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Karney is a horror comic book mini-series, written by Bryan Johnson, illustrated by Walt Flanagan and published by IDW Publishing in 2005.

Cast

  • Flotsam and Jetsam: A pair of twin midgets. They choose not to speak, and only occasionally communicate by saying “Eeeeeeeee.” Prone to drinking.
  • Mrs. X and Baby X: A zombie-like woman along with a zombie-like child. Both have their mouths stitched shut.
  • Nathaniel and Sparta: Nathaniel is a man with two heads. The second of which, a smaller, malformed head named Sparta, grows out of his shoulder, and is in a constant state of disagreement with the largely pacifistic Nathaniel.
  • Alanzo: An average person; the only thing that makes Alanzo a part of the Cavalcade is his tendency to eat bizarre and disgusting things. Because of this, he is met with constant resentment from the rest of the show.
  • Clarisse: The bearded lady. Also has massive amounts of body hair.
  •  ? and Zanzubar: Dubbed “a living skeleton” because of his being extremely skinny. Though not physically imposing in any way, Zanzubar is always looking for a fight. He is accompanied by one of many unnamed freaks, promoted as “feeble minded subservients.”
  • Rodale: Dubbed a “sex-crazed slug man,” Rodale seems to be a black midget born without arms or legs. He is almost always wrapped in a sheet or blanket, giving him the appearance of a slug with a human head. Rodale is bisexual and is constantly thinking about sex.
  • Toho: The “Man of Stitches.” A huge, muscular man that performs by carving scars into himself with his trademark straight-razor, and subsequently stitching them back up.
  • Gertie: A morbidly obese woman that lives in her own trailer attached to the caravan. Touted as being the size of ten men.

Plot

The comic seems to be set in the rural South during the 1940s-50s. It opens on a young boy (Tobias/“Toby”) flicking rocks at a lizard, when he sees a large shadow approaching. Toby then runs through town, gleefully informing the townsfolk that “they’re here.” Black horses and giant wagons herald the arrival of Othello’s Cavalcade of Oddities, an enigmatic traveling sideshow. The wagon stops in the middle of town. Stepping down from the wagon, Othello, being clung to by two identical twin midgets, triggers a huge blast of green smoke and the departure of three doves, much to the delight of the simple-minded crowd. Amidst the theatrics, with his oddities behind him, Othello introduces the show to the townsfolk, in order to provide “the finest entertainment offered in the free world!” He proceeds to introduce the rest of the cast, which he calls his "Cavalcade".

Othello hurries the Cavalcade back into the trailers, so as to leave them wanting to see more. A man then inquires about several young people Othello has attached to each other by rope collars, whom he claims are his “wards.” The show continues on, followed by many of the town’s children, imploring Toby to come along, who can’t because of his chores.

The children stumble upon the giant tent in the center of all the caravan’s trailers. As one begins to have second thoughts, Othello spots them. But, rather than punish them, he offers them a peek into the coach. As Othello’s “wards” start to move towards the children, arms outstretched, he reassures the kids that they’re harmless. Othello flings open the door, revealing a shocked Gertie, naked, being bathed by several of the servants of the show. Othello humbly apologizes to Gertie, and turns around to express his regrets to the children, who have since run off.

Meanwhile, Toby’s sister, Lacey Ann, and her boyfriend, Manley, are sitting on Lacey Ann’s porch, talking, while Toby eavesdrops. In the midst of the conversation, Lacey Ann gets angry at Manley for not paying attention to her, then wonders out loud (rhetorically) who he’s going to ask to the show the next night. She is angered even further when Manley reveals he had assumed that he was already going with her. Lacey Ann informs Manley that she’s already been asked to the show by a fellow named Artie Andrews, a fact that infuriates him. She then reveals that she was only joking, and Manley promptly asks her to go with him. She accepts before he even finishes the question. The subject of marriage comes up, and Lacey Ann expresses her desire to elope immediately, a notion that rattles Manley. The normally conservative Lacey Ann then surprises him by reminding him that the sooner they’re married, the sooner they can consummate the marriage.

Back at the show, Rodale is trying (unsuccessfully) to talk Clarisse into letting him perform cunnilingus on her. An angry Zanzubar then tells Rodale to knock it off, calling Clarisse a cunt in the process. Clarisse takes exception to the comment and flips Zanzubar off, who then directs his anger at her and takes a wild swing, but knocks himself down in the process. Toho then tells him to stop, citing a previous fight between Zanzubar and Clarisse in which she was victorious. Sparta, much to Nathaniel’s chagrin, tells Toho to mind his own business, prompting the big man to open his straight-razor and slice himself across the chest, quickly stitching it back up. Zanzubar then takes to yelling at Rodale, showing off his fighting style. Rodale wants to fight him when Clarisse knocks him off his bench onto the ground. As Nathaniel tries to break up the fight, Sparta screams in his ear. In the middle of Zanzubar touting his own prowess, Rodale bites him on his Achilles tendon, causing him to lash out in reflex and accidentally punch Mrs. X in the face, knocking Baby X out of her hands. Alanzo gives her back her baby, then yells at Zanzubar for getting so riled up, who then spits in his face. Alanzo delightfully licks up part of the spit, taunting Zanzubar, who is about to strike as he is called from afar.

It’s getting late, and Manley decides he needs to go home. He leaves Lacey by saying “I love you,” as she verbalizes her determination to win him over.

Othello, bedecked by Flotsam and Jetsam, asks the Cavalcade why the midway hasn’t been cleared yet. Alanzo gets to explaining the past events to a now-enraged Othello, who tells the troupe to shape up. He leaves the performers cryptically, reminding them to be prompt to rehearsal or they will be pork. This seems to scare the troupe into working again, but not before Alanzo picks something out of Sparta’s ear and eats it.

In a barn somewhere, Manley is trying to get tattooed by Artie Andrews in order to impress Lacey Ann, but can’t handle the pain. Manley is mercilessly ridiculed by Artie and his friend. Then, Artie has an idea, and retrieves a bottle of hooch from a sack. Artie then smashes the bottle over Manley’s head, vowing to tattoo Manley one way or the other.

That night, the show proves to be a hit with the townsfolk. Othello invites them to join the carnies for a barbecue after the show, with Flotsam and Jetsam working the grill. Rodale then spots Lacey Ann and Manley at the barbecue and expresses his interest in both of them. As the carnies fight amongst themselves again, Lacey Ann muses at their quirkiness. An irritated Manley admits that he doesn’t like the way they’re looking at her, who assured Manley that she has no interest in them. Artie then asks Manley how "she" liked it, referring to his new tattoo. Not wanting to show Lacey Ann just yet, Manley quickly changes the subject. They soon get into a fight, and Lacey Ann storms off to the edge of the nearby lake. They make up when Rodale crawls his way between them. The rest of the freaks show up, with Toho claiming that she belongs to Rodale now.

References

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