Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cerebus Dreams II

On Moment of Cerebus, the question came up of whether there would ever be a comprehensive collection of all the alternate comics and short stories that while not shown in the regular 16 phone book albums, were still entertaining in their right.  Everything ranging from the five missing issues (#51, #112-113 and most of #137-138) to supplementary stuff only seen in the issues (ElfGuest) to the various fancomics when Cerebus was starting out and was at the peak of its popularity among Indy cartoonists.  (Particularly the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover which could have some copyright issues)  Then there's the colourized silent specials for various anthology magazines and a two-page redraw of an early conversation with the Regency Elf, no to mention the numerous ad promotions, fancomics, editorial feedback and numerous head-sketch parodies of the Aardvark in various disguises.

While most of the above can be found with some creative searching on the few websites devoted to the maddening comic, there's one that's remained elusive despite it being indirectly tied to the Cerebus narrative.  That would be Cerebus Dreams II (no relation to the first, which was fittingly drawn by Conan artist, Barry Windsor-Smith), originally printed in the headache-inducing Aardvark Vanaheim in 3D before being reprinted years later (in a more understandable format) in the 10th issue of Following Cerebus.

Dream imagery is a large part of the Cerebus mythos, with imagery and runaway narrative taking place against the backdrop of what's happened before, but that wouldn't show up until later.  On its own, there's nothing particularly interesting about it.  Cerebus floats past some weird objects while suspended in perpetual free-fall with the maddening association of dream logic.  What may not be apparent upon first sight is that it's actually a reimagining of this scene from the first part of Church & State:

This may be easily passed over by many readers who aren't used to cursive prose, especially if they're impatient at "getting to the action", and isn't relevant to the rest of the plot, so I'll break it down in the following:

Most Holly: Cerebus had a dream last night.  Cerebus was flying over this body of water and there were these doors all around him, just sort of floating above the water.

Up ahead, Cerebus could see this stone column sticking up out of the water and Cerebus flew toward it.  When Cerebus got to it, the water had risen almost to the top.  There was this stone post and on the post was a box and in the box was a crown.  Cerebus tried to grab the crown but a gust of wind came up and blew Cerebus away.  Then Cerebus was blown against this big glass door and it broke and Cerebus was stuck.

Then the glass door started floating back towards the stone column which turned out to be a statue of Cerebus.  Cerebus kept trying to get out, but he was stuck.

As Cerebus got closer to the statue, it started to crumble to pieces.  Cerebus thought he was either going to be crushed by one of the falling chunks or squeezed against the statue's forehead.

Muffin: And what happened Great Cerebus?
Most Holy: Cerebus woke up with a craving for raw potatoes and onion soup.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Wonderful Life Sequel

It's been announced that they're thinking of making an unnecessary sequel to the Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life.  Hollywood is never one to let go of a good idea once it's been proven at the Box Office (despite hating anything new until it makes money) with runaway repeat successes such as Home Alone, Indiana Jones, Die Hard, the Disney straight-to-video Cheapquels and pretty much every horror movie ever made.  This also includes sequels to movies that finished their stories and had no reason to continue, such as Gone With the Wind and A Christmas Story.  I haven't even bothered to even look at these, because these latest additions would just destroy whatever I loved about these classic movies in the first place.  You'd think that given how violently audiences react to seeing their favorite characters blatantly vandalized onscreen, they would  learn from these lessons and start to question their tastes, thus seeking out alternate entertainment elsewhere, but that's never been the case.  Hence why Hollywood keeps seeking out reinventing the same stories over and over again to the point where they've got a checklist for making sure movies hit the same high points down to the minute.  Spunky down-on-their-luck underdog hero?  Check!  Contrived setup for potential conflict?  Check!  MacGuffin to be reintroduced later?  Check!  Love interest?  Check!  Proving the hero's dubious ability?  Check!  Training montage?  Check!  Chase scene?  Check!  Reveal of hero's actual worth?  Check!  Moment of self-doubt?  Check!  Dragging hero out of self-pity?  Check!  Renewed hero's triumphant return?  Check!  Villain's defeat?  Check!  Happy End?  Checkaroonie!

