullboy quote and Smax's description of the eerie children: " The gravestone remarking Skullboy may refer to Jacob Chabot's "Skullboy and His Evil Army" comic strip (recently see as part of the G-Boy strip in the back of "Savage Dragon"). BTW, I think Alan is censoring himself regarding the whole "stillborn babies" talk -- according to a book I read about the Salem witch trials, the actual belief was that the stillborn went to Hell, the least worst part of it one hoped, but still Hell. Yet another reason to thank God for Martin Luther."

Panel 5: Not sure where the hanging mask is from.

Anonymous wrote in: "I think the "hanging mask" is actually the head of 60s' super-hero/talk-show host "Space Ghost" as he walks through the wall. "Space Ghost" was a popular cartoon super-hero in the 60s' and 70s'. In the early 90s', Space Ghost was brought back as the host of the animated talk-show "Space Ghost: Coast-To-Coast" on the Cartoon Network."

There seems to be a wrapped body in the sewer drain, which I can't place.

The Harvey Comics characters are Wendy the good little witch (the little girl in red), Spooky the scoundrel ghost (the spectral child with the hat), and one of the three brothers who menace Casper (the spectral child with the twist in the head). The little skeleton does not seem to be from Harvey Comics, however, and I don't know where it is from.

The wanted poster is possibly Jhonen Vasquez's Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. William Bardon says: "The wanted poster looks like Morpheus/Dream of the Endless which would make the Z like the snoring sound of a sleeper "Zzzzz". This could be an advertisement for insomnia drugs.

Peter deGlopper says: "The little skeleton is "Spooky, the Thing What Squeaks" from Jhonen Vasquez's comic "I Feel Sick"." and also confirms that the "Z?" text on the wanted poster confirms it is Vasquez's JtHM.

The boy on the right is pretty obvious Harry Potter, complete with lightning scar, round glasses, and the H sweater given to him by Mrs Weasley. The tombstone "The Boy Who Died" is a play on the first chapter of the first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher's / Sorceror's Stone, which is entitled "The Boy Who Lived".

Page 10

Panel 1: The background is based on Relativity 1953, a lithograph done by MC Escher.

Note that the cupids are used as beasts in this universe, acting as sign-holders, and also as food (in Smax #1). This is quite different compared to the Roman Empire-based Earth in Top Ten, where the cupids act as wardens complete with electrocution rods.

Of the people waiting in line:

Eroom Nala says: " there is a tall naked guy before the counter - it could be Den from Richard Corbens fantasy comic "Den" (1979), he also appeared in the animated cartoon "Heavy Metal" in 1983."

There seems to be a Yeti and a Martian in the row, standing behind, as zachd says, "Taran Wanderer (with Hen Wen)". Taran Wanderer, written by Lloyd Alexander, is an assistant pig-keeper who goes on a quest to discover his parentage. I suppose Hen Wen is the pet pig, then.

Regarding the, uhrm, "Martian" (D'oh, with Tars Tarkas in the row...):

Mike MacKenzie: "The person in front of Taran looks suspiciously like Shrek considering the ears and green skin. "

Chris Murphy: "There's a hobbit standing just in front of Luke Skywalker (note the furry feet), and a bit further up in line is Shrek."

Shrek is Dreamwork's most celebrated animated film, which features a green troll named Shrek with the same ears as the not-Martian here. He also wears clothing close to what is portrayed here.

Dirk the Daring of Dragon's Quest, an old animated game, is standing in front of an Indian brave (who?). The same knight in the red cloak with a hobbit, not hobbit/midget/child/dwarf/Mini Me standing aside, Luke Skywalker with his handmade lightsabre, and someone I completely do not recognize at all.

Marcelo de Castro Bastos: "In my comic, the tall guy before the counter seems to be wearing a fur loincloth. That means it probably isn't Den -- more likely Conan or a dozen other generic barbarian-heroes. Also, notice in the middle (just above Smax's right shoulder) another guy with two crossed-over belts. It might be (shudder) He-Man (from the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe toy line and cartoon). It's interesting to notice that there's a story running around that Mattel originally intended to sell a line of Conan toys, but when they actually saw the movie (the one starring Arnold Schwarzenegger) they found out that it WASN'T a kid's movie. So, they changed a little cosmetic details on the already-designed dolls (blonde hair and such) and created their own brand."

