Archive for May, 2008

General Bullmoose, Comic Book Fan?

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

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Happy Decoration Day readers! This week, as promised, are the first two chapters of the L’IL ABNER story, “Corporal Crock” which started March 30, 1973. I have scanned the first two strips from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch full page comic section, so I couldn’t close the lid all the way down on top of it, and the scan is a bit light because of that. Next week, we’ll find out more about General Bullmoose’s “ideel”, Corporal Crock.

I have received a few more comments on the “Joanie Phoanie” strips that ran over the past several weeks. Here’s one from Mike Fontanelli, cartoonist and Al Capp Collector:

Thanks again for printing the Joanie Phoanie strips.   I never knew what all the fuss was about, and now that I’ve finally seen them – I still don’t know what all the fuss was about!  
It seems to me the most offensive aspect was the fact that some of the dialog – and at least one whole daily strip – was censored!  As a free speech advocate, that’s a lot more troubling than anything actually in the strips.
It’s my professional opinion that Capp’s vivid portrayal of student protesters and “hippies” were really no more of a caricature than the hillbillies that regularly populated Dogpatch, anyway.  (I also think it’s ironic that Capp called them “wildly indignant” – and they’ve been reacting with wild indignation ever since!)

Speaking of censored strips, Mike, here are some enlightening words from eminent cartoon authority, Cole Johnson:

The missing dialogue in the 2-1-67 strip, as it appeared in the Washington Post : Joannie’s assistant says: “Why not keep the kid, Joannie baby? You’re supposed to love little people!” Joannie’s word balloon, much larger in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is shrunk down around “Oh, well, I’ll send him to school!!” in the WP. The missing 2-3-67 episode has fly-encircled Joannie with Honest Abe in her mansion, declaring what a wonderful, warm-hearted mother she’ll be to…what’s your name again, kid? Then she tells Abe how you can tell the servants to do anything you want, and a delighted Abe joyously jumps in the air at the prospect.In addition, the 2-9-67 strip ran in the Washington Post with the same “remaining” words as in the chiseled-up first balloon, only this time, they have been rearranged into a smaller and tighter balloon you’d never imagine to have been tampered with. The 2-11-67 strip also had no balloon at all from Joannie Phoanie. Since the WP ran their strips in the conventional B/W, there is nothing to imagine there would be a comment by her, but the Post-Dispatch had a color background which clearly shows the “ghost” of a balloon. I’ll try to get some copies of these for you! The Washington Post could certainly match the Post-Dispatch for left-wing aspects, and raise it. I wonder if this delightful sequence ran differently in a conservative paper, like the fondly remembered Philadelphia Bulletin?

(Mark here) It seems the Washington Post and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch were sister papers in their attitude towards editing (censoring) L’IL ABNER. They even re-lettered and re-arranged the balloons to suit their individual editors’s tastes. Cole may send the missing strip, 2-3-67, along soon. When he does, I will post it here. Maybe Cole has some of the missing MARVELOUS MIKE strips as well; MIKE also ran in the Washington Post.Also this week, MARVELOUS MIKE winds up the “Baby Baker” storyline (from 7/2/56 to 7/7/56 with July 4th missing) and starts the Crumps off on a cruise with the money they’ve won. The Jim Tyer Felix Dell pages this week are from “A Sample Assignment” continuing Felix’s search for Kitty’s fabric sample at the department store. All the comics I reprint here generally fall into the “humouous (or ‘hoomerous’) continuity” type of strip. They are not necessarily telling a joke every day, but amuse because they LOOK funny. They tell a story that may actually be serious underneath the clown make-up. MARVELOUS MIKE is certainly an example of that “sad clown” syndrome, sometimes Mike is very emotionally moved at his adopted parents’s problems. He is very serious and efficient at almost everything he does, the humor mostly comes from Cliff Crump’s Dagwood-like clumsiness. Cathy and I painted a flower garden in Sierra Madre, CA. last week with our painting group and ran into our friend William Wray on the main street, Sierra Madre Blvd. Bill is an imaginative plein air oil painter and lives in Sierra Madre, his comment to us: “What are you guys doing in my town?” Go to his website www.williamwray.com and look at his book “Dirty Beauty”, it’s full of Bill’s contemporary “ashcan school” oil paintings of the Los Angeles urban landscape. Thanks for all the great comments on the “Joanie” stories, see you next time with more Bullmoose, Mike and Felix.

