The Annotated Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse #4

As any academic will tell you, gaining an understanding of any great work of literature requires a willingness to sit down and do the research so that you can unlock the subtle, nuanced mysteries that the author has presented. Fortunately, not all works are great–or even “literature,” really–and the bar for understanding is set low enough that even thinly-veiled mockery and outright scorn can pass for concerted study.

That’s where the ISB Research Department comes in.

Yes, it’s that time again, so please, grab your own copy and follow along as we delve into Laurenn J. Framingham’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter: The Laughing Corpse: Book One #4!



0.0: Among other things, this issue’s cover, seen here…



…promises a scene where Anita actually fights the supernatural, but considering that the sum total of “action” in the series thus far has consisted of

1. Anita sitting around at someone’s house refusing to do her job,
2. Anita standing around a crime scene telling detectives things they already knew,
3. Anita standing around Aunt May’s house, and
4. Anita standing around her apartment talking to the love child of Salvador Dali and Rob Liefeld

…I’m not holding out much hope that this will actually be the case.


1.1: And thus, my suspicions are borne out, as Anita starts this issue by charging headlong into the cutthroat world of getting someone to look things up on the Internet for her. Because really, nothing says “action” like microfiche.


1.3: Doing the actual looking up–which I think technically makes him the protagonist of this story–is new character Irving, who is described in a caption like so:



First of all, if Irving doesn’t look like a werewolf, then what exactly does a werewolf look like? I mean, I’m not an expert on the subject like Glenn Danzig or anything, but don’t werewolves just look like regular people up until they start turning into wolves? Isn’t that their entire function? Apparently not.

Second is the interesting fact that “lycanthropy can’t cure baldness,” which would mean that on the night of the full moon, Irving here is apparently cursed to become wolf with a bald spot, which is actually kind of awesome.

It’s unknown whether or not his particular strain of lycanthropy leads him to wear daisy dukes in his hybrid form, or if that’s just some crazy-talk from the last book. All documented. All true.


2.2: What starts here is yet another thrill-a-minute talky sequence with Anita pressing Irving for information on the ersatz Big Lebowski from the first issue, Harold Gaynor. Although honestly, I think it’d be a lot more interesting if they were discussing someone else:



One assumes that they’d be investigating his fraudulent behavior.





No one calls you that.


6.4: In attempt to reveal what I believe is an atrophied, vestigial personality, Anita attempts to banter with Irving:



Clearly, Anita’s either mistaken or has forgotten about New York City’s own Taimak.


8.3: If you’ve ever wondered what your humble annotator looks like when he’s writing these little chats of ours…



…that pretty much covers it.


10.2: Continuing the discussion of Harold Gaynor’s fetishes–which by my count has been going on for over nine thousand hours at this point–Irving introduces us to Wheelchair Wanda:



Really, Anita? Really? The prostitute in the wheelchair is “too weird?” You raise the dead for a living and (allegedly) hunt monsters on the side, and the wheelchair hooker is too far into crazytown for you? REALLY.

Regardless, long-time comics readers will no doubt realize that “Wheelchair Wanda” isn’t a prostitute at all, but rather the Matches Malone-esque identity that Barbara “Oracle” Gordon assumes when she wants to go undercover in the seedy underbelly of Gotham City. Still, though.


12.4: Prepare for trouble


…and make it double!


Yes, it’s the return of Jean-Claude, the hapless member of Team Rocket that’s always after Anita’s Pikachu. Oh, no, wait, got my notes mixed up, he’s a vampire or something and he gave Anita some super-powers that, judging by the content of the series, give her preturnatural skill at standing around and a superhumanly wooden personality. But surely THIS is the turning point, right? I mean, he’s a vampire master who tried to enslave Anita to his will, and she–according to the cover, at least–is a vampire hunter, so this scene couldn’t possibly turn into seven pages of people standing around telling each other plot points, right?


19.6: Son of a bitch.


20.1: In this scene, Anita teams up with “a pair of exterminators” who are “licensed to carry flamethrowers.” In keeping with the theme of the book, they don’t ever actually do anything–again, despite the fact that they and their equipment are explicitly mentioned in the narration–but man, what the hell kind of exterminator comes equipped with napalm? I’d originally assumed this was a rare mistake, but then remembered that rats in Anita Blake’s St. Louis are six feet tall, wear pants and eat at Denny’s. So yeah. Flamethrowers.


21.3: This scene, wherein Anita flashes back to her origin, is–no joke–my favorite bit of the comic thus far, if only because I can’t read the line “my stepmother, Judith” without hearing it in the voice of the Teen Girl Squad.





Yes, on the last panel, the cover’s promise of action finally pokes its head out, sees its shadow, and then promptly disappears with a complete lack of gunplay, skeleton hands, and looming shades rising from the background. But what’s really worth noting here is the caption, because this is a comic book that not only includes the line “It was a cemetery–there were lots of dead things in it,” but uses it to close out the issue.

