Category Archives: humor

Harvey Comic Books


“Joker”, a harlequin jack-in-the-box logo for Harvey

When I was a kid old enough to begin to see and interact with the real world in the tragic and magical 1960s, the first comic books available to me, long before my parents would allow me to pick up and buy Spiderman and Batman and (shudder) comics with monsters in them, were the kid-friendly comics of the Harvey Brothers.

Now, you have to understand that Harvey Comics had been around since the 1940s and made their money on characters licensed first from the Brookwood Publications company that Alfred Harvey bought out in 1941 to provide the building, equipment, and publishing personnel to start producing comic books.

Robert B. Harvey and Leon Harvey joined the company to help produce titles they now owned the rights to like Black Cat, the Shield, Shock Gibson, and Captain Freedom.

…………………………………………Of course, most of those characters didn’t last very long. Black Cat was the only title still being published by Harvey in the 1950s.

They would go on to license characters from Famous Studios, the animated cartoon works of Max Fleischer and his brother Dave. That’s when the kid- friendly, parent-approved comic books of Fleischer creations like Casper the Friendly Ghost opened up the world of comic books to seven-year-old Mickey circa 1963.

In spite of this cover art, Casper rarely wore clothing.

Now, it is probably obvious that there are many ways that Harvey Comics influenced me as a storyteller later in life. It goes without saying that my dedication to childish humor in stories derives from this comic-book source. The cuteness of characters is another necessity of comic storytelling gleaned from these ripe fields of baby faces. And stories advanced by magical means and absurd sidetracks also come from here. But did you ever notice that Casper and the other ghosts all perform in the nude? Yes, I think my childhood longing to be a nudist began with Casper’s naked adventures. But unlike Casper, my urges along those lines were suppressed and repressed by parents and society as a whole. So watching Casper and Spooky and Pearl (Spooky’s goilfriend) romp naked through comic book hijinks were a sublimated substitution for that childhood desire. (Sure, none of them had genitals, but it wasn’t about that.)

…………………………………………….Of course, there were many other Harvey characters to enjoy that actually did wear clothes. I was particularly fond of Hot Stuff because he made such an art out of burning things and being a bad kid and roasting the backsides of fools and hypocrites with his trident. And he only ever wore a fireproof diaper, so he was almost a nudist too.

There were many other characters licensed by Harvey as well, including Felix the Cat, Little Audrey, Baby Huey, and the characters from Walter Lance Studios like Woody Woodpecker, Andy Panda, and Chilly Willy.

Dell would later take over the comic book rights to Walter Lantz Studios creations.

So, now you know the true story of how my innocent childhood was warped and woven and corrupted by the characters of Harvey Comics.

Leave a comment

Filed under artists I admire, autobiography, collage, comic book heroes, goofy thoughts, humor, Uncategorized

Horatio T. Dogg… Canto 14

Reichenbach Falls

Bobby and his book were perched in the rocking chair on the porch with Horatio curled up on the rug by his feet.  The reading lamp was on, but otherwise the porch was mostly dark.  Dad and Grandpa had finished closing the porch-window shutters over an hour earlier.  Thunder rumbled eerily somewhere out in the dark of the early evening.

“It sure is spooky out there,” said Shane from his seat in the darkness around the porch sofa.

“It’s just a summer thunderstorm,” said Bobby, turning a page.

“Whatcha readin’?”

“Sherlock Holmes.”

 “Oh?  What’s the story called?”

“The Final Problem.”

“Is that a good one?”

“No.  Sherlock fights Professor Moriarty at a waterfall in Switzerland called Reichenbach Falls.  They both go over the edge and fall to their deaths.”

“Sherlock dies?”  Shane sounded genuinely alarmed.

“Yeah.  But he’s not real.  And he comes back to life.  The Hound of the Baskervilles happens after this story.”

“Oh.”  Shane sounded relieved.

Then the place was briefly white with light from outside, and the thunderstrike that followed almost instantly meant that lightning had hit something nearby.  ProbaHbly the lightning rod on the barn’s cupola.

But Bobby and Shane both jumped as the electricity went out, leaving them in inky blackness.  A few seconds later, the lights were on again.