Jérôme_WICKY: "I fail to locate Den, but if the tall character Eroom's referring to is the first in line, it seems to be he is wearing a furry loincloth and has long black hair, while Den was butt-naked and bald. Maybe it's some Conan-type, rather. Maybe Eroom was refering to the character first in line on page 14, that Mike Mc Kenzie identified as Mr Hyde? Further in the line, just next to Smax's face, one can see the back of a character apparently wearing He-Man's chest harness."

A number of people wrote in to point out the identity of the last person in line (the fellow with the helmet and the medallions).

William Bardon: "The bearded fellow with the metal hat and three disk medallion could be Bear from Dave Sim's Cerebus wearing Cerebus's medallions. Bear was last seen in a sequence in Cerebus where all men were confined to taverns until they got married, while a matriarchy of Cirinists ran the world."

Matt Miller: "The guy on page 10 in the helmet and black vest (in front of Jeff and Robyn) is supposed to be Dave Sim, creator of Cerebus. The vest and medallions are identical to the ones Cerebus himself used to wear in the early issues of the series.

The man's comments regarding women pretty much guarantee that Moore's referencing Sim, a noted (and outspoken) misogynist - more details."

Bashful Bry: " the line at the Department of Quests, Trilogies and Sagas is a human version of Cerebus, or maybe a barbarian version of Cerebus' creator, Dave Sim. Note the medallions, vest, helmet (Cerebus' original costume) and the animosity towards women in panel 2."

Panel 3-4: The green fellow is Tars Tarkas, the Green Martian hero from Edgar Rice Burroughs' books. He seems to be showing Robyn either photographs of his family back in Mars, or his credit card collection.

Page 11

Panel 1: This is probably some other form of Death, but he looks like Data, the android officer played by Brent Spiner in Star Trek: The Next Generation to me.

Marcelo de Castro Bastos: "This actually looks to me like it might be Petrefax from the "Sandman" comics."

Panel 4: Under the scythe are very non-chess like board and card games, including "Go Fish", "Uno", "Mouse Trap", "Yahtzee", "Sorry", and "Scrabble". I suppose these are guide books on how to play these games, and if you need a thick book to study "Go Fish"...

Astrocitizen notes the other items in Lionel's room: "The box with the golden bird on it by the (frame of the) door could be the mechanical bird from the story of the Chinese Emperor's Nightingale. Also, the purple chair next to it seems to form a skullface with the arrangement of buttons and grooves in the cushion."

Panel 5: Lionel is writing "Kasparov by Fischer". Kasparov is alluding to Garry Kasparov, the dominant chess player of our time. Fischer is Bobby Fischer, a child prodigy in chess who disappeared as an adult, attributed with myths and legends.

Panel 6: A popular folklore is the "wily peasant" tricking Death into playing "chess games", with Death losing and unable to claim the mortal's soul. These sort of stories is a tad rarer compared to the "Tricking the Devil" stories, which play at a similar theme.

J. Kevin Carrier says: "The figure of Death here is specifically taken from Ingmar Bergman's 1956 film The Seventh Seal, where a knight (played by Max Von Sydow) plays chess against the Grim Reaper (Bengt Ekerot)."

William Bardon says: "The death character Lionel is also similar to the death in the movie Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey."

Manos99 says: "As an addition to this annotation, in the movie "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey", DEATH (looking VERY much like the death presented here, and was itself a tribute to "The Seventh Seal") played Battleship, Twister, and a number of other games for Bill and Ted's souls. (The joke being that Death keeps saying "Best 2 out of 3!" after he inevitably lost). In this case, Death would have to be a master of ALL sorts of games if he wanted to avoid losing to a couple of dopes."

Page 12

Panel 1: I don't know who the guy in the orange jumpsuit at the back is, but his helicopter-like equipment looks like something coming out from Alan Moore's Tom Strong series.

