The Trumpets They Play!

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Seymour and Knishkebibble flee from the Beast of Armageddon in "The Trumpets They Play!"

"The Trumpets They Play!" is an 8-page comic by Al Columbia. It was published in BLAB! #10 in 1998.


After an opening title card describing the coming feature as "Seymour Sunshine and Knishkebibble the Monkey-Boy's Big Budget Fiasco", the story begins with a televangelist reading aloud passages from the Book of Revelation describing the seven seals and seven trumpets, accompanied by topical illustrations. The preacher's broadcast is interrupted by a newsflash on the impending end of the millennium. The panel view zooms out slowly from the TV screen into a high-rise apartment and out of a window to reveal a panorama of debauchery, perversion, and random violence. In the background, a glowing meteorite (Wormwood) flies across the sky.

Meanwhile, Knishkebibble the Monkey-Boy is shown in another apartment reading the Book of Revelation. He decides to take a relaxing bath to ward off "pre-millennium jitters". However, while he is drawing his bath the meteorite strikes the earth, causing all the faucets in the bathroom to spew inky black liquid. Knishkebibble runs out of the bathroom and awakens his sleeping companion, Seymour Sunshine. Answering a knock at the door, Seymour and Knishkebibble are confronted by the giant armored locusts described in Revelation. Escaping the apartment, the two scramble across rooftops, leap into a conveniently placed roadster and drive away in haste.

The city is being ravaged by a massive earthquake and an army of grinning homunculi carrying long knives. As Seymour and Knishkebibble speed out of the collapsing metropolis, the beast from the sea is shown looming in the background. An army marching under the flag of the beast has taken over the world. Knishkebibble kisses the boots of an army officer and denounces Seymour, who is promptly seized. The seven-headed beast from the earth is shown seated on a throne towering over a crowd of men in white shirts and suspenders giving the Nazi salute, along with Knishkebibble and the televangelist. In the beast's palm, a pocketwatch labeled "Years of the Christian Era" approaches 2000. On the outskirts of the city, where mass executions by gun and guillotine are underway, Seymour sits with his limbs tied up and a lit stick of dynamite balanced on his head.

In the final page (the only one printed in full color) Seymour is shown in a dapper white dress suit and hat, happily frolicking alone in a bucolic paradise.

Critical reception[edit]

"The Trumpets They Play!" has been cited by critics as an outstanding work, both within Columbia's own output and within the comics medium generally.[1][2][3] In a 2002 essay on Columbia, Paul Gravett called it his "most alarming output yet ... a cartoon apocalypse, a black and white Fleischer Brothers animated film as designed by Hieronymus Bosch."[4]