Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sally Forth's Sudden Art Shift

Sally Forth's art tends to be rather static, with the characters reusing their poses with side-eye looks and smug smirks.  So, on November 12, 1991 when it suddenly changed into a more dynamic art style, people were confused, myself included.

Since this was around the same time that Calvin & Hobbes was going into reruns, I thought that Greg Howard had taken a brief vacation, and was rerunning old strips in his absence.  The truth was much more mundane - he'd taken on another artist, Craig MacIntosh, to assist him, while he focused on the writing, splitting the job between the two of them.  Hence, where "Howard and Mac" appears in the margins, when it was just Howard's signature.

Sadly, it seems that not everybody was enamoured with the new art style, and wanted a return to the stiffer posing they were all used to, which I consider a shame, since I found the looser art to be more dynamic.  Even if Hilary was presented more as a child than a teenager, due to her sudden stunted height.

Even though the experiment officially ended on November 30th, the Sunday comics didn't get the abort memo, and resumed their regular schedule for three weeks from December 1st.  As a tryst for exploring new territory, it was a welcome change.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Pet Peeves - Newspaper Mistakes

One of the things that bugged me when reading daily comics was the rare occasions where a printing mistake would happen.  This wasn't the garden type variety where a caption would be switched with another, resulting in some dadaesque results, such as what happened with Dennis & The Far Side.
If a Newspaper comic happened to make a mistake, you couldn't go to another source to find out what really happened, since they were oftentimes the only place you could find them.  (Which oftentimes, was the appeal of Newspapers in the first place - offering comics the competition didn't)

Back in the olden days of Dinosaurs when Encyclopedias were bound in book form (Yet weren't called Thesaurus, since that name was already taken), the Internet as we know it hadn't been fully fleshed out for it's potential in porn, so if you missed a comic in the Newspaper, the only way you could find out was if the paper was generous enough to print an explanation the very next day, if enough complaints happened to reach their headquarters.  More often than not, papers weren't as generous with explaining any potentially confusing comics, unless they'd been given advance warning for excluding certain potentially controversial comics, such as Lawrence's Gay Reveal, or Doonesbury's multiple political subjects.

An example would be this Blondie, which ran on December 12, 1990:

At first glance, halfway through the comic, the scene shifts away from Dagwood talking to Elmo, to suddenly getting out of a Taxicab with his Boss.  The explanation is these are actually the setup to two different comics accidentally combined together without any comprehension, rhyme or reason.  It was basically Randomized Garfield before Randomized Garfield existed.  To make matters further annoying, the latter strip was printed in full the very next day, but gave no resolution to the previous strip.  I didn't get to find out what the punchline was until over twenty years later.  You're luckier - you can just compare and contrast with the full comics below.

Another Blondie mistake can be seen below:

At first glance, Dagwood screaming seems to be the punchline, with what looks like to be a rather weak setup.  But if you rearrange the above and below panels around, the sequence will make more sense.

Of course, panel mixups in Newspaper comics is nothing new.  But there's also the aspect of misplacing entire comics entirely.  To give an example of this, here's a cutaway view for January 1, 1990 and the surrounding comics.

Now, here's the comics page three days later on January 4th.  Can you tell the difference?  Or rather, what's stayed the same?

For some reason, they reprinted Calvin's Monday comic on Thursday.  It took me until the Comic Collection Scientific Progress Goes Boink to find out what actually happened.  For some reason, Calvin dousing Susie with a domino Snowball was considered more acceptable than assaulting her with a shovelful of snow.

There were other instances where comics had the order they were supposed to appear switched.  In most cases, this had no effect whatsoever with their story.  For instance, here's the Adam that appeared on July 12, 1990, when he was exercising in a Gym that had Babysitting services, which he took advantage of:

And here's the comic that appeared the day after.  (Side note, the latter was in a book collection, but the former wasn't)

But here's how the comics page appeared on November 13:

As you can see from the above comics Garfield & For Better & For Worse, the dates are ALL for July 13th, but the Adam strip is for July 12th.  Which means the headphones were handed back to Adam After he took decided to use them for marketing purposes.

But these are minor nitpicks aimed at daily comics that are for the most part, pretty self-contained.  The one comic I most wanted to point out that fell prey to this kind of slipshod maneuvering that has a story arc that is certainly infamous around Internet comic circles.  Particularly around October 23, 1989.  But you'd never know that from the innocuous opening here:

Okay, so apart from Elly crashing her car, there doesn't seem to be anything entirely out of place.  But that wasn't until the very next day that a certain sense of wrongness seemed to manifest itself:

A 4-panel Garfield comic?  You hardly ever see those happening.  It's closer to a Sunday comic if anything.  And Garfield's character design seems to harken to his earlier draft.

