Thursday, June 30, 2011


I wish I knew more about this strip. Was it popular? Did kids like it? Me and my grade school friends would have gone nuts over it if we'd known about it. I would have saved it in a scrapbook.  

I'd be surprised if women liked it.  It's slapstick humor about deliberately ugly people. That means it was probably meant for guys. I wonder why girls don't like stuff like this? Maybe it's because they're so focused on looking good. We men, on the other hand, know we're ugly. We know we're the butt of a cosmic joke, so we decide to make the best of it and laugh.  

Wolverton drew in that "bigfoot" style that was as much influenced by black and white era gag animation as by print media. Wolverton gives it a big, thick line to make it more gritty. 

Being a true cartoonist, Wolverton instinctively knows that feet are funny.  They wouldn't be funny if they were covered with fur and had leathery bottoms. They make us laugh because they're so delicate and fru-fru, and yet we're forced to walk through the dirt with them. 

Many thanks to John Glenn Taylor, who put up these pictures on his "Easily Mused" blog.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


In my humble opinion, black and white is a better medium for funny cartoons. Drawings read better in this medium, and the limited palette doesn't tempt us into fruitless attempts at realism.

The decision whether or not to use color will effect  everything you do in a cartoon. Believe it or not, it'll even effect the staging. 

It's no accident that old time black and white animators preferred to stage action on long downshots (above).  That comes natural in a funny cartoon, because it allows for more gag possibilities and sets off the foreground action with musical and visual counterpoints in the background.

Stage the same scene in color (pretend the shot above is in color), and it would have to be shot closer and from a low angle. That's because color promotes realism, and realism (at least cartoon realism) gives us the desire to get a closer look. Color staging sometimes strikes me as claustrophobic, and less gag friendly. It tempts us to rely on dialogue to carry the scene.

And let's face it: black and white (above) is innately more funny. It's easier to convey a dumb, class clown feel when color doesn't complicate things. 

Look at the color picture above. See how the color distracts? It's conveying a message of its own that fights the gags. I absolutely love good color in a cartoon but if you draw funny and don't work with a first-rate colorist, then you're in real trouble. 

Are there exceptions? Of course! This Avery gag (above) works fine in color..... does this John K. set-up. You wouldn't want to change a thing.  But these are exceptions to the rule! 

Thanks to these sites for the great frame grabs:

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Wouldn't it be great if New York City was home to a lot of imaginative temporary structures? I'm talking about festive buildings that are meant to stand up for only two or three years, before being taken down and...and what? Discarded? Packed up and sent somewhere else? It would transform parts of the city into a permanent fairground, without dispacing the structures that are already there.

I love the idea of disposable or collapsible structures like circus tents. Their impermanence is their charm.  For small industrial exhibits and temporary shops, they're just the thing. Of course, even temporary structures can be expensive to put up.

This brings me to the subject of scaffolds, which is the real focus of this post.  Believe it or not, I'm a fan of the stupid things. I just like the way they look. They're often a lot more fun to watch than the buildings they're attached to, and I like to see skilled workers performing for the public. Add to that, that they're fast and easy to put up. What's not to like?

It seems to me that a few improvements in scaffolding technology could make possible cheap, temporary buildings on a large scale.

Here's (above) an easy-to-make temporary office building. You drive a few pylons into the ground to give it a secure base and a bit of a spine, put up the scaffolding real fast, then use a crane to slide in room modules. Sanitation and power lines through flexible rubber hoses.  Elevators would be nicer versions of the no frills kind that scaffolds use now...after all, they are intended for temporary use...two years, maybe three.

Areas that are temporary structure friendly might even have permanent pylons or holes for pylons.

Of course scaffolding comes in all sorts of shapes and styles. How do you like this (above) compact, portable park?

I wouldn't be surprised if foam scaffolding began to appear soon. Nothing to bolt just spray it onto chicken wire forms and it dries rock hard. Such foam could have a lateral sheer vulnerability that would allow it to be demolished quickly by a teenager with a baseball bat. If the pieces fall on you, you might not even be hurt.

A nice feature of foam is that it's easily and cheaply moldable, something like styrofoam is now.  Foam scaffolding could resemble Mayan Temples, or any design we have molds for.

Beautiful structures like this could be so cheap to make that it wouldn't be worth the money to disassemble them and ship them to another city. Just send the molds.

How about a little foam mountain for kids to climb on for a couple of years?  Put them on some of those  empty lots that dot the city.

