Thursday, July 31, 2014

Forgotten Characters - Walter, Adam's Chauvinistic Neighbour

To counter Adam's reluctance in being a stay-at-home dad, there was Walter who was quite outspoken in his opinions and practically wore his expressions on his sleeve.  There was no attempt at subtlety with this guy.
This is an early installment when Adam used to enjoy doing housework,
before he started getting used to lazing around.
Unlike the Wacky Neighbor who would crash the place or offer sage advice, Walter's main function seemed to be an intentional antagonist, constantly pushing Adam's buttons, and trying to cast doubt on his masculinity.

At most, his jibes could be considered a half-hearted attempt to preserve his insecurity and self-confidence.

Indeed, when left to his own devices, Walter appears to be completely incapable of being able to do basic survival such as cooking or shopping.

This may be the only comic that Walter's last name is ever mentioned.
To all the other Walter Grubbs out there, you're welcome.
Despite trying to get along with his misogynist friend with his good-natured humour, Adam always managed to get him back somehow.

Somehow, even though Walter kept kidding Adam around with no end in sight and Adam giving deserved comebacks, the two of them still managed to get together (along with a bevy of other rarely-seen male friends) to participate in typical manly activities.

Fittingly enough, this last Sunday appearance (that I can find) perfectly encompasses everything that makes up Adam and Walter's relationship.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Similar, but not Quite the Same

I've written previously about various comics that were lazy enough to reuse comics over the years in the hopes that new audiences wouldn't notice.  In fact, the samples I've posted are actually a fraction of what I've shown so far.

However, there were a few comics that were almost but not quite faithful reproductions that were done with little to no variance.  In these, there were redrawings that had the basic layouts and body language, but were redone with new people.  In these, you'd have a slightly harder time finding similarities unless you were paying attention.  They certainly slipped by until I saw certain similarities in their form and function.

This next example was a little trickier, since not just the peasant was redesigned, but also the store clerk in the throwaway panels.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Forgotten Rituals: Hagar's Annual Bath

When legacy strips get carried on by replacements, there are two ways the comic can be carried out.  One is to carry on as faithfully to the material, staying straight to the formula, and allowing no room for creativity, lest the audience lose their devotion.  The other is to renovate and innovate events slightly while still maintaining an air of familiarity with the subject.  Either way, there are certain aspects that may be missed by ghost artist that were evident when the original author was doing their work.  There are just some things that the original creator founded that may not even occur to well-meaning copycats.  One of these things Dik Browne's successor seems to have forgotten was that every July 14th, there would be an annual celebration of the rare act of bathing the infamous viking, even as his day job meant that he would be terrorizing people.  The main point being, I suppose, that for one solitary day, Hagar is being terrorized by the populace.  (His wife doesn't count)

Of course, as you may have noticed, this date wasn't always an absolute.  Not unlike statuary holidays that are moved up and down depending on the circumstances.  There would be some notable exceptions where Hagar would be in situations where he had to take baths despite it not being anywhere close to July.  On one hand, this could be forgiven for historical inability to preserve dates and times of when certain memorable events happened, since they didn't have watches or a reliable calendar system.  On another hand, it's also an example of how a cartoonist can be restricted for following their own rules when the calendar refuses to comply with their schedule.  (I'm still disappointed with Garfield's inability to take advantage of uncelebrating the rare occurrence of his most hated day, February Monday the 13th)  Here's an example where Hagar poses a compelling argument to preserve the conservation of water which could be put to better use in mid-April.

Whatever the cause, the incidence was rare enough to be considered celebratory enough to bring throes of adoring crowds to see the ritual happen.  If there were any refreshment, game or gift stands nearby, they probably would've been there to make a profit.

Considering that only a select few people actually gather to watch Hagar take a bath (which would be embarrassing enough in its own right), the holiday could be the closest equivalent to a sports festival with brief running commentary, right down to a play-by-play account, all done in the imagination of the onlookers, not that dissimilar to radio.  Only after Hagar finished his bath would the collective crowd feel relieved by the unbearable suspense of the inevitable result.  Sure everybody knows how it ends, but that feeling when an epic event has truly passed seems to be a universal theme worldwide.  Not unlike a New Year's baby replacing the Old Man Year.

So why was Hagar so reluctant to take baths anyways?  Could the very act of taking a bath be fraught with unimpeded dangers that would only become obvious in hindsight?  Could it be Hagar was accustomed to remain content in his own filth, being naturally acclimated to years of dirt piling up over his pores, much like macho lazy slobs who can't be bothered to waste their time on trivialities such as washing their hands?  Could it be that in the Middle / Dark Ages, washing was still considered a new foreign concept that would appear frightening to the point where the act of washing away invisible microbes no one could see was considered the rantings of quack doctors?

