Category Archives: cartoons

Pumpernickel Is More Than Just a Silly Word!

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We descendants of Germans  all understand something you all probably don’t know, and might have a hard time actually accepting.  Germans and German Americans like to simply call things what they are… but we do it with remarkably silly words so you don’t take things as seriously as you probably should.

Seriously…  Pumpernickel bread looks an awful lot like a cow pie.  Don’t know what a cow pie is?  That’s because you don’t speak Iowegian. Remember that post?  A cow eats grass, digests it for a while, bakes it in the secret methane chambers embedded secretly within every living cow, and then the old garbage shoot plops out the cow pie.  Flies love to eat it.  The grass grows fiercely after absorbing what the flies and maggots leave behind.  Yeah, that.

The bread originated in Germany where, as I have so graciously pointed out to you, they call things simply what it is.  Pumpern in German means to break wind. Nickel is a variant of Nicholas or Nick, which is the name der Teufel, err…the Devil often goes by.  So the bread is called, in its simplest translation, “Devil’s fart bread”.  Isn’t that rich?  And it tastes good too.

But what’s the point of praising pumpernickel?  Well, it brings to mind in Mickey’s mangled mish-mash of a mind an old Daffy Duck cartoon.

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Yes, the tale of the Scarlet Pumpernickel has been playing out in Monkey Town where the Great Orange Buffoon in charge of it all is busy making Nixon noises.

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“Yes, my lord, there is an investigation  into the Russian connection between your henchmen and Vladimir Putin,” said Director Comey.

“Hmmm…  Fake News!  Very Sad!” moaned the Buffoon.  “Comey, I appreciate you smearing Clinton and all you did to help the greatest most historic election ever… but you’re fired!

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“Aha!” says Comey, revealing himself to be the infamous hero, the Scarlet Pumpernickel “…now I have you, my lord! But, wait! Fired, you say?  Um, you do have the authority to fire me, don’t you.”

“Now, clear out your desk, loser!”

“Ah, but this action makes you look guilty, my lord.  Perhaps the sting of my sword of justice will prick you in the behind yet!”

“Sessions!  Defeat this loser for me!  Very sad, sick man!”

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“Me thinks you have not heard the last of the Scarlet Pumpernickel!” cried Comey as he leaped out the tower window into the chasm with a river at the bottom far below.

What happens in the next episode of the saga of the hero named after devil fart bread?  Only time will tell.

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Interesting way to introduce my latest Monkey President cartoon attempt to depict Trump… no?  You do realize he’s a German American too?

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Fact or Opinion (It’s a Teacher Thing)

“Climate change is a hoax by the Chinese.” 

That, unfortunately, is not an opinion.  It is a fact.  It is a FALSE FACT.

Facts are statements that can be proven or disproven.  There are studies by government agencies and university science departments all over the world that provide evidence to back up the theory that the climate is drastically changing in ways that threaten our existence.  The studies are repeatable, peer reviewed, and thoroughly “vetted”, to use the new word that Republicans embrace so deeply and lovingly for immigration issues.  On the other side of the question, you have scoffing congressmen who bring snowballs into the capitol and say, “See?  The science is not proven.”   That is not a fact.   Where is the evidence which is not anecdotal and based on a misunderstanding of the difference between “climate change” and “weather change”?  That is by definition an opinion.  And it is not even an informed opinion.  Opinions are not equal to facts.  Comparing the two is like comparing apples to onions.  No, that is not even correct.  You can eat both of those things.  It is more like comparing apples to planetary moons.

After a long and heated Facebook debate about immigration between me, a Texas teacher, and an Iowa Republican Trump supporter I went to high school with who doesn’t even know if he ever met an illegal immigrant, I have pretty well proven to myself that a big share of the divide between liberals and conservatives stems from the unwillingness of one side to avoid equating facts and opinions.  Apples and moons.

So give me a moment to do what teachers do.

Here is a non-political lesson in Fact versus Opinion.

Who do you prefer?  Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny?  The answer doesn’t matter to me.

I can give you a quick and dirty lesson on fact and opinion using these two cartoon characters.  And it doesn’t even matter who you like more.

Here are some obvious facts about the two of them.

They are both cartoon characters.  They are both anthropomorphic animals.  They both wear gloves most of the time.  They both have a thumb and three fingers on each hand.

These things are observably true.  You can prove them by looking at the illustrations I have already provided.

Other things may not be as readily apparent, but no less provable.