By Wednesday, Gerfield reverts back to his familiar design, which is actually a rerun.  For some reason, Marmaduke seems affected as well.  It shares the same date - September 3rd.  Whether there was a similar controversial theme happening there, it doesn't seem to be obvious.  It wasn't until Thursday that I got the sense that there was something very wrong happening here:

Yes, you read right - I got a bunch of unrelated out-of-sequence Garfield comics on the one week when it was vital that they arrive in order; meaning I missed out on all the setup to Garfield's infamous Halloween sequence.  Fortunately, after this horrendous misstep, there doesn't seem to be any more noticeable mistakes on the Comics Page (that I can recall), but this is the one that stuck in my craw the most.  This was bigger than missing out the punchline to a nonessential daily strip.  This was getting the setup to what was essentially an actual horrorshow from one of the tamest enjoyable comics in the Funnies.  And I didn't get to experience it on a daily basis.

Just what editorial decision led to replacing the essential Garfield comics for this week without any preparation or fanfare, I can't imagine.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Confederate of Dunces

In the latest transparent attempt to deflect attention away from his numerous political blunders and his ties to Russia and Tax Returns, Trump decided to up the amp by trash-talking North Korea into inciting Nuclear War.  But that apparently wasn’t enough, because he then decided to incite a second Civil War within his own country.  One, that was probably long since coming.
"Don't worry.  Everything is fine."
The Charlottesville Rally was prompted when a Confederate General statue was going to be taken down.  Apparently, some people wouldn't take that lying down, making a stand through an intimidating show of force, consisting of marching around the area while chanting hateful screeds and carrying store-bought Tiki Torches.  Not even bothering to make their own - no, they had to use another culture's brand in order to preserve their own.
An unaltered still from the X-Men cartoon series.
Season 5, episode 13, "Hidden Agendas," originally aired Sept. 13, 1997.
They've even got Tiki Torches and Red Hats.
"Couldn't you get any pitchforks?"
"They only sell those at a discount to Immigrants, for some reason."
"They must be aligned with the Devil. That's the only reason I can think of."
The Charlottesville Rally was such a failure that it resulted in the outing of multiple White Supremacists who were identified, and later found themselves fired, disowned by their families, and wound up crying for being called out on their calls to incite violence.    It seems that it finally took the radicalization of dissatisfied youths and the unprovoked attack by car and death of a young white girl to finally shock the public out of their contemplacy.  But the real hitter was Trump’s hesitation in outright denouncing what should’ve been obvious from the outset, wanting to wait two days to “get all the facts”, when he’s condemned people in less time.  (Usually just an hour after meeting them)  Trump's great reluctance in condemning the Tiki-Nazis - an action that should've been a no-brainer for anybody with a single lick of common courtesy or political decorum.  But as we've seen time and time again, Trump has none of that self control, and his tactic of "Saying it like it is" made him unable to do the right thing, even when it would've helped his image.
Alt-Right reaction to Trump's condemnation:"He probably really doesn't mean it!"
But he couldn't even maintain the illusion long enough before he came crawling back into his warm hole of outrage, saying that "Both sides were complicit and to blame" for the violence.

NO, they're not equal!  One side called out for the suppression, eradication and removal of races not their own, while the other side wanted to stop such violence from taking place.  And the result of the latter was one of the Tiki-Nazis to drive a car unprovoked into a crowd, injuring many, and killing one.  In any other situation, a tragedy like this would normally go unnoticed as “Boys being boys”.  Instead, the Charlottesville Rally was labeled as Terrorist Incitement, and actually hastened the taking down of Confederate Statues, either by Government or by long-simmering protesters, when they would’ve normally been left alone.  Defeating the original intent of the gathering.

"We're Superior! Why should we have to work for it?! Let other unworthy ones out there do the tasks we don't have to soil our dainty hands with!""Then we can complain how they're not doing it right, without ever showing them how it could've been done better!"

If Hillary Clinton had been President, then all this aberrant behaviour would've been decried as being "perfectly normal".  But with an unabashed Racist-in-Chief in the White House empowering his base, we can no longer afford to stand back with a jaundiced cynical view, and pretend any of these outdated views are anything but normal.

