Category Archives: cartoons

Sunday Silly Artistical Posts

I like to dig through old piles of artwork I have done to re-purpose things and mash things together to make weird art salad.

Xeribeth the Sorceress and her parrot Herkimer

I used to play a Dungeons-and-Dragons-like game called Talislanta with groups of adolescent boys, most of whom had previously been my students in middle school. It was a weird world where weird things made artistical challenges for me that taught me to be a better and more imaginative artist.

Xeribeth was a member of an almost-human race that had yellow skin and wore colorful face tattoos. She also had to be somewhat alluring to trick adolescent boys into undertaking dangerous and possibly suicidal adventures (meaning characters who only lived on paper might die and have to be re-rolled with dungeon dice.)

Zoric, being a green Cymrillian wizard, gave me numerous opportunities to create Kermit-the-frog-colored portraits. And he was a player character, so his greed and penchant for unwise actions decided on in the heat of battle (like turning himself into a fish-man while adventuring in the waterless desert) didn’t come from me.

Playing those games gave me training as a story-teller as well.

My efforts to see color with gradually worsening color-blindness led me to create eye-bashing color compositions that attempt to portray realistically things and feelings that can’t possibly be physically real. Thus I gradually became, over time, a surrealist (a juxtaposer of unlike and jarring things to deliver a visionary picture of reality) (How’s that for surrealistic gobbeldegook in definition form?)

Rabbit castles are the obvious answer

I often solve the problems of my life by drawing something and making cartoonish comments with serious consequences.

Little people and Slow Ones like us have different problems but share the same world.

Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that the world on the inside of me is decidedly different than the world on the outside of me. But I have to live in both. And I can do that by drawing my colored-pencil Paffooney stuff, posting it, and writing about it on a silly Sunday.

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The Doll Collector’s Nightmare of Doll Revenge

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Human Beans

People are not really vegetables… even though I have seen IQ scores as a teacher that might say otherwise. But I often use the pun of calling them Human Beans.

Your basic human bean.

Western style beans

Of course, being a Texan means having a healthy appreciation for beans as a staple food. Cowboys used to live off of beans and beef jerky, and if Louis L’Amour is to be believed, they even made tea from mesquite beans. That makes your average cowboy made up of over 50 per cent beans. Of course the rest of him is mostly gas caused by the beans in his diet, whether it comes out as a fart or as a Texas tall tale… And yes, I admit it, I get a lot of my writing ideas from eating beans.

A Boston baked bean

We must also be aware that Texas has no corner on the beans market. We all know Boston baked beans by reputation. They, like the ever-hapless Cubs, had a habit of never winning the World Series. And now, in the last two decades, it has actually been difficult for the other teams to keep them from winning it all. But we shouldn’t mix up beans with baseball metaphors. Baseball is like life. Full of long and boring parts punctuated by intense moments of hitting, scoring, committing errors, and player versus player individual drama. And concession stand food! Beans, however, can taste good in chili draped over the ballpark hot dogs which cost more than a restaurant meal at most reasonable restaurants. And I promise you, you will never hit a home run over the fence by hitting it with a bean.

A Mexican style re-fried bean

And I wish to point out that this last human bean is not a racist cartoon. Beans are not part of the human race. They only have legs in cartoons and would come in last even when racing a snail. And all beans are created equal in the sight of God. Kidney beans, butter beans, navy beans, string beans… all beans are just beans, no matter what the color of their skin is, and no matter how they add flavor to a casserole. All beans are just in it to live life the best they can, and if that’s not enough… they can be planted as seeds to raise the next generation of human beans.

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Comic Strips Can Make Me Cry

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I have been a cartoon nut for a long, long time.  I think it goes back to a time before I really have memories.  I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know who Cat in the Hat was, or that Pogo was a possum and Albert was an alligator, or that Daisy Mae constantly had to chase Lil’ Abner afore they could git hitched.  And I have always known that cartoons and comic strip characters weren’t real.  But there were a few times in life when comic strips made me cry.  Am I really that much of pansy that I wilt in the face of cartoon tragedy?  Yes.  Whole-heartedly!

