Site hosted by Build your free website today!

"Strange Fruit"

(23 pages)
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist(s): Steve Bissette, John Totleben, Ron Randall
Colorist: Tatjana Wood
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Karen Berger
Swamp Thing Created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson

Cover: Steve Bissette, John Totleben


Read the
graphic novel?

Read the

Click here


The front inside cover of this issue announced results of a reader poll by the COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE. SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING won Favorite Story (ST #21), Favorite Book, Favorite Writer and Favorite Character.

Cover sketches by Bissette

2:1 R. David Pratt is a friend of artists Steve Bissette and John Totleben. He performed in a production of "The Buried Child" at Theatre 145 in Erie, Pennsylvania in October, 2008.

2:2 Another friend of Bissette and Totleben, Tom Stazer is creator of the 1980's independent comic book SPACED. His "Lionheart" strip appeared in Fantagraphics' CRITTERS comic book series in the late 1980's, for which he drew a number of covers.

2:3 I originally thought this tombstone said "James Wheeler" ("King of Black Cinema Collectors"), but comics creator James Wheelock tells me it is actually him. Artist Steve Bissette wrote in Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman that he thanks Wheelock for his ideas for the issue #45 story. Wheelock's name also appears in ST Annual #4.

5:1 Abby refers to the Monkey King of SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #25-27

5:5 "calling it's children" and that looks like a child corpse near the center of the final panel.. Also, right of center, a corpse is carrying a child on its' shoulders.
Comics legend Archie Goodwin drew his own head on one of the zombies, according to Bissette's blog.

7:5 "steal a march on" = to gain an advantage over somebody by doing something unexpectedly

9:7 Link to 10:1 "wake the dead"

13:1 Link from 12:7 trick knife/"cheap tricks"

15:5 ju-ju = voodoo

18:2 Here we see Alec Holland's death from SWAMP THING #1 (first series), more recently depicted in SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #28.

20:3 Angela's words are reminiscent of Nietzsche's quote "if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." Moore referred to this quote in WATCHMEN.

20:5 In his trauma, Billy apparently believes that he has been skinned.

22:2 On his blog, Bissette notes:

The name of the �cineservice� is a reference to my friend Rick Fernandez, who was a New Jersey-based filmmaker and the fellow who turned me on to Last House on Dead End Street (1977) before anyone, anywhere had heard of the film.
Bissette painted the cover for the special edition DVD (2005).

22:5 Africa, Blood and Guts (1966) (a.k.a. Africa Addio) by Italian director Gualtiero Jacopetti , was among the earliest "documentary" exploitation films depicting real scenes of human and animal mutilation. Along with similar films, such as Mondo Cane, it appealed to a morbid curiosity. Twitch of the Death Nerve a.k.a. Bay of Blood (1971) written and directed by Mario Bava, is a gruesome "slasher" film. For more on Bava, read Tim Lucas' book Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark, which artist Steve Bissette praises on his blog.

22:6 Night of the Living Dead (1968) and it's sequels are classic horror movies by George Romero about corpses returning to life. Not to be confused with Orgy of the Dead (screenplay by Ed Wood, 1965), Orgy of the Living Dead actually was a slogan to promote three Italian films which were shown together: Curse of the Living Dead (a.k.a. Kill Baby, Kill) (1966) by Bava , Fangs of the Living Dead (a.k.a. Melanka the Vampire) (1968), and Revenge of the Living Dead (a.k.a.Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, a.k.a. Zreaks, 1972). They are not part of the Romero series, but are just a few of dozens of films to capitalize on the "Living Dead" title.

23:1 Ilsa: Harem Keeper Of The Oil Sheiks (1978) (Part of a series of sadistic "Ilsa" films). The Blood Suckers (a.k.a. Dr. Terror's Gallery of Horrors, a.k.a The Blood Drinkers, a.k.a. The Witch's Clock ) (1966) directed by David Hewitt is an anthology of horror stories starring John Carridine and Lon Chaney Jr. The Liver Eaters (a.k.a. Spider Baby) (1964) stars Lon Chaney, Jr. (from the classic The Wolfman) who sings the theme song (!) and directed by Jack Hill. Artist Steve Bissette publishes his own work under the name Spiderbaby Grafix. All of the posters seen on these pages were photocopied from Bissette's personal collection.

COMMENT: This issue's title is taken from the title of the civil rights protest song by Billie Holiday (Listen):

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black body swinging in the souther breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

COMMENT: In his June 4, 2010 blog, Bissette explains how his art for pages 7-9, 12 and 20 were lost by FedEx, requiring him to work at furious speed to recreate them, with help from Ron Randall inking. Right before the book was sent to the printer, the lost pages showed up, proving to editor Karen Berger that Bissette was not slacking. The redone pages were used, and the original pencilled pages were therefore never inked.

COMMENT: If you are intrigued by all of the grindhouse film references in this issue, you can find a few more in issue #67. Artist Steve Bissette voices his love for grindhouse and snuff horror cinema in an essay included in "Underground USA".

COMMENT: Swampy has seen black slaves rise from the grave before, in the original series issue #10 (1974).

COMMENT: This issue was reprinted in black and white in ESSENTIAL VERTIGO: SWAMP THING #23, September 1998.

COMMENT: In 2001, DC Comics collected/reprinted ST #35-42 in a book titled "Swamp Thing: The Curse".

HOUMA  |  URL KING  |  Feedback

Swamp Thing, all related characters, all images and symbols thereof, and all comic book titles herein are copyright and trademark of DC Comics, a subsidiary of Time Warner. This page is primarily dedicated to the non-commercial reviewing of comic books, and all reproductions of copyrighted material are in the service of reviews and commentary. None of the material herein may be reproduced for any commercial activities except those of DC Comics itself. This web site, its operators, and any content contained on this site relating to Swamp Thing are not authorized by DC Comics.