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Excalibur #40

“The Trial of Lockheed”

Writer: Scott Lobdell

Pencils: Dave Hoover

Inks: Harry Candelario and Tim Dzon

Colours: Brad Vancata

Letters: Bill Oakley

Editor: Terry Kavanagh 

Original publication date: August 1991

It’s time for a journey in rhyme/In spirit but static in time/Will Lockheed get back to his body/Before his rhyme schemes get too shoddy? In other words: Anna, Mav, and Andrew are cross-examining the decision to write most of an entire superhero comic in rhyming couples, discussing Excalibur #40, “The Trial of Lockheed,” with animal comics expert Dr. Daniel F. Yezbick!  We address a regular zoo of topics, including the history and conventions of funny animal comics, Kitty Pryde’s complicated relationship with her favourite pet/friend/confidant/teammate, the power and danger of animal allegory, and Nightcrawler’s undeniable animal magnetism. Plus, the panel hotly debates which fictional characters are or aren’t dogs. 

On the appeal of Excalibur:

Excalibur was like a TV show that knew it was cancelled and had one season to go. Except it didn’t get cancelled.” -Dan

On animal comics:

“Lockheed is part of a long tradition of companion animals in comics, including Marmaduke, Peanuts, Bloom County, Little Orphan Annie, Calvin & Hobbes… From the very beginning, Lockheed is the pet who’s loyal to Kitty and is sometimes more than a pet. Sometimes, he’s a confidant.” -Dan 

On the many meanings of Lockheed:

“Lockheed is a fantastical beast in many ways. He’s anthropomorphized. He’s a companion animal. He’s a pet, friend, confidant. He’s also a dragon, meaning he’s not based on a ‘real’ animal. He’s also an alien. He also speaks in verse.” -Dan

On intertextuality:

“I think it’s interesting that the big opening splash shows all these humans operating on Lockheed, with all their tools and technology, and it looks a bit like a dissection. And it’s accompanied by a quote from a very disturbing moment in Alice in Wonderland. Alice rebels against what her handlers would want her to be. And Lockheed’s the same way.” -Dan

On what makes animals interesting:

“David Herman calls anthropomorphized animals ‘little fascinating machines.’ Which is exactly what animal comics are. They are human logic machine, reason-based ways of playing with that split between the human and the wild, between the animal and culture and society.” -Dan

On animal trials:

“There’s a long tradition of projecting trials onto animals, wherein the fission between the honesty of the animal world, or the animals debating a concept like ‘love’ or ‘justice’ relates badly on us.” -Dan

On Nightcrawler's animal magnetism:

“I don’t think there’s any question there’s something animal about Nightcrawler’s fascinating sexuality. We’ve got the blue velvet fur, we’ve got the tail, we’ve got the agility, we’ve got the languorous poses he’s always doing. But there’s also something very animal in the way that he’s always supporting people. He’s always concerned about how people are doing and their progress through their own stories.” -Dan

Want more Dan Yezbick?

Want more Dan Yezbick?

Check out the recently released Fantagraphics collection of Carl Barks’ Donald Duck stories Balloonatics featuring scholarly annotations by Dan!

You can find him talking specifically about animals, sexual symbolism, and comics, in an academic context in book chapter “From Anodyne Animals to Filthy Beasts: Defying and Defiling Safety, Sanctity, and Sexual Suppression in Underground Animal Comics,” in The Routledge Companion to Gender and Sexuality in Comic Book Studies.


You can check out Shelfdust’s series of short essays on Garfield here. (They’re really smart and funny – you won’t regret it!)

And hey – Anna remembered that her conference paper on Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 was actually recorded! You can watch it here:

And as usual: 

You can find Anna on Twitter (@peppard_anna) and on her podcast with Andrew and Michael Hancock, Three Panel Contrast (@3PanelContrast). 

You can find Andrew on Twitter (@ClaremontRun).

You can find Mav on Twitter (@chrismaverick) and on his podcast, VoxPopcast (@VoxPopcast). 


-GGW Team