Captain Klutz is a comic strip character created in 1967 by Don Martin. He is a parody of superhero characters. The character originally saw print in a series of original paperback books done for the Mad magazine paperback line, not the magazine itself.
Ringo Fonebone was a hopelessly inept boy. He was utterly absorbed in reading comic books, to the point that he was kicked out of his parents' house, as well as a vocational school he tried to attend and a flophouse (the last expulsion left him in nothing but a set of red long johns and dotted boxer shorts). He realized what a mess his life was, and he tried to commit suicide by hanging himself. The towel he used as a rope broke. He fell to earth, inadvertently acquiring a mask (originally a woman's hat being thrown out by her irate husband), and finally crash-landed in the middle of a robbery, in long-johns, his "mask" and towel "cape", distracting the robber long enough for the police to capture him. The robber's angry exclamation, "Why, you klutz!," was taken by the dazed (and temporarily amnesiac) Ringo as his name, and he responded to the officers' questions regarding his identity with: "I'm...a klutz, captain." The police thought he had said he was "Captain Klutz."
Captain Klutz did not lead a luxurious life, being reduced to homelessness at various times. (In one adventure, "my new airy apartment" was a park bench; in another, he hoped an invention would give him super-speed, so he could get a pizza delivery job.) He was also utterly inept at crime-fighting (apparent clumsiness), being poor at deduction, easily misled, and naive. (An alleged "kung fu master" easily conned Klutz for phony "training" in martial arts.) He usually succeeded in capturing the bad guy in spite of himself.
His main ally was Police Chief O'Freenbean, and he fought a variety of enemies, including:
- Sissyman (a villainous mama's boy whose secret headquarters was in his mother's house; his weapons included an ice-cream gun)
- Comrade Stupidska
- Mervin the Mad Bomber (Captain Klutz tries to lure Mervin out of hiding by calling on a bevy of his loved ones, including family, friends, and the entire Norman Luboff Choir)
- Gorgonzola (a giant mechanical spider; Klutz defeats him by grabbing a leg and sticking it into an electrical socket)
- The Cackling Cockroach
Don Martin illustrated all the Captain Klutz stories. Numerous writers were credited for the stories. A listing of the stories, as well as the credited writers, follows.
The MAD Adventures of Captain Klutz (1967) Stories below uncredited; credited writers Dick DeBartolo, Phil Hahn, Jack Hanrahan, Don Martin
- The genesis of Captain Klutz.
- No master of disguise, Klutz wears a rabbit costume while undercover as a high school football player.
- "The Message"
- Klutz writes to Chief O'Freenbean in invisible ink.
- "Chicken Soup"
- "On The Elevator"
- A story of man versus spider.
- "Mervin the Mad Bomber"
- Klutz learns to think twice, before calling out the bomb squad.
MAD's Don Martin Carries On (1973)
- "The Man of 1,000 Faces (Give or Take 900)" written by Dick DeBartolo
MAD's Don Martin Steps Further Out (1975)
- "Kung Fu To You, Too!" written by Dick DeBartolo
MAD's Don Martin Forges Ahead (1977)
- "The Barfing Affair" written by Don Edwing
MAD's Don Martin Digs Deeper (1979)
- "The Gravest Show on Earth" written by Dick DeBartolo
MAD's Don Martin Grinds Ahead (1981)
- "The Cackling Cockroach" written by Don Martin
MAD's Don Martin Presents Captain Klutz II (1983)
- "To Brusha with Love" written by Don Edwing
- "The Klutz File" uncredited
- "Hollywood Whodunnit" written by Dick DeBartolo
- "The Sounds of Captain Klutz" and "The Klutz File" uncredited
- "Theme Song from Captain Klutz – The Book" written by Don Martin and Nick Meglin, music by Norm Blagman
- "The Klutz File", "Captain Klutz's Agendum for Secret Messages" and "Crimefighter's Corner" uncredited
- "The Major Catastrophe" written by Don Edwing
Additional writers: John Gibbons, Norma Martin, and Dick DeBartolo
MAD's Don Martin Sails Ahead (1986)
- "Klutzenstein" written by Don Edwing
Captain Klutz's adventures were featured in the following volumes:
- The MAD Adventures of Captain Klutz (Signet, 1967)
- MAD's Don Martin Presents Captain Klutz II (Warner Books, 1983)
Captain Klutz stories also appeared in the following Don Martin anthologies:
- MAD's Don Martin Carries On (Warner Books, 1973)
- MAD's Don Martin Steps Further Out (Warner Books, 1975)
- MAD's Don Martin Forges Ahead (Warner Books, 1977)
- MAD's Don Martin Digs Deeper (Warner Books, 1979)
- MAD's Don Martin Grinds Ahead (Warner Books, 1981)
- MAD's Don Martin Sails Ahead (Warner Books, 1986)