Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Wally Wood's CANNON ran concurrently with the much lighter SALLY FORTH in the OVERSEAS WEEKLY newspaper of the early 1970's. CANNON is perhaps the ultimate machismo fantasy strip with violence, guns, explosions and/or naked women in something like every third panel sometimes. Originally created by Wood himself for the undistributed 1969 one-shot, HEROES, INC. (and originally done with Steve Ditko pencilling), it would thus seem to be the culmination of his own well-known macho leanings. Or is it an over-the-top parody of the then recently ragingly popular spy genre?

If it were ever to be made into a movie, I would cast Bruce Willis as Cannon. The character of Cannon is a government-sanctioned killing machine with no emotions, no fears and no conscience. He does, however, seem to have a bit of an overactive sex drive. Like a hyperactive STEVE CANYON, his adventures take him into various exotic locations with lots of military and spy hardware.

CANNON features some of the best Woodwork of the period, aided here and there by Nick Cuti, Ralph Reese, possibly Paul Kirchner and Larry Hama and even Neal Adams. I'm pretty sure I spot a few other, less identifiable hands in the art also. There's also lots of barely traced drawings of cars straight out of the clip art files and even a character obviously based (at least visually) on Woody himself.

Taken as a serious story, CANNON can be downright disturbing in spots but as I say above, if it comes right down to it, I'm not at all sure the creators WERE taking it seriously. There's Cannon with a beard, Cannon shaved bald, Cannon on the farm, Cannon in Nazi uniform, Cannon against the maniacal super-villain, Cannon shagging enemy female agents. It's like they were doing a more subtle (and frankly less funny) MAD-like parody of genre and gender cliches.


  1. It is an odd piece of work, you're right, that, if you take it seriously, leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. I guess the only way to take it as parody ( of a sort ). It sure doesn't have the bubbly fun of Sally Forth.

  2. I got all 4 CANNON books from Steranko's Supergraphics, along with both issues of HEROES, INC. Great, great stuff. CANNON is only "serious" compared with SALLY FORTH, which I also dearly love. At one point, reading FEMME FATALES magazine and watching some films promoted in there, I thought, someone like Jim Wynorsky would be a perfect director to do a CANNON movie. You'd need to have nudity al thru the thing for it to be authentic.

    I always thought it was hilarious. Especially the opening few pages in the first oversized volume. Madame Toy (who reminds me of Tsai Chin from the Chris Lee FU flicks) has a kidnapped scientist and his daughter-- the latter, stripped naked for torture. She says she hopes the scientists doesn't talk TOO soon-- she enjoyes her work. Meanwhile, above, Cannon dives out of a jet plane, whose pilot yells, "GOOD LUCK, YOU CRAZY SON OF A BITCH!"

    Below, Cannon sneaks into the castle in disguise, walks right into the cell and hands the chief guard a note. "It says, the Americans have sent their agent Cannon to free the scientist, and he's... standing right next to you???" Cannon opens fire, kills all the guards in the room. He leads the prisoners out. The girl says, "Wait! My clothes..." "NO TIME for that." (YEAH RIGHT) In the courtyard, more guards. He pushes the naked girl out first. Distracted, they make easy targets when he opens fire again.

    I gotta re-read those one of these days...

    Andy Sidaris might have been another good pick for director. He never takes his stuff too serious, either, and casts his films from the pages of PLAYBOY magazine.