Notes on Smax #1

by Jess Nevins and divers hands.

Updated 3 October. Updates in blue.

Corrections, additions, and suggestions are of course welcome. Please e-mail them to me

Kevin Cannon, on his Portfolio page, lists some Easter Eggs.

(The image above is © copyright 2001 America's Best Comics. The text here, except where otherwise credited, is © copyright 2003 Jess Nevins, and may not be duplicated, in part or in whole, without my permission.)

Cover. I'm sure I've seen the guy with the blue hood to the left of Smax, but I can't recall where; David Roel thinks that it's the Blue Falcon, of the 1970s cartoon show The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour and then later The Blue Falcon and Dynomutt. Philip Graves sent along this link which casts doubt on this being the Blue Falcon. 

Tim Serpas notes the presence of Optimus Prime, from Transformers, driving the truck; several people, including David Roel, Andrew McLean, and Loki Carbis, point out that Optiums Prime might actually be the truck.

Several people, including Kevin Hines, Collierannd2, and Astrocitizen pointed out the presence of the sword in the stone, on the right side of the panel. In Arthurian legend the sword Excalibur could only be withdrawn from its rocky resting place by the future King of Britain.

Nathan Alderman, among others, points out the presence of a PEZ dispenser among the buildings.

Page 1. Panel 1. The "Cannon Bros" on the trailer may be a reference to Zander Cannon, the artist of Smax.

Francis Herman (echoed by Nathan Alderman) says, "The "Go-Go" cab company and the checkered stripe on the cab is a reference to the "go-go checks" which graced the top of the covers of DC's comics in the late 60s."

Panel 3. The woman to the right of the panel is Mrs. Gillespie, last seen in Top 10 #6, Page 6.

Panel 5. Tim Serpas identifies the symbol on Robyn's jacket as Radiskull, from the cartoon Radiskull & Devil Doll. Doug Atkinson points out that you can see Devil Doll on Robyn's jacket in Panel 4.

Page 2. Panel 3. That is a singing sword speaking; we last saw it in Top 10 #6, Page 5. There are various legends of singing swords, both from fantasy fiction and real life legends. The most notable example (at least, xto my mind) is the singing sword from the wonderful comic strip Prince Valiant.

Panel 4. Nathan Alderman says, "The calendar says it's November. This means the events of this series take place roughly a month, a month and a half maybe, after those of Top Ten."

Panel 5. Will (and Philip Graves) says, "slinging the sword in the lake reminds me again (as in the cover) of Excalibur..."

Page 3. Philip Graves says, "Does the sparseness of Jeff's home, and the weight of his suitcase imply that it is some kind of bottomless suitcase, like Mary Poppins' or the Luggage from the Discworld..?"

Page 4. Panel 1. The name on the driver's cap, "Veidt," may be a reference to Adrian Veidt, a.k.a. Ozymandias, from Moore's Watchmen. Nathan Alderman points out that the cap has the logo of the Veidt Corporation.

Panel 4. The blue car next to the cab looks familiar to me, but I can't place it.

Panel 5. The traditional comic book "flying bathtub" is the Fantastic Four's Fantasticar.

Brian Spencer, among several others, including Andrew McLean and Astrocitizen, points out the presence of either Nessie or a submarine's periscope on the far lefthand side of the panel.

Page 5. Panel 1. David Goldfarb notes that the car on the lefthand side of the panel is KITT from the tv show Knight Rider. Nathan Alderman says that the car behind and to the left of the cab may be "a miscolored Mark V from the British cartoon series Dangermouse." Alicia Nevins notes that the blue car in the central of the panel is the light cycle from the movie Tron. The yellow van to its right is the Magic School Bus from the tv show of the same name. The blue car to its right is the car Dick Dastardly and his sidekick Muttley drove in the cartoon Wacky Races; Jason Adams adds that the name of the car was the "Mean Machine."

Loki Carbis says, "the flying bathtub may be from the film version of Cold Dog Soup."

