Tag Archives: cartoons

Talk Like Popeye

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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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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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Filed under artists I admire, artwork, cartoon review, cartoons, comic book heroes, goofiness, humor, illustrations

Toonerville, a Place I Once Lived In

There is a place so like the place where my heart and mind were born that I feel as if I have always lived there.  That place is a cartoon panel that ran in newspapers throughout the country from 1913 to 1955 (a year before I was born in Mason City, Iowa).  It was called Toonerville Folks and was centered around the famous Toonerville Trolley.

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Fontaine Fox was born near Louisville Kentucky in 1884.  Louisville, of course is one of the two cities that claims to be the inspiration for Toonerville.  Apparently the old Brook Street Line Trolley in Louisville was always run-down, operating on balls of twine and bailing wire for repair parts.  The people of Pelham, New York, however, point to a trolley ride Fox took in 1909 on Pelham’s rickety little trolley car with a highly enterprising and gossip-dealing old reprobate for a conductor.  No matter which it was, Fox’s cartoon mastery took over and created Toonerville, where you find the famous trolley that “meets all trains”.

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I didn’t learn of the comic strip’s existence until I was in college, but once I found it (yes, I am the type of idiot who researches old comics in university libraries), I couldn’t get enough of it.  Characters like the Conductor, the Powerful (physically) Katrinka, and the terrible-tempered Mr. Bang can charm the neck hair off of any Midwestern farm-town boy who is too stupid to regret being born in the boring old rural Midwest.

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I fancied myself to be just like the infamous Mickey (himself) McGuire.  After all, we have the same first name… and I always lick any bully or boob who wants to put up a fight (at least in my daydreams).

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So, this is my tribute to the cartoonist who probably did more to warp my personality and make me funny (well, at least easy to laugh at! ) than any other influence.  All of the cartoons in this post can be credited to Fontaine Fox.  And all the people in them can be blamed on Toonerville, the town I used to live in, though I never really knew it until far too late.

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Filed under art my Grandpa loved, artists I admire, cartoons, Toonerville

Animal Town in Daylight

This is a place I explore in cartoons and daydreams.  It is a little town known as Animal Town for fairly obvious reasons.  It is populated by silly anthropomorphic animals who wear clothes and keep naked people as pets.

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Animal Town is one of the all-time silliest places to visit in the cartoon dreamland of Fantastica.

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Mandy Panda and little brother Dandy are my constant companions and guides when I tour the dangerous streets of wild Animal Town.  In my cartoons, Mandy is an immigrant from the Pandalore Islands.  She is also the cartoon version of my wife.

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Three of the Town’s most important head monkeys.

It was Mandy who introduced me to the government officials who run Animal Town.  Judge Moosewinkle is the head of the Animal Town court system.  He is a hanging judge, so I am very careful about littering and loitering when I am in town.

Constable Geoffrey Giraffe does all the arresting and police work.  He used to work in a toy store, but quit his job there when he couldn’t get them to stop writing the R backwards on all their signs.  Grammar infractions annoy him more than any other crime.

Linus the Kitten-Hearted is the mayor of Animal Town.  They wanted to crown him as king, but he always says that’s only for when he’s in the jungle.  In town he prefers to be a democratically elected leader.  Of course, if you refuse to vote for him, he might eat you.

Most of my dreams in Animal Town are about the school there.

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                                                                                                                                                         Yes, this is a yearbook picture from Animal Town Elementary School.

Miss Ancient’s Class of 5th graders is usually rather rowdy and difficult.  You may have noticed there is a bare bear in the old buzzard’s class.  The fact is, the bears in Animal Town are all naturists and refuse to wear clothes.  This disturbs poor Miss
Ancient greatly, and it is therefore a real godsend that a fig leaf just happened to be drifting down through the air at the time this picture was made.  Bobby Bare is not shy, but some things are better not put into a cartoon.

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                                                                                                                                                   Yes, this is another yearbook picture. And I am in it twice, since Mr. Reluctant Rabbit is also me.

As a visitor to Animal Town, Cissy Bare took me to Mr. Rabbit’s class as her pet for show and tell.  She is also a bare bear, and she also benefited from a passing leaf at picture time. You may notice students putting rabbit ears behind each other’s heads in pictures… something that human children do too in real life.  But when I study this picture, I can’t help but think that maybe Mr. Rabbit started it.  Now, Animal Town is located in Fantastica, a part of the Dreamlands.  So that sort of explains how I ended up in school naked.  My dreams are like that.  You are in school in the middle of lessons before you realize that haven’t got a single stitch of clothing on.

