Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Not Quite a Pet Peeve: Off-Colour Comics

This week's Sunday For Better or for Worse rerun gave us this little ditty with Elly's inconvenience with store clerks taking their time on the job.

This is very different from the first printing where the employee had much more makeup and blush on.  In addition, Elly's embarassment is much more pronounced in the last panel.

This wasn't the only instance of a reprint having less impactful colouring, as these two strips can contest.

In fact, a large majority of For Better or for Worse Sunday reprints have had a particular amount of toned-down appearance that makes them less dramatic than usual.

As you can tell, quite a lot of it comes from the characters screaming at each other.  For the longest time, I thought this was typically normal behavior.

It was suggested that Lynn Johnson was suffering from some kind of colour blindness for appealing for Magenta and Turquoise which would've accounted for her bizarre taste of mishmash of fancy words that actually look ugly.

However, that wouldn't account for the various previous Sunday comics where her stand-in family would constantly display sudden rushes of blood to the head that were less unsettling than Emily Carroll's His Face All Red.

There have been complaints about reprints of old material given a glossy shiny look that looks unappealing to long-time readers of newsprint comics on lousy paper, and those complaints aren't unjustified.  The paper can be too shiny, resulting in having to constantly tilt the book so the glare doesn't get in your eyes, and the colouring can be garish compared to the earlier toned-down appearance.  On the plus side, the new reprints give Lawrence a healthier shade of brown than his whitewashed earlier version.

This isn't solely limited to FBOFW, but other newspaper comics as well, where records weren't as meticulous in their archival collections as others.

The wife's expression above seems more intense than the one below.  I wonder why?

At first, I thought this one was a misprint in the first Herman Sunday collection, giving the prehistoric man a Bravehart-like tint, but I've got the Sunday comic in question, and it actually appears like that.  It was faithful to its source material.

This isn't the only caveman to be cast in a strange light.  An odd deciption of Wily from BC (Found at another intensive Sunday Comics blog here) can be seen.

This would be akin to those instances where first depictions of cartoon characters such as Wayland Smithers (Black), Vegeta (a natural Redhead) were mistaken first impressions later corrected in later versions. However, all previous initerations of the curmogodeon peg-legged water hater poet have shown him to be as pale as his brethen.

Despite the misgivings these comics might have in being incorrectly portrayed, they provide an interesting contrast to the regular colour schematics of cartoon characters, and provide an alternate vision of what it must be like for someone with colour blindness.

The Flintstones are some of the most iconic cartoon characters despite their formulatic upbringings.  So when it came to being adapted to the comics page, how were they portrayed?  Not with Fred's Orange outfit, and Barney's Brown suit.  Instead, they opted to present them as blue and orange.  The women Betty and Wilma were known for being in Blue and White, which is almost impossible to mess up.  Instead they showed themselves in basic orange and black.  With tiger stripes yet!  (Apparently, Black Pearls are rarer and more expensive, which wouldn't lie with their anachronistic domestic appearance) Whether this was to present a more attractive design for the funny pages is up in the air for consideration.

A random sampling shows the women's dresses changes colours and outfits almost interchangeably.

One thing I've noticed about these Flintstones comics is how many of them end with confrontations with large dinosaur creatures.

In some cases, the warped colour can give a whole new meaning to the background, giving previously passive elements a whole new flavor.  In this Baby Blues, it looks like the father's hair is being drained away as he thinks of his past.

In this Herman, it looks like the boss is gradually becoming greyer, eventually revealing his true nature underneath.

When I first saw this Hi & Lois comic, I thought that Dot intentionally placed a plastic apple that Trixie couldn't eat, since she picked up the same pink apple.

This Garfield comic is an interesting study in contrasts.  For years, I thought this was another iteration of Odie, who'd suddenly jumped owners from Lyman (who originally owned him) to this cute girl, and the two of them shared a history that was never explained or expanded on.  It was only years later that I found out the original colour schematics for this dog were brown.  Draw your own conclusions here.

It turns out that a large majority of Garfield strips staring Odie turn out the be tonetically weird.

When it comes to portraying crowd scenes, the American comic book had tendencies to go the quick and dirty method by using pale colour schemes among crowd scenes to save time and energy of having to go through colourizing every individual person.

At times, colour can have the element of portraying a prevalent mood throughout.  The very first Asterix book had scenes where entire characters were coloured a deep shade of red or purple depending on their feelings at the time.  This was only shown in the first album, and was never repeated in subsequent books.

Some more miscellaneous comics that I can't think of enough of a clever summary for:

At the time of this strip, Cliff Robertson was still alive.  I suppose the Star Phone also works for actors who everybody thinks are dead, since they haven't been in the spotlight for a long time.
Here's one last bonus - a FBOFW that appeared on July 19, 1986.  If the reprint shows Elizabeth to be less upset than in the throwaway panels, you'll know what was overlooked.  Feel free to make your complaints where applicable.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

More Synchroneity

Last time, I had some side-by-side comparisons of two thematically similar characters interacting with each other.  Since then, I've noticed some more eerie similarities with others I've seen and read.

