Tuesday, July 31, 2007


It isn't often that you get to see new (new for the internet, that is) paintings by Scott Wills, one of the ace background painters on Ren & Stimpy and Samurai Jack . I swiped these from Bill Wray's blog, "Mad About Cartoons." Bill put up some beautiful paintings of his own too. Check them out at:



Here's (above) a trailer for "Mildred Pierce", a terrific melodrama about a waitress (Joan Crawford)who works her fingers to the bone to give her daughter a highbrow education, then is rejected by the daughter as low class. I posted this trailer before but didn't bother to comment on how intelligently it was constructed. The clip deserves better so here's a fuller treatment. Let's see....

We open with a fanfare which accompanies this lettering:

Warner Bros. invites you to witness the first scene of a motion picture the world will TALK ABOUT...

BAM! BAM! (gunshots)

A gutshot man collapses and utters the word..."Mildred!"

Announcer: "Mildred! A name gasped in the night! The one last word of a dying man...but one word that tells a thousand stories of a woman who left her mark on every man she met!" [I love over-the-top narration like this!]

Boyfriend #1: "Mildred has more to offer a man with a glance than most women give in a lifetime!"

Boyfriend #2: " Mildred knew what she wanted and wasn't too particular how she got it!"

Boyfriend #3: "Mildred? Loving her was like shaking hands with the devil!"

Lettering: It's JOAN CRAWFORD...In her most Daringly Different portrayal (her robe slips revealing her bikini)..."MILDRED PIERCE!" [The music seemed to want the trailer to end here but it continues]


Mildred: "You make me feel...I don't know...warm!

Boyfriend #1: "And wanted. AND WANTED!!!" [He whips her around behind him so we can't see her and plants a big, rubber plunger kiss on her!]

Lettering; She Bought a LOVE...she could NEVER OWN!

Mildred walks in and finds her daughter passionately making out with her (Mildred's) boyfriend, now her husband.

Mildred: (Gasp!) "How long has this been going on?"

Daughter: "Monty is going to divorce you and marry me, and there's nothing you can do about it! You think that because you made a little money and got a fancy hairdo that you can make yourself a lady! Well you can't! You'll never be anything but a common..." [The dialogue cuts off.]

Lettering sweeps across the screen: The OUTSPOKEN STORY of an INDISCREET WOMAN! Joan Crawford...Zachary Scott...in "MILDRED PIERCE!"

Not everybody likes the choppy dialogue, strange syntax and the odd capitalization you find in trailers. I love it myself. I love how the momentum in a trailer is carried at different times by music, narration, dialogue and lettering. It's so smart and so intuitive. I love wipes and the kind of lettering that starts fuzzy and sharpens to crystal clarity. Why did we ever stop making trailers like this?

Monday, July 30, 2007


That's a terrible headline when you consider that either one of these actors (above) could run rings around me. Even so, I have it in me to criticize my betters, so here goes.....

The first thing that strikes me is that these are both nice, shy people. That's a mistake isn't it? Isn't there more dramatic tension if they're somewhat different? The play is "Biloxi Blues" by Neil Simon and there are plenty of personality conflicts in the rest of the story. Maybe Simon actually wanted these guys to be the same. Maybe, but...even so...there still has to be conflict, don't you think?

What if the guy had a chip on his shoulder like Garfield and the girl was alternately attracted and repulsed by him? Or what if the girl was really plain and had even lower self-esteem than the guy? I'm thinking of the girl in "Marty." What if he was comedic like Woody Allen and she was more serious? What if she knew her girlfriends were watching?

Dramatic acting is really scary. What if you don't like the script? You can't customize it. What if you're good at farce and the script requires method? What if the girl hates you in real life?

I have my usual criticisms about elocution and stage movement. Add to that the requirement for emotional music and word music. Aaaargh! What do you think?

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Brother Paul (VOICE OVER): "Nobody...I say NOBODY'S got it made in life! You can lose what you've got, (SNAP!) just like that!"

