I CAN’T USE IT

Today being April Fools’ Day, and April being National Humor Month, I thought I’d write a funny post. The problem is that I’m having problems writing a funny post. Either the jokes I find are losers, or I don’t ‘get’ them (obviously, if I don’t get them, they can’t be funny), or they contain one or more of the seven words you can’t say on television (or mention on a family blog) — you remember, the 7 words comedian George Carlin warned us about back in the 70s:

Of course, you would hear every one of those words if you watched the above clip, so I can’t use it.

And then I thought about using this clip,

but….

So, I can’t use it.

Finally, out of desperation, I thought I’d call my neighbors, the Funnies, but they were out of desperation too. However, they did let me borrow yesterday’s newspaper containing these cartoons:

https://www.indystar.com/story/opinion/columnists/varvel/2018/03/25/cartoonist-gary-varvel-donald-trumps-past/456682002/

Now that, I can use.

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THE FLOCKS AND THE CROW, a play on Aesop’s fable THE FOX AND THE CROW

crow, v. To exult, esp. over another’s misfortune; to boast exultantly. –Webster’s New College Dictionary

You have no doubt heard many devotees of Donald Trump defend their support for America’s Crowmmander-In-Chief because “he says what he thinks” — as if such a character trait trumps all else as a Presidential prerequisite. Trust me: by that standard, a few of my in-laws are characters of sufficient grandiosity and shortness of breadth to be Prez. I declare, even Adolph Hitler (had he been born/raised here) might have ridden megalomania and bombastic B.S. to the White House. If drunk with power, no less a windbag than yours truly might rise to the occasion — Lord nose it’snot unthinkable.

My problem, however, is that I’m apt to think and think again before I crow what I think to my flock (otherwise, the by-line on my posts may as well be “by misterspews” instead of “by mistermuse“). Some might call this tendency over-thinking. Some might assert that was President Obama’s hangup. If so, then this guy certainly couldn’t cut it as President:

The Thinker by Rodin

The Thinker by Rodin

Well, then, shouldn’t we be seeking the fabled middle ground between extremes: under-thinking and over-thinking? But that smacks of compromise, and we certainly can’t have that.

What to do, what to do. Surely there must be a way to get ALL of what we want, if we’re foxy enough:

Any questions?

Any doubts?

Any rags?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DONALDO EL DUCKO

When I was growing up, my favorite Disney cartoon character was Donald Duck (known south of the border as Donaldo El Ducko). South of what border, you ask? It’s a borderline call. Anyway, back then, if you played word association and said “Donald,” chances are you’d get “Duck” in response. Today, if you said “Donald,” you’d probably get “Trump” in response (known without borders as Donaldo El Ego).

Good, old, irascible Donald Duck. None of that Mickey Mouse stuff for him. Donald has an attitude. He also has a “birthday” today. Quoting Wikipedia: Donald Duck first appeared in the 1934 cartoon The Wise Little Hen which was part of the Silly Symphonies series of theatrical cartoon shorts. The film’s release date of June 9 is officially recognized by the Walt Disney Company as Donald’s birthday.

To celebrate, here’s a 1949 cartoon marking Donald’s 15th birthday. I don’t know that it stands the test of time as well as some other animated cartoons of the period, perhaps partly due to it not being one of his best. In any event, it’s the most appropriate one for the occasion. Happy Birthday, Donald(o) (El) Duck(o)!

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED (CONCLUSION)

Although I didn’t realize it at the start, the 1933 magazine article on which I based my previous 3-part series (FUNNY ON PAPER) was the midpoint between the beginnings of the American comic strip in the early 1890s, and the end (mid 1970s) of the period covered by THE SMITHSONIAN COLLECTION OF NEWSPAPER COMICS. This post will summarize the second half of that period and conclude this Smithsonian-based series.

1934 saw the debut of three of the most successful strips in history: Al Capp’s L”il Abner, Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon and Milton Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates.

1935 is notable if for no other reason than the brief run (in the Hearst chain’s Sunday funnies section) of a comic fantasy strip titled Hejji by Dr. Seuss, Theodor Geisel. Seuss had previously done magazine cartoons and advertising drawings, and later, of course, became famous for his children’s books (Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Hoo, etc.).

