Modern cinema is in a sorry state. Increasingly, it seems Hollywood is only interested in witless superhero franchises, so the same film is recycled time and time again, with ever diminishing returns. These are films for adolescents, not adults, and such basic elements as plot, character, and genuine drama are sacrificed in the interests of mere spectacle. Why bother with, say, snappy dialogue when the audience will be happy with an endless series of big noisy explosions?
Which makes it all the more puzzling that Hollywood has thus far neglected the one superhero who I would love to see depicted on the big screen. I am talking, of course, of Piffleboy. Piffleboy was the creation of maverick comic-book genius Lars Talc, and his adventures were recounted, between March and July 1974, in the pages of the now extremely rare Piffleboy! comic.
Set in a generic American metropolis, the stories tell of a young mild-mannered milksop who is passionately devoted to his button collection. Yet he has a secret life as a crime-fighter, righting wrongs, taking out the hoodlums, and keeping the city streets safe. He does this by using his superpower, with which he was imbued following a bizarre chemical reaction caused by some of the buttons in his collection being dropped in a puddle.
Piffleboy’s superpower is an ability to spout absolute piffle, extempore and at length, which drives those listening crackers, leaving them confused and befuddled, like decapitated chickens. In a typical adventure, Piffleboy will be sitting at home with his buttons when he receives an alert on his Pifflephone, telling him that ne’er-do-wells are bent on villainy somewhere in the city. Immediately, Piffleboy minces to the scene, and starts babbling utter piffle. The evil miscreants are soon reduced to a state of discombobulation, whereupon the coppers arrive and drag them, unprotesting, off to prison.
Each episode ends with the captain of detectives saying “Gee, thanks Piffleboy! If it weren’t for you we’d never have rounded up these hoods and made the city safe again!” to which Piffleboy replies “Glad to be of service, captain. Now I must get back to my buttons”.
Devoted fans of Piffleboy memorise long passages of his most piffling piffle and meet at conventions where they recite it to each other in loud yet curiously weedy voices.
Lars Talc was taught by the noted hyperrealist artist Rex Hyper, and not the least of the charms of the Piffleboy! comics are his hyperrealist illustrations, one of which is reproduced below. This shows Piffleboy in the immediate aftermath of the famous episode in which he foils the criminal schemes of bootlegger Slugger McGrew and his gang by wittering piffle at them for several hours until the tardy cops eventually show up.