“Mickey, why can’t you be more serious the way smart people are?”
“Well, now, my dear, I think I take humor very seriously.”
“How can you say that? You never seem to be serious for more than a few seconds in a row.”
“I can say it in a high, squeaky, falsetto voice so I sound like Mickey Mouse.”
“You know that’s not what I mean.”
“I can also burp it… well, maybe not so much since I was in junior high.”
“I distinctly remember getting in trouble in Mrs. Mennenga’s third grade class in school for pantomiming pulling my beating heart out of my chest and accidentally dropping it on the floor. She lectured me about being more studious. But I made Alicia sitting in the row beside me laugh. It was all worth it. And the teacher was right. I don’t remember anything from the lesson on adding fractions we were supposed to be doing. But I remember that laugh. It is one precious piece of the golden treasure I put in the treasure chest of memories I keep stored in my heart.”
“I always listened to the words Groucho Marx was saying, even though he said them awfully fast and sneaky-like. I listened to the words. Other characters didn’t seem to listen to him. He didn’t seem to listen to them. Yet, how could he respond like he did if he really wasn’t listening? In his answers were always golden bits of wisdom. Other people laughed at his jokes when the laugh track told them to. I laughed when I understood the wisdom.”
“Laughing is a way of showing understanding. Laughing is a way of making yourself feel good. Laughing is good for your brain and your heart and your soul. So, I want to laugh more. I need to laugh more. I love to laugh.”
Going through my old drawing portfolio, I found my children’s book project from my undergrad college years. I have no idea now looking at the illustrations what the story was even about. I lost the actual story, and I never made a cover for it. But here is a look at old hopes and dreams and a way of seeing the world that begins; Once Upon a Time…
I have no earthly idea what the heck this story is even about, but I do like the pen and ink work, and probably couldn’t repeat it if I had to.
I always loved this song. When I was a boy, it was the song I would sing when I was alone in the darkness. It made me feel better, able to march toward home in spite of potential spooks and brain-eating zombies. The weight of the invisible future world could not drag me down if this tune was in my head, filling it with helium and good spirit; it allowed me to fly.
And when I listened to it playing on the radio… I always paused and listened to at least a couple of verses no matter what I was doing… I never once thought of Johnny Nash as a black man. I didn’t know he was black until I first saw a picture of him. But even then I didn’t think, “Oh, he’s a black man.” I thought, “Oh, he’s a man like me.” But, I, of course, am not black. I’m not really white either. I am a kind of pale pink to mauve mottled color with dark pink psoriasis spots in random places all over me. It is the man on the inside that is like Johnny Nash, full of uplifting things, and goofy grins, and… hopefully, hope.
But when I was young it wasn’t only singing “I Can See Clearly Now…” in my goofy farmboy voice that filled my head with air and allowed me to float away from the troubles of the world. I also learned to draw Manga style, in the tradition of Osamu Tezuka’s Astroboy , filtered through hours of practice copying Walt Kelly’s Pogocharacters and various Disney cartoons.
I copied the over-large eyes and big-headed cutsieness that informed the Japanese idea of the world after the atom bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I tried to capture innocence and wonder and adventure in drawings that took my mind off the terrible things of my childhood, being sexually assaulted, the assassinations of JFK and his brother RFK, and Martin Luther King Jr, the Viet Nam War, and Nixon with Watergate. You can reclaim innocence and peace of mind, if you get the lines just right, and the proportions are good, and the character has just the right expression on their sweet little faces.
Okay, maybe not always so sweet and innocent. This is not the Dorothy I would want to mess with. This girl is cocky, sure of herself, and more than a little impish. A destroyer of wicked witches, that one.
But that’s what Manga Art is all about. You whistle away the darkness one drawing at a time. And there’s plenty of darkness to whistle away anymore, isn’t there? What with Tronald Dump taking on the NFL over the American Flag and National Anthem, Tronald Dump taking on Jim Kong Oon in an insult war backed up by ICBMs, and Congress busily trying to take away all our access to health care. (I know I misspelled some names there, but I am tired of talking about that guy that Dorothy told me I should call the “orange-faced poop sack.” No, Dorothy, I can’t call him that. Using language like that robs my head of its helium.) So, what do I do now about the state of the world? Well, here is the Manga Art I drew last night.
Catgirl and White-haired Snow White with a ping pong ball in her mouth.
