Monday, March 27, 2017

A Handshaking Primer

There was much preamble made about Donald's infantile power grab to assert dominance by yanking the shakee's arm in his general direction, and holding their sweaty palms an uncomfortably longer time than usual.  That strategy completely fell apart in the presence of Justin Trudeau.  (A well-described Epic Standoff summarized here) If there's one thing Canadians can't be faulted on, it's not knowing Americans better than they know themselves.

And then there was his outright refusal to shake the hand of Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor.  There was speculation that he didn't want to touch a woman who wasn't a perfect 10, or helping him down stairs.  But it's also possible he was shaken after Trudeau beat Trump's handshaking strategy by his own hands.  After being humiliated like that, why risk making yourself look foolish again?

Of course, all this boils down to a simple case of handshaking ignorance, since there's no course on the proper way to shake someone.  I haven't had much experience in this, but the few instances I've had suggests that there's a large void of information on what should be a very basic act.

First off, most people tend to just limply offer their hands in a floppy manner, letting it languish in the shaker's grip.  This is wrong.  You're not supposed to merely shake from the wrist alone.

A good proper shake should originate from the shoulder, energetically pumping at the elbow like you're drawing water from an old pump.  The recommended length of time is three to six shakes, releasing after a scant five seconds after the activity's over.  Pleasantries can be exchanged during this action; and lingering longer with someone who's not your secret lover should be avoided.  It also shouldn't be considered a power move to intimidate, crushing the shakee's hand.  Unless both parties are of considerable or equal strength.

Furthermore, the palms of the hands should be firmly placed between the hollow of the other's palm.  Using the same hand (Left hand & left hand, Right hand and right hand) is preferred, but not the mirrored image. Otherwise, unfortunate implications and injuries might occur.  Unless you're heavily engaged in elaborate welcoming / farewell reception rituals, involving high slaps and synchronized gestures that only members "in the know" would recognize, the general reception should be to keep it basic.

Extra tip - wiping down the other person's sweat in open view is also considered bad manners, though I've never seen anybody openly do that.

Incidentally, I had a panel I intended to use, from Archie's Dennis the Menace ripoff, Pipsqueak Visits the Farm, but was unable to find it, on account of having given the digest said comic was in away, confident I wouldn't need it again.  (Hindsight is always 20/20)  Ironically, for a lackluster comic, it contained an extremely rare instance of a mutual handshake done properly without any comedic elements added to it.  Anybody who has a physical copy on their shelves will know what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

No One Likes Gaston

While I'm generally known for my Garfield Mash-ups, I've also made a few significant contributions to the other Mezzacotta comic site, Itoons, which focuses on other comics not related to Garfield.
Most of the available comics are minor edits to various online Newspaper comics and various webcomics.  But I can never do anything easy, constantly wanting to strain the limits of my imagination and a desire to stretch my creative muscles.

In addition to wanting to share my love and knowledge of certain comics, I also wanted to spread wider recognition of one of the more popular BD franchises out there.  But undertaking an endearing project is essentially taking an endurance test, especially for a labour-intensive project that's essentially a gag-a-day (or gag-a-week format if you want to be specific) comic that's still fully understandable without any translation notes handy.  Since the strips are fairly episodic - no long-lasting recuperations or ongoing story (save for a few running comic themes and occasional two-pagers) there's not much need or desire to know what happens next.

Apart from the occasional online scanlation, knowledge of this cult figure is surprisingly elusive.  Originally, I wanted to show it on my blog, but didn't want to risk any image shrinkage.  The comic in question is available now, but it's undergone the same limitations I was worried about in the first place. (I had a similar complaint when I submitted another Garfield comic that was ruined, because I decided to get fancy with the background)  So, as means of compromise, I've chopped up my submission in smaller doses for easier reading.  (It looks better at a larger size)

Translation for the parking comic partially helped out here.  For this particular verse, I originally wanted to use "Plays the Harp", as a way of introducing his musically destructive Gaffophone, but Harp doesn't really rhyme with Ark.

Here, I took some creative liberty with wordplay, combining noise pollution and night pollution into one nonsensical descriptive word that didn't exist until now.  (Then again, I coined the phrase Kvetchion too)

And yet, it looks like the cult favorite, Gaston Lagaffe may be getting an official English translation after all.  However, they're renaming the titular character as Gomer Goof, instead of his regular name to more closely appeal to Western tastes, I guess, and pay tribute to when Fantagraphics first tried their hand at translating the character.  Despite being associated with Goofy the dog, Gaston isn't exactly dim-witted.  He's just exceptionally lazy, extremely accident prone, fooling around at the office, creates loads of inventions that inevitably backfire, and is constantly getting in trouble over things that are second-hand consequencically, his fault.  In essence, like the unashamed ripoff, The Teenage Son, he's the worst traits of Archie and Jughead combined.