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Take for instance Tom Batiuk’s long-running spoof of teenagers and life in high school, Funky Winkerbean.  One of the first things that makes this comic special is that the characters have lives that expand into the deepening depths behind the daily gag and four-panel strip.  They grow and age.  Les Moore (the geeky kid with the dark hair and nerd glasses, the character I most identified with) grew up to become an English teacher in the same high school where he had to deal with the issue of teen pregnancy.  Lisa, the girl he liked, was pregnant.  Les helped her go through the pregnancy and give the child up for adoption, and then eventually married Lisa.  Les would go on to raise his daughter with Lisa and then have to live with the fact that the child Lisa gave away wanted to find his real mother.

The strip added layer after layer to the over-all story, making me feel like I knew these people.  Funky turned his after-school  job at Montoni’s Pizza into a partnership and a career as a restaurateur.  Les would. like me, become a teacher and a writer.  Crazy would go on to be a postman and… well, Crazy.  And then the story added more layers by not always being funny.  I cried when Wally Winkerbean stepped on the mine in Afghanistan and I thought he was dead.  I cried again when Wally’s wife, Becky, moved on and married again.   And then, there was what happened with Lisa…

The artist himself had a bout with cancer.  He. like me, was turned into a cancer survivor.  It chills the bones and changes you on the inside to have a doctor tell you that you have cancer and it is malignant.  And it became a part of the story.  Lisa became first a breast cancer survivor, and then… sadly… a victim.  She died of cancer.  Her husband, Les, took up the cause and started the Lisa’s Legacy Walk for the Cure which he pursued religiously every October.  And Tom Batiuk made it real.  You can donate real money to the real Lisa’s Legacy Fund.  It is a cancer fund and fund-raising event that honors the struggle and death of a fictional character.  It makes me cry again at this moment.  They are real people to me, too, Tom.

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…And it doesn’t end with Funky Winkerbean.  Today’s re-blog of Stories From Around the World’s post does an absolutely wonderful job of encapsulating the essence of Lynn Johnston’s family comedy strip For Better or for Worse.  This engaging story of a family who also grows up, changes, and shifts from one generation to the next also tore my heart out with the un-funny episode where the dog, Farley, saves youngest daughter April from drowning and then expires from the effort, dying a hero’s death.  Another memory that causes me tears even today.

I do not regret reading comic strips.  My life is richer for all the second-hand and third-hand experiences they have given me.  Not just Popeye and Pogo and Beetle Baily making me laugh, but comic strips that make me weep as well.

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Mickian Artistical Nonsense

The word for it is Paffooney.  I know that is not a real word.  It is a Mickian word.  Kinda like the word “Mickian”.  It is entirely made up gibberish, made up by Mickey, and used to mean an artwork made by the hand of Mickey.  So I can’t really explain it.  I have to show you what it basically is.

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This is a Paffooney.  It is inspired by the incredibly unbelievable time in Mickey’s life when they let Mickey be a teacher in Texas.  It has no other relationship to reality.  Chinese girls in Texas generally do not have manga eyes and blue hair, and while Hispanic girls have been known to eat pencils, they never bring their own notebook paper to class.  They always borrow.  So there is the basic formula.  Colored-pencil nonsense drawn by Mickey and attached somehow to a story.

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This Paffooney has a self-explanatory story embedded in it.  It is obvious this is the story of an average family car trip in Texas.  Notice how they demonstrate the Texas State highway motto of, “Drive friendly”.

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And this Paffooney is a Mickian recurring nightmare about a duck with teeth.  Silly Mickey, ducks don’t have teeth in real life!

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And moose bowling is a Paffooney that needs no explanation… or does it?  Well, never mind.  I have forgotten what it is for anyway.

