Comics: The Last Soviet Militant Clown

This is the concluding part of what could be considered as The Clown Trilogy.

After the Great Circus of Moscow incident, the clown sightings grew fewer. No peace and quiet for Sergeant Napalm though, he was injured in an international incident and was temporarily consigned to a wheelchair.

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Writer: Vesa Vitikainen/M. Tuppurainen, Artist: Markus Tuppurainen, Colorist: Julia Riitijoki
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Classics: Sergeant Napalm – Death of a Clown

Soviet Militant Clowns

When The Great Circus of Moscow became affiliated with KGB and Warsaw Union Force (WUF), its freak show and clown teams were combined (the freak show’s popularity was waning, but the clowns still had people in stitches). All the members of this newly formed team received a special training not only in “clowning around” but also in espionage and terrorist activities. All new “freaks” discovered within the borders of the Soviet Union were consigned to the new Clown Division within the circus.

In 1984 The Great Circus of Moscow started a friendship tour in the United States. It never returned.

The story takes place after A View to a Clown.

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Writer: Vesa Vitikainen, Artist: Jarkko Hyppönen, Colorist: Markus Tuppurainen

 

Comics: A View to a Clown

Klown Grill Burger (KGB)

Founded in the end of 1950s, this popular moderately sized fast food chain had an outlet in nearly ever major American city. The concept was based on having the staff dressed as funny clown characters, which you entertain the customers as they were enjoying their meals.

In 1984 the chain suddenly went bankrupt alongside with accusations of widespread insurance frauds.

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Writer: Vesa Vitikainen, Artist: Anssi Rauhala

Characters: Sergeant Napalm

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Image: Kristian Huitula
  • Name Joe Alpman aka George Alpman aka Yrjö Alpman (in Finland)
  • Rank Sergeant
  • Code Name Napalm
  • Organization Patriot American Force (PAF)
  • Jurisdiction The World. 
  • Commanding Officer Commander Ironfrisbee
  • Department Director John Byrnes
  • Notable Colleagues Special Agent Joel “The Handler” Shuster,  Special Agent Allan “Powerhouse” Wagner, Special Agent Francis Miller (wife, ex-ninja), Corporal Gary “Animal” Simons, Agent Orange (KIA)
  • Family No known living relatives
  • History When the uncontrollable pyrotelekinetic abilities of young Joe Alpman resulted in a deadly fire, he was quickly taken into custody by the government. In effort to make the mutation induced abilities controllable, a brain surgery was performed. The operation was successful, but a complication caused Alpman to lose his sense of pain. This made it possible for Alpman to take on an even more intense training program.

Sources of Inspiration

Sergeant Napalm started out as superhero parody. What made it different from the rest is the fact that it is not aiming to imitate Superman. The biggest influence is the true and original X-Men by Chris Claremont. This was some of the toughest superhero action money could buy in the late 1980s. It’s strongest suite was the lineup of lively characters. Many a villain and an otherwise minor character received a refreshing breath of life in the pages of X-Men. There is something similar in the unconcerned coolness of Wolverine and Sergeant Napalm, but I think Napalm takes the whole man-of-few-words act to new heights!

Another source of inspiration is Daredevil of the same era. At least the generous helping of ninjas as well as the insightful inner dialogs are largely influenced by certain Frank Miller.

Some character names, such as Francis Miller (Napalm’s ex-ninja-fiancee) and John Byrnes (Napalm’s boss, the Director of Patriot American Force), are direct homage to the great masters. There are other characters, mostly PAF agents with some familiar sounding names: Shuster, Kirby, Wagner, Falk and Starlin, although I won’t admit that they have made a conscious impact to Sergeant Napalm stories.

I’ve often forgotten to mention the influence of Will Eisner’s Spirit. The influence is mostly evident in the form of prompt and efficient storytelling. Whereas Miller and Claremont used to build lengthy story arcs and thoroughly set up their stories, Eisner always kept his stories in the concise seven pages. The first stories were written as eight pagers, the later ones were squeezed into three. I could fit as much story in the three pages as an average American superhero comics book could in 22 pages!

Eventually the stories began to build on the elements of each others in the style of Judge Dredd. My goal was to write each episode as an individual stand-alone story that would still be part of a larger whole when several episodes were read in a row. Another 2000AD title, namely Nemesis the Warlock, was also a source of inspiration for some narrative twists.

Some inspiration was also drawn from the movies. For example Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki for the plainness of storytelling. Chuck Norris for all the ninjas in The Octagon. Pet Sematary 2 for being so bad that it caused me to think even I could write a better story about love and death.

As if a young boy really knew anything about love and death.

Tervehdys!

 

as the international men of mystery posted in Finland would say.

If you are a long-standing reader of Sergeant Napalm, you may already have a clue of what’s going on in here. If not, we congratulate you for getting lost in this neck of the woods, and welcome you for a ride of a lifetime!

The work on Sergeant Napalm (or Kersantti Napalm in Finnish) has been going on since the 1990s. The character and the premise started as a satire/parody of the superhero genre, but quickly sprouted a life of its own. The stories are set around the world in the time of the Cold War. Sergeant Napalm is one of the super powered special agents for Patriot American Force (PAF), an agency protecting the nation from the more unusual threats, such as zombies, ninjas and Soviet superheroes.

Sergeant Napalm made his first appearances in self-published magazines in the nineties, but has lately had its second coming in various Finnish publications, zines and collections. In addition to all this, the first full-sized graphic novel was published in early 2016. It is currently only available in Finnish, which is part of the reason why we have set up this page in English. We are excited at the prospect of making our labor of love known also to the rest of the world.

Do take a look, hopefully you like what you see (and read), and check back often!

Team Napalm