And brother, if there’s a better analogy for the entire book, I’d like to hear it.

53 thoughts on “The Annotated Anita Blake: The Laughing Corpse #4

  1. According to Cracked, there’s no license required for flamethrowers. Anyone can use one legally. So, FURTHER innacuracy, Mrs. Framingham.

  2. Miss Blake:

    I served with Mack Bolan: I knew Mack Bolan; Mack Bolan was a friend of mine.

    Sister, you’re no Mack Bolan.

  3. So the implication is that James wishes he was gay as Jean-Claude? I dunno, man . . . James is pretty gay, even if you forget the bouts of crossdressing. And what about the obnoxious coordinator Harley? How would he factor into the equation?

    Wolf with a bald spot does sound hysterical.

  4. Chris, I have just re-read all four of your exegeses on this run of Anita Blake, but I still don’t know: have there been any corpses yet? And have they been laughing?

  5. Well it’s good to see Gambit getting work, even if he has to pretend to be a vampire.
    Seriously though, how do these keep getting made? Nothing ever happens! You’d think when legitimately GOOD comics like Manhunter and Blue Beetle are getting canceled left and right, stuff like this would be out as well….

    Now, on a totally different topic, about a much better comic…
    Didn’t the end of Fables #81 bring a tear to your eye? I just now finished reading it, and man… heart breaking.

  6. Its been a few years since I read this particular book. But from what I remember of it, the glacial pacing in these issues and the numbering (which says this is part 4 of 5 of Book One) I think you might end up with anywhere from a half-dozen to ten more issues to go. To finish the SECOND book in the series. Of like..fourteen now? Maybe fifteen? And doesn’t this comic actually sell..well?

    You could be doing this for a LOOOOONG time Mr. Sims…

  7. 19.6 – Upon discovering that the only other comic left on the island was The Laughing Corpse, this was Sawyer’s exact reaction too.

  8. Is it explained why she dresses in a blue catsuit to hang out with tentacular ghosts in a graveyard?
    Had she spilt coffee on her black dress? That’s a devil to get out of material from which no light can escape.

  9. Man, Chris, this one was on point. It even made my non-comic-reading boyfriend laugh.

    But he’s reading the Twilight series right now to know what his students are talking about, so he’s pretty primed for vampire romance mockery.

    ALSO: A werewolf with a bald spot, if it actually happens, will be the most clever thing Framingham has ever come up with. Which is damning with faint praise, I know.

  10. Is that Irving working the computer in the images? Because he’s, you know, kind of not bald, which seems like be the usual attention to detail in this comic that you’ve well-documented already. Or is that a toupee?

  11. Edward Liu. In the second and third picture he seems to have had a little bit of baldness if you look toward where the picture is cropped.

    Actually, having read the book that’s NOT how I pictured Irving at all. I figured he’d look something like the thin Bob in Office Space, not some vaguely cute guy with a monk cut.

    Of course, I also pictured Dominga as being really fat with hard lines in her face and black hair instead of Aunt May with a tan, so what do I know?

  12. I only hope that if Mister Dobalina DOES show up, Anita shows some uncharacteristic good sense and calls Dr. Bombay… he’ll pin the tail on that donkey.

  13. You’re missing the point. The creators are clearly challenging our notions about the labels we apply to ourselves and how they relate to our intrinsic natures. Can one be a vampire hunter if one never actually hunts vampires? Or is it enough to merely march around calling yourself one? Truly, this is a meditation on identity for our times.

  14. I don’t think Laurenn gets the ninja-zombie thing the internet has going on. The point is to combine two unusual things that are awesome or silly, not one unusual thing and a whore. No one wants to see a mummy doing a striptease.

  15. HitTheTargets doesn’t speak for all of us (re: mummy stripping…unless the reference is to Aunt May, in which case I retract my objection)

    And Richard C: I’m afraid your reference is Lost on me (ok that was really really bad I know I’m sorry I just had to)

  16. I figured it out. “The Laughing Corpse” refers to the readers – we bore ourselves to death reading this pferdkaese and laugh ruefully as we expire.

    Well played, Lauren Framingham.

  17. I do like the fact the cover artist must have flipped through this material, sighed, and said: “Yeah, okay, whatever, I’m just going to go ahead and draw an action scene anyhow. Jesus…”

  18. Of course, I also pictured Dominga as being really fat with hard lines in her face and black hair instead of Aunt May with a tan, so what do I know?

    Clearly, you don’t know any Hispanic women at all, because we are all just skinny white people with tans (except for Anita, who’s not really Hispanic as she’ll tell you all the time, she’s mostly German).

    (s) Mary Sue, the only Mexican on the Internet.

  19. Seeing the last panel, I’m surprised there hasn’t been any tentacle rape in the Anita boos(at least the ones I read before giving up on the series.)