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And this oil-painting Paffooney speaks volumes about a philosophy of life.  See the pilot giving the viewer a thumbs up? And that isn’t a parachute on his back.  They didn’t have parachutes in World War I.  It is a message pouch with German war plans in it.  I even painted it with a bratwurst sandwich inside for the pilot’s lunch.  Don’t I do great detail work?  But he will have to eat it quickly before he reaches the ground.

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And this is me teaching an ESL class.  When you teach English to non-English speakers in Texas, you get to hold the big pencil.  And it helps to be a big white rabbit.

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And this is a science fiction Paffooney, although the science is questionable.  Don’t doubt that the flower-people of the planet Cornucopia are real, though.  And Mai Ling, the psionic space ninja really can elongate her arm to get maximum thrust into her left-handed karate chops.

Stupid Boy

And we end for today with the Paffooney of a stupid boy.  He’s not really me.  Not really.  And I don’t even know who gave him the black eye.  So it can’t be me.  So maybe he is not so stupid.  You can’t say that about somebody you don’t know and is not even you.

So, now do you know what a Paffooney is?  No?  Me neither.  But if you Google images with the words “Beyer Paffooney” you can see a lot more of them.  Nobody else uses that word but little ol’ me.

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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.  (*** I was reminded by Martin’s wife that he did not retire then.  He just left Mad Magazine for places like Cracked where he was treated better.***)  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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New Pirate Picture

Pirates nesaaat

I continue to believe bankers, health insurance companies, and corporate leaders are all pirates.  The gentleman of the sea dressed all in red in this picture is Black Timothy, bombastic and barely comprehensible leader of the pirates of Fantastica.

The truth is I am a bit of a cartoonist.  Don’t worry.  It is not a completely horrible and detestable thing to be.  Not like being a pirate… or a banker… or worse, a pirate banker.  It leads me to do cartoons like you will find in my vault, here…

The Atlas of Fantastica, Chapter 1

It is a basically incurable disease, and yet… I can live with it.  It will not kill me like some of my other incurable diseases eventually will.

So today’s post, keeping alive an unbroken string of daily posts that now goes back 16 months, is a picture post.  I hope you like it, but if you don’t, another one will come along soon enough.

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Talk Like Popeye

squinteye

I have long identified with Popeye.  Let me review that notion by re-posting a bit of an old post in which I explain while talking like Popeye;

I am Popeye, I sez, because I just am…  Yeah, that’s right, I yam what I yam.

First of all, I looks like Popeye.  I has that cleft in me chin, very little hair left on me ol’ head, and I gots the same squinky eye (what squinky eye?).  I has had that same squinky eye since I wuz a teenager and got kicked in the eye doin’ sandlot football (bettern’ sandlot high divin’, fer sure!).  I also has them same bulgy arms, the ones that bulge in the forearm and is incredibobble thin on the upper arms.

Second of all, I has Popeye Spinach-strength.  I look weak and scrawny, but I is a lot tuffer than I looks.  I go into classrooms full of wild, crazed middle schoolers, and grabs their attention, tells ’em what’s what, and makes ’em woik.  (Woik is a voib, and that means I is woikin’ when I makes ’em do it.)  I kin stands ridicule and kids what will remarks on the hair in me ears and me squinky eye.  I tells ’em that the scar on me face was did by a bloke with a knife (which it were, cause I had skin cancer and the doctor used a knife to get it off).  I has taken all kinds of nasty punches from life (diabetes, blood-pressure problems, prostatitis, arthritis) and I still keeps comin’ back fer more.  In fact, I can winds up me arm and give that ol’ Devil a good Twisker Sock right in the kisser.

Third of all, I has a typical Popeye Sweet Patootie.  My Island Girl Wife is like Olive Oyl in very many ways.  She is always tellin’ me what to do.  She compares me to ol’ Bluto.  She panics and flails her arms when there’s a crisis.  And she expects me to always save the day and never says “thank you” after.

