Category Archives: cartoon review

Wally Wood

wally-wood-portrait

A self-portrait by Wallace Wood.

I am a bit of a cartoonist for a reason.  I started drawing cartoons at the age of five.  I read everything in the Sunday funny pages, not just for the jokes.  I poured over the drawings and copied some.  I drew Dagwood Bumstead and Blondie.  I drew Lil’ Abner and Charlie Brown and Pogo.  Cartoonists were heroes to me.

But my parents wanted to protect me from the evils of comic books.  Superheroes were off limits most of the time.  Things that are associated with evil were out of the question.  So Daredevil was beyond reach.  And Mad Magazine was full of socialist ideas and led kids down the dark path of satire.  So the truth is, I didn’t discover Wally Wood until I was in college.  His corrupting influence didn’t take hold of me until I was older and full of hormones.  Ah, youth and the propensity for sin!  Wally taught me that cartoons could be real.

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Wally Wood was one of the original artists working for EC comics who formed Mad Magazine with it’s spoofs and irreverent humor.  Wood worked together with the Great Will Eisner on the Spirit.  He went on to work for Marvel on the comic book Daredevil where he innovated the red suit and double-D logo, as well as doing the primary story-telling that brought that comic book from the bottom of the Marvel stack to almost the very top.  His work on Daredevil resonates even until today where there is now a big controversy that the popular show on Netflix does not list Wood among the creators of Daredevil in their credits.  I must remember to complain about that later.

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But the thing that drew me to Wood more than anything was the realistic style that he brought to the unreal realm of cartoons.  The man could draw!  He did marvelous detail work and was a leader in the development of dynamic composition in an artistic industry that tolerated and even often encouraged really poor-quality drawing.  He took the comic book from the age of the glorified stick figure to an age of cinematic scope and know-how.  Here it is revealed in his classic break-down of innovative comic-book panels;

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But it is also important to realize that the more power you put into art, the more it can blow up and hurt people.  Wood had a dark side that went a bit darker as he went along.  He had an issue with the kind of false front comics had to throw up in front after the anti-comics crusade of psychologist Fredric Wertham’s book Seduction of Innocents.  He is probably the artist behind the cartoon poster The Disneyland Memorial Orgy.  He started his own cartoon studio that produced increasingly erotic and pornographic comics like Sally Forth, Cannon, and Gangbang.  He became increasingly ill, lost the sight in one eye, suffered severe headaches, and eventually committed suicide in 1981.  With great power comes great responsibility, and we are not all superheroes in the end.  But I will always admire and emulate the work of this great artist… and selfishly wish he could’ve lived to create more of the wonderful art he gave us.

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So Ugly…It’s Beautiful?

Lena the Hyena appeared in Al Capp’s comic strip Li’l Abner in 1946.

Basil Wolverton (1909 to 1978) became famous as a cartoonist by winning a contest. He submitted the picture of Lena to Al Capp’s newspaper strip to answer the question of what Lena, who had been appearing for weeks in Li’l Abner underneath a black square with an editor’s warning printed on it that she was just too ugly to be revealed, actually looked like. Capp ran the contest to depict Lena and selected Wolverton’s drawing from among 500,000 entries. I think Capp got it right when he chose this to be the world’s ugliest woman.

Wolverton had done comics before this one amazingly ugly picture. He did Spacehawk for Target Comics up to 1942, and he did a comic series called Powerhouse Pepper for Timely Comics (which is the company that became Marvel after the 1940’s.) But Lena not only brought him fame, it really started him down the path of his intensely detailed “spaghetti and meatballs” style of rather ugly comic art.

He used millions of little dots and lines to create art that would really soak up the printer’s ink supply and gave his artwork a uniquely “pointillistic” look.

Recognize these as portraits of Presidents and politicians?

Here’s Wolverton’s portrait of Bing Crosby.

And here’s monster movie monarch, Boris Karloff.

But what really made Wolverton’s unique artwork popular and lucrative was his uniquely twisted and downright ugly portraits.

ugh! wotta beauty!

Ain’t this one… um… unique?

He would go on to be featured in Mad Magazine, Cracked, Panic Magazine, and Topp’s trading card series of Ugly Posters. He managed to do work that reached amazing levels of monstrously ugly humorous mastery of pen and ink drawings.

For years Basil made me laugh. But there’s no denying it… Basil masterfully drew really, really ugly artwork.

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Only Bad Guys Seize the Moment?

Political opinions are like dead fish…

You have to use them while they’re fresh because they quickly start to smell bad, and they then can make you ill.