“What was that!?” Shane practically screeched.

“From the ozone smell in the air, I surmise that lightning struck nearby.  Close enough to cause a brief power outage via electromagnetic pulse.”  Horatio looked calm and unconcerned as he said it.

“Horatio says that the lightning struck the barn and caused the electricity to go out for a moment.”

“Oh.”

“I don’t wish to alarm anyone, but I smell rats out and about,” said Horatio.

“Professor Rattiarty?” asked Bobby.

“What?” said Shane.

“Yes, but not alone.  He has the corpse of a poisoned rat with him.  Possibly Darktail Ralph.  He probably wants to tempt me to poison myself.”

“You won’t eat the dead rat, will you?”

“No!  Yuck!  I don’t want to eat any dead rats!” remarked Shane loudly and with disgust.

“I concur with your brother.  I will not be eating any rats tonight either.  Rattiarty is himself filled with rat poison.”

“What?  Rattiarty is poisoned but not dead?”

“What… what?” gasped Shane.  “Are you talking to Horatio again?”

“Rats often ingest poison slowly enough that, instead of slaying them, they become immune to it.”

“What are we gonna do if the rats are now immune to poison?”

“They are?  Bobby?  What is Horatio telling you?”

“What are you telling me, Horatio?”

“Professor Rattiarty is out there now in the storm.  He’s out of evil minions and wants to challenge me to a final battle.”

“Horatio says Professor Rattiarty wants a final showdown now.”

“The evil rat is out there in the storm?”

“He is.”

“Bobby, if you open the porch door for me, I must answer the rat’s challenge.”

“Now?  In the storm?”

“Yes.  If not now, then never.  My aged body is soon to give out, and I would not let that evil rat continue to threaten the Niland family that I have loved for so long, and who loves me in return.”

Bobby put Sherlock Holmes aside and rose from the rocking chair.

“Bobby, why are you crying?  What did the dog say?”

“Not now, Shane.”

Bobby moved to the porch door.  He opened the screen door inward and the storm door outward against the wind and the driving rain.

“Bobby!  What are you doing?”

Horatio leaped up and bolted out of door as a lightning strike illuminated everything with a burning blue-white light.

Bobby thought he saw the rat scampering across the farmyard as the light faded to blackness.

Shane, terrified, jumped out into the downpour.

“Horatio!  Come back, doggie!”

Bobby, too, went out in the rain.  Straining his eyes to try to find Horatio and the rat he was chasing.  He could see nothing.  A car out on the gravel country road had its brights on as it barrelled along towards Highway 69 going much faster than it should in the rain.

“Horatio!  Come back, it’s not safe!” Shane screamed, crying as he shouted it.

Grandpa Butch was suddenly directly behind Bobby.

“What’s going on?  Why are you boys out in the storm?”

“It’s Horatio and the rat.”

“Shane!  Come back to the house!”

“Grandpa, Horatio is out here in the rain somewhere!  Bobby let him out the front door!”

A car horn blared.  Brakes screeched.  Bobby thought he heard a sickening thump out there on the gravel road.  And the car skidded to a stop in the dark and the rain.

“Oh, god, no!  Shane!” 

Grandpa ran toward the car.  Bobby followed right behind.  As they drew near the stopped car, they heard Shane crying as if he were heartbroken.

“Shane!  Are you all right?”

“Grandpa, it’s Horatio.”

“Butch, I am sorry,” said Mr. Beetle Jones, out of the car and kneeling by the lump of soaked fur on the gravel road, illuminated by the headlights.

Bobby’s stomach quivered, leading to an uncontrolled string of chest-constricting sobs.

  “Ah, Horatio.  You have been a good and faithful friend,” said Butch Niland wearily as he kneeled down and petted the badly damaged body.

“Is he…?  Is he dead?”

“I’m sorry, boys.  He was an old dog.  It is a blessing that it was over quickly.  It means his life won’t end in prolonged suffering.”

“Bobby, how could you?” cried Shane.  “It’s your fault!  You and your dumb old imagination.  You shoulda never let him out of that door.” Bobby could take no more.  He lit out for the house as fast as he could run.  The lightning and thunder lent drama and illuminated his path.