Panel 2. David Goldfarb notes that the character on the left is Kaneda, riding his motorcycle, from the movie Akira. (Fabio Blanco appropriately points out that Akira was first a comic by Katsuhiro Otomo). The vehicle just to the left of Robyn's head is one of the Jawa's landcrawlers from Star Wars.

Panel 3. David Goldfarb notes the presence of one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the right side of the panel. Brian Spencer (echoed by Astrocitizen and Nathan Alderman) says, "The Ninja Turtle is also driving a van with the number "6" on it, which may have been April O'Neil's news channel from the Turtles' comic, if I remember correctly."

Brian Spencer and Astrocitizen wonder if the newsboy is one of the Newsboy Legion

Paul Lloyd says, "it's probably just a coincidence, but Smax's background reminds me of that of Captain Carrot in Terry Pratchett's Diskworld books. Both are physically imposing big city coppers. Both were raised by dwarfs. And, er... that's about it. In contrast to Smax, though, Carrot is fiercely proud of his dwarf upbringing."

Panel 4. Nathan Alderman says, "The elongated leg extending past the cab driver may be one of the robots from Hayao Miyazake's Laputa: Castle In The Sky."

Panel 5. The character to the right of Robyn is, I think, a miscolored Evil Cartman from South Park--that, or Chef from South Park wearing Cartman's clothing. The female with the mohawk is one of the characters from Love and Rockets. (John Dorrian says, "the woman you identify as being from Love and Rockets is actually Luba, Gilbert Hernadez' principle character from the Palomar stories. The mohawk/topless look is how she appeared in the 1st issue of L&R, in Gilbert's surreal science fiction parody "BEM", which is not part of the continuity for the rest of the series.") The character to her right is Death, from Sandman.

Rob Harris says, "I think the big-haired man in green and the duck are from a space-heroes parody in Sugar Buzz. I also wondered if the figure beside Luba might be her half-sister Fritz, who appears deathly white on full-color covers."

Will says, "the Rinky Dink bar might be from Nick Cave's song "Jangling Jack:"

Jangling Jack
Goes Yackety Yack
Visits the home of the brave
Hails a fat yellow cab
Jack wanna celebrate
Jack wanna big drink
Driver drops him at a bar
Called the Rinky Dink

Page 6. "Isn't it good to be lost in the wood" is a quote from Syd Barrett's song "Octopus."

The signs on the left:

The signs on the right: The characters on the walkway Page 7. Panel 1. The female robot is Eve, from the film Metropolis. We last saw her in Top 10 #8, Page 20. "Christmas Town" is from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, though Doug Atkinson (and Ted Anderson) notes that it could also be a reference to the film The Nightmare Before Christmas. David Goldfarb notes the presence of D.R. and Quinch, from Alan Moore and Alan Davis' strip in 2000AD.

Panel 2. "Get to 1985, Only 1.21 Gigawatts" is a reference to Back to the Future.

The odd-looking creature below the sign is one of the aliens from Star Wars. Tim Serpas identifies him as "Hammerhead" and goes on to point out "Walrusman," also from Star Wars, in front of Hammerhead. Paul Duggan says, "In Star Wars: Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina Hammerhead is a Ithorian called Momaw Nadon and Walrusman is a Aqualish called Ponda Baba."

Ted Anderson wins the Most Obscure Reference Identified award with the following:

on the right of the panel are the two main characters from Kevin Cannon's strip 'Johnny Cavalier'.  'Johnny' was a strip that appeared in the campus newspaper for Grinnell College, the Scarlet & Black, when Kevin was an undergraduate.  It ran for all of his four years, and was then collected and printed in one large volume, on sale in the Grinnell giftshop. While this sounds like a pretty unlikely reference, it makes more sense than it seems: Zander Cannon is a Grinnell graduate as well (although not, I believe, related to Kevin Cannon, despite the name).
Edward Sullivan points out that Kevin Cannon assisted Zander Cannon on this issue.

Richard East, among others, including Mario Di Giacomo, thinks that the pair look like Bill and Ted, from the "Bill and Ted" movies. And Greg Strohecker says that the pair are the hitchikers from An American Werewolf in London. Astrocitizen thinks that they might be Josh and Mike from Blair Witch Project.