At this point, other than stealing creative properties in other countries and passing them off as their own, having already strip-mined everything worth condensing into easy-to-digest 90 minute plot beats of the above, the only other recourse is to combine popular movies with each other.  Pretty much any movie pitch is something along the lines of "It's Mary Poppins meets Chinatown!" (Who Framed Roger Rabbit) which is basically X meets Y and sometimes Z if the plot is slightly more complicated.  Fortunately (or unfortunately as the case may be) the movie was already ruined as a sequel in 1990 as a comic crossover.  Which leads the question: who would be the most logical pop culture icon to interfere with the main protagonist of It's a Wonderful Life?

Who else but an Arnold Schwarzenegger pastiche in a Copyright parody combination of Robocop and the Terminator going back in time to prevent horribly awful circumstances from getting worse.  This is already miles ahead of the concept of using Grandma Zuzu as a new Guardian Angel for inspirational advice.  How much worse could things get from that point other than a greasy wet spot on the sidewalk?  If you thought that scenario was bleak, you haven't seen anything yet.

It's fifty years in the future, and the bad guy from the first movie, Old Man Potter is somehow STILL alive to create a drain on the town's finances for his personal gain.  As is typical of Corrupt Corporate Executives, the repercussions for such selfish instant gratification has negative consequences upon the populace that won't affect his hard-won income long after he's dead.  Assuming he's not hiding away in a nuclear-proof bunker, that's pretty much what the monologue is suggesting here.

So with this horror movie summary that's been entirely missed due to his deafness, this somehow manages to serve as an inspirational message for George Bailey...

...except that's not really why the Robonator© came back in time.  He figured that the best way to save the deficient Savings & Loan was not by giving knowledge of helpful financial advice for the future, but making sure the inspirational character died a proper death.  That is unless of course, the insurance company is owned by Old Man Potter who'd go out of his way to make sure the money never reaches the Bailey family, based on the dubious claim that George Bailey was really shot in the back, when the more likely scenario would be that he was tossing a gun on the roof when the pistol overshot his line of sight, fell behind him and misfired, shooting him in the small of the back.  Given how unscrupulous insurance companies are about ever giving out money to their customers, this isn't an implausible outcome.  Leave it to a pessimistic optimist nihilist (i.e., me)  to find the cloudy silver lining in an already depressing cloud.

I guess that kind of message could make it something of a hard sell in Hollywood.  Looks like we won't be getting a live-action version of this comic made.  Bummer.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Comic News Summaries

One of the things I regret that other countries have more of that we don't is the news summarized up in comics.  Taiwan has their insane Sims-based version of the news and Japan is known to have the headlines converted into Manga.  The closest we've got to that are editorial cartoons, which can give the public reaction to the subject, but not really give any context to the material in question.  Unless you're already familiar with the latest hype, much of what's being shown may not make much sense, especially if they're seen years later after the shock has worn off and the world has forgotten what's happened.  Fortunately, there's still other comics that I'm reminded of that perfectly parallel these kinds of situations.  Unfortunately, these incidents happen rarely, so I have to take opportunity of the chance when it happens.

Just recently, there was some controversy over a news announcer who proudly proclaimed that the appearance of a Black Santa was an aberration.  (Equally disingenuous along those lines is the claim that Jesus was White, when it's more likely that his skin was more likely to be darker given the region he was in, before becoming whitewashed into the Hippie-Boy we know today.)  To further add to the controversy, there was an Indiana University that had a Jazz-playing Black Santa on a bulletin board with questioning statements of whether such a person would be suitable for the job, inferring that a Black man would be more likely to visit the Ghetto and steal your valuables.

Such a broad claim is arbitrary when it's more likely that potential thieves are more likely to be white, since no one would think twice about a suspicious festive man with a loaded sack of gifts.  After all, who do you think is more likely to be stopped on in the streets?

