When I started doing Roar’s Saved by the Bell comic, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be neat to dig Harvey’s incarnation out of obscurity and review it?” I figured it would make a great change of pace after the end of a season and, personally, I was curious myself about what these are like. It took some digging, but I finally managed to obtain all seven issues of this series. And boy, is it bad.
You may know Harvey Comics as the publisher who brought us classic children’s comic characters such as Richie Rich, Baby Huey, and Casper the Friendly Ghost. In the early nineties, for whatever god forsaken reason, they started trying their hand at adaptations of cartoons. Everything from Muppet Babies to Back to the Future and even the New Kids on the Block got the Harvey treatment, and most of them were just awful and have rightfully fallen into obscurity in the comic book world.
Enter 1992, and Saved by the Bell was at the height of its popularity. Harvey had already managed to obtain the rights to several other NBC properties and decided to try their hand at NBC’s top-rated teen show. And boy did they get it wrong.
So, without further ado, let’s dig into Saved by the Bell #1 and see just where they went wrong.
Yes, my friends, Harvey couldn’t even be bothered to draw a cover for this issue. Instead, it’s a cast photo with word bubbles. This is the epitome of lazy. Did they think people would not realize it was the same Saved by the Bell if they didn’t use a photo?
Anyway, Screech is telling us that he looks even better in this incarnation. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t. And Jessie tells us they’re all even funnier. How pathetic is it when you have to remind your readers that what they’re about to see is supposed to be funny?
Being the first issue, our first page is an introduction to the characters in case some poor soul picked up this comic without ever having seen the show. After lying through his teeth and telling us he’s in Bayside’s “Advanced Genius Program,” Zack Morris introduces his best friends to us: Jessie, Lisa, Slater, and Adam Sandler. Actually, being drawn like Adam Sandler might be an improvement for Screech.
Next, we see Kelly, who is being flattered by Zack Morris in an attempt to get into her panties. But it doesn’t work well, for, on the next page, she’s dressed as Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island and has resorted to violence in revenge for Zack Morris scheduling a date with another girl on the same day he’s dating Kelly. Oh, Zack Morris.
Story 1: Chillin’ Holiday
So, as our first story starts off with a bang, Zack Morris tells Kelly she’s just an exchange student…a student he’s exchanging phone numbers with. (cue drum roll) Kelly tells Zack Morris he’s an asshole and has no respect for her, which means Kelly in this comic is already quite a bit smarter than Kelly from the show.
Zack Morris must have been thinking about this long and hard because he goes to The Max and Jessie finishes his sentence for him. Everyone has some advice about what he should do, but I’m not sure if Zack Morris should listen to it because the fact that no one can stop smiling as they talk about his relationship problems signals to me that they’re probably all fresh out of botox surgery and may be under the influence of anesthesia.
Jessie suggests that Zack Morris break his legs so that Kelly will feel sorry for him, which naturally gives him the idea to simulate Kelly’s winter holiday memories from Madison, Wisconsin. Now, here comes a problem: I had assumed that they were at The Max, but an exterior of Bayside High is suddenly shown. They do know The Max isn’t inside Bayside, right?
At Screech’s house, Screech is showing Zack Morris his artificial snow machine, which will simulate the snow of Wisconsin. Just then, Slater comes up and Zack Morris, aka Captain Obvious, declares that it’s Slater!
Slater has sold pornography of himself to get every girl in town to let him borrow an artificial Christmas tree, which means Los Angeles must be swarming with Mario Lopez porn now. Meanwhile, Jessie and Lisa have painted a background picture to look like a winter wonderland.
The next phase of Zack Morris’s plan is to convince Max to let him turn The Max into a winter wonderland by convincing Max it was his idea all along. And the way to compensate for the temperature is to turn up the air conditioner to full blast for a few hours, which makes complete nonsense.
The next day, Zack Morris has warped the laws of time and space again to somehow make The Max look dead up like a winter village. Come on, I know this is a comic but nothing looks this real. Anyway, Max thinks it looks like Antarctica, which means global warming and penguins must be nearby, and Zack Morris is wearing a curly brown wig so he’ll look like Kelly’s childhood best friend. Slater is dressed as a snowman and Slater has Jessie and Lisa dressed in short skirts so all the guys can perv on them. Oh, and Screech is dressed as Hagar the Horrible.
