Sunday, March 11, 2018

Pet Peeves: Incomplete Foreign Reprints

When it comes to reprinting comics, the Foreign comics market seems more willing to accept higher quality attractive formats for their collection than the American market.  Sometimes resulting in omnibus packages that are cheaper and more comprehensive than the English version.  Don Martin is one of the great influential MAD comic artists, his sophisticated sense of weirdness and sound effects that played tribute to the slapstick silent movies of the era.  His style doubtlessly had a great influence on Jim Unger's Herman.  Go ahead, compare the two.  Prove me wrong.

However, for their bargain styles, they're still capable of making silly mistakes, as this translated book of The Completely MAD Don Martin shows.  All samples are from the first volume.

The very first instance shows up on page 100, where the last balloon for the Sculptor is left blank.  It Should read, "And remember!  One more time sleeping on the job... and you’re fired!!"  Only, you know, in French.

The next instance is where a hitchhiker decides to inflate himself up for no good reason.  That reason being that the sign on his suitcase is supposed to say "California or Bust".

In other instances, they were inconsistent or incomplete with the building signs.  The Danger! Construction sign was left in English here, but left out in other panels, and didn't even bother to replace the text.  Something similar happened in an earlier comic at the beach where the Men's restroom sign was cast in New Times Roman font for the first page, but left alone for the second page.

Likewise, the book the nervous guy's reading is "Mafia Tales".

But this is by far the biggest offender.  Pretty much Every Sound Effect, save the last panel is left out or missing.  Here's how it Should look:

Having these comedic masterpieces made available is admirable, but they could stand to use another proofreading.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Facing Problems Head On

Recently, there was a twitter that pointed out the uncanny valley that exists in the brief moment where Simpsons characters turn their heads to the other side:

For some reason, it usually happens during that most embarrassing moment of blinking while taking photos for your driver's license or yearbook.

There are some exceptions, when it's intended for the camera to linger on their face, such as Dr. Hibbert asking if anybody could figure out who shot Mr. Burns.  (Can you?)  Personally, I'm a bigger fan of the more visible animation mistake where their mouths would be facing away, resulting in wonky faces looking in two directions at once.

As it turns out, the Simpsons is hardly original in this field.  Pretty much every cartoon character is plagued with limited facial design that isn't fully developed beyond the minimalist easy-to-copy sketch image that falls apart under scrutiny.

This is reminiscent of the unusual proportions of Akagi, who looked perfectly normal head on, but had an awkward jutting chin, just like everybody else in the Fukumotoverse.  There's a reason why the most virulent defenders of adhering to artist's production keep showing their characters at a three-quarters view, not only because it's easier to keep their looks consistent, but also to avoid uncanny mistakes that'll result when the animation sheets fail to consider the inbetween moment when they fall outside that norm, since their whole model falls apart if you stare too long.  There's the old joke of actors telling the camera to "capture their good side", which approximately works here.

This could explain why there was so much resistance to 3-D animation, not only because it was a new field that threatened the old production model, and reduced the chance for those amusing stretch-and-squash animation blurs, but also because it increased the chance of emphasizing problems of the cartoon characters approaching a level closer to reality that was never intended.  I'm reminded of Boulet's 24 hour comic showing the technological problems of having Popeye face the camera full on.  They don't actually show up until halfway through, but they're all gold.

Eventually, a 3-D cartoon of Popeye AND Peanuts was successfully rendered, bypassing the lumpy design of Popeye's face by de-emphasizing the bulge of his jawline.  It's not only iconic cartoon characters who fall prey to this, but Manga characters have certain unusual properties that don't directly apply elsewhere.

Ironically enough, the one character who exemplifies the sideways Manga Mouth naturally would be Cerebus the Aardvark, who's quite capable of speaking out of both sides of his mouth.  Here's an instance of him eating normally, which involves chewing sideways.

And here he is again, in a rare moment of silence in the otherwise wordy epic at the climax of Church & State II.  There's no open line separating the boundary underneath that hefty snout of his.