Both of them are heterosexual and both of them have one main love interest.  Neither of them have ever been married, but neither of them really are playboys and even though there are no legitimate bits of evidence that either one has ever had sex with their respective girlfriends, Bugs has kissed Lola on more than one occasion and Mickey has kept company with Minnie for longer than most old married couples.

These things are provable by watching the cartoons and observing a preponderance of evidence.  There is no contradictory evidence.  But the possibility of contradictory evidence doesn’t change these things into opinions.  A disproven fact is still a fact.  It is merely a false fact.  Over time the relationship between Bugs and Daffy Duck may become clearer and the fact that Bugs is gay may pop out of the cartoon closet.  It does however, require proof, so it is a fact, not an opinion.

Here’s another fact you know the evidence supports.  Bugs Bunny is a nudist.  He almost always appears in cartoons naked.  Mickey, however, believes in wearing clothes.  Even when he gets out of the bath tub, he clutches the nearest towel, and you never get a look at whether he has cartoon genitals or not.  Mickey does hang out a lot with a duck who wears no pants, but that’s an irrelevant fact.

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The notion that Mickey and Bugs are very different personalities because they had very different creators, is an opinion.  It is a opinion offered by people who have studied the characters and their creators, and therefore can give you an informed opinion.  But it still can’t be proven.

Walt Disney made Mickey into more or less of an every-man sort of character whom audiences can identify with.  Things happen to Mickey Mouse, and the comedy comes from him trying to deal with those external forces, be they wind storms during music concerts, Donald Duck’s raging temper, or the evil plots of Black Pete.  Walt never said this was so to prove it, but it is not unreasonable to think it.

Bugs Bunny, on the other hand, was created by several great animators like Robert McKimson, Tex Avery, Chuck Jones, and Bob Clampett.  And Bugs tends to make things happen to other characters.  Think of how he plays Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, and even his pal Daffy for laughs.  He is more of a Groucho Marx type character than an every-man.  We don’t identify with him.  We only laugh at his victims (because they always deserve what he gives them).  That too is an opinion.  And even if one of his creators were to say that this was the intent, it still is not proven until all of them agree.  And they all had very different ways of doing things.

But these are only informed opinions.  You cannot be proven wrong whether you agree or disagree with them.  You are entitled to your own interpretations and opinions because they are not provable facts.  There is no one way to view any opinion.

Opinions, even un-informed opinions and religious beliefs are never either wrong or right.  You don’t make a mistake when you have an opinion.  It only becomes a mistake when you try to use it as a fact, or mistakenly believe it is a fact.

So, there is my lesson for those Facebook arguers who never seem to know the difference.  It’s all color-coded and everything.  So try using this new knowledge when arguing with me, rather than calling me stupid, or making your point IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS!

 

 

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Because Rabbits Are People Too

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Today’s Paffooney paffoon cartoon is a puzzler.  I have this Rabbit People cartoon scene in my head with no punch line, no dialogue, and basically no idea.  It just popped into my head doodle fashion, and then flowed down through my pencil and pen onto paper.

What is boy bunny Benjamin asking or saying to young buck about town Bernhopper Bunny?  And what is Bernhopper’s answer?

Maybe like this;

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But that’s bathroom humor.  We all know the Easter Bunny lays chocolate eggs for Easter, so bunny bathroom humor gets you wondering about about chocolate chip cookies from the Easter Bunny.  And that’s just gross.

Maybe it should be more like this;

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Now that’s downright bad citizenship advice.  Surely we can do better.  And does the story have to be about the fireplug?

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Okay, gotta squelch the sexual innuendo.  When it comes to rabbits, that kind of humor leads to lots more rabbits.  I’m not really sure how this comes out.  Maybe the story should involve fat Barry Bunny who secretly prefers bananas to carrots.  Or maybe it is about beautiful Bingolette Bunny who plays the bongos and writes monumentally horrible love songs in her spare time.  I just can’t figure out rabbit humor!  It is so frustrating!  Maybe you have suggestions in the comments.  (Is that a challenge to your creativity?  Just a test to see if you really read this junk?  Or am I just too lazy to write my own cartoons?  I’ll never tell.)

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Ladybugs Conquer Cartoonland

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Yes, Mickey couldn’t help it.  The toys hit the shelves in Walmart.  He discovered the silly superhero junior highschool romance thing first on Pinterest, then on YouTube.  Miraculous, the Adventures of Ladybug and Cat Noir.   The silly thing is on Netflix now too.

