Here’s a short list of some of my favorite comedy resources:
-When a corporation decides to do a comic book.
-Long roll calls of characters by people who ran out of ideas before they started.
-Boring organizations deciding it’s time to get “badical… to the extreme!”
-When somebody wildly overestimates their own value and plummets straight into the dirt.
Every one of those things, on their own, is a recipe for hilarity. Now meet all of them rolled together: The Saskatchewan Wheat Pool Adventurer’s Club!
“This can’t be exactly what it looks like,” you’re thinking. “There’s no way you found a superhero comic about staple crops.”
And you’re right. Tragically, you’re right. I did not find the comic books. Those were all lost to silo fires and farm suicides. I only found the promotional material for the fan club of the comic books. This is a new type of sadness scientists have been working on by nesting layers of sadness atop one another until they form a strong and flexible weave of despair. They call it Sadophene, and it’s so durable they’re using it to hold together Elon Musk’s quivering ego.
The Saskatchewan Wheat Pool Adventurers were like The Avengers for 4H kids who’d been kicked in the head and left their imaginations on the hoof of a milking cow. The goal of the Adventurers wasn’t to get kids into farming, it was to show farm kids how awesome their lives already were. They did it through pogs!
If you’re not familiar, pogs were…
Wait, what the fuck were pogs? No, I lived through this. I should know this. I had pogs. They were a game or something, right? Y-you pogged? Did we pog each other? Holy shit why did we buy so many circles of cardboard with pictures on them?
Imagine the child these pogs were made for. The bowl-cutted, overall-clad, ricket-afflicted boy sitting alone in a windblown field in central Canada cupping a soggy King Wheat pog, his most treasured possession. If I was making an arthouse film about hell that’s how I’d show you the Fate of the Unlearned — the section of limbo where good people who just never heard of Christ go, to suffer in the absence of something they never knew was missing.
Hey speaking of obscure parts of hell, imagine the poor freelance comic book artist who took this job and actually had to pen character arcs for barley. They sure knew their demographic, though. They didn’t call these things activity books:
They were called “Things To Do When You’re Bored Books” because they knew calling these sad time-killers “activities” would be an actionable false advertising claim. In Quebec they were called “La Mort De Ennui” and to this day Montreal existentialists write bitingly ironic ukulele songs about them for their six YouTube subscribers.
Those are your villains: The various molds and insects which can spoil a harvest. These are comic books for children about wheat fighting mold, and I don’t know a single better way to tell a kid that you lied when you said they could be anything they wanted. You could say “I’m sorry Young Callum, you’ll never be an astronaut. You’ll go to the University of Regina for two semesters, and then you’ll move back home and drive your daddy’s pickup truck when he dies,” or you could just give him a Saskatchewan Wheat Pool Adventurer’s Club membership and let his dreams wither naturally on the vine.
Look at these thrilling Things To Do When You’re Bored!
-Discover “the Mighty Sprout” in a powerful science project!
-Check out the “A-MAZE-ING” Wheat Story!
-See inside a seed cleaning plant!
Hand a boy these and he will forget all about hope. He probably won’t even dream in color anymore. If you toss a kid one of these books and he has an absolute blast “seeing inside a seed cleaning plant,” then you need to get out of the house, barricade the door, and burn it down. An alien has cuckoo-ed you and tricked you into raising their offspring. Young Callum is excited about learning these processes because you are the crop, and the harvest is coming.
Let’s explore another of my favorite things: Roll call time!
Wendy Wrangler is a country singer whose tunes ‘wrangle’ her opponents. Yeah, okay. That scans. Good work, anonymous Saskatchewan freelancer. Buy yourself a pint of Everclear and drink it straight, you earned it.
Fantastic Flax can “blend in like a chameleon,” which is… is it because you can mix flax into so many things and it just kind of disappears? I’m being very generous by doing that legwork for this comic book, but okay.
Now, following this template, what kind of powers would you say the Oat guy has?