Then there was the harrowing tale of Sexual Harassment at a Comic Convention where a female comic creator was routinely hit on and put down by a fellow male comic creator.  I suspect the amount of natural teasing (which has never felt natural to me) is so ingrained in male mentality that their offensive treatment towards women is their default setting.  As has often been pointed out, their passive-aggressive hostile behavior would be considered completely inappropriate if vented towards men.  You never hear of male CEOs being described by the kind of suit they wear, but that double standard is always used to describe a female power figure.  Sadly, this isn't the exception to the rule.  There have been untold accounts of men blatantly attempting unforward advances towards the fairer sex while casually dismissing their work as inferior and any claim of abuse as being completely irrational.

Even with great empathy and understanding, it's difficult for men to have any idea of how off-putting this unwanted attention can be, given how much of a attention magnet they tend to be.  It wasn't until I reached the end of this Posy comic that I understood how unusual the above scenario was, since it looked perfectly normal to me.

Lastly, to the surprise of no one...

As long as we're getting closer to the New Year, I might as well show some Prescient MAD predictions.  The magazine is known for creating fanciful horoscopes into the future with amusing plausible outcomes of tomorrow today.  But there are times when their other parodic features can either wind up being completely spot on (or be fodder for inspiration) for the following.

In a list of awful TV shows that only lasted one episode, attention was paid to a notable show titled Heil Honey, I’m Home!, which was basically putting Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun in a sitcom setting with Jewish neighbors where wacky shenanigans would happen.  You'd think this tasteless episode would be the result of ignorance in the same vein of Hogan's Heroes, but this was shown in the enlightened age of 1990.  To make matters worse, many of the Nazis portrayed on these shows were played by none other but actual Jewish people who took Mel Brooks' The Producers level of embarrassment to full effect.  The only thing that could be more embarrassing would be if Jews were responsible for inventing the fetish dominatrix Vitch of Concentration Camps.  Oh wait, it turns out they actually were, and this blatant spread of pornography was the only window to spreading information of the horrors that happened at the time.  Which goes to prove that the fastest way to spread a new piece of technology is to show some skin on it.  The internet only started out as a forum for nerds to talk in Compu speak until somebody figured out the Turing code for showing pictures and things evolved (devolved?) from there.

In MAD there was an article on Future Groundbreaking Sitcoms, which ended with... well, see for yourself.

Lastly, there's the Minute Maid commercial where Popeye and Bluto were on much... friendlier terms with each other than usual.  I'll just leave this here to jog your memory.

Apart from the Quaker Oats commercials where Popeye had a temporary change of diet, this could count as an extreme example of character assassination were it not for Popeye's natural flexibility to adapt to any situation no matter how absurd.  Obviously the inspiration for this commercial came from the MAD article about the Rarest Animation Cels in History.  Any guesses whether there would be any Cels of the above commercial in an age of Computer colouring?  If so, the claim could still be entirely valid.

In an age where Slash fiction between characters of the same sex even happen to glance at each other from across a distance (it doesn't even have to be on the same continent or planet) you're sure to find reams of text devoted to the obvious forbidden love that's just threatening to tear apart the fabric of society.  Yaoi and Brokeback Mountain just made an underground obsession culturally acceptable, even if some courts show reluctance to let same-sex marriages become a reality.
You may regret asking that question, Irving.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Moody Pills

I just recently read the autobiographical comicbook Marbles by Ellen Foreny (not to be confused with the OTHER quasi-biographical comic Marble Season by Gilbert Hernandez), and was impressed with the author's honest portrayal of dealing with her Bipolarism, Especially since it impacted the creative world of art that she lived in.

One thing in particular that struck me about Marbles was the inherent fear that taking drugs would reduce her creative streak and leave her a mere shell of her former self.

When I was still attending High School, it was suggested that I take some pills in order to cope with the rising level of stress I was having which resulted in inappropriate outbursts and reactions.  One of my calming tools was to repeatedly bang a hardcover textbook against the flat of my head.  This always brought a wave of euphoria to me, and drove home the mistake I made, though it was disturbing to onlookers.

