Category Archives: cartoon review

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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Internal Evil, External Policy

CjUSsQkVAAE2A9TThe Republicans have found another scandal to pursue.  Two FBI personnel were texting each other messages about how stupid and incompetent Donald Trump is.  (As well as why one of them may have voted for him since they hated Hillary too.)  The one agent who was involved in the Mueller investigation of Trump was immediately removed from the investigation when evidence of the possibility of lack of impartiality surfaced.  This happened long before the Republican Conspiracy Elephants sniffed out the detail to make a big stinky in the media about it.  Now, apparently the FBI has become a secret society wrongfully plotting against Trump.

One wonders how a Republican government can investigate a Republican scandal and do it in a way that at least looks like justice in action instead of howling at the wind in order to make it blow in the other direction.

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The basic problem is what the Republican mind has on the inside.  Basically they all have the same thought embedded in the peanut they think with.  “If it doesn’t benefit me and what I want from government, then it isn’t true no matter what facts you show me.”  And of course, that thought has a corollary (even though they don’t know what corollary means), “I’m good with any lie told as long it supports hatred of those people I want to hate.”  Republicans who think with larger pieces of produce, and so don’t have those thoughts engraved in their brains, have either left the Republican Party, like George Will did, or separated themselves from the Trump faction and started a campaign to take their party back, like Bill Crystal did.

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Anybody who thinks about the evidence honestly, without partisan bias, has to admit that there is obviously guilt involved in all of this.  And Trump himself blowing back against the prevailing winds is only making it more and more obvious that he is at the top of the pile of evil actors.  They cannot keep going down this path of shouting down the truth without turning Trump into Hitler, and 2018 into 1939.  Muslims will take the role of Jews.

So, what can we do about it?  We make our votes count.  And when the Mueller investigation reaches its conclusions, we believe them.

Dave Granlund / politicalcartoons.com

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The Current Cartoon Administration…

I don’t need to tell you what I really think about Trump, because I don’t use language that bad in public, and because cartoons capture what I think better than anything else does (except maybe the Mueller investigation… hopefully that captures Trump’s antics better.

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Dave Granlund / politicalcartoons.com

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It is really hard to believe all the fascist Shiite that is going on.

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Tumbling the Trumpinator

It has gone beyond the realm of credibility.  How can a pumpkin-headed orangutan with a belly full of racial hatred and Islamophobia still be nominally running this country?  Has he not committed enough irredeemable sins to be sent to Hell, directly to Hell, do not pass GO and do not collect $200!?  I think he stole all the “Get out of jail free” cards before the game ever started.

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I have never called this Twitter twit-wit my president.  I never voted for him.  He did not win the popular vote.  He would not have won the electoral college without Republican cheating at voter suppression and Russian influence through email chicanery.  But the terrible things he has done so far have not gotten him removed from office.  Republicans still treat him as if he were a rational adult.  And Fox News is not only putting lipstick on the pig, they are covering him in red, white, and blue frosting and molding him into the shape of an American Eagle.  Why do we put up with these tactics?

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Perhaps other cartoonists and I are the only ones who see him for what he really is.  He’s an ignorant con man put into a position of power by billionaires so they can foist their evil agenda on us and have him rubber-stamp it with faux legitimacy.

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The betrayal of the DACA Dreamers was fifteen straws beyond the last straw for me.  Who is planning to remove him from office immediately?  I want to help.  I don’t believe in solving problems with guns, but I can throw a mean banana cream pie of satire and sarcasm.  I’m actually Hell at pie-whacking faces.   I can attempt to hurt him with rotten tomatoes of jokery and the silly string  of mockery too.  But even the image of this buffoon in cheap clothing with long red ties is immune to the assaults of mere humor.  He never gets the joke, and it is never on him.  It is on us instead.

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He hurts too many good people by taking away things that they need.  He may have damaged the way sick people access health care to the point that many, including me, will die for lack of funds.  He de-values human life by pardoning racist criminals like Arpaio and praising malevolent dictators like Putin.  He puts human life at risk by taunting another irrational man-baby who also has nukes to play chicken with.