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When I am inevitably charged with public indecency for being in school naked, I can turn to Animal Town lawyer Woolbinkle Moosewinkle.  He is totally incompetent and not very bright, but unlike most of the animals, he is friendly and on my side.  Spot Firedog is a Dalmatian who knows how to use a newspaper.  He is a reporter, publisher, and all-around good dog.  He wrote an expose on me being naked in the Animal Town Elementary school.

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Big Bull Beefalo runs the local hamburger emporium, which might seem like collusion to cannabalism, but Bull is a very gentle and very large soul.  He is himself a vegetarian, but he is a gifted fry cook and chef.  I can go to his restaurant when I get out of jail, though hopefully not as food.

So, Animal Town is a very different kind of place.  It is the result of dreams and goofiness and uncontrolled spurts of cartoonist creativity.  It is a cartoon sort of place where spontaneous and random humor happens.

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Krazy Kat

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I told you before about a cartoonist from ancient ‘Toon Times named Fontaine Fox.  He was a master, and I acknowledge him as one of my greatest inspirations.  But he was not the original master mentor for my teenage ‘Toon Training.  That honor goes to the inestimable George Herriman.  He was the Krazy Kartoonist who died more than a decade before I was born, yet, through his Kreation, Krazy Kat, did more to warp my artistic bent into Krazy Kartooniana Mania than anybody else.  I discovered him first.  I found him through Komic books and the Kard Katalog at the local library.  I own a copy of the book I pictured first in this post.  It is the first Kartoon book I ever bought.  I couldn’t post a picture of my actual book here because I have read it so often in the past forty years that the Kover has Kome off.  It is now more of folder of loose pages than a book.

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Krazy Kat is a newspaper Komic strip that ran all around the world from 1913 to 1944.  Comics Journal would rate Krazy Kat as the greatest work of Komic art of the 20th Century.  Art critics hailed it as serious art, and it fits snugly into the surrealist movement of Salvador Dali and others.  It has been cited as a major influence on the work of other artists such as Will Eisner, Charles M. Schulz, Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Bill Watterson, and Chris Ware.

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The centerpiece of the strip is a love triangle.  Krazy Kat the Kharacter is a feline who may be female or may be male but is definitely deeply in love with Ignatz Mouse.  The Krazed rodent hopped up on seriously stinky fromage (cheese to us non-French speakers), is Konstantly throwing bricks at Krazy’s head… obviously out of serious disdain, however, Krazy sees it as a confession of love.  Offisa Pup, the police watchdog, wants to jail the malevolent mouse for battery and protect the precious Kat, whom he obviously loves with an unrequited love.  Explanations are superfluous in the weird world of Krazy Kat.  How can I explain the charm, the humor, the good-natured violence of a strip such as this?  There are echoes of it in Tom and Jerry animated cartoons, but nothing like it really exists anywhere else.  Krazy has her own unique language, a language that you naturally learn to interpret as you read the strip.  Ignatz exhibits psychotic frustrations that he takes out on the world around him in our name, that we might experience hubris at his expense.  And what’s with that mysterious sack of “Tiger Tea” that Krazy carries about and keeps a Klosely guarded “sekrit”?

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I honestly hope you will give Krazy Kat a thorough “look-see”.  Because if you like Kartoons at all… and it doesn’t have to be the Krazy Kooky love of a seriously overdosed addict like me… you will fall desperately in love with this one.   It is a world of its own, a superbly superfluous abstract anachronism.  It is a surrealist’s dream of fun with puns and tons of buns… or something like that.  Simply put… read it and don’t like it… I dare you!

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Penguin Proverbs

Penguins

You know how creepy penguins in cartoons can be, right?  The Penguins of Madagascar are like a Mission-Impossible Team gone horribly wrong and transformed into penguins.  The penguin in Wallace and Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers disguised himself as a chicken to perform acts of pure evil.  Cartoonists all know that penguins are inherently creepy and evil.

I recently learned a hard lesson about penguins.  You know the joke, “What’s black and white and red all over?  A penguin with a sunburn.”  I told that joke one too many times.  Who knew the Dallas metroplex had so many loose penguins lurking around?  They are literally everywhere.  One of them overheard me.  And apparently they have vowed a sacred penguin vow that no penguin joke goes unpunished.

As I walked the dog this morning, I spotted creepy penguin eyes, about three pairs, looking at me from behind the bank of the creek bed in the park.  When I went to retrieve the empty recycle bins from the driveway, there they were again, looking at me over the top of the neighbor’s privacy fence.