Leave a comment

Filed under farm boy, humor, kids, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Living in the World I Once Drew

The Grain Mill

It is normal for the world we live in to inspire us to draw pictures of it. But architects do the opposite. They imagine a world we could live in, and then build it.

David and Me in Cotulla

Sometimes, like in the picture above, I draw real people in imaginary places. Other times I draw imaginary people and put them in real places.

Gyro and Billy on the planet Pan Galactica A

Sometimes I put imaginary people in imaginary places. (I photo-shopped this planet myself.)

Superchicken and Sherry before school

In fiction, I am re-casting my real past as something fictional, so the places I draw with words in descriptions need to be as real as my amber-colored memory can manage.

Valerie and her skateboard in front of the Congregational Church

When I use photos, though, I have to deal with the fact that over time, places change. The church does not look exactly like it did in the 1980s when this drawing is set.

Drawing things I once saw, and by “drawing” I mean “making pictures,” is how I recreate myself to give my own life meaning.

Leave a comment

Filed under artwork, autobiography, collage, commentary, humor, illustrations, imagination, Paffooney, photo paffoonies

Just Write Something, Mickey

“Lately Mickey hasn’t been doing much of any writing on his work in progress. I, a professional Professor of knowing practically everything and knowing most of it wrongly, am here to give the hopeless goofy guy some much needed advice. Of course, I shall offer that advice incognatively… err, incontranatively… err… anonymously because Disney enjoys suing schoolteachers and other criminals who misuse their intellectual property.”

“But I can’t help myself when it comes to giving opinions on stuff that ain’t really my business but fascistinates… err, fusstinates… err… highly interests me. So, here goes.”

“Write about something Over the Rainbow. I mean your imagination is really garganteelian… err… gigantickingly… err… really pretty big. You can make up something being about made-up worlds, witches who fly around in soap bubbles and other such nonsensical things. Maybe talking scarecrows and heartless metal guys and really big kitty cats… make a story with something beautiful and imaginative, though maybe not as beautiful as that Judy Garland chick… she was really georgeous… err… magnifical… err… really hot-looking! But she is so old she is dead now. So, you can’t put her in the film version of what you write.”

“Or you could write something extra creepy. Something totally like the Addams Family. You’ve got a talent for writing stuff that seems extra morbeedious… err… mackahbreebrious… err… extra spooky. You can turn peoples’ stomachs inside out and make them feel all gooey in their courageousness because of weird evilness and dark happenstances… err… murderiferous scenarios… err scary stuff. It helps that you can be funny here and there when you scare us. You can be totally spooky-ooky in your stories and sometimes you make us sharpen wooden stakes and make necklaces of garlic. Do an Uncle Fester shtick. Of course, Jackie Coogan is so old he is dead now, so you can’t use him in your film version.”

“Or there is always the absolutely romantical… like a story about a three hour cruise where funny guys get shipwrecked on a desserted island with girls that wear bikinis where you don’t see the cutie’s belly button. And “desserted” is the right word because the dessert is actually coconut-cream pie. But you are good at writing about faskinating… err… interesstrial… err… attention-requiring young women and really dorky guys and how they can fit together like puzzle pieces that you don’t even have to use scissors to make them fit together. Romantical comedy is a thing you can do too. So, we don’t even need to talk about Dawn Wells who played Mary Ann. You couldn’t cast her in the movie version because you’re still sad about Covid having taken her away in 2020.”

“But anyway, you got no excuses now, Mickey! You know you can write It’s just getting anybody to read the danged thing you can’t do. So, write something!!!”

Leave a comment

Filed under goofy thoughts, humor, new projects, novel writing, writing, writing humor

Pen and Ink and Sometimes… Pencil

Drawing with increasingly painful arthritic hands is still worth it. I suppose I should feel a little embarrassed about drawing so many young girls. Especially when I draw them naked.

But drawing someone who is naked, yet totally confident in their own skin and unafraid of the world they have bared themselves to, captures a feeling I have aspired to my whole life.

That is the purpose of art. To show the deepest insights life has forced upon the artist.

Not all the nudes I draw are female.

Sometimes it is the top of the head that is naked. That makes it easier to show what you are thinking. No hairy stuff between the viewer and the mind of the man.