Steve Benson / creators.com

And no effort to remove him from office for crimes which he obviously committed and shows no signs of anything but guilt about will be made by the party now in power.

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So what will you do to bring back our country and our supposed sanity?  Tell me.  I want to hear a plan.  I stand ready with foam rubber whack bats to take the best shots I am capable of to help.  And I am not the only one.  (Truly, I drew none of the cartoons in this post myself.  Good cartoonists are legion in this day and age.)

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Why Do You Think That? (Part Two)

In my short, sweet sixty years of life, I have probably seen more than my share of movies.  I have seen classic movies, black-and-white movies, cartoon movies, Humphrey Bogart movies, epic movies, science fiction movies, PeeWee Herman movies, Disney movies, Oscar-winning movies, and endless box-office stinkers.  But in all of that, one of the most undeniable threads of all is that movies make me cry.  In fact they make me cry so often it is a miracle that even a drop of moisture remains in my body.   I should be a dried-out husk by now.

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I wept horribly during this scene.  Did you?

And the thing is, people make fun of you when you cry at movies.  Especially cartoon movies like Scooby Doo on Zombie Island.  (But I claim I was laughing so hard it brought tears to my eyes.  That’s the truth, dear sister.  So stop laughing at me.)  But I would like to put forth another “Why do you think that?” notion.  People who cry while watching a movie are stronger and more powerful than the people who laugh at them for crying.  A self-serving thesis if ever there was one.

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Movies can make you cry if you have the ability to feel empathy.  We all know this.  Old Yeller is the story of a dog who endears himself to a prairie farm family, saves Travis’s life at one point, and then gets infected with rabies and has to be put down.  Dang! No dry eyes at the end of that one.  Because everyone has encountered a dog and loyal dog-love somewhere along the line.  And a ten-year-old dog is an old dog.  The dogs you knew as a child helped you deal with mortality because invariably, no matter how much you loved them, dogs demonstrate what it means to die.  Trixie and Scamper were both hit by cars.  Queenie, Grampa’s collie, died of old age.  Jiggs the Boston Terrier died of heat stroke one summer.  You remember the pain of loss, and the story brings it all back.

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Only psychopaths don’t feel empathy to some degree.  Think about how you would feel if you were watching Old Yeller and somebody you were watching with started laughing when Travis pulls the trigger on the shotgun.  Now, there’s a Stephen King sort of character.

But I think I can defend having lots of empathy as a reason for crying a river of tears during Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  You see, identifying with Quasimodo as the main character, hoping for what he hopes for, feeling like a monster and completely unloved, and fearing what he fears connect you to the story in ways that completely immerses you in the experience.  This is basically a monster movie.Original-Hunchback_of_Notre_Dame

But the film puts you inside the head of the malformed man, and you realize that he is not the monster.  Righteous Judge Frollo and the people who mistreat Quasimodo for his deformity of outward appearance are the real monsters.  If you don’t cry a river of tears because of this story, then you have not learned the essential truth of Quasimodo.  When we judge others harshly, we are really judging ourselves. In order to stop being monstrous, and be truly human, you must look inside the ugliness as Esmeralda does to see the heroic beauty inside others.  Sometimes the ideas themselves are so powerful they make me weep.  That’s when my sister and my wife look at me and shake their heads because tears are shooting out of me like a fountain, raining wetness two or three seats in every direction.  But I believe I am a wiser man, a more resolved man, and ultimately a better man because I was not afraid to let a movie make me cry.

The music also helps to tell the story in ways that move my very soul to tears.  Notice how the heroine walks the opposite way to the rest of the crowd.  As they sing of what they desire, what they ask God to grant, she asks for nothing for herself.  She shows empathy in every verse, asking only for help for others.  And she alone walks to the light from the stained glass window.  She alone is talking to God.

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Yes, I am not embarrassed by the fact that movies make me cry.   In fact, I should probably be proud that movies and stories and connections to other people, which they bring me, makes me feel it so deeply I cry.  Maybe I am a sissy and a wimp.  Maybe I deserved to be laughed at all those times for crying during the movie.  But, hey, I’ll take the laughter.  I am not above it.  I am trying to be a humorist after all.

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