I suppose the name change is because of the unfortunate implications of being associated with another certain  Gaston "gentleman" who's better known for his hunting prowess and misogynist antagonistic views.  But similar names shouldn't be considered a handicap.  Nobody mistakes Sylvester the Cat and the actor of Rocky to be the same person.

Believe it or not, this is actually a conservative elaborate disguise, compared to Gaston's later dress-ups.

Another instance where I borrowed somebody else's translation, and used their editing skills, particularly Gaston's screaming "NO!", and removing the excessive 'N' at the end.

As is typical, when I send in an entry I've spent a particularly long time on, I instantly think of a new addition that could potentially be included.  Here's the bonus stanza that was excluded out of convenience, because I was having trouble thinking of a proper rhyme to go with "ell".  It's harder than you'd think!  The closest I came to a suitable one was "Rings Bells", but surprisingly enough, there weren't any Gaston comics with that particular image.  Likewise, I can't take any credit for the translation of the last panel here:

One of the self-imposed limits for submitting to Itoons is that there shouldn't be any connection to a typical Garfield comic.  In this case, I made an exception, implementing a subtle change alluding to a Sunday Garfield comic, but other than that, the rest is close to the original meaning and pure improvisation.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Super Pogo!

While looking for certain archived comic images, there are some things that pop up that are so unusual that you feel compelled to share them with the world and remind them that such things existed back when nobody was paying that much attention.

Superheroes have made a strong comeback in theaters after languishing on the funny pages for ages, but that's only after they distilled away the most essential elements, and removed all the overwrought narratives, the multi-story arcs that demanded intense attention and knowledge of what was going on in other books in the company line, and artwork that was wonky and incomprehensible at best.  (Nowadays, movies have the same creative problems that plagued comics, but that's a lecture for another time, preferably not by me)

The Superhero resurgence may have started with Blade, but the jumpstarter was Tim Burton's Batman, which radically changed the usual audience perception of the cheesy Adam West version, which was still fresh in the majority's mind, years after Frank Miller's Dark Knight take on the character.  That may have been in mind when the briefly revived Pogo strip by Doyle and Sternecky diverged in a brief parody that's just as overwrought with creative narrative bombast as the double-entendre laden monologue that influenced Tracer Bullet.  The first part (in colour) can be seen here:

After this, things get a little trickier to figure out.  Sadly, the text is so faded away in parts that it's practically illegible.  Fortunately, I took a closer look and deducted most of what was written:

Panel 4: Bright Knight Picks a Fight: A fortunate sudden downpour saves our hero from a flaming end, but now he must lock jaws with the big ultimate foe himself!
Panel 5: Caption: Mudgeopolous at Dinnertime
Bright Knight: Alright, at the count of five.  1, 2...
Boy Pogo: Halfa sammich Goofus?
Goofus: Thanks Boy Pogo.  Us Arch Enemies allus travels on our stomachs.
Panel 7: 1989 OGPI! Distributed by the L.A. Times Syndicate!  (Until I found a clearer copy above, I thought the text at the bottom panel read: Must Obey! Receiver by The L.A. Times Syndicate!)

And that's where our adventures end.  If anybody wants to see the rest of the story for themselves, they're free to buy a physical copy of the six issues that supposedly make up this run.

Then, at the other end of the spectrum, we have some promotional material that are quite frankly, some of the most amateurish childish drawings ever done.  And the blotted black and white images of the quality coloured pictures don't help.

You'd think a franchise as large as Little Caesars would've been able to splurge for higher quality.  The left hand side is also take up not just by the title, but also an accompanying stand-alone panel that's just as amateurish as the rest of the comic.

And like the Pogo comic earlier, it ends on a cliffhanger.  Good luck trying to find the conclusion to this thrilling epic, assuming anybody bothered to save a copy for themselves, and weren't embarrassed to keep one for themselves.  (If artist Calvin Crosby is reading this, I apologize for my unflinching criticism)  I'm not even gonna bother transcribing the inane script here, save for the last panel:

Panel 7: This is (sp)Sobt.  She is Caesar Man's Girlfriend.  She hears his request.  BUT WILL SHE SAVE THE DAY?

The Superhero genre has permeated everything from Archie to Garfield (who's more suited as the Caped Avenger than the Liefeldian Pet Force), but not everything deserves to be shoehorned into a specific formula, no matter how much diehard fans insist on saying so.  Further proving that not everything can be improved by simply slapping a spandex outfit over a persona in the vain hopes of attracting a wider audience, is the long-forgotten instance of Cheerios branching out its brand into the unusual field of two Laurel & Hardy types with the tagline of "It's Applelicious!  And Cinnamoncredible!" which never quite caught on, for some reason.