I was never hit by my parents as a kid, but read plenty of literature where children were beaten up to prove a point.  Being raised in a loving household did nothing to dispel the illusion that messages should be reinforced with force, and I often put these self-abusive notions on myself to drive home repeating these mistakes.  It was a simple matter of making use of the relieving tension of pressure to associate the pain of making mistakes with something I could memorize on my body.  I needed to feel something, even as I pushed all other outside sensory influences away.

Shortly after, it was remarked that I suddenly showed a drastic reduction in my temperament and mood.  It wasn't until two weeks later when the MOSD Psychologist came over for her biweekly appointment that I mentioned something in private to her, which she took in stride.  At the time, she came over to our house, because I was too anxious to even consider going somewhere else after school.  In my mind, staying after school to do after-school activities just added to the load of homework on my plate.  I didn't want to have to deal with more stuff than I could cope with.  It was also why I was never able to fully enjoy joining the Cub Scouts, because of the group element and games (which I had no understanding of rules) which felt like an added period of school on top of which, I had to wear a restrictive tight uniform which made me uncomfortable.

Indeed, the very first thing I did at in class at the last bell was to dash right out the door in a mad rush towards the bus stop so I could beat the crowd of rowdy teenagers crowding up the stop station.  If I managed to catch the bus, I was guaranteed a safe passage to the metro and a faster ride home with empty seats.  But if I missed it, I had to wait surrounded in a maddening crowd of teenagers pushing each other intentionally and unintentionally both outside and inside the bus.  These repeat incidents were fodder for my personal fear of crowds and people in general.

With my reluctant permission, I allowed my MOSD Psychologist to reveal what I told her in confidence.  I led my parents to the basement where I showed them the stash of pills I'd been palming away during dinnertime.  Like John Nash, I was so determined not to let chemicals interfere with my brain that I willed myself to become calmer in the face of drug dependency.  I didn't want to become overly reliant on something that would either cause meltdowns upon forgetting to take my pills if I somehow woke up late and had to rush out in order to catch the bus.  I wasn't a fan of having to take drugs on a regular basis anyways, due to my discomfort at swallowing them with water.  (I've later found a suitable approach by mixing pills with chewed up food instead, but the prospect of having to follow a rigid routine still remains)

Like Ellen Foreny, I wasn't a fan of taking medication that could potentially reduce the amount of innovative ideas that spewed from my head, usually as a result from being stressed by external stimuli well outside my control.  (Most of my inspiration is borne out of things that frustrate me)  Another thing that concerned me is how I might react if I decide not to take the mood-altering pills anymore.  It's just so easy to let your prescription run out and not have to go through the motions.  One day off becomes two, then a full-blown week.  Soon you're going marathon stretches without having the chemicals you've got running through your body, and revert back into default mode, which is where all this madness started.

Even though respected Aspergerian Cow Woman Temple Grandin mentioned that she needed pills just to be able to function in the real world, the mere prospect of even considering taking these mood altering drugs left me a nervous wreck.  I would need anti-anxiety pills to be able to take the anti-anxiety pills in the first place.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Umezu Inside Jokes

Last week, there was an article about some old-school translated Manga along the vein of Mr. Arashi's Amazing Freak Show.  Among my quest to find published Manga I could read (this was the dark dark days before scanlations), I scoured unlikely places in search of this reluctant material in the hopes of finding anything that might satisfy my itch, no matter how lousy.  In a gaming store, I came across publications of exotic material such as Comics Underground Japan, Panorama of Hell and random issues of Venus Wars.  Of course, I only read these books in the store, not wanting to make an impulse purchase I would regret later.  I don't regret not buying these (though I'd like to see select stories in Underground again) because I wasn't much of a fan of the stiff art, and wanted something I would reread on a regular basis.  This is my prerequisite for any book - is it good enough that I'll want to keep it on my shelf for posterity and inspiration later?  I didn't purchase the Freak Show book because the artwork and story were completely underwhelming and unattractive to my eye, save for one tiny exception on the credits page.