How about filling in the odd alleyway with a fake woodland path? The grass could be real. Grass grows fast.

Is any of this practical? I don't know, I'm just free associating. New York City already possesses a lot of charm. Those heavy, Empire-style buildings make the town unique and I dread the thought that future planners might be tempted to bulldoze them and substitute a shanty town of temporaries.  Even so, it's a town that provokes speculation. It's fun to think about stuff like this and...who knows? idea in a hundred might turn out to be workable.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


That's (above) not photoshopped...that's a real jet about to touch down at St. Maarten's airport in the Caribbean.  Tourists don't seem to mind, in fact they go out of their way to be under the big planes.

Takeoffs there are interesting, too. People grab onto the chain link fence and allow themselves to be lifted off their feet by the thrust from the jet engines.

Runways are getting shorter these days, and they're increasingly in urban areas. That's a good thing. Planes are seen to best advantage when they're close up.

I'm less worried about accidents, which are rare,  than I am about noise, but that may be less of a problem in the near future. Noise cancellation technology gets better every year. When it's feasible, I want to see giant planes fly close up over the main streets of our big cities. I want to see the rivets.

Our cities are in desperate need of exotic trees of all kinds. I don't see why they can't be grown on private tree farms with root systems made compact enough to allow for easy transportation and replanting. This should be a thriving business.

We should aim to bring the jungle into the big city. Parks are fine, but we also need lots of foliage in the rest of the town. How do we combine greenery with high-density living? I'll bet it's already been figured out. Michael Sporn posts examples sometimes. 

Whatever happened to front porches? They don't cost much to build and they make a house a lot cozier.

I'm a big believer in sleeping porches (above); in fact I have one attached to the back of my own house. We sleep out there in the summer. With screens all around it's like camping out. You end up looking forward to storms and thundershowers, and it's wonderful to wake up to bird songs.

We need lots more walking bridges in the cities.

Ditto balconies (above). 

In some areas we should build houses right up to the sea. You should get wet when you walk along the sidewalk.

Somehow we have to figure out a way to release wild animals in the big city. I want to see lions and tigers and monkeys outside my widow. Isn't there a way to make that happen?

We should build in the tornado belt. With the right stretchable materials maybe we could have wind resistant houses. We might even begin to think of the recreational uses of tornadoes. 

Maybe we need little ledge-like roads that would wind around the sides of our tall buildings.  Electronic guidance would prevent most accidents. 

Aaaargh, there's lots more to discuss, but I'll have to save it for another post. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I'm over the sickness, and now I'm ready for a hardy breakfast! Read on....

That's (above) Herb Peterson,  the benefactor of humanity who invented the Egg McMuffin way back in 1972. I think it's the best thing McDonalds makes, and it only costs a buck. What a deal!

Lately I've been making my own Egg McMuffins at home. I make them more dietetic than McDonalds does, and they're just as delicious. No doubt they'd be even better with fattier ingredients, but they're still pretty darn good. Here's how I make them:


1 soft cinnamon raisin English muffin
1 egg
1 tablespoon (or more) shredded mozzarella (the kind that comes in a bag)
1 or 2 slices Canadian bacon
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon vinegar

First off,  start water boiling so you can poach the egg. Unlike the chef in the picture below, I use a small pot to make cleaning up easier, and I make the water about an inch deep.

While the water is heating up, grab a muffin and some Canadian bacon from the freezer. Thaw them  in the microwave for about 15 seconds. After that, cut the muffin in half and pop it into the toaster.

The water is almost ready to boil now, and that's exactly where it's supposed to be...almost ready.  Turn down the heat a bit to keep it just below boiling. After that,  carefully break an egg into a saucer or small glass bowl. Don't break the yolk.

Add a half teaspoon of vinegar to the water, then stir it to create a whirlpool in the center. Slip the raw egg out of the bowl into the middle of the whirlpool. The whirlpool will keep the egg from spreading out, and will give it a nice, round shape...well, sort of. Let the egg cook (poach) by floating on top of the near boiling water.

While that's going on, take the muffin out of the toaster, sprinkle lots of shredded mozzarella on the inside of one of the slices, and microwave it for 20 seconds. This'll melt the cheese into the bun. Spread a little butter over the cheese, and put the Canadian bacon slice(s) on top.

