Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Secret Services: Bureau of Extra-Dimensional Liabilities and Management

We're nearing the home stretch in my rundown of "Secret Services." Today's entry is the Bureau of Extra-Dimensional Liabilities and Management, better known as BEDLAM, from the pages of Todd Dezago and Craig Rousseau's The Perhapanauts.

The Secret Services I've run down so far have come from a pretty wide variety of comics, books, tv series, anime, and games, but of all of them The Perhapanauts is perhaps the most fun. This is not a dark and serious book, by any means.

Back in 2003, Todd and Craig produced The Perhapanauts: Dossier, a 24-page xeroxed-and-stapled "ashcan" run of 500 copies, that they sold at conventions and online. Dezago, perhaps best known for his creator-owned series Tellos (with Mike Wieringo), and Rousseau, who'd done some terrific work for DC, said in interviews at the time that they weren't interested in shopping the book around to publishers, but were happy to do it themselves, without any interference or influence. Here's how Dezago described the book at the time:
The Perhapanauts is kind of a cross between Men in Black, Mission: Impossible, and...uh, The Simpsons. The idea is that they are agents for an organization called BEDLAM - Bureau of ExtraDimensional Liabilities and Maintenance - and the police the boundaries of ours, and others’ realities.

”When a tear occurs in any of the dimensional barriers--allowing your bigfoots, your loch ness monsters, your chupacabra through--these are the guys who are called to stuff 'em back in and seal up the rift. That sounds like fun. To make things a little trickier, most of the team is comprised of some of the very creatures and cryptozoological entities that they are sent to confront. That's even more fun. Like, we've got a Bigfoot. And a Chupacabra. And a ghost. And...well, I don't want to wreck it... Plus, when they're home (at the Bedlam facility) they fall into typical family sitcom mode. That's fun times a hundred!”

The dossier introduced the Bureau of Extra-Dimensional Liabilities and Management (BEDLAM), and its agents, the Perhapanauts. There was Molly MacAllistar, a revenant (that is, a ghost); Arisa Hines, a psi-active with telepathy, telekinesis, and precognition; Sasquatch, aka Yeti, aka Bigfoot, aka Big, who had been gifted with genius-level intelligence through the use of an "Evolvo-Ray"; Chupacabra, aka Goatsucker, aka Choopie, who had been gifted with not-quite-genius-level intelligence the same way; and MG, a mysterious figure able to traverse dimensional boundaries at will.

Together, the Perhapanauts investigate the strange. Or, as the official site has it...
There are places in this world where the fabric of reality has worn thin, where strange and terrible creatures have crossed over to lurk in the shadows and the night.

There is an organization dedicated to finding these creatures and sending them back whence they came, sealing the rift behind them, and maintaining the integrity of those borders.

The organization is called BEDLAM. Its agents are...The PERHAPANAUTS!

You can think of BEDLAM and the Perhapanauts as lying somewhere between BPRD and Section Zero, but with a light touch and an "All Ages" attitude.

After the Dossier ashcan and a sketchbook, Todd and Craig produced a self-published full-color comic (on newsprint, no less!), The Perhapanauts not gigantic color special. Then the book was picked up by Dark Horse, who published two four-issue miniseries, The Perhapanauts: First Blood and The Perhapanauts: Second Chances. The idea was clearly do follow the same "series of miniseries" approach that's worked well for Hellboy and BPRD. For whatever reason, though, the creators were reportedly unhappy at Dark Horse, and after the second miniseries wrapped announced that they were moving the book to Image (who already had started publishing another "Secret Services" series, Proof, about which more soon).

The first four issues of the Image series have been released, with a fifth due to be released soon. There are trades available of the first two Dark Horse series, and another on the way collecting the Image issues to date. If you find appealing the idea of an all-ages light-sf book about a team of monsters and ghosts who guard the boundaries of reality (and really, who wouldn't?), you should definitely check it out.


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