Panel 3. "Visit Sunny D'Ni" is a reference to the games Myst and Riven. "Thunderbirds are go" was the catchphrase from the Gerry Anderson puppet show Thunderbirds; Paul Duggan adds that it was also the name of the Thunderbirds' first movie.

Tim Serpas says that the character to the right of Smax is either Batman or Gatchaman. Doug Atkinson says, "If the character by Smax's leg is from Gatchaman, it would be Ryu, the owl-based character ("Tiny" in the American version)." Jason Meador says, "The caped figure couldn't be Ryu the Owl, as Ryu is quite  a bit heftier than that skinny fellow; he's a minor-league Sumo wrestler when not on the Gatchaman team."

Tim Serpas notes the presence of the "pedestrian cartoon" (the symbol for walking) and "Chainsaw Vigilante from The Tick (Zander Cannon did the three issue spin-off)."

I'm not sure what the short character is--possibly a version of Yoda, from Star Wars? Doug Atkinson (and Jason Fliegel and Christopher Shumway) says, "I think the blue figure is not only Yoda (with a goatee for some reason) but specifically based on the original Mattel action figure--it included a little plastic snake that draped around his shoulder much like we see here." The presence of the goatee may be the result of this Yoda being an alternate universe version, just as the evil Spock (from the "Mirror, Mirror" episode of Star Trek) and the evil Cartman (from the "Spooky Fish" episode of South Park) had goatees.
Jérôme Wicky says, "The original action figure was by Kenner, not Mattel. Here's an insert from a 1980 catalog showcasing the figure:"

Brian Spencer adds that to the left of Yoda is "a Mouse droid, one of which Chewbacca roared at in Star Wars."

Panel 4. "Babel Fish For Sale" is a reference to the translating alien creatures the Babel Fish from Douglas Adams' Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy books. "Soylent Green really is peo--" is a reference to the film Soylent Green, in which it is revealed that the wonder food "soylent green" is made from humans.

Panel 5. Brian Spencer (or, more accurately, a friend of his) says, "the small black creature seen between Robyn and Jeff may be from Larry Marder's Beanworld." Walt Parrish says that it's Hunt Emerson's Citymouth; Philip Cohen says, in support, that "anyone who doubts that that's a citymouth in the background should look at Citymouth, part of Hunt Emerson's Website." Nathan Alderman thinks that it's "a Number/Word Muncher wandering around in the background, from the series of children's computer games."

Panel 6. "I bet we get one of those dogs with a tuning fork" is a reference to Lockjaw, the teleporting dog of the Inhumans. David Goldfarb notes that the characer on the left is the Blotch from Zot!. The character with the chair for a head is, I think, from The Tick; Tim Serpas and Hal Shipman identifies him as Chairface Chippendale from The Tick.

Page 8. Panel 1. I think the style of art in this panel is an homage to Steve Ditko's work on Dr. Strange during the 1960s, echoing the magical/mystical transportation Robyn and Smax are about to undergo. Doug Atkinson says, "To renforce the Dr. Strange references, note that the edge of his mystical window is visible at the top left margin.  (The floating-eyes-suggesting-a-face design is very familiar, too, but I can't specifically place it.)"

Jack Applin says, "An electronic (!) sign in the upper-right says, I think, '...ease no moly'.  Perhaps it's scrolling the message 'please no moly,' telling travellers not to carry the magic herb 'moly'.  In Homer's Odyssey, moly protected Odysseus from Circe's enchantments, so one would presume that it would foul up the magical transportation."

Panel 2. Don MacPherson writes: "Further evidence of the Ditko/Dr. Strange homage is the references to the "Wastes of Wazoon."  The alliteration and references to nonsensical, magical places or beings is a Strange trademark.  It's possible that the Gate Omega staffers are Wong (Strange's majordomo) and the Ancient One (Strange's mentor)."

Ted Anderson says, "in Buddhism, the universe began and will end with the same syllable: OM, also spelled AUM.  I believe (though I'm not positive) all mantras must also begin and end with it.  This explains why the steward begins all of his statements with the syllable."