The Last of Joanie

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

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Hello again, here are the final episodes of the “Joanie Phoanie” storyline in L’il Abner. This week’s  episodes are from 2/6/67 to the following Monday, 2/13/67. Honest Abe really deserves his spanking this time! You will note that the Post-Dispatch censored the dialog on 2/9, and Joanie’s dialog balloon on 2/11 is completely blank! A few of Joan’s contemporaries sneak into the strip, Bob Dylan on 2/8, Abbie Hoffman on 2/11 and could the man with the dark beard in the first panel of 2/13 be Allen Ginsberg? Next week I will start reprinting an Abner story from 1973.

Also this week we have Marvelous Mike from 6/25/57 to 6/30. Cliff Crump as usual don’t get no respect! Mike bakes great biscuits and all Mr. Kimball does is yell at Cliff about them. I would call this story “The Baby Baker”.  The next two pages of “A Sample Assignment” from Felix #4 by Jim Tyer brings up the post-ier. Note Tyer’s patented sweat drops on pg. 2, in the close-up of nervous Felix. It’s hotter n’ blazes in Glendale this weekend, I’m staying inside and blogging. Remember if you have any comments write to me at molasses@earthlink.net. I will assume that your letters are for publication unless you tell me the remarks are private. Bill Warren was a little upset over Mike Fontanelli’s comments on his comments. He thought that Mike got a little too personal. I erred in reprinting Bill’s letter verbatim, he thought his remarks were private. My apologies to Mr. Warren. See you next time.

Cappe Diem

Monday, May 12th, 2008

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Hi Folks, here are the next episodes of Joanie Phoanie, 1/30 67-2/4/67, with 2/3 missing. Either my Dad didn’t bring home the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that night, or the Post dropped Abner that day. Of the two newspapers in St. Louis, The Globe-Democrat and the Post-Dispatch, the Post was the most liberal. When Capp started satirizing the Left, the Post responded by censoring L’il Abner on some days, and dropping the strip for a day or sometimes weeks, if they didn’t like a particular story line. Look at the strip for 2/1 above, in which Joanie and her manager discuss Honest Abe, there is missing dialog in the balloons. Wait until you see what the Post did to some of the strips I will run next week!

We have a comment from Thad Komorowski, cartoon scholar and web master:

I’ve loved seeing the Joanie Phoanie Abner strips on your blog!  It’s not a very good continuity though.  The problems are that it’s just not funny (like the strip once was on a regular basis) and Capp draws a good-looking woman (Baez) as a hideous crone.  You just know Capp was getting unhealthily bitter if he passes up the opportunity to draw a hot woman.

I pointed out earlier that Capp’s caricature of Joan Baez looked a lot like Nightmare Alice! He didn’t want to make Joanie an attractive woman, because Capp usually made the outsides of his characters reflect their insides. He had a low opinion of Joanie’s character, therefore he couldn’t make her look “hot”. Of course I loved Daisy Mae as a kid, but for some reason I thought Moonbeam McSwine was the most alluring woman in Dogpatch, even though she never bathes! I think I liked her clothes with all the missing parts and popped stitches, very stimulating to the imagination! My friend Larry Loc sent some interesting  Capp anecdotes from cartoonist Tex Blaisdell to me from over at his blog: www.agni-animation.com/blog/ . Go over there and read them, and tell him I sent you!

Also this week we have MARVELOUS MIKE from 6/18 to 6/23/1956, in which he shows his prowess as a biscuit baker, and Jim Tyer’s Felix the Cat in “A Sample Assignment”, the first two pages of the story from Felix #4. I love those scrappy housewives in the last panel on the second page!