And then Trump backtracked even further, saying that statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would've been taken down next, since those guys owned slaves too.  More false equivalence.  The difference being - the former politicians helped found the United States, while the Confederates wanted to tear the country apart.  Apologists for the Confederacy say that the war they fought was for land, self-determination, not the right to own slaves.  For people who constantly tell Hillary Clinton supporters that "You lost, get over it!" they seem surprisingly reluctant to take their own advice.

“If there are any Nazis or White Supremacists who are "also very fine people," as you say, could you be bothered to NAME them?”
"Of Course! There was... George Washington! A Fine Upstanding man who also happened to own slaves. And Thomas Jefferson, who - "
"Any RECENT fine upstanding men?"
"Apart from me, who has never owned slaves or joined any Rallies, I can't think of anybody more upstanding than me. Other than Putin of course."
“Did you just - ”
"Hamilton! And Frederick Douglass!!  They probably owned slaves, amirite?"
It was suggested that the best way to get rid of the Confederate Statues was to tell Trump they’d be replaced with sculptures of himself.   They’d all be gone by tomorrow.
“I AM THE GREATEST CONFEDERATE GENERAL IN HISTORY! AND DON'T LET ANYBODY FORGET IT!!! General Grant? Looked a lot like me. Lee? We share a remarkable resemblance. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson? They could be mistaken for twins. All photos and statues shall be replaced with my Beautiful Beautiful look for historical posterity, and be surrounded by Beautiful Women. All Tens. No Nines.”
"This is not what I meant when I said
I wanted to be surrounded by pretty birds!"
All this happened during the course of what should’ve been his 17-day Vacation.  During the Month of August, which is normally the most Boring political month of the year.  If THIS is what counts as boring, then what’s coming up must be so truly mind-blowing it’ll make the last three weeks look like a prologue you'll page-flip through to get to the main action.

It took this little for the people to finally proclaim that they wouldn’t stand for this any longer.  Did this finally get through your thick skulls?  Did you finally get it??  Did you finally learn?!?  And even this much is still not enough to penetrate some people's mental defenses.  Such as Omarosa Manigault who tore up about her Black friends abandoning her once she revealed she supported Trump.
"I used to be able to prove I wasn't Racist by pointing out my Black Friends!"
I have to admit my ignorance in this, since I knew practically nothing of this, since US Confederacy is a very different beast from Canadian Confederation.  Also in being divorced from overhearing what other people say (especially behind my back), I've never been fraught with this kind of upbringing, so understanding the irrational rationale behind this is all kinds of illuminating.
"'Racist' is the N-word for white people."
I've heard it said that the difference between America and Germany's approach to homegrown war crimes is that the Germans were constantly reminded of their history - the atrocities their people did before they were born, outright slaughtering Jews & other races, while the rest of the population looked the other way because they were scared - and the Americans weren’t.  Americans were never forced to face up to the harsh treatment they endowed upon their slaves, looking at the scarred backside of an indentured servant who displeased their masters over slights real or imagined.  Instead, they were spoon-fed a false history where they were cheated out of clear victory without ever having those facts challenged or verified.  Usually in museums that offered a hyped up war with a slanted view of the past.  And once you have those views challenged, the immediate reaction to the threat against their fragile well-being, they respond back the only way they know how - with threats and violence.

