Thursday, June 23, 2016

I've Got You Covered

A major update to the last time I came across a batch of old newspaper Sunday Comics - I've just recently come across another large collection of old strips that had just been made available.  This latest batch helps greatly in filling in a majority of years that I had large gaps in, particularly 1980 and 1981.  So far, I've only got a few missing dates here and there, but my collection of old Gazette Comics is mostly complete.  I can't do much about the comics I'm missing from the second half of 1987 to 2000, when the pamphlet format stopped, unless someone as fanatical as me saved those as well.  I was offered some Edmonton Comics for sale, but was reluctant to purchase those without being aware of those contents.  I didn't want duplicate strips, not to mention my interest wanes the further back I go beyond my birth date.

The earliest Sunday strip I wasn't aware of that was cancelled early on was Corky Trinidad's Zeus!, a retelling of ancient Greek Myths.  Since this is a subject that's less well-known compared to Anachronistic Cavemen and Medieval Tyrants, it didn't catch on.  That should be easily remedied with a quick purvey into George O'Connor's Olympians, a retelling of the Greek Gods that've captured the world's imagination, though little is known about their history.  It's currently up to the 8th book, Apollo, as retold by the 9 Muses, but for context on the above strip, you need to look no further than the 3rd book, Hera, Zeus wife who makes it her life's mission to personally punish all of her husband's out-of-wedlock children, the most memorable being Hercules, also known as Heracles.

The very next week, it was replaced by For Better or For Worse.  In a competition for familiar territory, the former stood no chance.

Going through these ancient comics was a memorable trip down memory lane, but would've been only relevant to someone who'd pored over their contents and discarded them to be forgotten later.  Only, the scant images that stayed with me for years had been tickling the back of my mind without gleaming any content of their meaning.

A word of advice - daily Newspaper comics are meant to be consumed on a daily basis.  Marathonning a singular comic is hard enough, but can be made worse with the lack of theme or storyline.  Going through multiple strips gives some variety, but after awhile, a certain kind of numbness starts to seep through.  Unless you'd been heavily acquainted with these comics in your youth, you'd be hard-pressed to make a compelling argument for why these comics were so valued in the first place.

In a way, I was likely the first reader to ever open these comics since their printing.  This was confirmed when I found a comic that had it's pages stuck together due to a printing error, and no attempt was made to dislodge them apart so the interior pages could be seen.  They'd been lounging in a collector's long box for years, and never seen the light of day in that time.

What particularly surprised me about these "Comic Books" was the sheer variety given for the children's drawings on the covers.  For the most part, many of them were devoted to the contents of the Comics Page.  The most popular strips, such as Peanuts, Wizard of Id, BC, Garfield, Beetle Bailey and others were a given.  Some drawings had some... interesting view of some of the comics present.

Iterations of Snoopy had some decidedly weird results, with him looking more human than usual.

There were even drawings of cartoon characters who weren't even in the comics, such as Ziggy, The Pink Panther, Mickey Mouse and Popeye.  Such was the power of their ubiquitous appeal.  But there were the rare covers that would have fan art of comics you wouldn't think of having illustrations in the first place.

The Gazette comics briefly ran The Lockhorns on its pages before they were phased out for The Better Half.

There were other Muppet covers, but I included this one solely because it resembled the poster for Gone With the Wind so much.  (Which would be an appropriate role for Kermit & Miss Piggy, come to think of it)

The most impressive was the only fanart for For Better or For Worse, back in its early unremarkable days when it was still finding its voice.

As you've no doubt noticed, a high proportion of these covers have their characters wanting nothing more to do than read the funnies.  Since their livelihood depends on their audience, this shouldn't be too surprising.

For me, the most interesting drawings were those that didn't focus on specific cartoon characters, but on random, sometimes abstract childish drawings, perfectly emblematic of their target audience.

Expect to see more contents of my finds in the next couple days... when I've got the time.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Cathy's Dad Has His Day

For the most part, Cathy is defined as a Mid-life crisis consisting of eating, shopping, working and her tortured relationship with her mother.