Peter deGlopper says: "The helicopter backpack and the dynamite give this away - he's the protagonist from the old video game "H.E.R.O." From

"You are the gadget-equipped HERO of this game. Your mission is to rescue miners trapped inside a series of treacherous mine shafts, each
more deadly than the last. You have a helicopter "prop-pack", some dynamite, a laser beam, and your own keen senses to help you succeed.""

Astrocitizen says: " I wanna say it's Doc Brown excavating in "Back to the Future III" or one of the Ghostbusters but..."

E. J. Fischer says: "The guy in the orange jumpsuit on page twelve is, I believe, the main character from the Activision game HERO for the Atari 2600. A picture of the box art can be seen here."

I can't read the Japanese Kanji characters under the ashtray.

Evil Bastard points that the Kanji is "Domo-Arigatou", which means "Thank You" in Japanese.

Jérôme_WICKY: "It's not kanji, but hiragana, one of the two phonetic writing systems in Japanese, as opposed to kanji which are ideograms."

I suppose Dennis is referring to Dennis Wheatley, the author of a good number of horror novels regarding Satanism and Occults. Some of the descriptions in those books are quite scary (during its time, at least), as noted by Lionel here.

Panel 4: I think it's just a funny exclamation, but "Holy Eternally Laughing Cow" probably has some weird reference I won't be able to catch unless someone tells me so.

zachdms point out that this is a reference to Laughing Cow Cheese, which apparently has quite the following.

Panel 5 & 6: Astrocitizen says: "The quest quota that Smax refers to is the quest saga gimmick of a collection of different fantasy world figures forming a team, first made famous by Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, and Thorin's dwarves in Tolkien's "The Hobbit", and later with the Fellowship of the Ring in the sequel of the same name."

Page 13

Something most of us missed! Marcelo de Castro Bartos points out: "Notice how the black shadow on the side of Lionel's desk changes shape. In panel 2, it looks like a skull-and-crossbones. Later, it looks more like a generic butterfly/blot/Rorschach card."

The Warrior Hero-Mage-Female-Elf-Dwarves combination is one of the most typical grouping in High Fantasy novels and RPG campaigns post-LoTR. The female's role is probably quite obvious, and this is especially emphasized in Conan fiction. With hobbits being copyrighted by the Tolkien estate, D&D use "halfling" as the name of a very hobbit-like race (albeit more comfortable to fighting), though most people would prefer to cancel out the hobbit/halfling/halfwit race and just use dwarves instead.

It is also a very common argument that the plural of "dwarf" is spelled as "dwarfs", and Tolkien made the mistake of using "dwarves". Currently both spellings are considered correct.

Panel 3: Astrocitizen points out that : ""Great-hearted folk" is another name of the dwarves in Tolkien's world, and possibly a variance of political correctness in this world, a la African-Americans, Native Americans, handi-capable/physically challenged, etc."

Panel 7: Astrocitizen continues: "You don't really see as much of her as you do in Peter Jackson's movies, but Eowyn is an accomplished shieldmaiden in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. This, along with the need for equal opportunity, added the idea of the warrior woman to the "quest quota" that you now see in "Dungeons & Dragons" rpg's, "Gauntlet" video games, and such as best as I can gather."

Page 14

Panel 1: I don't think I know any of the characters in line at the background, other than the kid pulling out the Sword in the Stone (in vain).

Mike MacKenzie: "The man at the front of the line looks strangely like Mr. Hyde in volume 2 issue 6 of Moore's The League of Exraordinary Gentlemen."

Evil Bastard points out that the person in front of Kid King Arthur could be Sir Bedevere (from Monty Python and The Holy Grail).

Astrocitizen: "Along the waiting line I think we see a golem a la Mignola's "Roger the Homunculus" at the window, young Arthur trying to remove the sword from the stone, a knight in full armor with a pointy helmet which I could swear I've seen in "Wizard of Id" or "Hagar the Horrible" a few times. "

Obelix, from the French Asterix-Obelix comics written by Goscinny and drawn by Uderzo, is carrying a menhir on his back, standing beside Tarzan. Chewbacca the Wookie from Star Wars can be seen behind Edgar Rice Burroughs' creation.