So, I mean it when I sez “I am Popeye”.  I yam what I yam and that’s all what I yam!

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See?  I kin talk like Popeye because in many ways I AM him… He of the mangled-mouth vocabubobulary created by Elzie Crisler Segar on January 17th, 1929 for his comic strip Thimble Theater for King Features Syndicate.  He doesn’t talk right because his brain is so full of goodness and spinach that he has no room left for spelling and pronunskiation.  Ak-ak-ak-ak-ak-ak….  Popeye is just a simple sailor, and has been for 94 years.  He expresses himself horribly, but only in the very best of ways.  So when I mangle a word on purpose… or by happy accident… it is just me honoring that old one-eyed sailor.  It is not me just being a stupid addle-pated blarney goon who don’t knows how to talk right.

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Comic strip from comicskingdom.com

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Cartoonity

“My name is Michael Beyer, and I am an amateur cartoonist.”

“Hi, Michael!” says the entire group of CA group-therapy participants.

(CA stands for Cartoonists Anonymous.)

Doofy Fuddbugg

“I have to admit, I am guilty of giving in to the urge to draw cartoons. I know how it can fill lives with slapstick pain and derisive laughter, and I give in to the urge anyway.”

“So, what did you draw that you have to be ashamed of now?” asked one mad-eyed cartoonist with a pencil lodged behind each of his large ears.

“I made a very unfortunate video to post on YouTube that was supposed to be How-to-draw Cartooning. But everything went wrong. You couldn’t see my drawings in the video. It was not adequately lit. I look like a doofus (which probably can’t be cured) in the video. And instead of thinking twice or editing it, I posted it anyway.”

“Wow!” said a rather ugly cartoonist lady, “that is really bad. You have a seriously bad case of cartoonity.”

“Cartoonity?” I responded stupidly.

“The condition of needing love for your cartoons so bad that you will risk anything to make people look at them and like them,” said the wise group therapist (who looked an awful lot like Chuck Jones, though I am fairly sure Chuck Jones is now dead).

“Yes, I suppose that’s about the size of the problem,” I said. “I have been posting pages from my graphic novel, Hidden Kingdom, and I really haven’t seen more than one comment about it. Do people actually read cartoons and comics nowadays? Or is it just me that gets ignored?”

“You have to focus on how much you love drawing and doing it just for that reason, and nothing beyond that,” said the wise therapist. “Cartooning should be done for its own sake, and nothing more than that. Craving attention and approval for it can get seriously infected and become a bad case of cartoonititis. How do you think I dealt with it when I was still alive?”

At that point, my eyes popped out of my head in disbelief and my lower jaw fell all the way to the floor. Could he really be…?

And so I must end today’s blog post since it is hard to keep typing when your eyeballs are rolling around on the floor.

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Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

It is, of course, one of the most powerful, masterful, and best-known pieces of music ever written.

Mozart completed the “little serenade” in Vienna in 1787, but it wasn’t published until 1827, long after Mozart’s untimely death.

The Serenade is incorrectly translated into English as “A Little Night Music”. But this is and always has been the way I prefer to think of it. A creation of Mozart written shortly before he hopped aboard the ferryman’s boat and rode off into the eternal night. It is the artifact that proves the art of the master who even has the word “art” as a part of his name. A little music to play on after the master is gone to prove his universal connection to the great silent symphony that is everything in the universe singing silently together.

It is basically what I myself am laboring now to do. I have been dancing along the edge of the abyss of poverty, suffering, and death since I left my teaching job in 2014. I will soon be taking my own trip into night aboard the ferryman’s dreaded boat. And I feel the need to put my own art out there in novel and cartoon form before that happens.

I am not saying that I am a master on the level of a Mozart. My name is not Mickart. But I do have a “key’ in the name Mickey. And it will hopefully unlock something worthwhile for my family and all those I loved and leave behind me. And hopefully, it will provide a little night music to help soothe the next in line behind me at the ferryman’s dock.

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