Believe it or not, my next short cartoon, “There Must Be Some Other Cat” is making progress! Greg Ford, Igor, Kim Miskoe and all the artists are doing some beautiful work. I have seen quite a few sample cels and I made a small animation correction to Sc. 24. I hope I will have a complete pencil test by the end of this month! I will keep you POST-ed! My wife and I are going to take a trip to Catalina Island next month to paint with our Thursday group once again, we are really looking forward to painting the old Casino, boats, gulls and tourists stuffing their faces! Remember, send any comments to my email address: molasses@earthlink.net. See you next week.

Soothing Postum

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

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Howdy everyone! The Abner Phoanies continue with episodes from 1-23-67 to 1-28-67. Joanie is so lazy she lets Daisy Mae run for her in the Sadie Hawkins day race! In the interests of continued debate, here is Mike Fontanelli’s (Cartoonist, Al Capp Collector) rebuttal to Bill Warren’s (Film Critic, Author) screed about Al Capp’s politics and zeitgeist:

You recently posted a response to the Capp material from someone named Bill Warren, “Internet Film Reviewer” – who “reviews” the Joanie Phoanie continuity – even though it had barely begun – with words like “contempt-laden”, “repellent”, “smug”, and (very classy for a film critic) “crap”. (I wonder what Mr Warren’s reaction would be to National Lampoon’s notorious parody of Joan Baez: “Pull The Trigger, N—–“, from RADIO DINNER.)

With breathtaking insight, Mr Warren points out that Abner is only “stupid because he’s a hillbilly”, and General Bullmoose, although a financial tyrant, is “not stupid”. (Are we asked to believe that Capp intended Bullmoose as a positive portrayal? Then I can’t for the life of me figure out – why is Bullmoose always the villain?) There was always an “elitism” in LI’L ABNER, according to this genius, and he points out that comic strip parodies are really due to the cartoonist being “envious”. Chester Gould evidently was “jealous” of PEANUTS when he did SAWDUST, Mr Warren helpfully suggests. By Mr Warren’s reasoning, Walt Kelly was jealous of Harold Gray when he did LULU ARFIN’ NANNY, and Harvey Kurtzman was apparently jealous of SUPERMAN, ARCHIE, and – just about everything else!

“I don’t recall seeing any traces of that kind of stuff in Schulz’s work,” sniffs Bill Warren, who doesn’t understand satire or parody nearly as well as he understands science fiction. May we infer that Snoopy’s infatuation with “The Six Bunny-Wunnies” series of kiddie books was due to Schulz’s jealousy of Margaret Wise Brown?  Or do different rules apply when Mr Warren is speaking of a comic strip that he actually understands?The real “elitism” at play is in Mr Warren’s camp.  Unlike Gary Trudeau, Capp slammed the left AND the right – but only the left responded with thin-skinned, humorless moral outrage and offended indignation.

Lighten up, Bill – it’s only a comic strip!

That’s Mike’s reaction, maybe Bill will respond, but I don’t think he will. It’s MY opinion that the Joanie Phoanie sequence is about as far right as Capp got in the strip. I’ve been reading a lot of the 1970s Abners lately, and the political part of the strip is very subtle, Capp usually saves his harshest barbs for “welfare cheaters” and “lazy” people. The citizens of Dogpatch may be dumb, but they never shirk hard work when absolutely necessary.  I think Al had more affection for the town of Dogpatch and it’s “culture”, than it’s individual citizens, like Abner, Daisy Mae, Earthquake McGoon. Mammy is the only really admirable character in Dogpatch, and she stayed that way until the end of the strip.  Speaking of General Bullmoose, as Mike just did, I am hoping to reprint a very funny Abner story from 1973 with the General as a comic book collector! Remember if you have any comments, just send them to me at molasses@earthlink.net.

Also this week we have MARVELOUS MIKE from 6-11-56 to 6-16-56, Mike gets his father off the hook for the bank robbery, and tries to help Mom with her biscuits.

To round off the menu, we have Jim Tyer’s Felix in “Tale of A Fish”, the next two pages. Until next week, try a relaxing cup of Instant Postum, relax and don’t post so much!