Steve Przybylski (and Daniel Lindquist) says, "Can't believe nobody else has mentioned this, but I believe the line 'Will that be chanting or non-chanting?' is a line from Airplane II - The's said by the attendant at the Transcendental Air counter."

Panel 3. Walking in the background are Felix the Cat (Richard East and Dave Sikula, among others, thinks that it's Krazy Kat instead) and Cheese, from Evan Dorkin's sociopathic pair Milk and Cheese. Brian Spencer (and Christopher Shumway and Jason Adams) says, "Also in the background is Tundro of the Herculoids." Christopher Shumway also wonders if the silhouetted leg and tail are from Jim Woodring's Frank.

Page 9. Panel 2. Paul Stanton (echoed by Will, Rob Harris, and many others) says, "he also appears to be mimicking the motion of showing where the emergency exits are."

Panel 3. The gesture he makes here is the same that airline stewardesses make while showing passengers how to put on an air mask in case of emergency.

Page 10. Panel 4. The broom in the upper right is the Nimbus 2000, and the winged figure next to it is the Snitch, both from J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" books. David Goldfarb notes that "the big stick thing at the lower left is the insignia of the Blair Witch," from the movie The Blair Witch Project.

Brian Spencer says, "I think the blind witch, with the glasses and white cane, may be a reference to the three Stygian Witches from mythology, who shared one eye between them, which was stolen." Peter Slack (echoed by Nathan Alderman) says, "The face of the witch top left is very reminiscent of British illustrator Quentin Blake's illustrations for Roald Dahl's The Witches."

Page 11. Panel 1. David Goldfarb notes that the witch on the right is drawn like the Wicked Witch of the West, from the movie version of The Wizard of Oz. Collierannd2 says, "While the witch on the right looks like the Wicked Witch of the West, the one on the left looks like the disguised Queen (as an old lady with an apple) from Disney's Snow White." Mario Di Giacomo thinks that they are from an episode of Scooby-Doo. Astrocitizen says, "I think that the blind witch, without her glasses, would resemble the Old Witch host from the EC horror comic Haunt of Fear." Nathan Alderman says that the blind witch is from the DC series The Witching Hour, and that the green witch resembles Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.

Panel 2. Several folks pointed out the presence of the bag of newts.

Page 12. Panel 1. The male member of the quarrelling pair is a potbellied Cutter, from the comic Elfquest. David Goldfarb identifies the female as Leetah, also from Elfquest. Several folks, including Doug Atkinson and Jason Adams, pointed out that the round door in the hillside, between Leetah and Cutter, is a reference to the hobbit-holes, from Tolkien's The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

Doug Atkinson, among others, including Jason Adams, notes that the mushroom house to the right of Smax is a larger version of the mushroom houses from Smurf Village.

Alicia Nevins and Jack Applin both pointed out that the boxes growing from the trees is a reference to the L. Frank Baum book, Ozma of Oz. Jack Applin provided the quote:

But, bye and bye, when she was almost in despair, the little girl came upon two trees that promised to furnish her with plenty of food.

One was quite full of square paper boxes, which grew in clusters on all the limbs, and upon the biggest and ripest boxes the word "Lunch" could be read, in neat raised letters.  This tree seemed to bear all the year around, for there were lunch-box blossoms on some of the branches, and on others tiny little lunch-boxes that were as yet quite green, and evidently not fit to eat until they had grown bigger.

The flying creature in the lower left of the panel is the Tooth Fairy; note the trail of molars she is leaving behind. Jack Applin noted that she's carrying a tooth-extraction tool.

David Goldfarb notes the presence of the Jolly Green Giant (from the Pillsbury ad campaign) in the background, "although he looks more morose than jolly." Ted Anderson (and Jason Adams) says, "the giant in the background isn't the Jolly Green Giant, but instead the Big Friendly Giant from Roald Dahl's book of the same name. The large ears, and the outfit, are dead giveaways." Doug Prosser says that the BFG here is even drawn in the same style that Quentin Blake used.

Tim Serpas notes that the spiral in the middle of the panel is the beginning of the Yellow Brick Road from The Wizard of Oz.