So, why would a goofy old man like me be interested in a thing like this… a thing aimed at an audience of pre-teen girls?  That’s disturbingly creepy, isn’t it?

Well, I never claimed to be cool.  I was an English teacher for 31 years.  Cool was never an option.

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And I collect dolls… erm… action figures… uh… well, I might as well be honest.  I have more Barbies than G.I. Joes.  I have a hoarding disorder fixated on 12-inch dolls.  And when I saw this doll for less than 15 dollars at Walmart, I had to buy it.  And it has the other super hero, Cat Noir right beside it.  Both under 20 dollars so they fit under the 20 dollar limit.  And both together only cost 30 dollars, so it fits under the 50 dollar per month limit as well.  Those collecting rules are important in saving me from my own juvenile regressive self and helps me have enough money to buy food all month long.

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The people in the store don’t look at me funny.  I am not the only old man buying toys and dolls in Walmart.  I am just the only old man there not buying for his grandkids.  I don’t have any grandkids yet, and my own kids are definitely older than the toy-wanting stage.  The people would be far more disturbed if they knew I was now struggling with the question, “Do I preserve these dolls mint-in-box?  Or do I take them out and play with them?”  And if you have read any of my lunatic “he-plays-with-dolls” posts, you probably already know how that one will turn out.

People might also be deeply disturbed to know that I have already watched two episodes of Miraculous, and (shudder) liked them in spite of the moronic romance and love-triangle bull poop.  I can’t promise that I will not watch more and turn away from this new filthy habit.  The stories are stupid villain-of-the-week stuff.  But the CGI animation is brightly colored, smooth, and highly interesting… to the point that I and any available chimpanzees or monkeys will be enthralled with it.  Oh, and pre-teen girls too.  I won’t go into the connections between those things.

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I could probably spend a lot of words telling you more about how this cartoon is set in Paris, France, and how Marinette and Adrien, the secret identities of the two superheroes above, are both in love with each other, but don’t realize it because neither one knows the secret identity of the other.  But I won’t.  This post is not a review of the cartoon show.  This post is a goofy commentary celebrating the fact that I bought myself two more dolls, and now must somehow rationalize that weird, compulsive act.

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The Ultra-Mad Madness of Don Martin

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Born in 1931 and lasting in this crazy, mixed-up world until the year 2000, Don Martin was a mixy, crazed-up cartoonist for Mad Magazine who would come to be billed as “Mad Magazine’s Maddest Artist.”    His greatest work was done during his Mad years, from 1956 (the year I was born… not a coincidence, I firmly believe) until his retirement in 1988.  And I learned a lot from him by reading his trippy toons in Mad from my childhood until my early teacher-hood.

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His style is uniquely recognizable and easily identifiable.  Nobody cartoons a Foon-man like Don Martin.

The googly eyes are always popped in surprise.  The tongue is often out and twirling.  Knees and elbows always have amazingly knobbly knobs.  Feet have an extra hinge in them that God never thought of when he had Adam on the drawing board.

And then there is the way that Martin uses sound effects.  Yes, cartoons in print don’t make literal sounds, but the incredible series of squeedonks and doinks that Martin uses create a cacophony of craziness in the mind’s ear.

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And there is a certain musicality in the rhyming of the character names he uses.  Fester Bestertester was a common foil for slapstick mayhem, and Fonebone would later stand revealed by his full name, Freenbeen I. Fonebone.

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And, of course, one of his most amazingly adventurous ne’er-do-well slapstick characters was the immeasurable Captain Klutz!

Here, there, and everywhere… on the outside he wears his underwear… it’s the incredible, insteadable, and completely not edible… Captain Klutz!

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If you cannot tell it from this tribute, I deeply love the comic genius who was Don Martin, Mad Magazine’s Maddest Artist.  Like me he was obsessed with nudists and drawing anatomy.  Like me he was not above making up words with ridiculous-sounding syllables.  And like me he was also a purple-furred gorilla in a human suit… wait!  No, he wasn’t, but he did invent Gorilla-Suit Day, where people in gorilla suits might randomly attack you as you go about your daily life, or gorillas in people suits, or… keep your eye on the banana in the following cartoon.

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So, even though I told you about Bruce Timm and Wally Wood and other toon artists long before I got around to telling you about Don Martin, that doesn’t mean I love them more.  Don Martin is wacky after my own heart, and the reason I spent so much time immersed in Mad Magazine back in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.