On my computer I keep a lot of picture files for inspiration both as an artist and a writer. One of those files is labeled simply the “Wrong File”. Everything in that picture file is in there for the wrong reason. Or does a wrong file need to be filled with the wrong stuff for the right reason? I don’t know. There is a lot wrong with this world. The fact that I am going to post stuff from the “Wrong File” is merely proof of that.
Liking Grumpy Cat posts on Facebook is an oxymoron of the lowest order. It is an example of what is wrong in the “Wrong File”.
Certain puns are just so wrong in a fundamental way. That’s right. They are both fun and mental. So that’s wrong.
As an educator I am aware that this thing we thought was true is now an untrue fact. That’s wrong also. My left brain tells me so. But my right brain tells me it feels right.
Yes, these things are wrong. Just wrong.
Why did I put this in here? This is not wrong. This is right. So I must’ve put it in the wrong file. So that’s all right, then.
Putting this in a file my wife could find on my laptop… Yes, that was wrong.
Saddle shoes have been wrong for many years now. I still draw them on the feet of kids, especially girls, especially school-age girls, and that is especially especially wrong because it means I am just too old and out of fashion.’
Boy! Is that wrong!
These things are all older than me, but I remember two of them. Is that wrong?
I’m not sure I believe this is wrong. So is that wrong? To believe that it is right, I mean? I’m probably wrong.
My wife constantly tells me I am wrong… about everything. And I probably am. So that is not right. And if you think that’s my wife in the picture, you would be wrong. She’s much larger than that in real life.
And many people find surrealism is wrong. Surreal is when you put wrong things together on purpose to make something that almost seems right.
So that’s what is odd about the “Wrong File”, It is so wrong that it is right.
I have always loved using weird, wild, and goofy words to describe things when I am trying to be funny. But recently I was saddened to learn that a word I have liked using in the past, “dingleberry”, is actually a poo-poo word. I am very much on the Red Skelton side of the question of using bad words. I mean, I don’t find direct use of obscene language and harsh Anglo-Saxon swear words to be very funny. Shock humor and gross-out humor do not appeal to me the way more whimsical word-play does.
Betelgeuse is a funny word because it is the name of an actual red-giant Star in the Milky Way Galaxy, while at the same time sounding like juice made from beetles. And, of course, there is the little matter of a hilarious Tim Burton movie about a gross-out ghost with an evil agenda. The parts of a word can make or break the comic gravity of the word. As much as I previously liked “dingleberry” as a goofy insult word, the “dingle” part is giving me pause. I have discovered that a “dingle” is not only the v-cleft in a valley between two mountains, it is also derived from “dung”. A “dingleberry” describes a dangling “berry” of poop like the ones sometimes found on the fur of my dog’s behind. Yetch! I can’t even use a label like that on a detestable buffoon like Donald Trump. It bothers me that it suggests the color brown rather than the proper orange. Trump requires a word that translates to something more like “flaming orange Kool-aid man”.
So, I guess I need to focus on other weird, wild, and goofy words as I continue to try to be funny. The dinglebunnies of my comic fantasies need to be “kerpoppled”… the act of “poppling”, to move in a tumbling, irregular manner, as in boiling water. Do away with poo-poo humor, Mickey, old lad! You need some new goofy words.
The cartoon portrait exaggerates and calls attention to things that are not ordinarily something to be proud of. MAGA Man’s defiance, Doofy Fuddbugg’s toothless grin, or Dorothy’s threatening presence can all make us laugh and enjoy the funny thing that no one else can give us.
Once I was finally able to scan pictures again, I did some scanning of old pictures that only got the camera treatment before on my blog.
But why stop a drawing at just the pen and ink, when there is potential for so much more?
So, I took the Microsoft generic paint program and my generic photo editor to not only this pen and ink of the Jungle Princess, but a few other pictures as well.
This is what she looks like after being attacked with color by my arthritic old hands. (There was a day when I could have handled intricate details more cleverly, but that was many, many days ago.
Anyway, I have added new dimensions to Leopard Girrrl with color.
Now I need to add more complications to the basic story of the picture.
Here is an older pen and ink.
This is Dorin Dobbs, one of the dueling plotlines’ protagonists from the novel Catch a Falling Star.
But, of course, Dorin is a more complex character than this old black and white.
So, color needs to be added.
I had this one actually already painted in…
But in order to use it in this project, I needed to enlarge it to make it fit into the other picture.