I went through the entire book, hoping that this character would show up, and she never did, because she seemed better drawn than any of the other people in the book.  It wouldn't be until years later when reading an entirely unrelated Manga that I found out the meaning behind this random exclusion:

Turns out The Spotted girl was actually someone who showed up in Reptilia by Kazuo Umezu of Drifting Classroom and Fourteen fame.  I even pointed it out to the reviewer, who never even noticed this until I revealed it to her.  The embarrassing thing was, she'd also read the Freak Show Manga, and didn't make the connection until then.  In addition, I showed the picture of the Spotted Girl in an earlier comic post before.  I wonder how many people would've made the connection?

These kinds of visual in-jokes can be confusing to people not already used to the visual lingo that's so prevalent to them.  One of the many barriers to licensing Osamu Tezuka was his numerous nuances to interjecting humour into normally serious stories or sudden changes in art styles, which would've played havoc with someone expecting a more conventional (and consistent) style.  One can only wonder how confusing this would've been without explanation.  The most popular rendering of other artists is by using cartoony characters based on 60's gag Manga, or by overly dramatic blank Shojo eyes.  Likewise, whenever anybody wants to reference Umezu, it's usually in the vein of his shadowy wide-jawed screaming expressions.  Anybody who sees these instinctively knows what these are referring to.

There was another Umezu Manga, Cat-Eyed Boy, which I purchased upon the mistaken assumption that it would have the same crawling insanity that was typical of Drifting Classroom.  Turns out his works like any other authors, can be pretty hit and miss.  They were a series of loosely unconnected stories where the protagonist was overly ineffective in helping out, and was mostly reduced to being a spectator in his own book.  Normally, this wouldn't be too bad in and of itself, but when you've got a bunch of loosely defined powers, some degree of competence is expected.  For all its rather tame stories and unremarkableness, there's one scene in particular that stands out for me:

Whenever I see this, I can't help but think of Robert Crumb's nonsensical Meatball comic of the same name.  I like to amuse myself in thinking that there's a Japanese monster going around hitting people with meatballs and inadvertently changing their lives for the better.  Which makes the old man's reluctance to meet up with the dreaded meatball monster that much funnier - he doesn't want his life to improve - he's happy enough being miserable on his own.

Now, thanks to the internet, we have forums that explain references that might not be obvious to first-time readers, including cameo appearances of people in the style of Nobuyuki Fukumoto, who, for the moment, is still somewhat of a cult figure.  Granted, there's bound to be all kinds of spoilers within, but that's only to be expected.  At one time or another, we're going to be exposed to certain tropes that the rest of the world already knows. Though contrary to expectations, knowing how the story turns out is less of a deterrant and turn-off than you would expect.  As long as we've got some general knowledge of how things are going to turn out, we're not going to feel as cheated, and can pay more attention to the other story elements that we would've missed the first time around, rather than focusing on a small insignificant piece that's not relevant.

Monday, December 9, 2013

It's Anything But Cute

There was an online satire of Starbucks' attempt at using an advertisement that was in a similar vein as MAD's Fold-ins.  Naturally, MAD didn't take this tribute lying down, though as one commentor stated, they had the chance to create an appropriate word by using the first and last halves of "Starbucks", but maybe that would be considered too risque for the once unrespectable magazine.  Now that they've sold out, it's become just another tool of "the man".