Mere shapes and lines can make you feel something deeply.

There is a joy that can come from drawing something that begins with a spark from your secret heart.

But people will know at first sight what things you used to keep secret and to yourself.

And some people will hate you for it. They detect a little nudism or a little bit of gayness (and I am definitely not gay) and immediately default to hating your drawings, and, beyond that, hating you.

But I don’t accept hate. Because I don’t know hate. It is a stranger to me, from a country I have never been to. And I don’t recognize that stranger. But I don’t hate him. Because I don’t know hate.

4 Comments

Filed under artwork, drawing, fairies, humor, Paffooney, pen and ink

It Is Amazing That…

…Ideas come out of nowhere, and fit together so easily.

…People can laugh at almost anything, and for almost infinite reasons.

…Ugly things can contain great beauty, and beauty can conceal great horrors.

…Songbirds can be everywhere that there is life.

…You can live many lifetimes if only you allow yourself to be fully absorbed by books.

…You can be more confident and bold when you are naked in the world than when you wear suits of armor behind castle walls.

…When people get what they wish for, it never works out like they thought it would.

…People will often let others tell them what to think, but still won’t listen if you tell them they are wrong.

…You can learn wisdom from satire and foolishness from a philosophy teacher.

…Gravity works even when your brain doesn’t.

…We survived even when the clowns ran the circus.

…We didn’t really learn about the problems with drawing in our textbooks, until we became the teacher.

…Bananas do the Tango when the grocery store is closed

(Now, there’s an idea with real a-peel!)

Leave a comment

Filed under humor, poetry, wisdom

Dave Barry

dave barry and alan zweibel

dave barry

I threatened to write a post about Dave Barry and the writing gods apparently thought that was a very very bad idea.  They have tried to prevent me from carrying out this idle threat by attacking my computer with gremlins.  Now my WordPress page is shrinking practically out of sight.  I can barely  see what I am typing.  You don’t believe me?  Here’s what it looks like at the moment;

20160527_095532

They obviously tricked me into pressing the secret shrink button on my computer, and I have no idea where to find the un-shrink features.  Not only that, but my Facebook page is automatically translating everything it can into French.  They really don’t want me to tell you about Dave Barry.  And why do you suppose that is?

Well, Dave Barry may actually be me from a parallel dimension.  He started writing for The Miami Herald in the early 80’s, at about the same time I started teaching.  He retired from that in 2004 after winning a Pulitzer Prize and started writing humorous novels…. the same thing I started doing when I left the job I loved and was good at.  Okay, so I am stretching the analogy to the point that all the buttons are popping off its shirt… but the point is, we are alike in some ways and I admire his work and I steal things from it whenever I possibly can.  Like this post.  I deeply admire the way he can say witty and pithy things.  Like some of these quotes;

dave44

dave55

dave2

dave3dave4

So, you see, he is very good at doing what I want to be good at.  He is a humor columnist and all-around imitation Mark Twain.  And I have read and loved his novels.  Especially the Peter Pan things he writes with a partner.

Dave-Barry-and-Ridley-Pearson-250px

Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

So, I will leave this post here even though I could talk for hours about how Dave Barry makes me laugh.  I have to stop.  the words on the screen keep getting smaller and smaller, and my old eyes are about to fall out of my head.

4 Comments

Filed under commentary, horror movie, humor, Uncategorized

Reflections from 1964

In 1964 I was 7 years old until November. I became a baseball fan that year. I had listened to baseball games on the radio with Great Grandpa Raymond before that year, but that had always been Twins’ games in the American League. But that was the year I discovered the St. Louis Cardinals. I followed them in the newspaper, the Mason City Globe Gazette. They had lost the greatest hitter in their history to that point, Stan Musial having retired when the 1963 season ended. But he was replaced in left field by Lou Brock, the hit-making base-stealing boy wonder of 1964. They went from near the bottom of the National League to edging out the Philadelphia Phillies and the Cincinnati Reds by one game each (they were tied for second) at the very end of the season.