Most of their time is spent bickering over which part of the cereal sprinkles these bad guys are more interested in, the apple or the cinnamon, but it never lasts for long before they decide to whup some baddie's behind.  With minimal effort, mind you - it's not like they have to actually WORK for it.

Despite their potentially limited appeal, the height of their relevance ultimately culminated in a minute-long advertisement staring a very familiar-looking 'gator Kart-Racing Villain.

Save for those annoying sponsors on Sesame Street, today's kids don't even know what Commercials ARE.
Whether this should be lamented or celebrated depends on your fondness for unskippable jingles that   Media Watchdogs have been complaining about merchandise being solely targeted at children for ages.  But at this current rate, TV shows and movies that are naked merchandising adverts for comics, toys & cards are the only likely places for advertised commercial franchises to be seen in the first place.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Al Jaffee's Old Face

Yesterday was famed MAD artist, writer and innovator, Al Jaffee's 96th birthday, who is still creating the infamous Fold-Ins for the Magazine.  At least, that seems to be ALL he does these days.  Long gone are the halcyon days when he would spout concepts such as Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions, MAD Inventions, and numerous silly concepts played out for laughs in his numerous gag books.

I figured that with the rapid loss of no less than Three MAD artists in 2016 - the influential unimitable Jack Davis, The subtle John Caldwell, and the slapdashy Paul Peter Porges, I should at least pay the man some respect while he's still alive and kicking.

If anything, the cartoonist's success can be contributed through his self-depreciative Jewish sense of humour, which played well to MAD's numerous take-downs of its quality, whether it was deserved or not.  A claim that was meant to foster rebellion against the high quality stuff that was supposed to be good for you, but has now become a victim of its own hype.  The subversive counter-culture that it so readily railed itself against has now become part of the culture itself, and it's weakest strongest imitator, Cracked, has now stepped into the very cracks that itself wouldn't follow into.

At the height of its relevance, MAD Magazine was noted for its biting Movie Satires that a commenter reflected, read more like illustrated reviews than anything.  They pointed out inherent flaws, plot holes, and warped logic happening on the screen - a trait that had a profound effect on Roger Ebert's harshly criticisms.  But in recent years, they've fallen into the wayside to focus more on guaranteed commercial hits with their Save the Cat! plots all figured out, so where can they put their criticisms aside from rehashing tired old jokes?  The lack of relevant commentary oftentimes feels hamfisted and missing.

The singular rally point surrounding the man will forever be tied to the deceptively easily craftable Fold-Ins, and its many imitations and influences.  I've lamented about Al Jaffee's lack of motivation regarding that field, so I won't rehash that old storming ground.  What I'd like to do is focus on a certain scene early in Jaffee's career.  His first book, titled (you guessed it!) Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions at the end, had a certain cameo appearance of a certain cartoonist that we all know and love.

But an earlier version of this book (which I happened to pick up second-hand, after lending out my only copy to someone who wouldn't return it until years later), had a very different look about him:

If you look closely, you can see the seams where the new cartoonish caricature is pasted over the old realistic artstyle to more closely resemble the iconic laughing figure we're more familiar with.

I looked around, and there didn't seem to be any mention of this disparity anywhere, hence my pointing this out.  Hopefully, I haven't breached a confidential contract that prevents Al Jaffee's actual drawn face being shown in public, lest his body melts into flames.*  Which shouldn't be that problematic, since he's drawn himself being beaten up, hung, choking, drowned, sawed, and blown up enough times to fill a theater stage.

*(If such an incident occurs, I deny all responsibility)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Women Unappreciation Day

March 8th, Women's Day may have come and gone, leaving behind the stench of Feminism in the air but now that bit of token respect has finally left us, we can devote our full time and energy to totally ignoring what silly business comes out of their little mouths.  After all, these are the weaker sex that has declared a war against our freestyle way of living, so it's only fair play that we men engage in nothing less than total warfare against them.

It's not like women have contributed that much to history.  Well, other than giving birth to us, and siring our children.  That is, unless they cheated on us with the Milkman, in which case, those bastards can get along just fine without my support.  I never had a Father figure to look after and beat me up, so I don't see why they should take advantage of me.  I have no problem with beating up the little brats - I need to vent my frustration somehow - for some reason, every woman I've dated refuses to have anything to do with me.  They should be impressed by how I whip these traitorous children with ease.

Only Men are capable of handling deals that demand respect, because people worldwide respect the sound of an authoritative voice that brims with confidence, not a weak-skinned squeaky voice begging permission to use the bathroom.

If it weren't for Men, nobody would be making Women's silly little requests understood, and nobody would help in the first place.  Not unlike the Emergency Room that disbelieved a woman's claims that she was suffering, because who can possibly gauge the pain level of women who never let us know what they're feeling, no matter how much it bothers them?
Man: Tell me what's wrong.
Woman: If you already know, you shouldn't have to ask.
Man: Well, I DON'T know.  And would like some clarification.
Woman: I'm not telling you, because you never believe me.
Man: Try me.
Woman: Alright.  Everytime I tell you something personal about myself, you gloss over it in favor of your own perceived conceptions.
Man: Oh, now that's just nonsense.  You simply can't believe that.
Woman: SEE?!  You're doing it, and you don't even realize it!!!
Man: What??  What'd I say?