1936 marks the debut of The Phantom, the first newspaper strip to introduce a secret-identity,  masked crime-fighter to a wide audience; according to comic strip historian Maurice Horn, it’s “the granddaddy of all costumed superheroes” (Superman debuted in 1938 in Action Comics, Batman in 1939 in Detective Comics).

In 1937, Al Capp started a second strip called Abbie ‘n’ Slats, and though it ran until 1971, it never attained the wide popularity of L’il Abner. To me, the year holds more trivia interest for a Jan. 17, 1937 comics page I own of THE SUNDAY OREGONIAN. On one side, beneath Dick Tracy and Winnie Winkle, is an advertisement strip for Super Suds titled DISHPAN HANDS HAUNTED HER in big red letters. Below the first panel, which depicts “Alice” wiping her brow over a dishpan full of dirty dishes, it states “IT WASN’T ONLY THAT DISHWASHING WAS TEDIOUS AND TIRESOME —  BUT EVEN BOB HAD NOTICED HOW RED AND ROUGH IT MADE ALICE’S HANDS. THEN…”  The next two panels have a woman telling Alice how she uses SUPER SUDS, and it saves hands, leaves no soap film and “washes so clean that you can just rinse and let dishes drain dry without wiping.” The next panel, “6 weeks later,” has Alice telling hubby Bob, “This big red box of SUPER SUDS costs only 10 cents, and look how much cleaner and brighter my dishes are!” To which Bob replies, “Since you’ve been using SUPER SUDS, your hands are as soft and white as the day we were married!” You gotta love it!

For the next strip of more than passing interest, we skip to 1948 and Walt Kelly’s Pogo, which began as a minor character in Animal Classics in 1943 before moving to newspaper format in the New York Star. Quoting Smithsonian, “In Pogo, humanized animals daily dramatized the idiosyncrasies of their human counterparts. The political spoofs for which the strip probably became best known in the mid-1950s had actually been implicit somewhat earlier.”

1950 drafted into service Beetle Bailey, the first of the strip successes of Mort Walker, and introduced Peanuts, the super-successful strip which creator Charles Schulz originally wanted to call L’il Folks. On a personal note, this is my oldest daughter’s favorite; she is a collector of all things Peanuts.

The 1960s ushered in, among others, The Wizard of Id (1964), and Doonesbury in Yale publications in 1968-69 before moving into national newspaper syndication in late 1970.

Enough!

 

 

 

FUNNY ON PAPER (PART THREE)

Comic strip

 The first two installments in this series were devoted primarily to statistics/the funnies’ business side (Part One) and profiles of two “colorful characters” (Part Two) of the 1933 comic strip world, based on a 1933 magazine article. Part Three will wrap up this article by asking you to imagine you’ve just awakened to find that you’re becoming a 1933 cartoon character, and you need to find out fast who your comics cohorts are, and what they’re up to.

So you’re looking to be filled in, but drawing a blank.
You wonder, “Am I still dreaming? Is this a prank?”
Relax, my good man/gal, you have nothing to fear —
You are among friends, as you can see here:

MUTT & JEFF
BARNEY GOOGLE
DICK TRACY
HAIRBREADTH HARRY
LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE

BOOB McNUTT
THE GUMPS
MOON MULLINS
GASOLINE ALLEY
WINNIE WINKLE

TARZAN
POLLY & HER PALS
KATZENJAMMER KIDS
KRAZY KAT
SKIPPY
BLONDIE

TOONERVILLE FOLKS
THE BUNGLE FAMILY
POPEYE
MAJOR HOOPLE (OUR BOARDING HOUSE)
MICKEY MOUSE

COUNT SCREWLOOSE
BUNKY
BUCK ROGERS
MAGGIE & JIGGS (BRINGING UP FATHER)
JOE PALOOKA

Alas, the 1933 magazine article assumes that its readers know all about these characters, and so we will have to turn elsewhere to find out what they’re up to. As it happens, your faithful correspondent owns exactly the elsewhere to turn to: a book titled THE SMITHSONIAN COLLECTION OF NEWSPAPER COMICS. That’s next.