Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Cosby Effect


Recently, beloved former sitcom character, Bill Huxtable... I mean, Bill Cosby was in a trial for sexual assault, drugging and raping women.  This wasn't his first foray, having been accused of this crime multiple times throughout the years, including when he was on his definitive show.  And even earlier.  Such claims were later dismissed or later silenced through intimidation, as is tends to be when a successful show is in syndication.  The feelings of a single traumatized violated woman means nothing in the face of entertaining millions of viewers and millions of advertising dollars.  Why spoil a good thing?

Apparently, it seems that the best way to avoid being prosecuted is to make yourself known in the public consciousness to such an extent that they feel implicit in making any verdict against a favored and loved Celebrity character.  Even if said celebrity's sell-by date has long since expired past any point of relevance.  They don't want to have the reputation of punishing someone who gave so much joy (themselves included), and being responsible for jailing a comedian.  (Leaving out the fact that they'd be further remembered as someone who let a serial rapist go free)

There was a time when Cosby was a beloved figure, which I wasn't entirely aware of, but still absorbed via osmosis and his saturation in media alone.  The rare critic who dared to speak out against Cosby would've been called out for daring to defy against the common status quo, and trying to break new ground.  Ground that nowadays seems more like pandering to safe tastes.

The Cosby Family was a well-behaved Black family, back when the sheer concept of such a notion was considered outlandish.  The general consensus for minority representation was being Snarky, Angry or a Token Male for "diversity".  Having a normal Middle Class Black family engaging in the same outrageous situations as other white people was considered revolutionary.  A formula that would be shamelessly copied through other Black sitcoms such as Family Matters & Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  Though you'd be hard-pressed to recall any scenes of the parents being involved at their jobs.  Much like Tintin's Reporting, it was more of a title than an ideal to live up to.

And even now, trying to increase minority representation is an uphill struggle despite audience outreach and identification.  If it doesn't instantly appeal to Media Mongels (who are overwhelmingly white) then it won't appeal to All Audiences.  This is all speculation, from not having personally seen a single episode (and certainly not planning to).

An instance of Cosby's influence was mainly felt by the constantly chuckling Dr. Hibbert in The Simpsons.  Apart from a few perfunctory scenes involving occasional appearances of his family, we really don't know that much about the good doctor.  In terms of Immigrant representation, we know more about Apu's background - an Indian convenience store manager, than a competent good-natured doctor.  It's the sleazier doctors such as Dr. Nick (Hi!) and to a lesser extent, Dr. Monroe, who get more screentime, which is understandable, given the constraints of humour.

AND to further add ironic abuse to the case, after the mistrial, Cosby plans on giving lectures on Sexual Assault.  Not solely aimed at Women, mind you - that would be considered tasteless - but for Men who would be accused of Sexual Assault.  Certainly something he would have experience in.

I'm really the wrong person to even cast stones in this direction.  For starters, I'm not Black, and didn't grow up Religiously watching his show.  I don't have very strong feelings for the man in one way or another.  I have a book or two of his amusing anecdotes (which feel slightly poisoned and possibly ghost-written by now), but otherwise, don't really care about him one way or another.  It's probably a major reason why I'm not suitable for being a reporter.  I'm not angry enough at the issues to be suitably outraged at the sheer unfairness of delayed justice.  All I can do is find relevant caricatures and comic images referencing the man back when he was a household name and figure.  It's all I know what to do.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Sally Forth's Cat

There are characters who start off as playing minor roles who later turn out to be Breakout Characters, Ensemble Dark Horses, Ascended Extra, and any number of Fan Favorites.


And then there are characters who are such incidental background characters that you don't even realize that there was a time they didn't exist before then.  Blondie's pet Daisy (and her puppies) is a prime example.  Today's modern readers probably aren't even aware there was a time she was with child.  As far as they're concerned, she's always been the family pet doing silent commentary.


While there's now a tag for the cat's infrequent appearances or references, the number of strips since 2000 is surprisingly low for what's essentially a non-speaking part in a comic that's pretty much all about snarky dialogue.  So it's probably not such a surprise the cat doesn't play a larger part.