Making this unlikely pair work together in a story is one of the challenges of doing surrealist stories. They have to be grounded in realism, but also bring jarringly different things together. Like the Jungle Princess going on an adventure with Norwall’s Lying King.
But, putting these two together is still not enough. Let’s try some other things.
The Jungle Princess together with Tomboy Dilsey Murphy is an unusual pairing.
Or what about the blue faun from Laughing Blue?
Or even Annette Funicello?
Ridiculous, I know. But don’t they look like satin sofa paintings?
Yesterday, in Part 1, I tried to convince you that, “You should never take too long a time writing a story” because I have written some twenty-plus-year-long novels that took me forever to write, and I am an unsuccessful writer. So, you should not do things the way I did. (Some might accuse me of trying to use a little too much irony, claiming I am a bit too obscure about what I am actually telling you that you should actually do… But, remember, I advised you not to take advice from Mickey. And you need irony in your diet anyway to avoid irony-poor tired blood.) Therefore I am going to advise you further that, “You should never make your characters too complex and interesting.”
After all, there are Mickian characters that are literally blue with red patches on their cheeks that absorb harmful gamma radiation and make those characters immune to radiation sickness from exposure in deep space. You don’t want to make readers so curious about a character that they waste time reading more and more closely to discover more about that character.
Junior Aero, the alien Nebulon boy in the AeroQuest stories is just one example. Not only is he a member of an alien race that are belittled as “Space Smurfs” and treated to racial bigotry based on skin color and not being able to speak English at first, but he is also gifted with mental “Psion powers” that allow him to telepathically read computer minds, even the sentient and intelligent ones.
And some of my characters are green with shark-like fins on their heads. They were born on Starships and orbiting artificial satellites like the one going around Barnard’s Star. They are like George Jetson here, named after his father, Xiar’s, favorite Earther cartoon show character from the 60’s. Not only is he a green-skinned amphibious humanoid life-form from a different star system, he learns a lot about himself in the adventure he has in the novel Stardusters and Space Lizards. He goes from being a narcissistic space-pilot wannabee into becoming a humble crash survivor and expedition leader who helps save an entire planet from ecological disaster. And he even gets a girlfriend out of the deal in Menolly his nestmate and fellow survivor.
Characters like that are far too interesting and developed to be good for your reputation as a serious producer of money-making fiction stories. And you certainly don’t want to waste time on developing the same characters in multiple books.
I used the character of Valerie Clarke in the book When the Captain Came Calling as an eleven-year-old protagonist who loses her father and has to rely on older kids and good friends to save herself from depression and the trash-pits of despair.
I used her again as a main character in Snow Babies where she befriends a mysterious stranger and also finds a runaway boy who makes her think seriously about life and young love, all in the middle of a deadly blizzard.
She’s also in the book Sing Sad Songs where she learns to negotiate love with a boy who also lost a parent, in fact, both parents and a twin sister, in a car crash that made him a lonely orphan. She not only has to face the loss of her own loved ones, but has to help somebody else to face the same thing, in fact, more than one other somebody.
She’s also a character in The Bicycle-Wheel Genius and Fools and Their Toys.
It is unthinkable to use a character that much and make her grow and change in so many different ways. She should be used only once in a simple and clear way. Like, maybe, Mark Twain’s use of Huckleberry Finn.
Huck, as a character was only used in the books, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer Abroad, Tom Sawyer, Detective… and… never mind. Forget I even said anything about Huck Finn. In fact, maybe this whole post is so ironic it’s making my story-teller gears all rusty. Never-the-less, let me threaten you with a possible part three.
This is actually a writer’s literary site meant to promote novels, and one day possibly earn money from writing instead of simply filling my closets with prose and old manuscripts (along with the wife’s many, many shoes). But since I am also an amateur artist of the irradiated subspecies known as “cartoonist”, I also have many visuals to share. I think in pictures as often as I think in words. So one of the features of this blog is that I tag artwork with a made-up word I coined myself. It allows the curious (or those immune to nightmares) to get an almost instant idea of how afflicted I am with cartoon-ism.
Yes, I tested it out. If you do a picture search on Google using the words “Beyer Paffooney” you get a free gallery of my artwork, the good, the bad, and the ugly. You might even find my picture of Clint Eastwood… but beware, he shoots first if you try to “make his day”. If you are brave… or foolish enough to try it, it should come up something like this;
So, there you have it. A cheap and easy 200-word post from a bad idea that’s still out there working.