Given the lazy shortcut that WebArtists and budding cartoonists adhere to in looking for the next doodle that'll make their big hit, this is a problem that's not going to go away anytime soon.  The alternative would be to create a comprehensive model sheet that'd capture every possible facial muscle and perspective as seen from any angle, which would cut down on their creativity, and who has the time?  How often does Lackadaisy update anyways?  (Okay, every page is an artistic masterpiece, but still)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Opening New Members Into The Fridge Door

Last time, Noodle's noodles were despondent with the absence of their alien worm friend.  So the raccoon tries to pass off a close substitute as a passable replacement.

But like the sudden popularity of Popeye, you can't keep a good ensemble character down for long.

A large portion of the Fridge Door was taken up by letters of stories and jokes written by children.

You can try to read the notes the children wrote on the Fridge Door, but I wouldn't recommend it.  Personally, I didn't find them intellectually stimulating.

For years, I had trouble telling stories because the ones the children wrote were so sub-par that I had no relatable frame of reference to apply to.  Sure, they're written by Children, but I still demanded better quality entertainment even back then.

For that reason, I've left the majority of them off, focusing more on the Raccoon comics.  But I still felt the need to capture whole parts of some pages if only to see how it started, leaving my curiosity sated.

This might seem like a bare entry, but that's only because the comic that comes right after better fits the theme for next month.  Until then, stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Pelé The King of Soccer

There are all kinds of ways that someone can become a facial ambassador from another country.  It can be the passionate arguments made in favor of their way of living and right to live.  It can be the portrayal from entertainment media that's not available elsewhere.  And it can be from being extremely proficient in a sport.  For Edson Arantes do Nascimento, this certainly was the role he would grow into.  For those of us who aren't big sports trivia buffs for overly long names, that's the original monkier for Pelé.

All I knew about Pelé was that he was this great soccer player who in a Gordon Korman book, was compared to moving "like the ball was glued to his feet".  I had no idea he was Brazilian.  I had no idea he was inspired by his country's loss in the World cup.  I had no idea he was traded to an American team later in his career.  I had no idea he would always find time to play around with kids in their soccer games.  The comic bio written by Eddy Simon and illustrated by Vincent Brascaglia is a good primer into giving us the highlights of his life story.

Starting out from his humble beginnings where he started out by playing with a ball made out of bundled clothes because they couldn't afford an actual ball.  his father gave stern but effective practice drills at handling the ball, including bouncing it off his head with his eyes open, so he'd be accustomed to not blinking when it came zooming his direction.

Interestingly enough, all his chapter divisions have him facing away from the reader, looking towards a future that only he could see.  Over the course of his defining career, he scored over a thousand goals, which is considerably impressive, since Soccer isn't normally a game noted for racking up high scores.

I'm including these two pages early on in Pelé's childhood, for the simple rapport between his blooming soccer skills and his father's attitude towards same.

At an age where Martin Luther King and Malcolm X only got one movie, more Black representation of positive role models is needed, and you can hardly find one more inspiring than Pelé.  (Save his cheating on his wife.  Intermartial affairs seem to be a reoccurring trait in athletes, and even he wasn't immune)  If there is a demerit, it's that the cover fails to convey the artwork inside.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Appealing to the Gods

In the world of Broom Hilda, Magic is an accepted commodity with the existence of a 1500 year-old witch.  So the presence of talking figures in the clouds isn't exactly a common factor you'd expect to come across.

And yet, the faceless Powers that Be made infrequent reoccurring appearances with the regular cast of Broom Hilda.  Broomie wisely opted out after hearing her complaints voiced out beforehand.  Gaylord in contrast seeks more conventional knowledge.  Going to the fount of impeccable logic only to be met with a resounding answer of equal profoundity.

In contrast, the last member of the group, Irwin simply goes for the simplest method possible that even the Gods couldn't see coming.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Weird Romance - Lyle Lion's Girls

One of the problems with exploring age-old properties is that oftentimes they display problematic morals values dissonance that doesn't play right with a world that's mostly moved on.  It can be the unfairly racist caricatures of background characters.  It can be the usage of unfortunate obscure slang that had different meaning back then.  And it can be the portrayal of relations regarding women.

In this age of #MeToo of women calling out their sexual abuse at the hands of men in positions of power that they were helpless to refuse, such Woody Allen types are no longer in vogue.  Particularly the persistent type that feels entitled to have the object of their desire accept their unwanted advances, having been spoiled by the likes of Steve Urkel who expect their crushes to fall all over their rightful obsessions.