The World Series pitted the Cardinals against the mighty New York Yankees. Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford were the stars of that team and had won five World Series in a row a decade before. It was a fantastic battle that the Cardinals finally won 7 to 5 in the seventh and final game in St. Louis. Bob Gibson was a deciding factor and won Series MVP. I would become a life-long Cardinals fan.

And I lost my Grandpa Beyer. He went to work one day, driving a road grader and his heart simply stopped working. It was the first time I lost a major somebody in my life.

In 1962 I had spotted the bright pinprick in the sky that was John Glenn orbiting the earth in the Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft. My mother and father helped me spot it from our back yard in Rowan, Iowa.

In 1964, therefore, I began to take a serious interest in outer space as the Mercury program transformed into the Gemini program that was testing procedures in space for eventual Apollo moon missions.

I was in the Second Grade in 1964. Miss Madison was my teacher. She was as old as my Grandpa and Grandma Aldrich. She got mad at me at least three times that I can remember. I mean, I know that there were more than that, but there were three times I made her so mad with a joke that she memorably made me feel the wrath that teachers reserve for classroom clowns.

Steve Kaufman “The Beatles Debut on Ed Sullivan 1964” 

The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan in February. My Grandpa and Grandma Aldrich told me that the Beatles must’ve been confused about whether they were boys or girls to have haircuts like that. And those were the bowl-cuts they had before the wild-hair days of the later Sixties. All the boys in my class had either a butch cut or a flat-top. Hair styles for boys back then meant not really having any hair.

Lyndon Baines Johnson was president. He had been since the Kennedy assassination in 1963.

In July LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, abolishing segregation.

In August, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident (since revealed to be a proven false-flag operation) leads to the Vietnam War.

The “Daisy” campaign ad for LBJ, showing a little girl picking flowers and then being blown up by an atom bomb, convinces my dad that Barry Goldwater is a dangerous radical, and he votes for LBJ even though he is not a conservative or a Republican.

LBJ is elected President of the United States in 1964.

Later that November, I turned eight years old.

1964 was a notable year for me. Even if it wasn’t for Barry Goldwater.

In the picture that starts this post, I am 8. Nancy is 6, holding on to little brother David at 2. Mary is 4. We are all in our Sunday best on Easter Sunday morning.

Why am I writing about 1964 today?

My mother is in hospice at 87 years old. She is dying of heart failure. And today, I and my two younger children got to talk to her by phone. The light and hope we have today is colored by the hope and light we had in the past. Such is the nature of having a family over time.

5 Comments

Filed under autobiography, baseball, commentary, humor, nostalgia

Malaise as a Condiment

Malaise is not mayonnaise. It is that horrible sickly feeling that you can’t really put into words because you don’t know what medical problem is the one that is probably killing you.. I feel blah to the twenty-third degree. And the reason why is a malaise-causing mystery to me. Where is Scooby Doo when you need him?

And it probably is being caused by my diet. (This is a metaphorical diet illustrated in the Dagwood diagram.)

It is undeniably true that what you put into your body by eating becomes what you are made of. And it can make you healthy and happy. Or it can make you sick and even make you die.

It is also undeniably true that what you put into your mind can do the exact same thing.

I have no issue with the bread in my Dagwood sandwich. Whether wheat is better than white is not an issue to me. Bread is the stuff of life, no matter the color. And if bread is going to hold everything in the sandwich together, I prefer the wheat bread because of the ruffage that keeps me regular. But white bread is just as good as long as it doesn’t go buy Tiki torches at Walmart.

But the roast beast I get now is reaching its expiration date. It is in dire need of roasting over a real fire. And now that it is no longer in office, what is standing in the way of roasting it thoroughly to prevent the salmonella that comes from not giving it the fire it deserves for its crimes? Waiting for that to happen is making me sick.

It is not normal to put ap-peas-e in any sandwich but a Dagwood because they are very round. And if you hold the sandwich too tight, they can pop out of the sides of the sandwich and end up rolling on the floor.

So, just like Mick Jagger, “I can’t get no… SATISFACTION!”

That doesn’t mean I won’t need it.

The malaise itself won’t make you fat and have high cholesterol like mayonnaise will. But it is definitely not good for you. It leads to depression and an inability to get anything good accomplished. I almost didn’t get this essay done.