The boy and dog are respectively Jonny Quest and Bandit, from the Hanna-Barberra animated series Jonny Quest. The older, teenage version here appears to be from the 1996 Real Adventure of Jonny Quest, rather than the original 1964 preteen version.

Marcelo de Castro Bastos: "Now, HERE is the naked guy who could be Den."

Panel 2: I don't know who the man with the golden axe and the other in black are. Sega once produced a game series entitled Golden Axe, but it is the villain who has the axe, and he dresses up in armour.

Diello: "Couldn't the man with the axe be Conan, the more Marvel-style at least? I believe he frequently carried a large axe."

Evil Bastard: "That'll be Kull the Conquerer (of the Robert E Howard books) and Prince Colwyn (from the film Krull), presumably arguing over how the name should be spelled."

Peter deGlopper: "I'm not sure who these people are either, but note that the man in black has the "Glaive" last seen on page 8."

Panel 4: The child from the Family Guy is holding a discoloured Maggie from The Simpsons hostage. Pugsley Addams (from The Addams Family) is the boy in the striped shirt, and the one seen here is straightly lifted from the animated series (in that, most of the animated characters do not resemble any of the original actors). The child on the left with the black eye is Barrel, one of the three spooky children from Tim Burton's stop-motion film The Nightmare Before Christmas. I don't know who the others are.

Diello: "The baby from Family Guy is named Stewie and is hell-bent on world domination. The top of head in the middle at the bottom of the panel looks like the hover-chair bound freaky-kid from Akira." The child is Masaru, who not only has a special hoverchair (which precedes Professor Xavier's, incidentally), but is also blue-skinned and possibly 60-70 years old. Akira is a Japanese comic done by Katsuhiro Otomo, which was adapated into an anime film, which perhaps was the first ever Anime movie ever released in the West in a grand scale (The second being Princess Mononoke, and later Spirited Away). It's an apocalypse futuristic fiction where several children are trained, possibly for military purposes, to be psychics who can have world-destroying powers. The movie was re-released in selected theatres in 2001, with better quality and more accurate dubbing. (Note: The movie and the manga, apparently, are very different story-wise, but the Tetsuo-Kanaeda-Akira tangent is still present) More on the re-released movie.

Rob says: "The cylinder-hatted boy in the lower right is Jay Stephens' Tutenstein."

The poster image is from Mike Minogla's Hellboy comics - the logo is the paranormal investigation department Hellboy is assigned to, BPRD, which stands for Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense.

Panel 5: The little devil is Harvey Comics' Hot Stuff, the mischievous little devil. I don't know who the girl he's dating is.

Eroom Nala says "Someone (I forget who) wrote that Hot Stuff is trying to date Linda Blair from the Exorcist." The Exorcist is a horror fiction written by William Peter Blatty, though it is more well known as the 1973 movie of the same name. One of its most famous scene is when the character of Linda Blair - a child star at the time - gets possessed by a demon, effectively distorting her facial features, causing her to scream obscenities and spit some liquid resembling green pea soup.

Astrocitizen points out about Smax's dialogue: "Another thing we see is further evidence of Smax's prejudice against elves. It's almost like Shock-Headed Pete Cheney and Joe Pi all over again."

Page 15

Panel 1: I can't see clearly who is the person menacing Jack the beggar. It might be Vhailor from Black Isle Studio's computer RPG Planescape: Torment, a walking armour with an extremist and ultimate sense of justice, and tends to deliver it before asking questions.

Diello points out, with better speculation: "Ah, I get the gag now. The thing menacing Jack the Beggar is one of the cockroaches from Dark Crystal again. That blue thing on its head that I couldn't identify before is a police officers hat. They're working for the man here, too. Note the billy club in its hand. Cleaning up the streets from riff-raff."

The person floating in the background may be the Michelin Man, or "Airbag" from the Top Ten series, who inflates like a balloon when tense.

Peter deGlopper: "The floating person is Pompom, from Homestar Runner. Same source as Trogdor the Burninator, referenced on page 8."