  20. Also, is it just me, or has Anita gotten bustier in every issue? By the time we get to the books with all the sex, you’re not going to be able to see her face anymore.

  21. Irving: Do they still call you the Salaminizer?

    Anita: This Deli tray is unacceptable!

    (I couldn’t think of any good quotes from the Sexecutioner.)

  22. Who makes jumpsuits out of blue saran wrap?

    Also, is it just me, or do their noses just seem to float on their faces above their mouths?

    Alright, while I’m here, what the heck is going on with her left breast on the cover?

    I won’t even start on Jean-Claude. So much fail.

  23. [sighs, scraps plans for HOOKER HO-TEP, coming soon from the Action Age of Comics]

    Aww, don’t be sad little guy… why, maybe I was wrong. Maybe Jim Balent would like your script!

  24. Mary Sue: Yeah, diversity in this series is pretty much fail. I have a feeling if they ever do Merry Gentry (OH GOD NO), Doyle will have Caucasian features.

    Speaking of which …

    Bert Burdigo: It almost happened in the first Merry Gentry book. She came close to fucking this guy that was half-tentacle creature.

  25. I can’t look at that picture of Jean Claude without cracking up. I thought he looked ridiculous last time he appeared, but he’s surpassed himself!

    …Also, why does the wheelchair ho look like Dawn from Buffy? It’s not just me thinking she looks like Dawn, right?

  26. “…Team Rocket that’s always after Anita’s Pikachu.”

    ow, hot tea out the nose on that one.

  27. quietprofanity: Whaddya mean no diversity? They’ve got a hooker in a wheelchair! If that doesn’t make ’em the poster child for disability advocates, I don’t know what does!

    Reading these recaps has introduced me to something I’d never experienced before: deep shame. I was such a fan of Anita Blake (and Merry Gentry). It almost makes me feel some small spark of pity for those people so caught up in the Twilight books.

    Please note the use of the word “almost”.

  28. You know, in my RSS pulldown, this always shows up as “The Annotated Anita Blake: The Laughing Corps”

    And I just start thinking of Geoff Johns making the plaid lanterns, with Chris Sims being the Guardian of Laughter.

    Yeah, it’s been a long week.

  29. I love these annotations. Your pain, Mr. Sims, it… delights me.

    BTW, am I the only one who thinks Jean-Claude, in that picture, looks like Anita without breasts?

  30. BTW, am I the only one who thinks Jean-Claude, in that picture, looks like Anita without breasts?

    Well, where would he fit breasts amid all those abs?

  31. Chris, I wanted you to know that today in my local giant chain bookstore, I really, seriously, considered thumbing through a copy of issue #5 that I saw on a spinner. In case you ever wonder if all the pain is making any difference in anyone’s life…

  32. “No one calls you that.”

    Admittedly, I didn’t read these comics. I did read the Guilty Pleasures ones though (and it doesn’t look like much has changed quality-wise) and then and now: you make my day with these reviews! I love making fun of Anita Blake even more than I like reading the books. And I do like them. Don’t quite know why, but there it is.
    And the comics only sell well because people by them as illustrations for the books (and fans can be like that; imagine a Twilight comic – it could be stick figures, people would still buy it like mad).

  33. I love your recaps of the comics. I used to read the books, but I drew the line at the comics.

    Wheelchair Wanda was such a cool character. She only shows up in one book (like most of the more interesting characters) before she is promptly forgotten.

  34. Mary Sue: I’m making my way through the early books and they’re fun (especially when you’re stuck at the laundromat or in the unemployment office), although they’re riddled with problems and this has showed me what may (kinda) work in a book doesn’t work so well in a comic. I never thought of the books as not having action. Especially since in The Lunatic Cafe Anita suffered so many injuries in the span of ONE DAY that I think in the last chapter she may have been whacking were-swans on the head with her crutches. (I only exaggerate a little. And not about the were-swans.) But most of it is the procedural stuff or the Jean-Claude stuff which … yeah, doesn’t make for great pictures.

    I hope they never decide to make the “Carpe Demon” series into a comic. The book was bad enough with its constant scenes of the main character doing mom/housewife stuff instead of fighting demons. A comic would make it unbearable.

  35. Oh, no, wait, got my notes mixed up, he’s a vampire or something and he gave Anita some super-powers that, judging by the content of the series, give her preturnatural skill at standing around and a superhumanly wooden personality.

    Wait, wait, I finally get it! Anita’s wooden personality is because she’s made of wood! That’s her superpower! That’s why she has this completely unearned reputation as a vampire-killer and the unused nickname “executioner”–it’s not about what she’s done, it’s because she potentially could be those things…if you stabbed her into a Vampire’s heart.

  36. This is a good book for action and lots of sci-fi if i had to rate this 1 – 10 it would be 21