He never should’ve won in the first place. He lost the popular vote. FBI Director Comey and the Russians gave him boosts over the finish line that he didn’t deserve. And after he got away with stealing the election, he went on a crime spree that went completely unchallenged by his own party. In fact, as the party totally in power, they supported some of the very worst offenses he committed against the average people of the United States. He took away environmental regulations to hurry along the killing of our atmosphere, and eventually the biosphere of the whole planet. He struck damage into renewable energy initiatives, pulled out of the Climate Accords, and championed polluting coal over anything sensible in the name of bringing back coal industry jobs, which he promptly failed to bring back.

He undercut farmers by taking away Chinese markets with tariffs, thereby contributing to hunger in China, bankruptcy for family farms, and a boom in China sales by Brazilian farmers.

He then screwed over DACA recipients who are basically raised to be Americans, kidnapped children from asylum seekers at the Southern border, and spewed hate-and-fear rhetoric all over the American media mindset.

He has subverted the basic values of not only the Republican Party, but the whole of the United States as well.

So, we used our voting power. And a record number of votes were cast to bring him his karmic reward.

But my question now is simple. Are we really gonna let him run again in 2024? He committed high crimes and misdemeanors. Shouldn’t we lock him up rather then let him continue to steal money from Republican donors, throw anti-election tantrums, and produce the touring company of the Rudy Giuliani Clown Show?

Pat Bagley / Salt Lake Tribune

Any other worker fired for total incompetence would immediately be shown the door and the replacement would immediately get the chance to start fixing the damage his incompetence caused.

Can’t we do that now? Why does this cat get to poop in the government sandbox for another month and a half? Do we really have a shortage of turds in Washington? Flush him already!!! If he were anything but a Republican, he would’ve been down the toilet hole after his first year.

They say you don’t get the government you vote for; you get the government you deserve. But what did I ever do wrong to deserve this?

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Polly Ticks

Politics are complicated. Our economic and quality-of-life issues are basically killing us during this pandemic. And you cannot blame it all on the Simian in Chief. Or even on his Mean Monkey Party (GOP stands for Greedy Old Primates). They get a lot more of the justified blame than they are willing to accept without a lot of monkey howls and poop throwing. But not all the greedy evil people are Monkey Party People. There are definite problems with the black spots on the armor of the white knights we were depending on to slay the dragons.

The problems with Herr Twitler, the Chaos Clown have only gotten worse. We failed to hold him responsible for any of the many crimes he has committed. Impeached, but turning impeachment into peachy pie, Trumpalumpa the Oompaloompa is now able to do anything his manic monkey mind can conjure up for him to use against us. We suffer for the crimes of being poor, or a minority, or an immigrant. No matter what he does to us, he will get away with it, and then take away the whistle-blowers’ whistles and turn all Inspectors General into blind-folded privates.

And if I die from Covid 19, the terrible Trumpinator will not exactly be convicted of murder. But he is directly responsible. After Ebola there was an extensive pandemic playbook and procedures and protocols in place for the next health crisis. But because the Trumptastic Trumpaloo detected Obama-cooties on it, he threw it all away and fired the special task force and pandemic office.

And it is not even fun to make fun of him anymore. Nothing that used to be funny can still create even a wan smile. And how much of this is my fault?

I voted all Democrats in the last election. I have called most of my Republican, Trumpatater-loving friends doody-heads enough to alienate all of them (though admittedly I used a number of big words so that they don’t know what they mean). I have explained the problems with Trumpapalama and his minions like Devos and Barr on social media until I’m blue in the face, and purple on the inside. But none of that gets rid of the pumpkin-headed Cheeto-man.

I even need to get some of these dividers for the family dinner table. I am beginning to prefer lyme-disease ticks over Polly Ticks. I have had way too much of my blood sucked out these last four years.

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Why We Doo

I remember when Scooby Doo, Where Are You? premiered on Saturday Morning Cartoons in 1969. I was thirteen and in the 7th grade. I had been six during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, seven when Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, ten when I was sexually assaulted in 1966, and still twelve when Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon in the Summer of 1969. I was obsessed with monsters, horror comics, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and the Pirates threatening Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island. I knew what fear was. And I was mad to find ways to combat the monsters I feared.

Don’t get me wrong. I was under no illusions that Fred, Daphne, Velma, Norville “Shaggy” Rogers and Scooby Doo were the answer to all my fears as viable heroes and heroines. They were goofballs, all of them, based on the characters I vaguely remembered from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. I was aware that Shaggy was just Maynard Krebs in cartoon form (the hippie character portrayed by Gilligan’s Island actor Bob Denver.)

One of the critical things about the show for me was the fact that there was a rational explanation for the monsters. They were men in masks, special effects and projector tricks, or remote-controlled mechanical things.