Astrocitizen: "Down the street, is that Bouncing Boy from the Legion of Super-Heroes?!"

Panel 2: Who is that vampire with the little wings, and what is he doing in broad daylight?

Diello: "The "vampire" has an 'n' on its chest. Nosferatu?"

Also, just noticed that the little wings on the back of the vampire looks like what would appear among the demons in Mark Minogla's Hellboy comics. Is this one of them?

Astrocitizen: "Middle-Earth is, of course, the name of the world in "Lord of the Rings", a variation of "Midgard" in Norse theology I suppose."

Page 16

Panel 1: Diello says: "Note the Tootsie Pop on the right, just above some McDonaldland cookies (note the trademark arches)."

Mike MacKenzie says: "The tootsie roll pop in the front yard prominently displays the native American shooting the star. Legend goes that if the entire figure appeared on your wrapper (without being cropped), then it would grant your wish."

Rob says: "I think those are M&Ms. To the far left may be a cotton candy tree on a peppermint stick. And is that candy corn bordering the house wall?"

Page 18

Panel 5: There's obviously some reference as to the lightning bolt scar on the horse's back. If only I know what it was?

J. Kevin Carrier points out: "The horse with the lightning-mark might be a reference to two of Supergirl's "Super-Pets" from the comics of the 1960s: Streaky the Super-Cat (who had a lightning-shaped streak on his side) and Comet the Super-Horse (who had a comet-shaped birthmark)."

Rob suggests that the lightning scar is the one on the forehead of Harry Potter.

Astrocitizen says: "The lightning bolt could be the emblem of the Flash or Captain Marvel."

Page 19

"These horses all have different brands." Well, I just don't know what the references are. Aldric's horse has one that looks like a Ying Yang symbol, Dwarf 1 the Bat Signal, Dwarf 2 the alphabet K in a circle, and Robyn a section sign §.

Regarding the symbols on the horses --

J. Kevin Carrier: " On closer examination, I believe the "yin-yang" brand in panel 1 is actually the sigil/logo of CrossGen Comics. And the "circle K" in panel 2 is actually the DC Comics logo."

Rob: "Aldric's also looks like opposing apostrophes (‘’), and Dwarf 2's looks like "DC" in a circle... the DC Comics logo?"

Panel 5: Astrocitizen points out: "Smax's rant about sprites being Shiar or Sunni elves is in reference to the different Islamic sects, not unlike how Protestant, Catholic, or Greek Orthodox Christians tend to differ from one another, who unfortunately tend to persecute one another to my knowledge. BTW, I think "Shi'ar" was supposed to be the Shi'i or Shari'a, and somehow it was confused with the Marvel Universe aliens."

Panel 6: Astrocitizen futher notes: "The only story I know about a party freezing to death in a blizzard is Mark Rayner's "The Gallant Captain Oates", but there's no cannibalism in it so I'm way off on this one."

Bill LaMonaca gives us some details on the "eat each other to survive" comment:

"I think this is a reference to the Donner party- this citation is from the Yahoo! encyclopedia:

Donner Party, group of emigrants to California who in the winter of 1846—47 met with one of the most famous tragedies in Western history. The California-bound families were mostly from Illinois and Iowa, and most prominent among them were the two Donner families and the Reed family. In going West they took a little-used route after leaving Fort Bridger and were delayed. They suffered severely in crossing the salt flats W of Great Salt Lake, and dissensions and ill feelings in the party arose when they reached what is today Donner Lake in the Sierra Nevada. They paused (Oct., 1846) to recover their strength, and early snow caught them, falling deep in the passes and trapping them. Their limited food gave out, the cold continued, and the suffering of the group, camped on Alder Creek and Donner Lake, grew intense. A party that attempted to make its way through the snow-choked passes in December suffered horribly. The surviving members of the Donner Party were driven to cannibalism. Finally, expeditions from the Sacramento valley made their way through the snowdrifts to rescue the hunger-maddened migrants. Only about half of the original party of 87 reached California. The survivors later disagreed violently as to the details of (and particularly the blame for) the disaster. Donner Lake, named for the party, is today a popular mountain resort near Truckee. There is a monument to the party. Nearby Donner Pass has a U.S. weather observatory."