Then Kelly comes walking in and…oh my god I take back the nice things I said about this incarnation of Kelly. This Kelly is just an idiot.
Yes, Kelly, you walk in the outside door to The Max, a door you’ve walked through hundreds of times before, and assume you’ve walked into the freezer. Max just up and decided to put the freezer in his dining room to make it more accessible to thieves and the homeless. ARE YOU A FUCKING MORON?!?!
And, oh, the hijinks. It turns out that Kelly is from Madison County, Florida, not Madison, Wisconsin, and that her best friend was a French poodle. Oh, Zack Morris, you know absolutely nothing about Kelly. Anyway, Kelly is pissed, Zack Morris knocks over the snow machine, causing it to go crazy and smoke, setting off the sprinklers in The Max, causing a mess as well as a waitress slipping, meaning Max will have a worker’s compensation claim on his hands.
Later, everyone is cleaning The Max when Kelly comes in to apologize and tell Zack Morris that it really was sweet that he didn’t know anything about her and forgives him. Then, in a bit of a bipolar rage, she dumps a bucket of water on him. And they lived happily ever after.
Story 2: High Resolution
Our second story opens with…Mr. Belding cartoonishly tap dancing on top of his desk. Zack Morris, Slater, and Screech come in and it turns out Mr. Belding is so happy because he’s come up with a scheme whereby there won’t be a school dance unless every student improves his or her grade by at least one point, which seems pretty out there, even by Saved by the Bell standards. And this Mr. Belding doesn’t even care about what it would mean for the students. He’s only concerned with what it will mean for his career.
First of all, did no one bother to see what Dennis Haskins actually looks like before they tired to draw him? He’s the most inconsistently drawn character in this entire book. Second, they do know Mr. Belding’s real first name is not “Mr.,” right? Therefore, M. Belding is not his name.
But who the hell cares at this point.
At The Max, everyone but Jessie is stressing about improving their grades. Zack Morris gets the idea of getting tutors for everyone, starting with Slater’s tutor, Egbert Zizzer. As Zack Morris drags Slater through the air, he says the plan is for Egbert to tutor Slater in Bio-Chemistry while Slater tutors Egbert in female chemistry. Oh the hilarity!
Meanwhile, Zack Morris creates and sells lists of all the subjects every student is best in so people can be matched with the best tutor. But everyone is hella pissed when they see that Zack Morris is hanging out with a pretty girl while giving them all tutors that actually know the subject. Wait…what? Yeah, I don’t think they fully thought through this plot.
The next page is basically everyone chasing after pretty people instead of studying, including this poor lad who is being harassed for his non-existent Spanish knowledge.
A week later, Mr. Belding’s secretary, Mrs. Dinkle, brings him the students’ grades. Every single one of them, even Egbert, saw drops in their scores, which is pretty stupid and unbelievable, but whatever. Zack Morris uses the money he earned from selling the lists to pay for a dance at The Max, and Mr. Belding and Mrs. Dinkle end up alone at the Bayside dance having sexy time.It’s funny because she’s old and undesirable.
Every issue of the Harvey series has features at the end. This month, it’s an unscrambling game.
Yes, Screech has mixed up the quotes, even his own, and has to unscramble them for publication. Can you help the incompetent do it before his time runs out? (In case you’re bored and really want to try it, clues and answers are here.)
We conclude with another cast photo. Why, I don’t know.
Addendum: The Christmas Special
I mentioned that there were seven issues of this series. This includes two specials: a Christmas special and a summer special. After today’s review, though, there will only be five issues left to review. Why you ask? Well, let’s briefly look at the Christmas special.
Let’s look at the cover. Do you see anything familiar? Why, yes, it’s the exact same promotional photo as issue one except over a Christmas tree. And that’s not where the similarities end, my friends! They’re the EXACT SAME COMIC BOOK, word for word, panel for panel. I’ve never seen anything like it! They actually sold the exact same comic twice as two different issues of the series without saying that anywhere in either of them! It looks like the Christmas special actually came first, because they mistakenly reprinted the notice that issue #1 was coming soon…in issue #1, complete with a teaser for the plot to what turned out to be issue #2.
I thought it would be fun to do the Harvey series, but it may turn out to be even more grueling than The New Class…