David Goldfarb wonders if the silhouette on the walkway might not be Cerebus the Aardvark, from Dave Sim's comic of the same name. Jack Applin says that it's an Ewok, from Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi: "they had walkways like that in their tree city." Carl Fink points out that it's the Ewok village in the trees.

Don MacPherson writes: "Note the Rainbow Bridge, a reference to Norse myth.  And adjacent to Smax's head, we can see a Phoenix in the distance."

Doug Atkinson says, "The lamp hanging at the center top may be intended to suggest the lamp-post found at the border of Narnia."

Jason Meador says, "the flaming phoenix in the background bears more than a passing resemblance to the Gatchaman vehicle God Phoenix in the middle of a Hi No Tori (Fire Bird) maneuver, where the aircraft is wrapped in flames and takes on  the appearance of a-well, Firebird. It also looks like Jean Grey's Phoenix Effect from X-Men, but hey, I'm a Gatchaman geek."

Panel 2. Note the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Page 13. Panel 1. That is the White Rabbit, from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, being mugged for his watch. One of those rolling him, the one with the star on his chest, is Max, the vicious freelance rabbit from the wonderful Sam and Max comic. I don't know who the mouse or the rabbit might be. David Goldfarb says that it's Mickey Mouse: "with different ears, no doubt to avoid Disney's notorious litigiousness -- but look at the red shorts with gold buttons." David Roel (and Dave Sikula and Joseph Henry) says that it's not Mickey, it's Oswald The Rabbit. The_Adventurer points out that "the Rabbit in the front Left, the small one with the Black Cape, is most likely Bunnicula , the Vegetarian Vampire Rabbit from James Howe's Bunnicula book series." Don MacPherson wonders if the rabbit in the blue jacket might be Peter Cottontail, from Beatrix Potter's book. (Joseph Henry and Jason Fliegel are sure that it's Peter Rabbit). Kristen Northrup says, "The small rabbit cannot be Bunnicula.  He was white with a black splotch on his back that resembled a cape.  Not sure who it is instead, however.  That could be a backpack as easily as a cape.  Rules out the Velveteen Rabbit, anyone from Watership Down, Br'er Rabbit and the Country Bunny (gold shoes)."

Panel 3. That is Cinderella being dressed by the bluebirds on the right, a reference to the Walt Disney film Cinderella.

Panel 5. Numerous folks have pointed out that the leprechaun, who we saw in panel 3, is stealing the pot of gold, which we saw in panel 1. Philip Graves says, "The leprechaun could be just a general archetype, or Mr Sage/Mr Onion from BBC's Live & Kicking TV Programme."

Pages 14. Panel 1. The angry looking tree to the left of Robyn is one of the talking trees from the movie The Wizard of Oz.

Tim Serpas points out the Lorax, from Dr. Seuss' The Lorax.

David Roel says, "The treestump turntable from Jethro Tull, "Songs from the Wood" (1977) cover."

Doug Atkinson says that the three figures in the cave--the three witches from Pages 10-11--appear to be the familiar Crone-Mother-Maiden trio.

Panel 4. Doug Atkinson says,"'I seek a shirt that has no seam' refers to the classic riddle-songs in which someone is asked to provide a series of impossible items.  The best-known to modern readers would be Simon and Garfunkel's version of 'Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme' which includes the lines 'Tell her to fetch me a cambric shirt/Without no seam or needlework.'"

Panel 5. The creature with its hand out is a hobbit, from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Dan Merget wonders if it is Frodo, since he seems to be holding out a ring.

Tim Serpas (of the keen eyes) notes that the turtle has "a mask and a ninja weapon." (So it's the fantasyland version of a Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtle). Jason Adams says, "The ninja turtle under the bridge is wearing a red mask and is holding a sai, therefore identifying it as Raphael."

The joke of the woman on the unicorn is that only a virgin can tame a unicorn, so that only a virgin would be riding a unicorn. So, obviously, she's a prostitute pretending to be a virgin on top of an accomplice unicorn. Sam Granatt says, "If you look closely at the woman riding the unicorn, she is actually wearing an earpiece style radio mike.  As you say, only a virgin can tame a unicorn, so I believe that this is reference to the famous pop minx and (former) self proclaimed virgin, Miss Britney Spears."