Which isn't easy, considering how Racist acts tend to be rewarded more than punished.  Movies such as The Lone Ranger, Ghost in the Shell and Gods of Egypt, which normally would have had visible minorities in these roles, but were replaced by White actors in an unashamed way of White-washing.  Even when it's been consistently shown that minorities are a big draw for those crowds representing them, and when appropriating stories that include them.  There are more than enough Black Slaves and Black Hood stories done that it becomes uncomfortable in itself.  How about having one about a Black Man tasked with Saving the World instead of some White dude?  Already, there are people complaining about upcoming Marvel movie, Black Panther, because it meant there would only be Thirty-Six Movies about Heoric White Saviors instead of Thirty-Seven.  You've already got all those other Action movies.  Let them have their day in the sun.
A totally unidentifiable unrelatable improbable main character.
As an example of the above, the producers behind Game of Thrones, which had its fair share of problematic elements of portrayal of White Saviors, and extended Rape plot elements were signed on for their next show, Confederation, showing an alternate reality of what would've happened if the South won the Civil War.  This is potentially dangerous, since Blacks are already living in such a reality.  It's not like The Handmaiden's Tale, which shows Female repression with Religious slant that's already happening, since it's from the viewpoint of the prisoner.  This show would be from the viewpoint of the oppressors - whose line of thought towards lesser races would be that these "uppity people need to learn their place".  Which is particularly annoying for those of us who've been decrying about Trump's toxic thinking from Day One.  It's like saying that their insights don't matter until a White Person says it for them.
Perpetual Headline:
"This was Trump's Worst Week."
Postdated from Last Week. 
A far better option would be the sales pitch for Black America, which sounds much more interesting:
“It envisions an alternate history where newly freed African Americans have secured the Southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama post-Reconstruction as reparations for slavery, and with that land, the freedom to shape their own destiny. The sovereign nation they formed, New Colonia, has had a tumultuous and sometimes violent relationship with its looming ‘Big Neighbor,’ both ally and foe, the United States. The past 150 years have been witness to military incursions, assassinations, regime change, coups, etc. Today, after two decades of peace with the U.S. and unprecedented growth, an ascendant New Colonia joins the ranks of major industrialized nations on the world stage as America slides into rapid decline. Inexorably tied together, the fate of two nations, indivisible, hangs in the balance.”
Chances are the general reaction from surrounding States would be something like when whole Black towns were wiped off the map and their history erased.  Ironically and fittingly enough, in Charlottesville of all places.  For those who’d want to see what a Black civilization that’s not under threat of being dominated or overruled by Whites, check out Aya of Yop City.  It features a wide array of differently shaded people on the Ivory Coast in a Soap Opera Setting.

All of this is just a longwinded way of getting to what I really wanted to show - a brief 4chan board post on their Political Forum.  4chan usually indulges in Unpolitically Correct memes, and one of these was Make Slave Master Journal Entries in the style of recent twitter summaries.  I've taken the liberty of taking some of the funniest comments and softening some of the more hateful language, but otherwise, the message remains on point. For anyone who's culturally sensitive, feel free to skip this section.  For those who want to skirt the boundaries of humour and good taste, feel free to take the plunge.

Chances are, this is pretty close to what Confederation would be like:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Marvin Talks!

In recent comics, there have been instances where Marvin has been shown talking to babies, and even the Family Dog, but rarely to his parents, with rare exceptions.

When Marvin DID speak, it was usually at the expense of a joke.  Like Maggie being the only Simpsons kid to call Homer 'Daddy' when no one was paying attention to her.  Only, you know, more filled with mean-spiritedness than pathos.

But there was an instance where Marvin suddenly gained the power of speech in full view of his Father, and made no attempt to cover it up.

All those years of pent-up silence was obviously the result of having nothing of substance to say.  And THIS was the apparent moment to respond to a perfectly inane request.  You'd think that after all those years of silence (save for crying at night), Marvin's first words would be of higher quality.

So, having had a chance to have a heart-felt conversation with his son, what does the Father think?  That his baby's a natural-born prodigy?  Enroll him for an early scholarship?  Hah hah, nope.  Indulge in Moichendising!

Child Prodigies have a tendency to burn out quickly, due to too much attention, pressure and demand on their still-budding talents.  Especially in a fragile state where they're likely to do all of their parent's bidding.  (What genius is going to say no?)  So, better make the most out of them while you still can!

Isn't that just typical of men?  As soon as a big secret is revealed, their first instinct is to hide it from the women, who'd very possibly overreact from such a revelation.

Which winds up being a moot point, since they wind up telling her anyways.

And even more moot when word leaks out to the world.  Keeping a talking baby under wraps is harder than you'd think, since everybody and their mother want to tell their friends and their foes about a 1-year old with coherent vocal chords.  This was clearly inspired by Look Who's Talking, and Look Who's Talking Too, the latter of which was just released in 1990 the year this comic saw print.

Marvin's ability is so impressive that he's featured on multiple magazines and newspapers, two of which have Roseanne in their subheadlines.  Pay attention to her measurements in the 1st panel:

Marvin's status improves to the point that he goes on talk shows that are no longer around.  He's now outlived the caricatures these people are based on.

The implications of this are downright disturbing.  Marvin is already considering getting married to someone just so he can get rid of them later for added publicity.  In an era where Hot Mamas are a desired trait, Marvin's mother has been safely left off the radar, because Toddlercon isn't a taboo enough subject that's gained much popularity anytime soon.

At this point, you begin to wonder if Tom Armstrong has certain wish-fulfillment fantasies that he'd like to have play out.  Marvin's popularity has exceeded to the point of ridicule that you begin to wonder just where it'll end.

And of course, it does so in the most disappointing manner possible.  So much for changing the status quo!