When Animal Crackers started out, it wasn't exactly breaking new ground, but playing on the same tried and true conventions of typical Newspaper comics that would define what little quality it had.

Basically furthering the notion that women were little more than the ultimate trophy prize to reward them for all their struggle they'd work so hard for.  Also supporting the myth that these women lusting after these jerky athletes are only looking at the surface, and not appreciating the obvious future catch of these unappreciated nerds with their sensitivity underneath.  Nevermind the sheer hypocrisy of their ignoring anyone who'd like them for what they are.  "I deserve the hot one!"

Clearly, this could be avoided by just listening to the women in the first place instead of unsuccessfully mindreading what their thoughts and needs are through reductionist media.  But that takes effort, and who has the time?

This is the first appearance of Lyle's rival, Lance L. Lion, who's just three letters removed from being as egotistical as J. Jonah Jameson, and one letter too long for being a Superman background character.
The dominance of a Lion over his tribe is constantly threatened by the younger generation, so the elder will wean out the competition by indiscreetly murdering the babies of the last parent who was in charge.  Nowadays, we are a more civilized nation, but I'm sure we can all agree that Lance could've used some natural selection of his own.
Most cartoon characters have the dint of having some sort of appeal, but Lance has no redeeming qualities.  He's a one-note character, and not even a good one.
He puts down Lyle at every opportunity, emasculating him at every turn.  He shows no respect for women, save that they're available for easy dates.  He's constantly smoking cigars and wears gold chains.
If you recall, the tally for the number of times Lyle unsuccessfully asked Lana out was a mere 493 times.  However, this appeared in 1981, while the former Sunday comic strip appeared in 1983, so the number actually went down for anybody paying attention.
Right off on being told that his competition is horning in on his inaction, Lyle starts tailing the couple clear out in the open.  Stealth check failed.
After multiple failed attempts to stalk Lana's date, Rog Bollen apparently felt bored or sorry enough to throw the hapless underdog Lion a bone his direction with a whole new spontaneous love interest.
Normally, in these situations, the male is easily too intimidated in the presence of a Maniac Pixie Girl who can be overwhelming and overbearing.  However, Lyle sees no problem in getting free and easy praise where he normally found none.
Considering how affectionate Lisa is towards Lyle, there's no reason for him to ever want to go back, so why would he ever want to go out with Lana ever again?  He's probably doing it out of the kindness of his heart, so she won't wonder what happened to him.
If Lyle's intent was to make Lana jealous, then mission accomplished.
So what does a spurned girl do?  Engage in passive-aggressive gossip and become insufferable to the environment around them.  That's what all women do, right?
And deny that anything is wrong with them.
"I demand that Lyle ask me out three more times!  My OCD demands it!"
After enough self-pitying from the rather unsympathetic Lana, we finally get some screentime with Lyle and his new hottie.
... for about one day before shifting attention elsewhere.
Our first hint that there might be trouble in paradise.  Even though Lyle is perfectly content, Lance simply can't help digging his grubby paws in every openly willing female available.  And then the scene suddenly shifts back to Lana, as if her moping hadn't been played out enough already.
Strangely enough, there's a whole three weeks before the story decides to come back to Lance finding a sudden interest in Lyle's new girlfriend.  The above strip was in August 29, and the bottom is September 18.
Surprisingly enough, throughout all this, even though this is Lyle's big moment, we hardly ever see much interaction between him and Lisa.  Well, we'd better rectify that situation right now!
In case it's not entirely clear above, Lyle's arm is stiff from putting his arm over Lisa's back/shoulder for such a long time, hence the 'stars' of pain in the last panel.
And then the two spotlight stealers wind up meeting each other from clear across the blank expanse.  It's not even done with the intent of making his ex-unGirlfriend jealous - they just happen to be in the same vicinity.  That's the problem with having a Maniac Pixie Girlfriend - they're particularly fickle and prone to listening to their compulsive instincts.  One possible interpretation is that Lana did this on purpose, but here expression says otherwise, as if she's realizing she may have made a horrible horrible mistake.
 So things revert back to the ol' status quo, just as intended all along.  This is the longest Animal Crackers storyline ever, and it's mainly regulated to keeping sex symbols in their rightful state.  Some comics simply aren't worth the paper they were printed on.