The Superhero Balloons of the Comics Alliance Thanksgiving Parade!
For me, one of the single greatest moments of the holiday season is the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! Not only does it signal the official start of the Christmas season, but it’s the perfect combination of crass commercialism, holiday festivity and high school marching bands. And yet, as much as I love it, it just doesn’t have enough comics for my tastes.
Sure, they’ve had balloons of Snoopy, Pikachu and Spider-Man before, and Marvel even had a couple of incredibly complex floats back in the ’80s, but really, that just scratches the surface. Which is why today we teamed up with Anthony Clark, the artist and creator of the beloved webcomic Nedroid and the Beartato and the Secret of the Mystery collection, to launch the ComicsAlliance Thanksgiving Day Parade with the balloons we want to see!
Our openers are the main characters of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s hit graphic novels and Edgar Wright’s big screen adaptations, Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers! In addition to the balloons themselves, they’re accompanied by the St. Joel’s Catholic School band, who have spent an entire semester learning to play the music from Balloon Fight. And not only that, but if you look close, you can see they’re pulled along by Seven Evil Balloon Wranglers, each of whom is plotting revenge for getting kicked off the prestigious Elmo gig.
Next comes comic book legend / spliff enthusiast / wizard Alan Moore! The creator of Watchmen is see here, as in real life, with his customary “someone just asked what I think about Zack Snyder” scowl, with the beard that as of 2010 makes up a full 40% of his body mass. And unlike other balloons, our version of Alan Moore isn’t held up by helium, but by the limitless power of the serpent god Glycon.
One of the few parade balloons to ever be constructed at life-size, our inflatable Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds (guided to Herald Square, of course, by the Silver Surfer) is was phenomenally expensive to construct, even though the booming “I HUNGER” that emits from his helmet was recycled from Tokyo Disney’s short-lived Sinistar float. Fortunately, we were able to pick it up on the cheap, buying it used after a truly disastrous appearance at last year’s Earth Day parade. Honestly, what did they think was going to happen?
Here at ComicsAlliance, we’re all pretty big fans of Marvel’s motorcycle-riding Spirit of Vengeance, and while this one turned out to be an exceptionally terrible idea, you’d be hard-pressed to argue that Ghost Rider wouldn’t make a pretty amazing visual soaring down Fifth Avenue. Unfortunately, in our desire to add some warmth, cheer and toasted marshmallows to an otherwise chilly November day, we erred on the side of accuracy by actually setting the head on fire. As it turns out, the thick smoke of burning plastic just does not mix well with Tryptophan and cranberry sauce.
Especially since we decided to fill this one with hydrogen.
Our balloon version of The Fantastic Four’s Sue Storm is without question one of the finest works of parade craftsmanship in existence, and also one of four balloons ever crafted that were treated with genuine Cosmic Rays. Unfortunately, the other three had their problems: Mr. Fantastic just inflated endlessly without ever getting off the ground, the Thing was too heavy to float, and the Human Torch… well, see Ghost Rider above. Balloon Sue, however, floats like a dream. There’s just, you know, that one problem.
Yeah, this one’s pretty much a given, but c’mon: If we hadn’t included him, how else would we be able to commemorate the fact that even in the distant, enlightened utopia of the 31st century, fat dudes are still comedy gold. Just keep him away from the Galactus balloon, okay? Once it gets to that size, a blue shirt starts to look an awful lot like an ocean.
A favorite among children, the Punisher happily takes the law into his own hands and rains cheery vengeance down upon the the rest of the parade. It’s always a highlight of the morning on those magical moments when the wind picks up and carries one of his bullets right smack into the face of one of the other balloons. This year, it was Garfield. He shouldn’t have taken that hit out on Odie.
Of course, as ComicsAlliance readers already know, a dead Garfield makes the perfect complement to this year’s newest balloon, Arsenal! As the star of one of our most most beloved stories, he’s certainly an eye-catcher, especially among parade-goers who have fond memories of the dynamic cybernetic arm that was cutting edge back when it was on 1992’s Cable balloon. In fact, I’m willing to say that our balloon might actually be better than the character himself; with all the helium we used on this thing, we had no trouble getting him up.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of our friend from the newspaper comic strips, Funky Winkerbean. This was originally meant to be the centerpiece of the parade — because really, if there’s one thing that we can all be thankful for, it’s that we’re not Funky Winkerbean — but as it turns out, it’s hard to get something to float when it’s made entirely out of crushing despair.
And finally, for our equivalent of Santa Claus….
Who could it be but ComicsAlliance’s favorite villain, The KGBeast! It’s fun for all ages as he re-enacts the events of his battle against Batman by hacking off his own hand at the wrist — just like the comics, he choosing this ovewr severing the rope wrapped around his hand for reasons we’re not quite clear on — but then instead of swearing to commit hundreds of murders, he rains delicious candy down on the crowd from his stump!
And really: Isn’t that the true meaning of Thanksgiving?