Spooktoberfest Special: The Herbie With a Thousand Faces

October’s arrived, and with the countdown to Halloween well underway, it’s time once again for the ISB to turn its focus to matters most scarifying.

But with all the tales of horror floating around over the next few weeks, it’s important to remember that they come with a lesson even more important than “Aim For the Head” or “Never Split the Party.” Because while these stories may scare us, to paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, their real value is in teaching us that our fears can be overcome.

And that is why I turn, as with all life lessons, to Herbie Popnecker.



Because Herbie fought The Devil. Yes, the Devil, the Lord of Evil that is matched only by Dracula, and in some cases, Blacula. But as harrowing as this journey is, we can learn from it, because Herbie’s story is one that follows the arc of Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces:


The Land of Perfect Day



The Call to Action



Supernatural Aid



Crossing the First Threshold



The Belly of the Whale



The Road of Trials



The Meeting With the Goddess



Atonement With the Father



The Ultimate Boon



Refusal of the Return



Magic Flight



And finally, Crossing of the Return Threshold



Truly, he is all of us. And we… are all of Herbie.


For more on Herbie, please consult Herbie Archives v.1, specifically Forbidden Worlds #116. For more on Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth, check out Action Philosophers! And for more on Blacula, head to your local library!

19 thoughts on “Spooktoberfest Special: The Herbie With a Thousand Faces

  1. As awesome as Herbie Popnecker is, I must express my disappointment that at no point in this post was someone ACTUALLY A SKELETON!

  2. So he chooses the lollipop over the goddess ? He must be a man of iron will.

  3. Wait: Did Herbie not have the Comics Code seal of approval? I thought you couldn’t have “the devil” in comics for a while there.

  4. Hold up there Mr. Allison Blaire, Herbie knows where the lollipop goes the ladies follow, godess or no.

    Because no heroes journey is complete without a chorus.

  5. The devil offered Herbie a lollipop in exchange for his parent’s marriage but Herbie wouldn’t have any of that so he bopped Lucifer with his lollipop.

    Pretty straightforward really.

  6. This story has one of the great panel sequences ever. Scott McCloud must have wept tears of joy when he saw it.

    It’s three thin panels, side by side, separated by a thin black line border. The series is surrounded by the standard white gutter, so the triptych is meant to stand as a unity.

    HERBIE lies in a hammock, eyes closed. His belly protrudes in the manner of all great heroes/love machines.

    Same as PANEL ONE, except HERBIE cracks his eyes open a bit.

    Same as PANEL TWO, except HERBIE puts a lollipop into his mouth.

    FACE: Meet Rocking.

    Herbie is more Metal than Yngwie Malmsteen punching out a blood-soaked Hydra atop a rocky crag in a tempest-tossed sea. Herbie is more Metal than the Blizzard of Ozz kicking the Devil in the taint. Herbie is more Metal than Metal itself.

    This is the simple truth.

  7. I’m almost afraid to pick up any Herbie books. These panels are just so perfect out of context, I’m afraid that the real thing will never match up to my imagination.

  8. Oh, yes, so you did. As well you should. As should we all.

    Would getting a giant tattoo of those panels across one’s back make one awesomer than any mortal? Or would it cause one to be consumed in a gout of flame, for it is not for the flesh of men to bear such radness? We do not know.

    Any volunteers?

  9. I don’t suppose there’s a Herbie collection with a forward by GK Chesterton, is there? Or a Chesterton collection with a forward by Herbie?

  10. Ah, so that’s where Peter Parker went wrong – he should have used a lollipop on Mephisto.

  11. You referenced Blacula in the same post as G.K. Chesterton and Joseph Campbell.
    I… I think I love you, Chris.

  12. “Would getting a giant tattoo of those panels across one’s back make one awesomer than any mortal? Or would it cause one to be consumed in a gout of flame, for it is not for the flesh of men to bear such radness? We do not know.

    Any volunteers?”

    I’m willing to deal with any flame gout consequences to sort this whole thing out, so sure, I’m down for that. I always did want to buy a comic and then immediately go get a panel from it tatooed on me, so there’s that, too.

  13. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Halloween, -1965-. I was the Fat Fury, and won a prize for the costume.

    The rest of you are all just late to the party.

  14. Is anyone else wishing Peter Parker had shown that kind of backbone? Notice how Mephisto stays far, far away from our man Herbie.

  15. I have to say, as entertaining as these are (and they are plenty entertaining), Herbie is one of the most unpleasant-looking things I’ve seen in comics — and I read Uzumaki!