Return to the stove to see how the egg's coming along. If the yolk is still yellow, spoon some hot water over it to speed up the cooking. After a total of about about 3 1/2 minutes cooking, remove the egg with a slotted spoon and put it on top of the melted cheese and bacon on the muffin.  Put the other muffin slice on top to make a sandwich, and that's it!

Actually the whole process is quick and easy...don't be deterred by the written-out length of the recipe.

A couple of caveats: don't use crumpets...they're dense like a bagel, and they don't make good McMuffins. And don't skip the vinegar, it helps to keep the cooking egg together. Lastly, don't worry if some of the egg squeezes out of the sandwich while you're eating. You could fix that by cooking the egg longer, but then it wouldn't taste as good. Learn to love the messiness!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I get sick about twice a year. Usually it only lasts for a day or two. I'll be back before most people know I'm missing!

Neat cards, eh?

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Joel Brinkerhoff wrote a comment to my last post about Harvey Kurtzman, and thinking about the man reminded me of the one and only time that I actually met him. For what it's worth, here's the story.

It was at a comics convention. I stumbled on Harvey when he was alone behind a pillar with an outrageously beautiful fan girl. She was standing inches away from his face, telling him how great he was, and how she'd do anything to show her devotion.

The reason I know what they were saying is that I walked up close and stood beside them, hoping to get an autograph. I guess I must have looked impatient because when the girl noticed me the spell was broken, and she apologized and left.

I tried to get Harvey's attention but he was totally fixated on the girl. He had a cold sweat and turned his head slowly as he watched her leave the room. She looked pretty good, even from the back.

When he finally turned to me I cheerfully offered him a pen and a cocktail napkin to write on, and he gave me a crazed look like he wanted to kill me. He muttered something like "No autographs!"  and lit a cigarette to calm his nerves.

That was my only up close encounter with Harvey Kurtzman.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


LONE STRANGER: "Well, there they are, Pronto! The Dalton Gang. They robbed the stage this morning, and now it looks like they're headed for town to celebrate."

LONE STRANGER: "My guess is that they hid the loot in their hideout.

PRONTO: "Mmmmm, that the logical inference, KemoSappy."

LONE STRANGER: "Pronto! Take this disguise, ride into town, and see if you can find out what they're gonna do next! We'll meet up at their hideout. Nobody's there now so I'll head over and see if I can find out where they hid the loot!"

PRONTO: "(GASP!) Ooooo! You mean that I get to wear the mean that this time I'M the one who...."

PRONTO: "......Yes Sir, Lone Stranger, yes sir! RIGHT AWAY!"

PRONTO: "What a man! He's my HERO!"


LONE STRANGER: "Nothing there. Nothing here. Oh, Good Grief! Somebody spit in the coffee!"


LONE STRANGER: "Uh-oh! It's the gang!"


LONE STRANGER: "Rob old ladies, will 'ya!?"

LONE STRANGER: "Prey on the innocent, will you!?"

LONE RANGER: "You wanna stop the progress of the West?"

LONE STRANGER: "Stop this, why don't cha ?"

LONE STRANGER: "Am I inconveniencing you?"

LONE STRANGER: "Oops! Pardon me!""


The Lone Stranger reacts to something and drops his guns.


LONE STRANGER: " that you? I didn't recognize you in that disguise!"

PRONTO (GROGGY): "The ship was wasted on the blue morning elves while they hauled lively livers staunchly in the rain, n'est pas?

LONE RANGER: "C'mon Pronto! You don't need an expensive doctor! A little fresh air and you'll be fine!"


LONE STRANGER: "You say the Dalton Gang was hit by a meteor!? No survivors?  Well, it looks like our work here is done, eh Pronto?

PRONTO (STILL INCOHERENT): "The badger's underwear shrieks in the flame while noodles redirect the fish."

LONE STRANGER: "Uh...right! Adios, boys!"


COWBOY #1: "I didn't get the masked man's name. Who is he?"

COWBOY#2: You didn't recognize him!? Why, I reckon he's known throughout the West."

COWBOY#2 (VO): "That there's ...'THE LONE STRANGER!' "


A giant woman's foot comes into sc. and crushes the duo!

This is by way of an ad for the next Theory Corner photo story: "Valley of the 50 ft. Women."

Post Script: Sorry for the bad photoshopping. I had to cut every corner possible just to finish this thing and get it off my desk. Also, I had to do all the drawing with a mouse. Have you ever tried to draw with those things?