Brother Paul (CONT): "Let me tell you a sad, sad story!"

Brother Paul (CONT): "Once there was a happy couple. They were blessed with every good thing the world could offer. At home, snug in their beds, lay their eight beautiful children and a fluffy dog...the fruits of a life well lived.

Brother Paul (CONT): "If you'd seen them you'd have said, ' What an ideal couple! Surely nothing could drive a wedge between them'....but you'd have been wrong!"


Brother Paul (CONT) : "You'd have been wrong, because no one can resist...THE WICKED CITY WOMAN!"

Brother Paul (CONT): "She's Satan incarnate! Many a ship has crashed on the rocks of life when this temptation came along!"

Brother Paul (CONT): "The previously loyal husband, the woefully weak vessel, was no match for this Jezebel! It only took a minute for his life to change forever!"

Loyal Wife: " 'W...What are you doing!?,' said the distraught wife."

Loyal Wife (CONT) : "GRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!"

The Weak Vessel: "Um...I'll be back in a few minutes!!"

The Loyal Wife: "No, don't do it! Think of our eight beautiful dogs and one fluffy child!"

Loyal Wife: "(Sob!) Come back! Come back!!!"

The Weak Vessel: "Rut! Rut! Rut! Rut! Rut! Rut!"

Brother Paul: "Did you see that!? Did you see that!!?? That couple's going straight to Hell, the victim of wrong preaching! I'll bet the stupid husband went to that dopey church across the street!"

Pastor Burt: "They're goin' straight to Hell alright, but it's your preachin' that did it! Look to yourself, why don't you!?"
Brother Paul: "(Mumbling) .....stupid Presbyterian.

Pastor Burt: "(Under his breath) ...dim bulb Baptist."


The Weak Vessel: (Gurgle! Goik! Glubble....)

The Weak Vessel: (Goorple! Glurk!)

Sister Ann: "Not bad, Sister Rachael!"
Sister Rachael: "Mmmm...coulda' been better, Sister Ann. I forgot to correct for the wind. "

Father O'Malley: "Let's get a bite to eat, Sisters. Theological disputes always make me hungry!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Theory Corner will resume on Monday, July 30th, when every body's back from the San Diego Con! If you're going to the Con be sure to look for the SPUMCO booth in the celebrity signing room. The booth will be manned (girled?) by Kali Fontechio and Marlo Meekins, two beautiful and talented Spumco artists who'll do caricatures for the fans. This is not to be missed! These girls are smokin'!

Just so you recognize them, that's Kali above. The handsome, worldly guy is, well shucks!,...me!

Kali does great color pictures! Here's (above) a Kali caricature of one of her co-workers.

Here's (above) a Fontechio drawing of a girl dressed the way girls would dress if heterosexual men ruled the world.

Here's Marlo Meekins (above)! Men, if you're going to meet Marlo be sure to bring bring a large bucket to drool in! Wives, be sure to bring a rolling pin to separate your husband from Marlo!

Marlo's always winning awards for caricature. Here's a quick sketch she did of herself (left), Katie Rice (middle), and Kali (right), the Three Caballeros!

Here's (above) the ultimate sketch of Marlo and cartoonist/animator David Gemmel. David looks just like this...in the face, I mean!

OK, see ya next Monday, July 30th, after the Con!

Monday, July 23, 2007


Diana: "Hey, girls! I've been leaning against the wall thinking and junk and it occurred to me that Cicero was right! I mean, Law isn't something human beings came up with. It's something eternal."

Brigitte: "Well, Duh! Everybody knows that! Reason didn't become Law when it was written down, but when it first came into existence; and it came into existence simultaneously with the divine mind. True Law is the right reason of Jupiter, king of the gods. Even Jupiter can't violate it with impunity because it's in the very fabric of Jupiter and everything else that exists."

Julie: "Whoa! Wait a minute! We all know that bad laws get passed all the time!"