“Penguins see the world in black and white,” said one of the Penguins.

“Except for purple ones,” added the purple one.

“Penguins can talk?” I tried unsuccessfully to ask.

“Penguins only talk in proverbs,” said one of the penguins.

“But the purple one gives the counterpoint,” said the purple one.

“The wisdom of penguins is always cold and harsh,” said one of the penguins.

“Except on days like this when it’s hot,” said the purple one.

“You should always listen to penguins,” said one of the penguins.

“Of course, people will think you are crazy if you do,” said the purple one.

“People who talk to penguins are headed for a nervous breakdown,” said one of the penguins.

“Unless you are a cartoonist.  Then it is probably normal behavior,” said the purple one.

“Is this all real?” I tried unsuccessfully to ask.

“Everyone knows that penguins are real,” said one of the penguins.

“But there are no purple penguins in nature,” said the purple one.

So, I sat down to write this post about penguins and their proverbs with a very disturbing thought in my little cartoonist’s head…  Why am I really writing about penguins today?  I really have nothing profound to say about penguin proverbs.  Especially profound penguin proverbs with a counterpoint by a purple penguin.  Maybe it is all merely a load of goofy silliness and a waste of my time.

“Writing about penguins is never a waste of time,” said one of the penguins.

“And if you believe that, I have some choice real estate in the Okefenokee Swamp I need to talk to you about,” added the purple one.

 

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Filed under artwork, birds, cartoons, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, philosophy, surrealism

Happy Birthday, Carl Barks

Carl Barks was born on March 27th, 1901. So, today is his 118th birthday. If you have no idea who I’m even talking about, then you were never a kid and a comic book fan in the 1960s. Carl Barks is both Uncle Scrooge’s father and Donald Duck’s stepfather.

Carl is a personal art hero of mine. I grew to adulthood on the adventures of his plucky ducks doing duck adventures in Duckburg. I have written about my devotion to Carl in this blog before. In fact, here is the link; https://catchafallingstarbook.net/2014/09/27/carl-barks-master-of-the-duck-comic/

That’s essentially true. A large part of my character as a junior high school English teacher was based on what I learned about mentoring from Scrooge McDuck and about teaching important facts from Gyro Gearloose.

Carl was not immune to criticism. Cartoonists get blow-back, a fact of life. But he overcame it with a wry sense of humor and interesting views of how you pursue goals in life. He had a firm sense of fair-play and justice. You could get actual morals to the stories in a Carl Barks’ duck cartoon.

The characters were not perfect. They all had glaring flaws, the heroes right along with the villains. Of course, the villains never learned to change their ways, while the heroes often learned to improve themselves by working on the weaknesses, and it wasn’t all about becoming a gazillionaire (a term I think Barks may have invented).

I even learned a good deal about adventure story-telling from Carl Barks’ comic books about Duck people doing ducky stuff that was really about people doing people-y stuff in the real world. Yes, people in the world around me are very Carl Barks’ ducky.

So, happy birthday, Carl. 118 years young. And he’s only been gone from our world since August of 2000. He still talks to me and teaches me through his Duck comics.

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Lazy Sunday Silliness

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Imagination is always the place I go in times of trouble.  I have a part of my silly old brain devoted to dancing the cartoon dance of the dundering doofus.  It has to be there that I flee to and hide because problems and mistakes and guilt and pessimism are constantly building un-funny tiger-traps of gloom for me to rot at the bottom of.  You combat the darkness with bright light.  You combat hatred with love.  You combat unhappiness with silly cartoonish imaginings.  Well… maybe you don’t.  But I do.

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When reading the Sunday funnies in the newspaper on lazy Sunday afternoons, I spent years admiring Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes for its artistry and imaginative humor, believing it was about a kid who actually had a pet talking tiger.  I didn’t get the notion that Hobbes was actually a toy tiger for the longest time.  That’s because it was basically the story of my own boyhood.  I had a stuffed tiger when I was small. He talked.  He went on adventures with me.  And he talked me into breaking stuff and getting into trouble with Mom and Dad. It was absolutely realistic to me.

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I have always lived in my imagination.  Few people see the world the way I view it.  I have at least four imaginary children to go along with the three that everybody insists are real.  There’s Radasha, the boy faun, my novel characters Tim Kellogg and Valerie Clarke, and the ghost dog that lurks around the house, especially at night.  That plus Dorin, Henry, and the Princess (the three fake names that I use in this blog for my three real children).