In the early 90s, we were treated to a new Golden Age of animation from Disney, as well as a new supporting character in platforming Video Games who would eventually get his own title and different gameplay mechanics.  In both cases, the both of them were gluttons for punishment.  I'm talking of course, of Wario from Super Mario Land 2 and Chef Louie from The Little Mermaid (who also had a chase episode against Sebastein in Raw Toonage).

On one side of the Pacific, we have a weight-obsessed fashion-conscious shoe-shopping woman with minimalist art, Cathy.  On the other, we've got a Goth-obsessed young girl who's traumatized at the prospect of having to live a normal life, and is usually portrayed in a minimalist Chibi mode, Sunako from The Wallflower / Perfect Girl Evolution.

Going along the field of dramatic pompous old men, we've got the major antagonist for over half of Akagi, Iwao Washizu and the former prosecutor in Phoenix Wright, Manfred von Karma.  I would've liked to show the former with his full poofy outfit, but couldn't find one without too much distracting background action.

While we're talking about Video games, there's Baran, the Dragon General from the Dragon Quest Manga, largely influenced by DragonBall the "Best Shonen Manga in the Universe".  On the S-hero front, there's Omni-Man, from Invincible the "'Best Superhero comic in the Universe". Both men started off as heroes, then were guided towards the path of evil, and then after a confrontation with their sons, gradually gravitated over to the side of good.  It probably has something to do with the mustache.

Next, here's two war generals whose noble battle philosophy is based on hatred.  Den from Battle Angel Alita and Megatron from Transformers.  As an aside, now that Kodansha is no longer publishing the latest Alita volumes with variations of 'Angel' in their titles, they passed up the chance to name their last volume "Earth Angel".

When it comes to portraying Mad Scientists, such as Autobot WheelJack, and Shinigami Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi, the Japanese seem to have a tendency to have them portrayed with protruding spiral headgear for some reason.

Next on the list are anti-heros who're pretentious blowhards, Namor the Submariner and Vegeta need no further introduction.  And despite their outright condemnation of everybody being beneath their notice, are quite popular with the ladies.

Going into slightly obscure territory, here's two comatose tongue-dangling mascots; Fletcher from Something Queer is Going on, and Bill the Cat from Bloom County.

Lastly, there's the protagonist of Italian Noir Funny Animals comic that even haters of Furries (who've been unfairly bashed in the media) enjoy, Blacksad.  And a former antagonist turned ally from Fairy Tail, Panther Lily.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Duffy Vs. his Computer

It's been a long time since I've posted any Duffy around here, so I'm going to circumvent to demand where none existed.  Some of these were from my first entry on the comic, but they're still at the reduced size (which I haven't bothered to go back and edit), so you don't have to feel ripped off.

While browsing several online newspapers, I came across one that had a scant scattering of various Duffy comics - only two weeks worth.  There was one standalone strip that seemed relevant here:

Already, we're treated to the internal thoughts of an overly obese piece of hardware that has nothing but contempt for the large figure pressing his blobby fingers all over its keyboard.  In addition, the monitor has all the disposition reminiscent of a 1.0 version of Bender from Futurama.  Obviously, this is not going to be a mutual working relationship.

It's difficult working properly with a machine that seems almost malicious in its programming.  Any electronic device that has ready access to your personal information is pretty much just asking for trouble.
 In the rare cases where the machine actually goes out of its way to be helpful, it feels more like mocking than beneficial.  It's as if it's saying it knows more than the slow-thinking bags of flesh sitting across the screen... which isn't too far off the mark.

This style of displaying information in a disconnected monotone manner is only slightly less annoying than the excitable "helpful" Word paperclip icon.  (If I've brought up any long repressed memories that're better left forgotten, I apologize)
And when it actually goes through with the proper requests, it goes out of its way to take its time with compiling the order.  This was back in the days when computers would make funny noises while compiling code in order to ease the minds of writers pining for the days of typewriter clacking sounds.

Usually in these cases, the wise move would be to go to a computer repairman to get past these annoying features that seem less the result of a trojan virus, and more of an ingrained prejudice against the man trying to make the office machine work.  It doesn't help.
Interestingly enough, almost all these comics are displayed in reverse chronological order.  When read backwards, they provide a continuous narrative of escalating conflict resulting in an inevitable conclusion:
Just remember, computers "falling against the wall" is the technological equivalent of "falling down the stairs into a boxful of doorknobs".  If you suspect someone engaging in mechanical abuse, go see a respectable technician.  There are better ways to vent your frustrations than punching your fist through them, but I'll be damned if I know what they are.