There's no reason for women to complain about how harsh life is for them.  They have no idea what it was like back before the olden days of Ipods and Tablets.  There's all kinds of gadgets that make life easier than ever to live through.  All you have to do is pay for them, and the world's your oyster.

For all their complaining, it's not as easygoing for Men as women make it out to be.  The Man is saddled with the burden of being an √úbermensch, or Superman, while women are only expected to be an all-purpose SuperMom. When things get too hot, they get back into the kitchen.  Men don't have that luxury.  Sometimes we have to make our sandwiches ourselves, because these women won't cut off the crusts, no matter how much we remind them.  And there's no app for that.

A recent totally biased social experiment found that when two workers in the same company switched their genders, their customers treated them with less respect than usual.  The woman got lavished with undeserved praise, while the man got unfairly bashed.  After suffering through the woman's routine for a mere two weeks, the man conceded to her POV.  The man has fallen victim to the trap known as "Empathy", and we should not mourn his passing, since anybody who falls for such an elaborate ruse is no longer worthy of notice.  Any reasonably well-off person would've instantly known the gender of who they were talking to, by the precise way they pounded the notes on their keyboards.  Sexism is not a symptom, but just a convenient excuse.  After all, I've never been hit on at work, and never had to suffer any of these so-called problems they're complaining about.

The lie that Men don't work as long and hard as women is simply untrue.  Men devote their time and energy to more fruitful pursuits.  It just happens to look like unproductive play to the casual outsider, but to those inside the inner circle and proper know-how, there's a confluence of details.  A wealth of information being traded in a rapid manner that belies the high-speed communication of rapid transit.

While a woman's voice is intended to sound soothing, it actually rankles the ire of those in the know.  Women just have a condescending voice that reeks of knowing something that they won't share with us, no matter how much we beg and ask.  For all its portrayal of futuristic utopia, there was one area that the producers of Star Trek failed to show accurately.  Despite opinion to the contrary, crewmates would be constantly arguing with the Computer on the ship.
Captain: Computer, what is our ETA?
Computer: Approximately five hours, sir.
Captain: That doesn't sound right.  What time are we Really arriving?
Computer: Five hours, two minutes.
Captain: No no no, I don't believe you.  Can't you give me a more accurate reading?
Computer: Three hundred and one minutes, thirty seconds at the tone... BEEP.
Captain: (Pointing at random male crewmate) You there, what do the readings say?
Crewmate: Five hours, sir.
Captain: There!  Was that so difficult?  Honestly, you can't trust machines to give you what you want.  Computers!  They're so unemotional, if you know what I mean.
Commander: No, I'm not entirely sure I do, sir.
Captain: Well of course you don't.  You're a Vulcan.

When they're not complaining about the amount of work they have to do, women are fostering off their work on others willing to do the job for them, so what are they so upset about?  They're learning how to delegate.

Just as inefficient is the toothless threat of not having any women work for a full day.  That saves us the meager pay that we'd have to shell out for their services, which is rightfully lower than our inflated salaries.  We pay for the bare necessities, such as the car, gas, house, boats, planes, guns, drugs and bribes.  THEY waste their moolah on frivolities, such as skimpy clothing, high-heel shoes, makeup, plastic surgery, books and food.  (No fat or ugly chicks allowed)  There's no need to make so much of a fuss about having to deal with the mindless things they do - I'm pretty sure we'd be able to handle the small stuff they have to deal with on a daily basis.  How hard could it possibly be?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Lock of the Irish

As always, here's another batch of the BC gang indulging in sharing their written prose with anybody who's willing to read over their shoulders, whether they want to or not.

And here's Wily taking in account of the gradually warmer weather.  Unless you happen to live in an area that's perpetually cold, or unseasonably hot year-round, then nevermind.

Since this month's rather sparse in terms of representation, here's some relevant poemmaking via Wily's daily strips:

For a long time in the early strips, much was made of Wily's fears of Water and Woodpeckers.  It became so well-known and internalized that it would just showcase Wily's reactions to such, even when newer readers would've been stumped as to exactly why.

Much like the infamous Garfield comic where he sleeps through an early strip, only to wake up on the very next day, there was another similar comic that played upon this very theme of a delayed punchline:

The sense of anticipation may be missing here, but I'd say the extended scream certainly plays off better here, especially when you can compare the contrast the scenes between before and after.  What must have readers back then thought when they saw a dripping wet peg-legged caveman screaming his head off for the whole of the rest of the panel???