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Have you noticed how Watterson’s water-color backgrounds fade into white nothingness the way daydreams do?  Calvin and Hobbes were always a cartoon about turning the unreal into the real, turning ideas upside down and looking at them through the filter-glasses of Spaceman Spiff.

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Unique and wonderful solutions to life’s problems can come about that way.  I mean, I can’t actually use a bloggular raygun to vaporize city pool inspectors, but I can put ideas together in unusual ways to overcome challenges.  I almost got the pool running again by problem-solving and repairing cracks myself.

 

So, I am now facing the tasks of working out a chapter 13 bankruptcy and having a swimming pool removed.  The Princess will need to be driven to and from school each day.  I will need to help Henry find another after-school job.  And the cool thing is, my imaginary friends will all be along for the ride.  Thank you, Calvin.  Thank you, Hobbes.  You made it all possible.  So, please, keep dancing the dance of the dundering doofus.

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Filed under artists I admire, autobiography, cartoons, feeling sorry for myself, humor, imagination, strange and wonderful ideas about life

The Art of Being Stupid

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My title today may prompt you to think, “Apparently, when Mickey does art it is stupid art.”  If my title didn’t make you think that, then my first sentence certainly did.  I am literally putting stupid ideas into your head.  And this is a problem because the people currently at the top of the people pile that is our modern society are  shoveling great smelly heaps of stupidity directly into our brains.

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I know stupid.  I was a public school teacher for thirty-one years.  No one survives the mine-field of stupid bombs in the classroom without being able to recognize the incoming booby-head missiles.  Years worth of lame homework excuses have made stupidity easily recognizable.  Being stupid is easy.  Countering it is hard.

So how does one be stupid?  I nearly found out yesterday as I was driving on an access road for I-35.  I was going the 40-mile-per-hour speed limit and got a phone call on my cell phone.  All I did was look at my phone to see who was calling in case another school child was calling because  pollen season was killing them again and they wanted to come home from school… again.  My son shouted a warning of imminent death and I looked back at the road in time to see the car dealer had left a car-carrier trailer in the road with the ramp down.  Wow!  That was almost an epic Evel Knievel stunt.

But being epically stupid is simply a matter of not paying attention well enough.  It is easy to achieve.  Note how often President Cheeto-head achieves it.

I have also found it to be a remarkably easy thing to be stupid on Facebook and Twitter.  All you have to do is post and repost stuff, or tweet and retweet stuff, that speaks to your own prejudices and ignores what is factual and what is not.  I have seen very elaborate anti-climate change graphs that seem to show a correlation between sun activity and periods of warming and cooling climate.  The biggest problem with this frequently debunked “take-that-and-stuff-it!” evidence is that it was created by a pair of propagandists with oil-company ties who were only masquerading as climate scientists.

When you vet that source and introduce evidence to your conservative Facebook friend you will get back a horrified speculation about the depths of your own stupidity for believing that Snopes.com is not also propaganda and you can’t believe everything NASA says because their funding is at stake.  And I end up having to admit I do say similar things about their cherished sources like Infowars, Breitbart, and Fox News.  Truth is apparently more the product of faith than it is the province of science.

Besides not knowing what facts are, it is fairly easy to be monumentally stupid by having no empathy at all.  Iowegians who would bend over backwards and feed their own liver to a hungry Iowan, will routinely cry about the dangers of Sharia law and talk about wall building at the sight of Syrian widows and orphans.   And don’t even get me started about shoot-first Texans.  Not after they just shot and killed another unarmed black teenager in Balch Springs.

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So how do you make an Art out of Stupid?

Well, the CBS Morning News has started running down the key events in the news with snippets quoted from late-night TV hosts and comedians like Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Trevor Noah, and James Corden.  You defeat stupidity by aping it, imitating it, and making people laugh at it.  It is really defeated when you make someone laugh about their own stupidity, like the story about me and the I-35 launch ramp.  Comedians seem to be the only ones effectively reporting on the current Presidential situation, and even CNN and MSNBC news anchors have begun making jokes in their reporting.  I have become a lover of political cartoons like never before.

downloadYou may not be able to rescue other people’s minds from being stupid.  But what you can do and be artful about is… make them laugh.

 

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Filed under angry rant, education, humor, memes, politics, red States, satire

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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Filed under cartoons, characters, comic strips, doodle, foolishness, humor, Paffooney cartoony, rabbit people, strange and wonderful ideas about life