Don MacPherson notes the presence of the troll under the bridge, another fairy tale reference.

Nathan Alderman notes the pig and says that it may be "one of Taran the pig-herder's lost flock from Lloyd Alexander's "Black Cauldron" series?"

Page 15. Panel 1. Dan Merget wonders if the pet cemetery here might be a reference to the pet cemetery in Stephen King's novel Pet Sematary. Paul Duggan adds that a cursed pet cemetery goes with the cursed theme of the Inn.

Don MacPherson points out the presence of the arrow with the note tied to it on the door of the inn, which might be a Robin Hood reference.

Panel 2. Will sees this sequence as heavily influenced by Bone, and says "This is obviously Lucius in his inn. Note the reference to the locusts."

Panel 3. "The lady's room's got a pea under the mattress" is a reference to the Hans Christian Andersen story "The Princess and the Pea," in which a princess is revealed because she feels a pea through twenty mattresses and twenty eider-down beds, and only a real princess would be so sensitive as to feel that. Kristen Northrup adds, "many versions of The Princess and The Pea focus on the fact she would notice the pea as a sign of virtue, ie not accustomed to ever having anything else sharing her bed, rather than just general royal blood."

"As for yours, if you're too short for the bed, I creep in at night and stretch you on a rack" is a reference to the Greek myth about Theseus and Procrustes. Procrustes was a bandit (not an inn-keeper, as "A Haus Anna" abrasively pointed out) who had a beautiful bed which he offered to weary travellers, but if they were too short for the bed he put them on a rack and stretched them until they fit.

Mario Di Giacomo doubts that that's one of King Solomon's Frogs on the ground near Robyn.

Page 16. Panel 2. "Eddie Munster" is a reference to the pointy-heared boy vampire Eddie Munster, from the tv show The Munsters.

"Honest Ones" is a reference to the practice of naming elves and faeries as things other than they are, such as "Kindly Ones" and "Gentle Folk." If you didn't name them, you see, they wouldn't hear you, which was a good thing.

Panel 3. Brian Spencer (and Christopher Shumway and Nathan Alderman) says, "The innkeeper has a bandage on the back of his neck, like Marcellus Wallace from Pulp Fiction, which I hear is to show that the soul was extracted."

Panel 4. Joseph Henry, among others, points out the blue rose on Aldric's belt and wonders what it might mean. Rob Harris says, "In Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, Laura's Gentleman Caller knew her in high school when she was ill with pleurosis, which he misheard as "blue roses." Possibly the blue rose on the elf who healed Robin's bad leg is a wildly obscure reference to the Gentleman Caller getting the limping Laura to dance?"

Steve Przybylski says,

It could be a reference to Twin Peaks - Fire Walk With Me.  'Blue Rose' is a code name for cases that appear to involve the supernatural, such as the murders of Teresa Banks and Laura's a link to some more info:

The blue rose also appears to be a symbol of Druidism - found this reference: For the two branches of the practice, there are two symbols, the Blue Rose for Avalon, and the Oak for Anglesey (male branch). I've also seen this mentioned in the book The 21 Lessons of Merlyn : A Study in Druid Magic and Lore by Douglas Monroe (Llewellyn, 1992).

Panel 6. The face in the mirror on the wall is the talking mirror from the film Shrek. Vast numbers of people have e-mailed me to say that this is a reference to Disney Snow White, not Shrek. Shrek certainly got the motif from Snow White, but the face in the mirror in Shrek was blue, just as it is here, and the face in the mirror in Snow White was not blue, if I'm remembering correctly, which is why I say this is a reference to Shrek and not Snow White.

Page 17. Panel 1. Christopher Shumway says, "The axe looks a lot like the one used by Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer."