Awesome Oats can see into the future? Like… oats, do? Is this why it’s impossible to get the drop on a bowl of oatmeal? Is it because the only reason people eat oatmeal is they have the foresight to realize they’ll struggle on the toilet later if they don’t? It is not explained!
Bearded Barley is from Asia! All of Asia. Still white, though. He can talk to animals! Like barley can! And his horses pull his chariot at the speed of light what the fuck? Where did that come from?
Maybe I’m not giving this writer enough credit and they’re sourcing these powers from Asian (non-specified) folklore about the ancient Barley gods, or maybe he only knew two things about crops and hoped everybody else knew less so they’d just roll with the horse stuff.
Canola Crusher is from South America! Like canola! That’s why all of his dialogue sees him slipping into and then clumsily explaining basic Spanish! (Spanish is what South Americans call Mexican. -Editor)
Penny Pulse uses the secrets of herbs and spices to heal, just like the Middle East taught her. The middle east of Ireland, by the looks of her. Yes, she harnesses all the exotic healing spices of Dublin, like “salt” and “fried.” To be fair, 1990s Saskatchewan wasn’t exactly brimming with diverse life models. It’s entirely possible they thought ‘redhead’ counted as a race.
Let’s jump over to the villains:
Grasshopper overeats, which is totally in line with the theme, but right at the very end they tack on “thinks he’s better than everybody.” You know, like those arrogant fucking grasshoppers.
Rustin infects plants with her corrosive touch, which makes sense — she’s supposed to be leaf rust — but then she’s also a super genius? You think leaf rust is smart? You think farmers hate leaf rust because it’s a liberal? This is a weird dig to slip into a children’s educational comic no matter how little respect you have for dirt folk.
Blotch is the natural enemy of Bearded Barley, which he communicates by threatening to “get my sticky disks into your beard.” I can only assume “disks” was a typo there. His bio goes on to explain he’s “a great athlete, but a jerk. He stays up too late at night!” I’m not sure what it adds to the character, that we now know Blotch likes to facefuck bears and also has a sleep disorder, but there was only enough space for like four sentences and these were deemed two of the most vital.
Ergot is a master hypnotist which — once again being super generous here — I guess could be an allusion to the hallucinogenic properties of ergot? Also she lies, cheats and steals just like that no good degenerate fungus. Oh, holy shit, wait: she replaces baby wheat kernels with her own evil children!
Your weird plantchild who loves the seed cleaning process – you’re being ergotted! Tell Young Callum to fetch his favorite toy (the shovel) from the basement and start pouring the gas. I know it’s hard to start over, but Lord knows it’s not your first fungusboy, and if you don’t plow and rotate the ashes it sure won’t be your last.
We’re so desperate for new comic book properties you’d assume the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool Adventurers would be slated for a September release on Disney+ already. But no, somehow they went under despite all of their massive early success:
23,000 members of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool Adventurers Club! That’s officially an army. A whole army of grainwashed children willing to die for your wheat consortium. And led by a madman so zealous he began to dress as King Wheat! What could have derailed this unstoppable phenomenon?
Nothing but a modest fee.
A grain conglomerate asked children for their attention — at a time when video games and television and just much better comic books existed — and by some miracle they got it. And then they also thought kids would pay for the privilege? $10 is an extremely modest fee, it’s true, but what family would get that bill and happily pay it just so junior would never again be without his seed cleaning plant tours? Only a family already ruled, absolutely devoured by Ergot Cuckoos could be tricked in this manner.
And if you were counting on the Ergot Brood’s loyalty in exchange for including Queen Ergot’s seed packets in every Things To Do When You’re Bored Book, then the joke’s on you: She cheats and lies! Like all rye-based fungus!
This article was brought to you by a hot tip from the Hot Dog Tipline, and by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme: Nick Ralston, also known as the heroic RADICAL RICE whose superpower, of course, is CYBORG FINGERS.