CAPTAIN CARROT AND HIS AMAZING ZOO CREWMedium: Comic Books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1982
Creators: Roy Thomas (writer) and Scott Shaw! (artist)
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Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew in 1982. It contained their first new funny animal superheroes in decades — and with the exception of a few licensed properties, their last foray into the funny animal genre for decades to come.
Writer Roy Thomas and artist Scott Shaw!, the group's creators, had collaborated once before, on "Man-Spider" (a funny animal send-up of Marvel's Spider-Man). They originally conceived their superhero gang as "Justa Lotta Animals", a take-off on The Justice League of America — but DC's existing licensing agreements made it more feasible to go with a completely original cast. Thus were born Alleycat-Abra, Fastback, Pig Iron, Rubber Duck, Yankee Poodle and, of course, Captain Carrot himself.
The Zoo Crew debuted as a free 16-page insert in DC's New Teen Titans #16 (February, 1982). The first issue of their own comic was cover-dated a month later.
Like most superheroes, these guys had ties to other characters belonging to the same publisher. Before his transformation, Pig Iron had been Peter Porkchops, who was a DC star from 1947-60. And the speedster, Fastback (who you knew had to be a turtle), was the nephew of McSnurtle the Turtle, who goes back all the way to Funny Stuff #1 (Summer, 1944). There were also frequent guest appearances by The Dodo & the Frog, The Three Mouseketeers, Nero Fox, and other DC funny animals from the 1940s and '50s — and even, on one occasion, Marvel Bunny, who was originally published by Fawcett. Even minor characters, like Bo Bunny and Doodles Duck, often turned up in crowd scenes.
One connection which was not intended was with a Walt Disney feature that came along just a few years later, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Captain Carrot's secret identity was Roger Rabbit. To avoid confusion (to say nothing of possible legal entanglements, since Disney's Roger did appear first, in the form of prose fiction), the DC character's first name was retroactively changed to Rodney.
The 1980s comic book market was not receptive to funny animals, even if they were superheroes. Captain Carrot et al. lasted only 20 issues, the last dated November, 1983. Nor did the property make the transition to TV animation, as had originally been hoped. As was the case with their contemporary, Night Force, DC promised to revisit the characters in occasional mini-series and specials. But only one, The Oz(only tenuously related)-Wonderland War (1986), appeared during the 1980s — or '90s, for that matter.
But they remained a hot topic of fan interest, at least as funny animals go. In 2005-2006, they guest-starred with a latter-day incarnation of The Teen Titans, whicn if nothing else, served to inform latter-day readers of their existence. In 2007-08, the group had a three-issue mini-series, written by Bill Morrison (The Simpsons) and drawn by Shaw!. Time will tell if DC has finally decided to stop ignoring the most successful funny animal superheroes since Atomic Mouse.