In the early years, advertising in MAD magazine was only possible if they were spoofs of merchandise they were not sponsored by.  Often, these photographic pictures were the only chance MAD writers and editors would show their face without it being caricatured by one of their trademark artists.  Nowadays, ads are shown freely, but the mean streak is gone.  There's little attempt to parody any of them, since that would run the risk of alienating their sponsors, even though the satire would be more likely to be remembered.
Don't bother copying the link - it doesn't lead anywhere anymore.
Of course, Starbucks' attempt isn't the first time that others have used the infamous Fold-in to get attention.  It's been parodied on The Simpsons, various webcomics as well as Garfield.  Even the great (not yet late) Jack Davis who has had a long successful stint in advertising and movie posters fell prey to this tack.  But his stint at replicating the long-standing back page of the humour magazine was rather half-hearted to the point where you could figure out what the hidden picture was just by mentally folding the two halves on your own.
Can you figure out the subliminal hidden picture in these ads?
Years of creasing the back pages to the point where the final image is hinted at the creases has resulted in mentally figuring out the puzzle by sight alone, and covering up the text at the bottom.  In most cases, rather than buying two issues (one to fold and one to keep in perfect condition as per William M. Gains selling tactic to obsessive collectors), you can save yourself some time and agony by just covering up half the image and putting a thumb for the text at the bottom.  At the height of the Fold-in craze, the final image could be notoriously difficult to figure out, but straight buildings and stiffly positioned people made solving the puzzle easier without help.  Rarely will you get a picture of someone in profile that isn't instantly obvious.

In the late 2007, there was a series of Dodge Caliber ads that upon first sight, looked like just another typical car advertisement.  There was some kerfuffle on comic forums about cars being out of the price range of the intended readers.

But considering that their audience were largely in their 30s, and their subject material contained either talking heads or shock violence, it was kind of like complaining about all the blood in a R-rated horror movie.
When did this Christian allegory fantasy segue into outright murder?
What struck me about these was that they were of higher quality compared to recent Fold-ins.  Al Jaffee admitted that he had trouble thinking up new themes that would resonate with today's media-savvy audiences, and that his wacky inventions that were in his old articles would be considered old-fashioned today.  The concept of having a phone in a car or self-stirring cups were concepts we could only dream about.  (Though safety balloons for everyday use is too wacky even in an hyper-security nation)

If the creator's efforts seem less inspired over time, it's likely from the pressure of having something important to say every issue, and that can weigh heavily over inspiration.  Creative instinct can be stilted from the lack of following your personal needs no longer suiting your readers.  Chances are if some effort's been put into it, there'll be some hidden words buried in the picture that won't be apparent until you actually fold the page itself.
Somebody get the jaws of life.
I suppose there's no greater motivation than an increased paycheck.

There's now a collection of all of the Fold-ins from the 1960s to 2010, which is basically an extended version of Fold This Book!, that only selected a few samples throughout the magazine's publishing history.  In the earlier copy, the full page was shown on one side with some commentary at the bottom and a snapshot of the cover it appeared in, and the folded image in a neater cut than you could ever attempt without rulers and protractors.  I have no idea whether these ads are part of the package, as I haven't seen the insides yet, but am willing to state a retraction if I'm wrong.
That guy looks really happy to see the cute animals.
Even though it was a short stint, I wouldn't mind seeing this kind of creativity from advertisers again.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Norman Mockwell

Last week, Thanksgiving and Hanukah coincided, resulting in a collaboration that was later coined Thanksgivukkah, which was noteworthy, because it won't happen again until the year 79811 (not a misprint).
Assuming the human race is still around by then, and we haven't transferred our essence to a long-lasting digital format, we probably won't be able to enjoy the next coincidental festivities, assuming the holidays still exist.

It's not very often that Christian and Jewish festivities coincide from a happy coincidence due to the lunar calendar.  There was the time in 2005 when the tail end of Hanukah showed up on the first day of the New Year, which meant that we could share lighting up the candles at the New Year's party.  Unfortunately, we were all busy with the guests, and when the time came to commemorate this occasion, we'd only realized it too late after everyone had left.  At least the chances of THAT happening again is marginally better than waiting for the next mythical Thanksgivukkah.

There's a point to this long-winded entry.  I'm getting to it.

