The first page of a new comic teaching irony. I had just finished the new Kurtzman book when I came up with this idea, and I think it show a lot of his influence. In particular, the guy is based on the Clark Kent character from Superduperman.
We are all aware of the value of adding a mascot to a product when you are trying to sell it. Think of the value for this with kid’s cereals: Count Chocula, Cap’n Crunch, Tony the Tiger…those guys are forever imprinted in our minds from lazy Saturday mornings watching cartoons in front of the television. And of course if you didn’t want to pay some advertising firm to create some sort of mascot for you, you could always borrow one from the comic strips page, like Dennis the Menace, who shilled Dilly Bars for Dairy Queen, or the Peanuts gang, who endorsed Zingers (although I never knew anyone who actually ate one.)
But then there’s Andy Capp’s Hot Fries, an association which I find a bit puzzling. Who decided that a lazy, drunk Englishman would be a good face for their product, much less a strip that very few people read? I’m not even sure that Andy Capp appears in that many papers anymore.
I suspect that the company that produces Hot Fries was faced with a small advertising budget and, unable to secure Garfield or Family Circus or Ziggy, was stuck with Capp. There certainly could have been other interesting possibilities from second tier strips, such as Herman, Cathy, or Mark Trail. But Andy Capp it is.
L:ike any junk food, Andy Capp’s Hot Fries have a small but loyal Quisp-like following, perhaps enhanced by the fact that they are somewhat difficult to locate unless you live in a small town where a Speedway is the only place where you can buy groceries. You can order them from amazon, but many people complained that when they received them all the bags were passed their expiration date. I’m not sure why this would make any difference with these things, which are clearly not made from too many natural ingredients. Not to mention that eating more than half a bag requires a steel intestinal fortitude that not many people have unless you have spent months in a prison camp overseas.
One of the perks of living in Columbus is being so close to the Billy Ireland Cartoon library and museum. Or I should say it should be one of the perks, because I don’t really spend much time there. It would be cool if it was the sort of place where they had old comic books strewn about tables and stacks full of old MAD magazine paperbacks that you could browse through, but really it’s much more into preservation and research than borrowing. You can’t check anything out, and if you want to look at something, they have to get it for you. Still, there’s quite a lot of fun stuff there.
Surprisingly, I have never taken advantage of going to the Festival of Cartoon Art either, but this year I decided I will finally take the plunge and attend. It’s only five minutes away form my house, so I really have no excuse for not going, and I’m hoping that I’ll run into some guys like John Read that I’ve emailed back and forth with but never met in person. Should be a good time. The speaker list is stellar, too. I have always enjoyed Roz Chast’s New Yorker cartoons more than the others, which is of course saying a lot. I remember reading Bill Griffith’s Zippy when it was in Hoot!, the short-lived humor publication in Columbus. I’m hoping to meet Dan Piraro, as he was very influential in my development as a cartoonist as I mentioned in a previous post. I will probably skip Matt Groening as I’m not a big Simpsons fan (although I suspect he might stick to the cartooning side of his life). Spiegelman will be the subject of a retorspective there soon, and I’ll definitely try to catch him, although his session might be just as difficult to get into.
There’s also some special events in celebration of Kray Kat’s 100th birthday. Although i’m not the biggest Krazt Kat fan, I do admire the strip and look forward to seeing what they have to offer.
Here’s a link to information about the festival: http://cartoons.osu.edu/fca2010/
Defintely worth checking out. I can’t wait!
Several years ago I came up with the brilliant idea of using my birthday to accrue collections of things. This is how I got every Beatles CD a year at a time and also developed a sizable Dave Brubeck collection. I also have asked for every edition of the Best American Comic Series. In each case I have not bought anything from the particular artist/series on my own, but rather waited for my birthday until the next installment.
The idea here was that every year my parents would not only no longer need a list, but would enjoy the hunt. “Which Beatles CD should we get him this year? Last year we got him “Past Masters Vol. 2” they might say as they thoughtfully considered what to purchase. Sadly, this isn’t what happened. They don’t seem to remember the collection idea, and couldn’t tell you anything that they bought me last year.
One of the true treasures of the past few years has been getting a new volume of the complete “Terry and the Pirates” series. This year it’s volume 3, and like with the past ones, it takes a little while to get through. Before I started collecting the books, I had very limited knowledge of the strip. But with the knowledge that it was considered the best adventure strip even written, I decided to take a risk. It wasn’t my money, right?
I have been pleasantly surprised, especially now that in the third volume the strips and stories are consistently good. It’s a wonderfully well-crafted strip with superb artwork and intricate story lines that must have been a chore to pop out every day (I know he had assistants, bit still.)
I am intrigued by the concept of the continuing storyline strip as it has all but dies out now. I doubt you could even market one to a syndicate today. This is really the only way I have read an adventure strip (in collected editions) and I find it a little hard to follow them in a daily format. I subscribe to “Li’l Abner” through their syndicate and find it hard to remember what happens day to day. Perhaps readers in the past were a little better at retaining such things (or had a little more at stake – I have the Li’l Abner stuff in books already, so I can always see them again, which when they came out, was not assured unless you saved them.)
Nevertheless, a terrific read. I’m looking forward to the other two volumes, as well as delving into the Scorchy Smith and Rip Kirby stuff as well.
I have absolutely loved Dan Piraro’s strip “Bizarro” for years and am a daily visitor to his
blog. In addition to posting his latest daily comic (in color) he offers a little commentary, a couple goofy links, and the occasional contest. None of this generates any money for him, I suspect; he just does it for the love of the field and the amusement of the people who visit his blog. His goofy sense of humor I actually liked better than the Far Side and his artwork is a heck of a lot more interesting, too. “Bizarro” will probably never be regarded as a classic, but it is one of the few strips that made me interesting in creating comics (and a few of the strips I did for “The Lantern” at Ohio State had a definite Bizarro feel to the jokes.)
When Piraro mentioned on his blog that his quasi-autobiogaphy “Bizarro and Other Strange Manifestations of the Art of Dan Piraro” was out of print, I immediately went to amazon to locate a copy (I could have obtained it at the library, but I always like to own cartoon books.) As it turns out, it wasn’t particularly hard to find or all that expensive. I snapped up a copy.
I was able to read the thing in a day today, mainly because I’m shacked up with the stomach flu (I’m sure Piraro would appreciate this on some level) and really enjoyed the insight Piraro provided into his life and working methods. I have always enjoyed collections of cartoons where the artist provides commentary, and this one is full of them. We get a sense of why he is so passionate about animal rights (and so lacking in passion for George W. Bush) but I was really surprised to see how accomplished he was as a painter. Some of his work is quite astounding. Piraro would like to eventually paint instead of doing comics. It’s clear he derives a lot of satisfaction from this as well. His realistically rendered humans somehow still have that Bizarro sense to them.
Sadly, the section of favorite comics was not as long as I would have liked it to be. Most of the ones there I hadn’t seen, as they were from the gap between when Columbus’s humor magazine “Hoot” went under and the advent of the Internet.
Sadly, Bizarro isn’t as widely read as it should be; perhaps the humor is a little too esoteric for most people’s tastes. We don’t have it in Columbus, and I don’t believe it’s in the Chicago Tribune (the other paper I see regularly). Instead, we get the unfunny retreads of Marmaduke and Ziggy and other corporate creations.
Here’s a Bizarro comic I thought was pretty funny. This isn’t the one I’ve seen, however; apparently, he reworked the picture and resubmitted it.