Sally Forth comic story arcs generally run the gamut from anywhere from three to four comics to the full six in a week.  So this is one of the rare instances where we have an arc that lasts a good two weeks.  I can't recall any other instance where a pivotal addition had such length added to them.  If there were any others, I obviously don't know of them.  After a week of persuasion and build-up, we finally get around to purchasing said cat, with predictable results.


Nowadays, the cat goes by the generic name 'Kitty', but back then, Hillary chose an entirely different more interesting name for the cat:


And with their latest addition to the Forth family assured, the cat is free to make her presence known... whenever anybody notices her long enough to include her into the conversation.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Pale Originals


Adam West of Batman fame just recently died, and I instantly thought of my first exposure to the man.  Since I never saw any of the original episodes and they weren't captioned, I felt no attraction to the show.  And the parts that were aired were only in French, and annoyingly enough to me, always ended on a cliffhanger, leaving me with no way of knowing how they resolved themselves, because I wasn't invested enough to find out in the first place.

This wasn't the only instance that MAD had a former iteration of a cartoon character knock off their more popular knock-off.  However, while going through these endings, I noticed a certain difference.  In these live-action adaptations, it was the cartoon character who wound up being responsible for the execution of these half-hearted adaptations, which failed to capture the essence of the originals.  The only exception was the cheesy live-action role, compared to the Animated Bruce Timm Batman, who ironically enough, would be the definitive Batman for a later generation.

Incidentally, this post's title is a reference to an ambitious Fanfic I had where three beloved comic characters who were replaced by lesser versions of themselves were mysteriously gathered together.  The three included Dream, who was replaced by Daniel...

L, who was replaced by Near...

And Farley, who was replaced by Edgar.  Interestingly enough, there are hardly any drawings of Edgar all by himself.

In which a gathering of three beloved individuals indulge in small talk (of which they are sorely inexperienced in) and are accosted by a menacing figure who eventually reveals the reason they've been summoned in its presence
For years, I had this scenario set up, but never had the proper focus to put all three of them in a proper dialogue, despite the comedic potential.  Recent events have made this scenario redundant, and near the end of these incomplete drafts, you'll see why.

Some notes to explain the following pacing of the intended speech patterns,
Lord Morpheus talks in a slow dramatic voice.
L talks in a serious deadpan.
And Farley is... Farley.
(A pale mist surrounds a sparse grey field.  A shadowy figure steps from the fog into the clearing where a young man is crouched in an awkward sitting position)
You have summoned me, and I have reluctantly come.
I summoned you??  I thought YOU called me.  I've been waiting this whole time.
Not possible.  I have no knowledge of needing your services.
Well, if it wasn't you, and it wasn't me, then who WAS it?
(Farley happily walks upon the scene)
Unless that animal is our mysterious gatherer, I doubt we'll be getting any answers soon.
In that case, we should ask a few questions, see if there's any common links between the three of us.
Very well.  The session of Pale Originals is now in session.
Pale...?
We’re the original models that was later copied unsuccessfully in our unfinished stories.  The ones left in our place are Pale Imitations, hence the title.  I was replaced by Daniel.  You were replaced by Near.  (Conjures picture) And Farley was replaced with this dog.
My God.  Farley’s replacement looks white as a ghost!
That’s Dixie, Edgar's son.  Edgar is over here.

**************************

You're doubtlessly the lord and master of the dream world, and the representation of Dream itself.
That's a... surprisingly specific way of describing my role.  I'm curious as to how you arrived at that conclusion.
You're nothing more than a hallucination brought about from the bad cupcake I had last night, and manifested yourself as the Ghost of Christmas Future, skipping straight ahead to my worst-case scenario, so you can tell me how I've made some bad decisions in my life.
You don't seem very surprised to see me.
Please.  I've seen a literal God of Death.  After a monstrosity like that, you're practically easy on the eyes.