One of the significant traits of this holiday is that we get eight gifts spread out through the week instead of just in one day.  But lately in our household, we've gotten rather lax in our celebration and sometimes even forget to light the ceremonial candles.  (Bad boy!  Slaps hand)  To that extent, we've basically been going around trying to find one large present that'll be suitable enough for our closest relatives.  I got my sister the omnibus collection of the European comic, Aya, the Ivory Coast soap opera set in the 1970s.  (It reads much better when all the stories are together in one comprehensive package and all the divergent plot threads twist and turn amongst themselves)  In turn, I asked for the book version of Hyperbole & a Half, the autobiographical recountings of Allie Brosh who portrays herself as a blobby paintshop girl with fish eyes, hooks for hands and a horn for hair.
Only later did it occur to me that I could've asked for a missing Bloom County album or another Sam & Fuzzy book (which is undergoing a sale of its own), but those can be options for my next birthday.

Me and my sister are easy enough to shop for - just find something good to read, and we're happy as pigs in muck.  But when it comes to my parents, its much more challenging.  My dad is noncommittal to the point of indifference.  He doesn't care whether he's treated to something or not, just as long as we're around to enjoy his company.  My mother isn't as forgiving, but even when prompted for a list of personal items she wouldn't mind getting, it later turned out to be more in the realm of practical items such as specially ordered socks made to fit (she has very small feet), or a computer technician to solve the inconsistency between the address book between her palm device and her computer.  In the end, she admitted that she had no real burning need for any frivolous items that could've been thrown her way.

In short, she was free of want, which is my longwinded way of finding a tenuous connection between the two holidays with the iconic Norman Rockwell portrait of the four freedoms; Freedom of want (the other three being freedom of speech, religion and fear) which has been parodied more times than any other, and needs no introduction.

While bringing this up, it occurred to me that I might as well show some other Norman Rockwell comics that were inspired by cartoonists, but with less obvious influences.  First up is his iconic "Gossip", better known as Telephone, with a wide range of animated faces passing down a quote down the rumour mill until it loops back to its unsatisfied confidential source.

Quino takes a more unconventional method by visually portraying the mangled message route that's likely to occur when taken completely out of context.

Lesser known but equally well-drawn is his Vacation's Over portrait, showing an exited family on their way to camp, and the results after the day's over.

The Family Circus uses a similar tack, only with the usual precocious childhood logic impeding upon the day's end.

I was hoping to find another multi-image painting that would've rounded out to a nice even number three, but could never manage to find one.  To make up for that oversight, here's the winning entries for the captioned comic, which winds up being one of the consistently funny results.  Most of these have maybe one or two good entries that always made me think that they were provided by the founders of Electric Company, since no child could possibly convey such witty dialogue without adult intervention.  (Most likely, their parents had a helping hand, much like today's science fair projects)  I always found these things notoriously difficult to provide the proper punchline to, since the picture was funny enough on its own.  There's plenty of fill-in-the-caption versions of Archie, which are basically dirty lines or long-winded rants that couldn't possibly fit in the balloon, but then again, the online world isn't exactly the same infantile audience they were trying to teach in the first place.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December is Strapped for Puns

As with last year, December is bereft of the usual litany of good jokes, which as it turns, doesn't change things that much.  Garfield is still a maliciously greedy, selfish, self-absorbed and vain package all rolled up in one, as seen by his favorite activity which isn't ripping up Christmas gifts, but staring at warped multicoloured reflections of himself through Christmas ornaments.
Dear Diary... Today, I saw the most beautiful Christmas tree I have ever seen in my life.
In fact, this activity is so widespread that the rest of the usual cast decides to join him on this unusual narcissist view.  Including Pooky who may or may not be in favor of this.  As a non-sentient teddy bear, he has no say in whatever deeds Garfield includes him in.

If it weren't for the fact that he was potentially worried about getting caught for his behavior in the other 11 months of the year, we wouldn't get anything resembling holiday cheer.

As a finale, we get what's one of the more unusual role reversals of the season:

The Trim-a-Guest Christmas Party

Why should Christmas trees have all the fun?  During the holidays, wouldn't you rather have people admire you than some dumb tree?  By the way, don't forget to unplug yourself before taking a shower.

And with this, I've exhausted my collection of Fbofw and Garfield calendars.  However, I've got a bunch of other calendars throughout the years from less commercially popular outlets I'll be dabbling with in future months.