Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire came out in the early eighties from the wondrous and hilarious comic artist/writer Phil Foglio. Most people are familiar with his phenomenal webcomic Girl Genius. I was first exposed to his work in Dragon magazine around the same time where he did the What’s New comic strip. I became addicted to both his humor and his art style immediately and have loved it ever since.
Buck Godot started out in the comic anthology Just Imagine before the strips were collected in a Starblaze trade paperback. Most of the action and situations take place on the planet “New Hong Kong” where there are no laws. Buckminster “Buck” Godot is a mercenary/private investigator/bodyguard from a heavy gravity world, meaning his strength and endurance are far above human normal. He’s very competent, despite being a borderline (or more) alcoholic.
The action and dialogue are fast and hilarious. The pattern of jokes reminds me of Marx Brothers, although with more of a bite. Phil’s artistic style is . . . unique. It’s cartoony, both in basic layout as well as the dynamism of animation. Several people have aped his style since, although they never quite succeed. I actually did an assignment at the Joe Kubert School where we were supposed to imitate an artist’s style. I did a Stanley and His Monster strip in Phil’s style, just because I enjoyed the shit out of it.
Putting aside style and dialogue, Buck Godot has some sharp science fiction writing. He has an entire universe of fascinating races and technologies. One of the more interesting ideas is a race of robots called The Law Machines. These robots declared laws across all human planets, which were voted on by the inhabitants, making some planets more restrictive than others. The shtick about New Hong Kong is that a hacker got into The Law Machines’ system and had one law: there are no laws on New Hong Kong. As you might imagine, this makes it a bit of a wild west.
New Hong Kong is the setting for most of the action until later in the series where Buck travels to The Gallimaufry as a bodyguard for the Madame Louisa “Lou” Dem Five. The Gallimaufry is a city-sized space station that acts as an embassy/United Nations for all races. The first two parts of Buck—Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire and Psmith–are good, but The Gallimaufry is great. Buck must solve a galactic conspiracy involving The Winslow, which is a McGuffin/creature which Phil introduced many years ago based on a stuffed animal(!) It’s sentient, unique and indestructible as well as being quite silly.
Hard copies of volumes #1, #2 and #3 are difficult to find these days but they have been available online in the past at http://www.studiofoglio.com/ and hopefully will be again. Otherwise you’ll have to scour eBay or Amazon to find a copy. If you can find copies, snatch them up and enjoy.