Sunday, March 24, 2019

Political Newspaper Cartoons

For the longest time, I wondered why so many Newspapers hated the Comics Page, even though it was the most widely read feature, next to the front page.  It was only when viewing the vast backlog archives of Newspaper Comics that I gradually began to understand.  So much of it is a vast wasteland of repetition, and it was only recently that some rare gems managed to shine their brilliance through.  Newspaper Comics are really just a lure for the real meat of the Newspaper, which is to deliver... News.  What a concept!

A word of warning - reading multiple Newspaper Comics in one sitting is not conductive to your mental health.  There's a reason they're spaced out on a daily basis.

Interestingly enough, the political editorial comics that are an additional feature giving commentary to the latest world events are labeled... Cartoons.  Apart from the occasional drawing that's broken down into multiple panels, they're not stories following a continuous narrative, but reflecting on the events of the day.

With that tenuous explanation out of the way, one of the ironic things is that while Newspaper Comics may be widely loathed in the Editorial Circle, they also happen to provide some helpful shorthand in expressing certain themes to a wider audience.

This was back when Kim Campbell was the first Female Canadian Prime Minister... for about four 1/2 months.

One of the most common inside jokes is that Canadian News tends to be rather dull compared to what's going on elsewhere in the world.  Nowadays, I would kill to stop that particular Chinese Curse.  (Well, not literally, but that's the general feeling)  As proof, here's a non-comic related example:

You can get a general sense of what was going on around the at the same time some of these comics - I mean Cartoons - were published.

This one below, was printed shortly after Herman retired from the Funny Pages.

And this was after Blondie entered her Catering business.

Considering the ease of some of the simplistic designs, aping other Cartoonist's art styles is hardly a challenge.  It's a wonder it's not carried out more often.

One such stellar example I looked long and hard for was an unflattering cartoonish caricature of Brian Mulrooney done in the style of... well, I'll let the results speak for themself.  I could swear there was another one along similar lines, but have been unable to successfully find it thus far.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Forgotten Characters - Hagar's Secondary Characters

In the mid-90s, there were all kinds of wild experimentations done in Newspaper comics, the old guard throwing out all kinds of new tactics to deal with the sudden innovation and popularity of competitive strips and trying to figure out what would stick.  Most of them flailed about and didn't accomplish much, but it was still interesting to see them try.

One of these instances of creativity was the introduction to some minor characters to the cast of Hagar, starting with a Troll.






Apart from a trite Beauty & the Beast message, there wasn't anything that particularly stood out about Tyrone, and he only made one stock appearance later.

It was only then that I realized that what struck me as him looking so familiar was that his face was a random Don Martin character.

Another sporadic attempt was to give Lucky Eddie an inconspicuous pet.







All this is mere conjecture to set up what proved to be the most popular and long-lasting minor character thus far - a silent fire-breathing baby dragon.






At the end of this arc, where the baby dragon eventually wound up being Dr. Zook's pet, there was the appearance of another minor character who sporadically showed up - Gork.

But apart from having a Thor-like physique and being a potential suitor for Honi after her tryst with Tyrone the Troll, he was virtually indistinguishable from anybody else, and was quickly forgotten.

Speaking of Tyrone, if you look at his last appearance above, you'll see the baby dragon next to Dr. Zook.

Also, the gender of the baby dragon changed sporadically.  Some days, she would be a male, others a female.  Eventually, for the sake of variety, it was settled to be a girl, and all instances of mistaken gender identity were quickly forgotten.












As you can see, for most of the dailies, the baby dragon is a "he", but for the Sunday comic, "he" suddenly becomes a "she".  It was as if Chris Brown couldn't be bothered to remember the difference.





The majority of these strips were found in the later months of 1993, but the baby dragon started showing up less and less, only showing up one last time for a Sunday comic extravaganza to make up for all the other times she didn't appear.