**************************

I must confess, you’re one of the few creatures who rarely entered my realm.
(Sips cup of coffee)  It's not like I NEED to sleep.  Like Kafka's Hunger Artist, I'd do more of it if I enjoyed it.
(Farley looks questioningly at L’s hind quarters)
Yes, I do have chocolate in my pants, and no, you can’t have any.
(Farley looks crestfallen, and keeps staring intensely)
Isn’t it uncomfortable keeping sweets in that position?
Better in my pockets than out in the open where what little remains is instantly slobbered up.  Why don’t you conjure some up from within that mystical cape of yours?
I have no desire to consume such product.
Even better.  (Rips open a sugar packet, & pours small contents on the floor, which Farley greedily slobbers up)  You like that huh?  Well, Lord Morpheus over there is made of sugar.  (Tosses sugar at Dream) Sic him boy!
(Farley lunges)
(Reeling, throwing turkeys, salami & other assorted meats in his direction) Back, foul creature!

**************************

I’m curious... what do you look like through Farley’s eyes?
That noble beast has spent far too much time among humans.  What you see before you is how he sees himself.
Really?
Well, minus the wagging tongue & fluffy cheeks, but I have no desire to show you that.
(Through Farley's eyes, Dream looks like his human self with Farley's Head on his shoulders)

(Farley looks at thrown ball thrown from Dream go over an arc, then bounce to the ground multiple times until it comes to a stop)
Do you not grasp the concept of 'fetch', little creature?  An object is thrown, you expend all your energies chasing after it, leaving me alone for a brief moment of time until you return, at which point I repeat the procedure until you collapse out of sheer exertion or exhaustion, whichever comes first.
Forget it.  I've been trying to teach him mathemathical logic for ages.  If you want him to go away, you're going to have to magic up some food and send it flying.  And if possible, save some in my general direction.  I'll catch.
You are both beginning to wear on my patience, but it'll remove the beast's affections from my premises, I'll oblige.

My sister was quite enamored by your exploits.  I confess, I’ve rarely seen her portrayed in such a comical manner.
Your sis - then that Shinigami was female??
Yes, but that wasn’t my sister - I mean - she wasn’t - It is difficult to explain.

**************************
Then, the mysterious figure would make its presence known:
I have summoned you here for the sole purpose of observing you.  Just carry on like I'm not here.
This is preposterous.  I have far more important things to deal with.
Like what??  You're retired now.
Well... I have to brood around a bit!  And those garbage pails aren't going to empty themselves!
Dude, they've been sitting there for a week now.
I was waiting until I felt like it!
Then, it'd be revealed that the mysterious figure that'd summoned them turned out to be a Pale Original himself:
Back!  Back!  Don't pull back that curtain -
Farley doesn't listen, and keeps tugging away at the cloak of the intimidating figure.  The cloak falls away, revealing an elaborate structure underneath, consisted of a system of pulleys and puppet strings being manipulated by a black & white figure at the very top:

Then, he'd reveal his motivation:
Opus: Of all the Pale Originals, I’m probably the only one who’s been reused by the same creator - three times! And each time I was brought back, there were complaints I wasn’t as good as I used to be.  Confidently speaking, I suspect it was because my nose size increased each time.

Opus: I figured that if I got all three of you together, I could figure out some kind of magical formula that made you guys so popular in the first place.  So far, I've been stymied and stumped.  Stumped and stymied.  That sounds like a good band name.

Opus: As far as I can see, it's basically acting aloof to your surroundings, while also being aware of everything going on, yet being absolutely clueless.  I'm not so sure about the first two, but I'm a master at the last one.  I think.

Opus: Farley looks kind of lonely.  Could you show him a little affection?
Like what?
Opus: Well, his owner used to speak to him in baby-talk, calling him Farley-poo, is he a little Wuzzer?  Yes he is!
(L reluctantly brushes a single finger over his fur while monotonically praising him with baby names, while Lord Morpheus simply stands idly by)  Is Farley a lint-ball?  Is Farley a smelly dust-rag?  Is Farley a nonsensical-sounding word?  Yes, he is. Aren’t you going to do anything?
I glanced at him without invoking the ire of 15 Gods, 10 demons and 5 lawyers.  That’s affectionate enough for me.

(Bonus cameo: Death meets Ryuk)
Ryuk:  Huh.  You look pretty important.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Skyler Graduates!