Sophia: "It doesn't matter! Laws like that never last because they don't conform to Nature. True and primal Law is the eternal right reason of supreme Jupiter."

Raquel: "Sure, in Jupiter and in us too. Nothing is more valuable than reason and reason, when it's perfected, is called wisdom. Since wisdom exists in both man and God then we must share an awareness of right reason. It's kinda' cool that we and the gods are sort of in the same commonwealth."

Lola: "Right! And since we share right reason with the gods then we must also share Law and the concept of justice! ...Gee, it's hard to think with all these little people building stuff around me!"

Mildred: "They bother me too! I just try to tune them out by smelling my armpit. Anyway what Lola said makes sense. True law is right reason in agreement with nature. It's universal! You don't find one law in Rome and another in Athens!"

Marigold: "Righto! Wicked people deliberately shut out their awareness of right reason but it doesn't do them any good because God is the author of this law, it's promulgator, and it's enforcing judge. Whoever disobeys is fleeing from himself and his own human nature!
Ha! Watch me mess up this little bus!"

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Cartoonists are generally pretty smart people so I didn't hesitate to put up this highly scientific discussion of dog snouts. Children will probably find it rough and some of the Latin names may be a little obscure, but keep a dictionary close and you should get through it OK. Alright, here goes....


Like everybody else I have a special fondness for dog snouts. The dog's whole body seems to be seems to be nothing more than a delivery system for the snout. The nose and the mouth are indisputably the business end of the dog. The decorative fur thins out and the skull streamlines as we head out to the torpedo tip of the muzzle. It looks like a dog was designed to sniff out prey (or other dogs' butts), and eat it.

Amazingly, dog noses are made of leather! Why that should be I don't know. Maybe they're made to sniff on rough ground or poke around in rat holes. Is leather better for smelling? Maybe. Maybe it keeps the nose cold for some useful reason. Look at those little hexagons all over surface. Every time I try to feel them my dog nudges my hand away and licks me. The nose seems to be surprisingly sensitive considering it's an overgrown wallet.

It's hard to understand all that leather because humans aren't like that. Our noses are soft and mushy. We don't have a snout. Everything on our face seems to get equal emphasis. Our bodies seem to be support systems for our heads, which in turn are support system for our hands. We just want to locate and identify things so we can put our hands all over them. Humans are like squids in that respect.

Dogs are doomed never to be able to pass themselves off as high-class. No matter how much they put on airs the floppy, friendly tongue reveals them to be ordinary Joes, just doing the best they can.
Dogs look really scary when you reveal their teeth. Even more scary is the disgusting, saggy, gooey, black lip. John K says that he introduced black dog lips to the world in his cartoon. "Boo Boo Runs Wild." If you've used black lips without authorization then you owe John a nickle.
I also find it interesting that dogs let us do what must seem like incomprehensible things to them, things like brushing their teeth with a clown brush.

It looks like gorillas have leather faces! Hmmm...If I'm seeing correctly the leather seamlessly turns into gray skin. And the big, flat nose? I'll hazard a guess and say that gorillas have flat noses so their big schnozes won't get in the way of their vision... but why is the nose so big in the first place?

The answer seems to be that nature wants wants all apes to have big noses. Only Zeus knows why.

I digress for a moment to point out that gorilla's forehead, or is it a forehead? You could argue that the face is normal, it's just growing way down out of the gorilla's neck. Hmmm...I can see that Theory Corner will have to do a post on foreheads soon.

Here's (above) a camel snout and the nose doesn't seem to be made of leather. Not only that but the nose seems to have slid down from a position on top where it belonged. Puzzling, eh? The mouth has a terrific, purse-lipped, Percy Dovetonsils smile. The eyes have a funny, aristocratic, mocking appearance.

Boy, camels like to mug for the camera! Dig that lower lip!
OK, that's enough science for now! A warning: I may not be able to post tomorrow