And the way you overcame them and saved the day was by having Shaggy and Scooby act as bait, cause the traps to get sprung at the wrong time, and then fall on the villains, trapping them under the butt of the talking dog.

Villains and horror could be overcome by laughing at them. They were more likely to be clowns than carnivores. And even if they were carnivores, the teeth were not real.

There was a universal truth in that. Danger and horror and fear were easier to handle when you could laugh in spite of those things.

And to top it all off, those meddling kids and their stupid talking dog were with me my whole life. Those cartoons got remade and spun off so many times that my kids learned to love them as much as I did. And those four meddling kids and that talking dog are still making new stories even now.

Give us your creepiest or goofiest smile, guys!

And that is why we do the Doo!

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The Straight Poop About Politics

If you were fool enough to become a fan of my political humor, then you probably noticed that there has been very little of that in this blog for some time. And have you sensed the reason why yet?

Basically the problem is, politics is no longer funny. It is soul-suckingly horrible and robbing me of my ability to laugh. The idiotic moron criminal with tiny hands that we elected President is transparently corrupt and obviously guilty of numerous crimes, especially the obstruction of justice.

The idiotic moron criminal continues to get away with everything he does. He has packed the courts with appointees that don’t have the qualifications to do the job. They were chosen based on their stated agreement with the erroneous and criminal beliefs of the idiotic moron criminal. He depends on them to stay in power and rule his way.

He fires, pursues, and undermines the people who are supposed to protect us from lawbreakers so they won’t accuse and incarcerate him.

He doesn’t understand the first thing about foreign policy. And so, the idiotic criminal morons who are in charge of other countries can take advantage of their stupid little American brother-in-dictatorship.

And nobody is capable of changing anything, especially not minds. All the decent Republicans are resigning and leaving the corpse of the GOP to whatever Frankensteinian uses the idiotic moron criminal has for it. There seems to be no one left to turn to.

And so, I will proceed without pursuing political humor anymore. I am tired of scratching through piles of political chicken-poop to find anything worthy of real satire. The idiotic moron criminal always seems to win, no matter how much clever irony I throw at his orange head.

And I know there are readers out there who will say I am a hypocrite because I say I don’t like insult-humor, yet I routinely call the idiotic moron criminal an idiotic moron criminal. What else am I going to do? Call him a criminally moronic idiot? Respect needs to be earned in this world. And to earn it, he needs to pay me, and all the other American voters, reparations.

I wish to thank all the cartoonists represented in this blog whose work I blatantly stole for the purposes of illustrating this blog. I hope they can forgive me. I cannot pay out anything through lawsuits because the idiotic moron criminal with tiny hands has stolen all my money and left me bankrupt.

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The Problem with Republicans

The biggest problem with Republicans is that really they’re Trumplickans.

They want to take us back in time to the “Good ol’ days” when men were men and women knew their place and minorities didn’t have a place… Yeah, um, the Southern United States of the ’30’s and the ’40’s. Jim Crow days. The “Man is the king of his castle” days. The days when no matter what crime or evil things they had done during the week, one hour sitting (and possibly sleeping) in a church pew on Sunday made it all better.

July 21, 2017

The second biggest problem is that, one way or another, all the positive points of the GOP have left the party one way or another. Eisenhower Republicans are no more. John McCain is no more. Most of the Republicans with any integrity left have simply picked up their toys and gone home to let the rest of us play rigged games with the Trumplickans.

February 8, 2017

They do whatever Trumpy tells ’em, no matter how bad it is for most of us and most of our families. Healthcare? Education? Infrastructure? Can’t afford those. They have other priorities for taxpayer money.

And it really is, “All about the money”.

And their only concern with law is when we break a law that gives them profits. No oversight, except over Democrats. No investigation, except into Democrats. Nobody is guilty of anything, except for Hillary… and maybe Obama.



And if anybody finds out the truth, well, they simply Barr the door.

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Elsie the Cow

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I was a boy back when the milk man still came around in his blue-and-white panel truck delivering bottles of milk with Elsie the Cow on them.  I don’t remember clearly because I was only 4 years old back when I first became aware of being a boy in this world instead of being something else living somewhere else.

There were many things I didn’t know or understand back then.  But one thing I did know, was that I loved Elsie the Cow.  And why would a farm boy love a cartoon cow?  There were many not-so-sensible reasons.

For one thing, Elsie the Cow reminded me of June Lockhart, Lassie’s mom and the mom from Lost in Space.

Lassie’s Mom, June Lockhart


 It may be that June Lockhart’s eyes reminded me of Elsie’s eyes, being large, soul-full eyes with large black eye lashes.  It may be that she starred in a TV commercial for Borden’s milk in which Elsie winked at me at the end of the commercial.