Or could the real reason be something more basic in the manner of survival?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Pet Peeves - an Extra "K"

A few days ago, I was watching an awful Science Fiction movie about alien breeding invaders intruding upon a world populace, as they are won't to do.  As usual, I was seeing it on fast-forward with subtitles to get through the mundane script and the familiar ebb and tide of the plot.  (Introduction of characters, sense of threat, threat confirmed, trying to convince skeptics, skeptics convinced in light of menance, staying alive while killing as many invaders as possible, you know the drill)  Though there was a particular moment that took me out of the mindless escapism of the implausible movie - where the character talked about the egg sac of the creatures.  Only, they called it an egg sack.  While there wouldn't seem to be much difference between the two, there's a significant distinctive meaning.  One's an organic being part of somebody's body, the other is man-made, separate for carrying things in.  Unless you're a kangaroo, you certainly wouldn't want to be seen going to the grocery with a sac in hand.  Especially with the term being closely associated with football, which is potentially painful.

This wasn't an isolated incident.  I've noticed that there were other instances where there would be an added "k" to the end of words that normally wouldn't need that added emphasis.  There are all kinds of sources abound on pet peeves of improper usage of punctuation, ranging from misuses of apostrophes to general confusion over there / their / they're.  I've never seen this particular grievance mentioned before, so I figured I might as well strike while the iron's hot.

Another thing that drives me nuts is how authority figures, upon feeling threatened, will give the order or command to sic their dogs / lawyers / committee upon whoever's giving them grief.  But they say they'll sick them, which would have a completely different consequence, giving the mental image of having these powerful people throwing up all over them, which could be considered intimidating in its own right.

On a similar note, when someone's feeling nervous or trying to conceal their facial expressions while playing poker or some equally high-stakes game, they can still be outed by subtle facial cues or otherwise imperceptible body language that they're completely unaware of.  Naturally, these undesirable consequences of tics and ticks can be very similar, considering the ramifications, but one is for sudden contained reactions under stress, while the other is parasitic invaders living on your body.  While the former could be considered a reason for the latter (scratching all the time), it's not the most common one.

So why does this kind of mistake keep cropping up?  My theory is that there are writers who use words from everyday speech while never noticing how it's spelt in the stories they're written in, and editors don't catch that mistake, being more on the lookout for more common spelling mistakes or story progression.  One example I can think of is where I saw a comic (which I can't find right now) where they were showing New Yorker lingo by having a cabbie in their usual method of talking to their customers with basic questions such as "Where to Mac?", and "What's the problem, Mac?"  Only, they used the guy's name as Mack.  Saying "Where to Mack?" sounds closer to someone asking where they can score some smack, which, while plausibly where the customer wants to get a high, is probably not their intended destination.
To my mind, it's somewhat along similar lines of making silly mistakes in the English language, being only familiar with a select few words, and applying those rules to every other similar word on the spectrum.  It would be similar to my mangling human language, being only familiar with the written form, and not how it sounds, which due to the nature of the English language, isn't exactly instinctive.  For instance, I still have trouble believing that sword (sord) doesn't rhyme with "word", especially given the phrase "The pen is mightier than the sword".  As a result of not knowing how they're spoken, I wind up facing reaper cushions (repercussions) and become further ostrich sized (ostracized).

So how can we stop this spread of alarming spelling mistake additions?  The answer to that might ironically come from the ONE exception I've never seen have an added "K" for is the abbreviation for Doctor.  You hardly ever see anybody use the term Dock, since that's more for the short end of a pier, where you're likely to wind up if you don't dock your pay.  But that could very well be the result of Bugs Bunny's infamous catchphrase.  You'd certainly never see Spider-Man spouting something along the lines of :

However, if people start adding a "T" at the end, we're going to need another talk.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Yluj Delleps Sdrawkcab Si July

July 1 - Canada Day  (Annoyingly enough, today's Final Jeopardy's question was on the Declaration of Independence)

July 4: Independence Day - Jacquin's Postulate on Democratic Government: No one's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.

July 10: Murphy's first Corollary - Nothing is as easy at it looks.

July 16: First Atomic Bomb Tested 1945 - Hane's Law: There is no limit to how bad things can get.

July 20: First Men on the Moon 1969 - Bob's Law of Appliances: The repairman will never have seen your particular model before.

July 25 - Law of Life's Highway: If everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

July 28: World War I Begins 1914 - Darrow's Comment: History repeats itself.  That's one of the things wrong with history.

July 30 - Davis Law: If a headline ends with a question mark, the answer is "no."