Skyler, the perpetual put-down Sparrow child of Shoe has been a Grade School student for so long that it's hardly even worth making a running gag out of it.  But there was a brief period in 1990 when he and a bunch of unnamed classmates were in a Graduation Ceremony.

Normally, this transition would be cause for celebration, and the potential for future storylines, but as you've already figured out, pretty much nothing changed.  Skyler remained at his regular school desk, with nothing to show for his accomplishments.  Static comic strips like this exist in a a Zeno's Paradox, where characters are constantly striving towards a goal, without ever actually reaching it, even when that moment finally comes, it's quickly wiped from the public consciousness as if it never happened.

Shoe daily comics are typically episodic, so the fact that there was a week-long arc devoted to Skyler just sitting around making pithy observations is notable in itself.

He also indulges in pining over a certain Mary Beth, who I've written about before.



I said earlier that the Graduation strips ran for a week.  Well technically, they ran for eight days.


Then the remainder of the week was spent with Skyler creating evasive answers with his Uncle over how to best make use of his valued vacation time doing absolutely nothing.



Then after a few more perfunctory dailies, Skyler went on a Vacation to Miami to avoid getting caught up in the Army, but given his track record, we all know how that ended up.

In all likelihood, Skyler would be ill equipped to face the outside world beyond his secluded world.

Actually, there was an ulterior motive in publishing these comics.  An acquaintance of mine just recently completed his last semester recently, and is currently soaking up the rays in his family's home country, despite his adamant protestations to avoid going at all costs.  Congrats, Pal!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Two Weeks My Nose, and Told Me I Was Bad

I've been spending an indordinate amount of time going through newspaper archives, both physical and online, looking up early and missing comics from my childhood that were never collected.  Out of curiosity, I went further back, and looked up some early comics from before I started reading them.  Since I didn't know that there were daily comics, I missed out quite a bit.

The earliest Adam comics I could find come from July 23, 1984.


In case it's not clear in the last panel, he's got his leg twisted over his head there.

Not even a week in, and Brian Bassett's already doing barely concealed subliminal advertising.

And here's our first look at one of the kids.  Clayton is much more haphazardly drawn here than he'll look later on.

The earliest Sunday comics have already been posted here, where Clayton's sister, Katy, shows up more than he does.  (For some reason, the Sunday comic on August 5th is available, but there's no July 29th Sunday comic)  And here's Adam's naturally Chauvinistic neighbor, Walter.


Interestingly enough, Laura's pinprick eyes and minimalist expressions make her look like Princess Bubblegum.




Adam's attempts to write down his personal experience will become a lifelong struggle, where he'll constantly attempt to reach his goal, only to get constantly sidetracked on other minor projects, such as the dietary Dumpty-Derby, failed inventions and trying to write a novel.

On the other side of cartoony characters with big noses, we have Stew from Sibling Revelry, whose prominent schnozz make him look like Adam's long-lost son.  Or an European comic protagonist.

This first strip is the earliest I could find, which showed around the time Bloom County was entering retirement on August 7th, 1989.  If there were any other introductory strips before then, I haven't found them yet.


Interestingly enough, apart from an appearance from the mother in the first strip, we never see Lori, Stew's sister until the second week.  Her presence is all but implied.  Also, in an amusing role reversal, it's Lori who has a Comic collection that she desperately doesn't want her annoying younger brother to touch.  For good reasons, apparently.



So far, I've been unable to find any Sibling Revelry Sunday comics, and doubt there were every any.

In the second week, we get some background details of the kids parental status, and that the Mother is currently separated from her husband and looking for prospective suitors, much to their identifiable outrage.




And then, this mini-arc is abruptly cut off with some more stand-alone comics, rounding out the rest of the week.  Most of the Sibling Revelry strips in later days would fill out the whole quota, so this early intervention is somewhat of an anomaly.  It's as if the author started off on an intended
and then decided not to go down that path, feeling somewhat uncomfortable about the subject matter.  (Even though this wouldn't be the last we'd see of this prospective husband)


At this rate, I may have to consider changing my blog name to DAILY Comics Debt.  Hmm. nope.  Doesn't have the same ring to it.  Besides, there's still plenty of Sunday Comics I've got that haven't seen the light of day once again.