Or maybe it was because Elsie had calves and was a mom.  And June Lockhart was Lassie’s mom and the mom of Will Robinson, so I associated both of them with my mom, and thus with each other.

      Elsie gave you milk to drink and was always taking care of  you in that way.  Milk was good for you, after all.  My own mom was a registered nurse.  So they were alike in that way too.

And she was constantly defending you against the bulls in your life.  She stood up to Elmer to protect her daughter more than once.  Of course, her son was usually guilty of whatever he was accused of, but she still loved him and kept Elmer from making his “hamburger” threats a reality.

And you can see in numerous ad illustrations that Elsie’s family were basically nudists.  Although she often wore an apron, she was bare otherwise.  And though her daughter often wore skirts and her son wore shorts, Elmer was always naked.  And that didn’t surprise me, because no cow I knew from the farm wore clothes either.  From very early in my life I was always fascinated by nakedness, and I would’ve become a nudist as a youngster if it hadn’t been soundly discouraged by family and society in general.

Proof that Elsie’s family lived the nude life.

Puppets from a Borden’s commercial

So there are many reasons why I have always loved Elsie the Cow.  And it all boils down to the love of drinking milk and that appealing cartoon character who constantly asked you to drink more.

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Winsor McCay

One work of comic strip art stands alone as having earned the artist, Winsor McCay, a full-fledged exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Little Nemo in Slumberland is a one-of-a-kind achievement in fantasy art.

Winsor McCay lived from his birth in Michigan in 1869 to his finale in Brooklyn in 1934.  In that time he created volumes full of his fine-art pages of full-page color newspaper cartoons, most in the four-color process.  

The New Year’s page 1909

As a boy, he pursued art from very early on, before he was twenty creating paintings turned into advertising and circus posters.  He spent his early manhood doing amazingly detailed half-page political cartoons built around the editorials of Arthur Brisbane,  He then became a staff artist for the Cincinnati Times Star Newspaper, illustrating fires, accidents, meetings, and notable events.  He worked in the newspaper business with American artists like Winslow Homer and Frederick Remington who also developed their art skills through newspaper illustration.  He moved into newspaper comics with numerous series strips that included Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend and Little Nemo in Slumberland.  And he followed that massive amount of work up by becoming the “Father of the Animated Cartoon” with Gertie the Dinosaur, with whom he toured the US giving public performances as illustrated in the silent film below; 

The truly amazing thing about his great volume of work was the intricate detail of every single panel and page.  It represents a fantastic amount of work hours poured into the creation of art with an intense love of drawing.  You can see in the many pages of Little Nemo how great he was as a draftsman, doing architectural renderings that rivaled any gifted architect.  His fantasy artwork rendered the totally unbelievable and the creatively absurd in ways that made them completely believable.

I bought my copy of Nostalgia Press’s Little Nemo collection in the middle 70’s and have studied it more than the Bible in the intervening years.  Winsor McCay taught me many art tricks and design flourishes that I still copy and steal to this very day.

No amount of negative criticism could ever change my faith in the talents of McCay.  But since I have never seen a harsh word written against him, I have to think that problem will never come up.

My only regret is that the wonders of Winsor McCay, being over a hundred years old, will not be appreciated by a more modern generation to whom these glorious cartoon artworks are not generally available. 

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Ginger Ale


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Long about the middle of October every year I have to partake of the miracle that is Ginger Ale during pollen season.  And believe me, in Texas, pollen season lasts until the parched grass and dry air sets in again during the droughts of middle July through September.  Sometimes in a wet year (which used to be rarer than now) the tree pollen, mold spores, mountain cedar, and ragweed fill the air year around.  Ginger in any form is a god-sent cure-all for ailments of the lungs, ears, nose, and throat.  It reduces inflammation, dilutes mucus, and helps you restore the breath of life.  I have developed a real taste for ginger products of all sorts as a result of the medicinal boost it gives me every year.  It explains my addiction to gingerbread.  Also why I often put ginger root in a pot on the stove filled with boiling water and then inhale the fumes.  I love Ginger Ale because it makes me feel good.

Simon’s Cat on YouTube is another kind of Ginger Ale for me.  Admittedly it is a mental sort of medicine, not a drink or a cookie or a steam inhaler.  But watching those simple black and white cartoon antics that are so realistically catlike makes me laugh and increases serotonin in the brain, and it provides a very real depression medicine.

Now, I know full well that I am connecting two very unlike things and calling them both Ginger Ale on the mere passing similarity of the medicinal benefits.  But life is far more metaphorical than it is literal.  And that is why I continue to maintain that poets live better lives than the rest of us even if they die young for love of beauty.  And it is better to be a cartoon cat than a literal king.

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