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The Bitter Black Hearts of the GOP

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Yes, this is another pitiful attempt by Mickey to be a political cartoonist fighting the good fight by slaying the bad guys with really weak and awful satire.  But I can’t help it.  Just as Popeye had a powerful urge to sock goons in the puss with his spinach-fueled twister-sock,  I have to throw some derfy toonage at the vile and heartless members of the GOP (Greedy Old Perpetrators).

After all, they are easy to make fun of.  Republican job applications all start with the question, “Which cartoon Dick Tracy villain or comic book Batman villain are you most like?”

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They do things like organizing an Oversight Committee for the sole purpose of spending millions of dollars to point fingers at Hillary and shout the name of a North-African town where diplomats died basically because of budget cuts to security ( a Republican budget) and shout it loudly until people begin to think Hillary must have had something to do with it because men with heads shaped like sports equipment are shouting it so much.

And Republicans are able to do this stuff because they know how to win elections and control the government.

Basically what I am saying is that Republicans cheat.  They get to rule even though they generate fewer votes in the country.

And what do they do with that power once they have it in their tiny, tiny hands?  They use it to make more money.  The rise of the billionaire class in the last thirty years is evidence that they are insanely good at it.  Do they use that money and power to help their neighbors and better the lives of everyone?  Of course not!  Why would you think that?

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Republican priorities are obvious when you look at the first things on their agenda.  They want to roll back environmental protections and pour more pollutants into rivers and into the air.  They want to do away with Obamacare to eliminate the extra taxes that wealthy people have to pay.  They want to prevent people from immigrating from lands where people don’t have white skin, because the only part of a Republican that can be black with the full approval of their party, is the heart.  Yes, that part can be jet black and rancid.

Take that, evil Republicans!  Wait, why are you laughing?  Didn’t my satire slay you?

Oh, well, another day, another cartoon.

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Oopsie!  Wasn’t that heart supposed to be black?

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Cartoonists Trying to Save the World

Back in the 1870’s (you remember it as well as I do, don’t you?) a cartoonist named Thomas Nast basically invented the political cartoon.  Back then, a bloated New York politician and his gang of criminals were busy getting wealthy through corrupt business and government relationships.  Nast used his gift for scribbly-art satire to lampoon the buffoons and make the public laugh at the evil he exposed.  Of course, they knew about the corruption of Boss Tweed before they laughed at the cartoons, but the focus on the problem created by Nast’s magnifying glass focusing the rays of sunlight on the problem is often credited with helping to burn up the scandal.

Cartoonists had power back then.  Power over public opinion.  The power to help fairly uncomplicated (and sometimes stupid) folk to recognize the absurdity of the situation and the need for changing it.

So why haven’t cartoonists fried the Make-America-Great-Again orangutan running the country now with his brand of corpulent corruption already?  Believe me, they are trying.

They have already highlighted the way the Bozo Administration manipulates the focus of the mainstream media.  Every time media coverage begins to converge on one scandal, he creates another big, smelly media poop of a controversy to redirect their focus.

And while he is doing his big shoe dance on the tables in the spotlight, congress is doing his rich friends’ evil will in the back rooms.

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The end result of this malevolent dog-and-pony show is patently obvious.

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Unfortunately, in the 1870’s, the stupid people that Thomas Nast was enlightening had not yet achieved the profound levels of shoot-yourself-in-the-foot stupidity that Trump supporters have now mastered.  Poor and middle-class Republicans, Texans, and other dim folk continue to take the Great Pumpkinhead at his word and believe every utterance of his mouth to be sacred gospel truth.  I have had conservative friends arguing themselves into pretzel-knots to defend his policies and dastardly deeds.

But if cartoonists can’t succeed in shining sunlight on the bloodsucking vampiric old moneybags and kill him soon, his reign will become immortal and we are all gonna die.

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Seriously.  We stand at the end of a long chain of greedy b*st*rds raping and pillaging the environment for profit and not caring about the impact of their actions.  We are dooming the planet to environmental collapse because the orange-faced name-stamper cares more about short-term profits for himself and his friends than he does about whether or no his own grandchildren will have water to drink, air to breath, and a place to live cool enough that metal doesn’t melt in the sunshine.

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So, I hate to be a double-trouble downer about the whole thing, but the truth is if we are depending on cartoonists and humorists to save the world, we are in trouble.  It is not working the way it did in Nast’s day.  Cartoonists are doing their lampooning and doing it well.  But more is needed.  And if we don’t get that something more soon, then (to incorrectly paraphrase and misquote T.S. Eliot), “This is the way the world ends… Not with a whimper but a bang!”

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