I am really enjoying watching Selena Gomez on Hulu in “Only Murders in the Building” with Steve Martin and Martin Short.

Hot tomatoes can really perk me up, especially in bikinis (I find the bikinis are satisfyingly chewy,) but they are dangerous to my health. Especially dangerous when my wife notices what I am looking at. The show we are watching on Hulu, however, works well since I laugh at Steve Martin enough to throw her off. Still, the tomatoes are probably going to be the death of me.

Onions are a tradition in Dagwood sandwiches. But in these times of extremely divided politics, onions are too often divided by pi.

As far as using cheese goes… Well, this is a very cheesy essay.

And if you eat a Dagwood sandwich for lunch every day, soon you will be full of baloney.

So, now, as we sit down to lunch, let-us pray. But don’t use iceberg lettuce. That can give you gas. And anyway, icebergs are getting hard to find due to climate change.

2 Comments

Filed under commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, metaphor, satire

Horatio T. Dogg… Canto 13

Rat Poison

Bobby had always been amazed at the calm, easy-going way that Grandpa Butch handled a crisis.  He had examined Horatio himself when he had first learned of the eating of a part of Whitewhiskers Billy’s poisoned corpse.

He had then called the vet in Belle City.  They put a couple of soft but old blankets in the back of the red pickup and then driven Horatio to see his doggy-doctor while Bobby and Shane rode in the back to keep Horatio calm and safe.

The doctor had checked him over carefully, determining that the dog probably had not eaten enough of the poisoned rat to get any of the poison in his own system.  So, they gave Horatio some precautionary anti-coagulant injections, induced some vomiting, forced a bit of activated charcoal into him, and then, knowing Horatio would be better tended back home at the Niland farm than he ever would be in the Belle City animal hospital, sent him home.

“So, they’re sure that Horatio’s not gonna die?”  Shane asked on the ride back home.

“Pretty sure, yeah.  It’ll be our job to make sure he doesn’t eat any more poisoned rats.  And we have to tell Grandpa if he vomits again, or shows any more symptoms.”

“Yeah, that makin’ the dog vomit thing was sure icky.”

“But it got rid of any poison still in his stomach, Shane.”

Bobby put one hand on Shane’s shoulder as he continued to stroke the fur on Horatio’s neck with the other hand.  Shane had both hands deeply buried in Horatio’s brown-and-white fur coat.

“So, did Professor Rattiarty win this round?” Shane asked.

“No, he didn’t,” said Horatio confidently.  “He meant to kill me with this poison-eating ploy.  And we made him fail.”

“Horatio said he didn’t because Horatio is still alive.”

“Oh, that’s good.”

                                    *****

Rattiarty glared at Darktail Ralph.

“Don’t look at me.  It isn’t my fault the damned dog didn’t eat enough of Billy to do the job!”

“Well, we just have to try again.”

“Not that way.  There has to be some other plan.  Something that works better.”

“This plan will work if you eat more of the poison.  Saturate your system with toxins to make the dosage more lethal!”

“But there are only two of us left!  Why should I be the one to sacrifice myself?  Why don’t you let Horatio eat you?  You have a lot more poison in you than I have in me.”

“It may come to that if you fail too.”

Ralph snarled at the Professor.  “I won’t even try.  You can’t make me do it!”

“We shall see about that.”

Rattiarty made the first lunge, going for Ralph’s throat.

Ralph was a veteran rat-warrior, however, and still very quick to dodge.  He had the advantage of youth over Rattiarty, as the Professor was quite old for a rat.

As Rattiarty’s attempt at grabbing Ralph with teeth in his throat, the old rat’s superior strategy came into play.  The lunge having missed, the Professor snagged the right nostril of Ralph’s nose with one claw.  He ripped the skin all the way up to the Darktail’s right eye. 

Blood half-blinded Ralph.

Rattiarty built on that advantage to swing his thin body up onto Darktail Ralph’s back. Stabbing rat teeth descended on Ralph’s neck, gouging into his spinal cord and effectively paralysing him.  In mere moments more, the head was off, and Rattiarty was alone, but ready to drag the poison-filled body to some place where Horatio T. Dogg would see it and eat it.

Leave a comment

Filed under humor, kids, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney