The Secret Identity of Super-Mickey

Cartoon villains take note; Super-Mickey’s secret identity is Filbert Hazelnut. I make that revelation without worry. After all, Mickey is not really me. So, if the Messmaster, Badnose the Clown, or Daniel Quilp are going to try to apply the Mickian version of Kryptonite, not laughing at the jokes, in order to slay Super-Mickey, Filbert is immune to that. I am too for that matter. If you are a school teacher who uses humor in the classroom, you soon learn that only the smartest kids actually understand the jokes, and half of them are just too cool to laugh when the teacher wants them to. (Although they will tell you years later that they still use concrete details in their writing because you said that if you routinely whack the reader in the head with verifiable concrete examples, they will be totally stunned enough to believe you know what you are writing about. That was, you must understand, a concrete detail I just whacked you with to help you remember what it is, not to make you laugh… even though it was a joke… but you are permitted to laugh if you want to.)

The basic point of this essay is Mickey is not really me. I never went by that name as a kid.

I was always called Michael, sometimes Mike (though they were usually talking about the Other Mike when anybody said Mike in school back then… circa 1963 to 1969). In high school I was given the nickname Superchicken after the Saturday Morning cartoon on the George of the Jungle Show. In college I was given the rhyming nickname Spike by my college freshman roommate because he ludicrously thought I was the opposite of a Spike, like calling a huge football player Tiny Tim, or a midget Big Bad John.

When I started teaching school, they called me Gilligan because I was thin and they wanted to pretend I was a hopeless stumbling fool (Which I was at times my first two years, just as all beginner teachers are.) My classroom became known as Gilligan’s Island on the day in third period when I made the comment, “Gilligan is lucky enough to be the only really eligible bachelor on the same island with Ginger the movie star and cute little Mary Ann. I would find out later that same day that three eighth grade girls in that very class had huge crushes on me and were fighting over which one was Mary Ann and which one was Ginger and, unsurprisingly, which one was the other girl.

And, of course, Rudolfo Hernandez tried to get everybody to call me Batman because I bought a used Ford Torino with fins on the back. But to promote the nickname, Rudy came to class wearing a Halloween Batman mask and afterwords had to learn to live with being called Battyman himself. (I wish i could take credit for calling him that first, but I am sure I did not. I distinctly remember it coming from a girl in his class that made fun of him for every stupid thing he did because she apparently adored him. I just reinforced it about a thousand times.)

Mickey is a name that I have only ever been called by me myself. It was a name I signed some of my cartoons with (using The Little Fool, Le Petit Fou, Leah Cim Reyeb, and Dr. Seebreez on the rest.) It also became the name I use to refer to myself on this blog when I talk about myself in the third person like a crazy person.

I have given myself other pseudo-pen-names in my writing. Googol Marou, as the only first-person narrator of the AeroQuest series, speaks with my voice as the primary storyteller in the tale. In Norwall, the fictionalized version of Rowan, Iowa in most of my other books, Branch McMillan, the writer-character, is actually me. (Like Charles Dickens switched his initials to write the semi-autobiographical David Copperfield, I created that one by switching the M and the B.

Of course, the many me-characters in my fiction books are also basically me. Superchicken is me. Milt Morgan is a combination of me and the Other Mike. Brent Clarke is the football-player me combined with two other football teammates. Certain parts of Todd Niland’s story are really about things that happened to me, and things I was afraid of at his age.

In some ways Tim Kellogg and Dorin Dobbs are me too, though both of those characters are actually based on my eldest son. It is possible, I suppose, that you could consider my actual son to be a me-character too, as people do live on through their own children.

But, while Mickey might be me more than I care to admit, Super-Mickey’s secret identity is definitely Filbert Hazelnut.

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Filed under autobiography, cartoons, humor, novel writing, Paffooney

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