Joseph Henry says, "we can see the iron mask from Alexandre Dumas' The Man in the Iron Mask hanging on the wall and -- I'm guessing -- the pit from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum."  The face on the inside of the iron maiden bears a passing resemblance to Boris Karloff in The Mummy, but I could just be imagining that." Mario Di Giacomo thinks that it might be Pinhead the Cenobite inside the iron maiden. And Paul Duggan (echoed by Nathan Alderman) says that it's a picture of Eddie, the mascot who appeared on the covers of Iron Maiden albums.

Panel 2. "And that there axe, to chop your feet off if you're too long" is a reference to the Greek myth of Theseus and Procrustes (see the second note to Page 15, Panel 3). If you were too long for Procrustes' bed, he would chop off your feet.

Panel 4. Note the banquet choices: unicorn, the goose that lays the golden eggs, cherubs, and a mermaid. David Goldfarb expands on this: "the Three Blind Mice, (and) the Three Little Pigs." Doug Atkinson adds (as does Brian Spencer), "Also visible if not terribly distinct are some little figures on sticks with dipping sauce (just in front of the pigs).  One definitely has arms and legs, and there's a suggestion of wings, so perhaps they're meant to be tiny fairies." Jason Adams adds that they are "pixie sticks."

The banner on the wall reading "Gryffindor" is a reference to J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" novels. Gryffindor is one of the four wizard houses in the series.

Page 18. Panel 3. Mario Di Giacomo and Andrew McLean wonder if that's Black Orchid on the tree. Jason Fliegel thinks that it's an elf from Elfquest. Kristen Northrup says, "she's pretty generic, but she's definitely not from ElfQuest.  Jason F is probably thinking of a preserver, rather than an elf character, but I'm sure the hair is wrong." 

Page 19. Panel 1. The two Trolls on the far left of the panel appear to be dealing drugs. David Goldfarb identifies "the fishing village from the computer game Riven." Doug Atkinson (and Christopher Shumway) says, "There also appear to be more hobbit-holes (on the left) and Smurf mushroom-houses (on the right).  Note also the burning stump by the front mushroom house; it suggests the burning barrels of trash the homeless are often depicted gathering around in our world." Joseph Henry says, "I first thought that the mushroom houses...belonged to Smurfs, but, since they're human-sized, perhaps they're in some way connected to Super Mario's Mushroom Kingdom."

"Argent" wonders if the blue dinosaur marking its territory is a reference to Lockheed the Dragon, from X-Men.

Panel 2. The leprechaun is drinking from a jug labelled "drink me," a reference to one of the drinks Alice imbibed in Alice in Wonderland. Don MacPherson writes, "It's not a leprechaun drinking the Wonderland bottle. It's the Mad Hatter.  Note the 10/4 card in his hat."

Brian Spencer, Jason Adams, and Paul Duggan, among many other people, point out that the thing on the left is a "fairy strip," similar to a fly strip.

Panel 3. Tim Serpas points out that the gremlin character appears to be stealing a wheel from Cinderella's pumpkin carriage. Don MacPherson adds, "The "gremlin" character isn't a gremlin.  He's a goblin.  A *green* goblin.  He sports the Silver Age costume of the Green Goblin, a Spider-Man villain." Stephen says that the character reminds him of Fenella, from Chorlton and the Wheelies.

Panel 4. Several folks, including Brian Spencer and Ted Anderson, note that the ogresses have three breasts. "deadguy," Stephen, and Neal Peters, identify the creatures as Bogeywomen from Raymond Briggs' Fungus the Bogeyman. Philip Cohen says, "Further evidence, perhaps, is the shirt and pants that have been dirtied and hung out to dry. Except that Bogeymen prefer their clothes damp."

Eric Reehl says that the "elf power" graffiti may be a reference to the band Elf Power.

Page 20. Panel 3. Rob Harris says, "I suppose those are dots of frosting trimming the doorway, but they look almost like garlic bulbs. Could vampires be a problem here? (They may reappear on the next page in panel 2, perhaps lining the entry hall.)"

Panel 4. Dave Joll and Jason Fliegel point out the chocolate- or yoghurt-covered pretzel garden fence.

Panel 5. David Goldfarb points out the "Life Savers candy umbrella stand."

