News & Politics

Studies in Crap Goes Where No Big Boy Has Gone Before


Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

Adventures of Shoney’s Big Boy No. 51

Publisher: Paragon Products, Pompano Beach, Florida
Date: 1981
Discovered at: Antique mall

The Cover Promises: The Big Boy has a hidden message for you!
Also: The Big Boy is friends with a  blonde who lives in a pop-up book and a ginger boy with a TRS 80 for a Torso.

Representative Quote:
“Dear Big Boy —
I am a big fan of yours. I like fancy sports cars and playing polo. I hope to grow up to be just like you.
— William Ogden, Texarkana, TX.”

The surprises in this freebie Big Boy comic book start right with the name. By the 80’s, the Big Boy – that plastic, pompadoured monument to the ass-widening effects of a burgers-and-boulevards lifestyle – had ended his long affiliation with the Bob’s Big Boy Restaurant chain.
Now, he shilled for Shoney’s — the chain of choice for those who find the fanciness of a Denny’s alienating.

At the time, some considered this a violation of a great American tradition. Your Crap Archivst can’t work up much feeling for the sanctity of old advertising logos, but I can see how the Big Boy’s post-Bob’s gig seem demeaning, something like a hangdog boxing champ meet-and-greeting the mobs at Caesar’s. Still, he was engineered to sell hamburgers, so what’s he going to do? A big boy’s gotta eat.

The second surprise: “. . It Must Come Down,” this issue’s portentously titled first story, opens with the Big Boy and his friends,Tripp and NAMELESS GIRL, adrift in the cold void of space. No explanation is ever given for this.


We join the adventure in media res, with a terrified Tripp doing what any of us would when faced with such a death: beseeching the Big Boy for guidance.​

Later pages reveal that the Big Boy and company are actually in the cockpit of an out-of-control Space Shuttle — or some waffle-chaired, no-seatbelt Shoney’s knockoff thereof.

Over the next pages, as this makeshift crew attempts to right a spacecraft none of them know how to fly, the many serious questions raised by all this go unanswered.

Among those questions:

  • Why does the Big Boy have access to the space shuttle?
  • Why would the Big Boy bring children to space without a chaperone, space suits, or any idea of how to fly?
  • Why does William Ogden of Texarkana admire such an irresponsible lout?
  • Is a space shuttle one of the perks Shoneys could offer that Bob’s couldn’t?

Anyway, facing certain death, NAMELESS GIRL dares a solution just crazy enough to work:


Behind her, the Big Boy offers us some welcome distraction by contorting his features into an optical illusion.

Is that a bemused Big Boy?

Or a bald, angry dwarf?

Armed with knowledge, they find their way back to earth. There, much like the food at Shoney’s, the Big Boy burns up on re-entry.


​Then comes the biggest surprise yet:


​In our space program, men with clipboards actually report to the Big Boy.

Shocking Detail:
In the second story, “The Library,” the Big Boy explains how to use a card catalog. Also, he and Tripp again embark upon a journey, this time one that will surprise even them.

Their destination? The human heart.

The Big Boy has a hidden message for you!


Yes, the announcement calls it a “secret word,” but it’s actually a full sentence. Here’s a clue.


Somewhere, in one of the images reproduced on this very page, is a message straight from the Big Boy’s heart to yours. Can YOU find it?​


It is not:

  • “It’s a glandular thing.”
  • “Big ups Big Boy-style to my man William Ogden of Texarkana, TX.”
  • “Build me an army worthy of Mordor.”
  • “I aspire to artistry, yet I get paid in fries to write the Big Boy comic.”


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