Page 20

Panel 4: Glinda the Good is the Good Witch from L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz. The Undine is from Teutonic folklore - they are female soulless water-spirits who like to associate with humans, who obtain their souls only when they marry a human and bear his child. I don't know what a Slyph is other than it possibly being a mythical creature.

According to J. Kevin Carrier, ""Slyph" should probably be "sylph", which is an air elemental in folklore (and Dungeons & Dragons" Opps, I did a spelling mistake there...

Astrocitizen notes the elementals: " During his rant, Smax lists elemental creatures in (cursing aside) almost the same order as the title of the book by William Mistele.
Sylphs -- elementals of the wind and air
Undines -- water elementals
Gnomes -- elementals of the earth
Salamanders -- fire elementals, not the amphibian"

Rob observes: "Gnomes, sylphs, undines and salamanders are ancient elemental spirits of earth, air, water and fire. (A super team based on these names appeared in SUPER FRIENDS #14, 1978. :)"

Page 23

Panel 2: Smax's facial hair is starting to grow back.

Panel 3: I'm not sure why there is a stick man in this picture. The closest reference I can think of is the "Stick Man" joke in the webcomic Sluggy Freelance, where Pete Abrams draws a stick man into an obscure area of the comic on a random date and sees how many readers would spot it.

Rob says: "My only guess is that Robin, while gathering sticks, has taken the stick figure's right arm."

Page 24

As if the setting of the page isn't already humiliating enough to attack Smax's quota of intelligence, his distinguished numbering of the senses makes it look even worse.

Anonymous points out in response to the numbering of senses: "It's not too uncommon to completely lack either a sense of smell or a sense of taste. Some languages also use the same word for smell and taste. Fifth sense may be perfectly accurate.

Also for someone who's supposed to be dumb as an ox Jeff has made a pretty good transition to a world with totally different rules, totally different culture etc..." Which, incidentally, is true.

J. Kevin Carrier says: "Smax being in the middle of a giant footprint and not realizing it may have been inspired by Harvey Kurtzman's cover to MAD #6".

Chris Murphy points out: "The questers camped out in a giant, three-toed footprint." This is significant. In Smax #2, although we know that Morningbright may have size-changing powers (probably not - Morningbright may just be able to navigate through narrow tunnels much better than Smax believes), allowing him to be large enough to create these footprints, note that Morningbright has more than three toes. His forelegs end with hands (opposable thumbs), and his hind feet have possibly four toes. This either points out that they have to face another dragon, or basically just a visual gag.

MHS in Manhattan disagrees. "I'm pretty sure it's meant to be Morningbright's footprint; additional evidence that he can significantly change his size appears in Smax 2 Page 18 panel 3. Traditionally, knights hunting down dragons to slay tracked them following their droppings, politely known as "fewments"; in the above mentioned panel, Smax is riding by a mountainously large pile of fewments, and there is no indication in the issue that there are any other dragons in the area. My knowledge of fewments comes for White's "The Sword in the Stone", which features a knight on a quest for the Questing Beast; he carries some sample fewments around with him for reference. Really."

Astrocitizen asks: "Maybe it's not too late to go back to Neopolis and get Micro-Maid?!"

Evil Bastard would like to note that he "really, really loves the footprints."

Jérôme_WICKY: "You'll notice that there are trees and bushes in the giant footprint. Unless these are magical plants that grow back at a supernatural pace, that would mean that the dragon made that footprint years ago..."

Note the similarly distinguished numbering pattern used in the "Coming Next" tagline.

Thanks to: "Eroom Nala" and "zachd" of the DC forums, Anonymous, KJW, J. Kevin Carrier, Diello, Chris Murphy, Mike MacKenzie, KOBE27, Evil Bastard, Peter deGlopper, Rob, Ed Hopper, Astrocitizen, MHS in Manhattan, Andrew Leal, William Bardon, Bill LaMonaca, Marcelo de Castro Bastos, E. J. Fischer, Matt Miller, Basful Bry, Manos99 and Jérôme_WICKY.


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