Richard East says, "'Oh, come in, come in! Bring your page-boy too.' I think this is a reference to British Pantomimes because women often play male parts such as page boys, squires, etc." Possibly, although it may also be a reference to Robyn having a page-boy haircut as well. Rob Harris says, "I think it's simply that Smax was a dragonslayer, as we learn on the next page, a role often played by a knight in armor, and Robyn with her short hair and bulky clothes looks more like a young boy than a woman to the family... thus they take her to be Smax's page/squire."

Several people prompted me to say what I thought was obvious: that Uncle Mackie's comment that he met Smax in a dream is a reference to Smax's dream at the beginning of Top 10 #6.

Page 21. Panel 1. Nathan Alderman says, "Is it me, or does scowly Uncle Dernick look a bit like Warren Ellis?"

Note the chocolate chip cookie rug. The entire house is made of food, apparently. (Matt Levin, Jason Fliegel, and Andrew McLean remind me to say that the house-made-of-food is a motif from fables, best known to modern readers as the witch's house from "Hansel and Gretel.")

"Argent" sees the runes on Aunt Minka's dress as "Tolkien-inspired." I think they're closer to simple Norse runes, but they don't look like the runes I've been able to find. Anyone? Philip Cohen sees them as "simply stylized trees."

Page 22. Panel 1. Dave Joll says, "The stairs...also appear to be made of food: the banisters could be red licorice; the rungs are something square, chewy and individually wrapped that I cannot recall the name of; and behind them appears to be rock." "Skullo" says, "the vertical posts that hold up the licorice banister, look like pocky (Japanese pretzel-and-chocolate type treat)."

Panel 3. Brian Spencer says, "The stairs appear to be Starbursts, or some similarly wrapped candies." Rob Harris says, "The stairs have yogurt-dipped pretzel sticks for balusters, and large peppermint sticks (apparently anchored in the wall) to support the rows of Starbursts."

Panel 5. David Goldfarb notes the "chair made of an Oreo cookie and the candy dipping stick from "Lik-M-Aid" candy."

Page 23. Panel 5. Jack Applin says, "Note that several trees have claws reaching around them.  They remind me of the rat creatures from Bone." Kurt Belcher says, "They appear to me to just be the mushroom-like growths you see growing out of the sides of any tree in a respectable patch of woodland."

Page 24. Panel 2. Tim Serpas points out a candelabra from the cartoon film Beauty and the Beast. Paul Stanton adds that the candelabra's name is "Lumiere." 

Panel 3. Tim Serpas decodes the visual pun: it's a lion and a witch on a wardrobe, a reference to the C.S. Lewis fantasy novel, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Panel 8. I apparently need to spell this out for people. Robyn is complaining that the bed is lumpy because, as mentioned in Page 15, Panel 3, it has a pea beneath the mattresses, which may mean that she is a true princess.

Thanks to: Alicia Nevins, David Goldfarb, Tim Serpas, Dan Merget, David Brust, Michael Brown, The_Adventurer, Don MacPherson, Jack Applin, Kevin Hines, David Roel, Doug Atkinson, "Eroom Nala," Brian Spencer, Ted Anderson, Richard East, Walt Parrish, Joseph Henry, Dave Sikula, Fabio Blanco, Greg Strohecker, John Dorrian, Christopher Shumway, BradW8, Collierannd2, Carl Fink, "deadguy," Hal Shipman, Dave Joll, Matt Levin, Jason Adams, Stephen, "Argent," Mario Di Giacomo, Jason Fliegel, Andrew McLean, "Astrocitizen," Loki Carbis, Neal Peters, Peter Slack, Doug Prosser, Paul Duggan, Francis Herman, Sam Granatt, Will, "A Haus Anna," Nathan Alderman, Paul Stanton, Joseph Camhi, Paul Lloyd, Kristen Northrup, Eric Reehl, Philip M. Cohen, Will, Kurt A., Rob Harris, Kurt Belcher, Scott Backer, Madison Blue, Philip Graves, Skullo, Steve Przybylski, Daniel Lindquist, Jason Meador, Edward Sullivan, Kevin Cannon, Jean-Marc Lain, and Jerome Wicky. 

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