But every once so often, she would throw her father a bone of appreciation.

And even in these rare instances which would occur once a year, her mother couldn't help but put her opinion in edgewise.

On occasion, Cathy had the presence of Male voices that weren't strawmen, but still allowed their skewed opinions alongside women's illogic.  When you've devoted a career to amping up the Woman's Liberation Movement long past its sell-by date, it's hard not to fall back on old habits.

Even Irving wasn't immune to being exposed to the so-called pleasures of Fatherhood.  Considering the amount of time babies need constant care and attention, it's no wonder richer couples shuffle them off to Nurses and Nannies so they can concentrate on having time to themselves.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Forgotten Characters: Broom Hilda's Couple

There have been multiple temporary characters in the world of Broom Hilda, many being one-offs, such as Senator Bullbleep, Irwin's political Uncle Harry, the Three Stooges Barbarians, Marshall the Vampire, Trouble-Magnet Fizzl, a Government Ranger, and even a robot.

But by far, the most versatile was Ferris Squink and Luwanda Lou.  While looking these names up, I was wondering if they were thinly-veiled references to any animators of the Broom Hilda cartoons, but was unable to find out.  The closest I got was Lou Scheimer, a Filmation animator.

Their role was to act as a bigger foil for the trickster witch in ways that her magic couldn't possibly cope, with their infallible logic.

For the most part, they seemed content with simply engaging in small-time cons to get what they wanted.

Mostly, their short-term goals was limited to leeching copious amounts of food from unsuspecting people.

Eventually, they no longer needed to engage in money-making schemes and could disrupt Broom Hilda's status quo just by simply existing in her vicinity.

Eventually, like so many unremarkable characters who failed to stick, they were regulated to background characters.

Usually, this was with Ferris appearing on his own, since his bald head and nose were distinctive enough to remember on their own.  His wife's mink stole and hairdo?  Not so much.
When a similar wacky couple was introduced years later, it was clear that Russel Meyers had completely forgotten about a very similar married couple he'd used before.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Make Way for Pink Ali

I waited awhile after my last post to see what other comics would be submitted in celebration of Muhammad Ali (and also to recuperate from an annoying fever) before submitting any additional missed comics of my own.  Since I'm not much of a sports nut, I could hardly be faulted to claim ignorance but felt I should at least portray at least a semblance of trivia.

Fortunately, I found a link that did the job for me - a comprehensive look at not just his impressive career, but also the few times he showed up in MAD Magazine and his inevitable portrayal in Supes Vs. M.A., but also other S-hero comics and his influence beyond in showcasing a broader spectrum of Black S-heroes.  Many who used his template of Angry Opinionated Black Man (Falcon, Luke Cage, John Stewart [Green Lantern], and Black Lightning) to varying results.

His greatest regret was not being able to fight at the height of his athletic ability, when he was busy rationalizing his way out of not serving in the Vietnam war, since "none of the people he'd be fighting had ever done anything to him".  Fortunately, after working his way back into the boxing tournament that he'd been banished from, he managed to win back the championship belt he'd lost.  (Though they never should've been taken from him in the first place)

The general consensus was that despite making great civil right inways and self-promoting confidence for a denigrated minority group, Muhammad Ali was greatly despised by the White community for standing up for his convictions.  It was only after he retired from the boxing world (and couldn't physically fight back) that they started rooting for his cause.  Then, they could claim he was a "credit to his race" without actually acknowledging his accomplishments.

Another uncomfortable stance was his uncompromising position for converting to Islam, which was made more disconcerting considering the 9-11 attacks.  To which, when asked if there was any discomfort about Islamic Terrorists sharing his faith, replied "How do you feel about Hitler's sharing yours?" which sounds like a wonderful counter-argument, until you do some research, and find out that the veracity of the quote is in doubt.  Not to mention there's some dubiousity over Hitler's religion as well.

An example of how things can change over time.  The modern-day text for the above caption changed from Muhammad to George Washington.  While the name change made for a better associated joke, chances are it was in relation to the controversy over certain Danish cartoons that put outraged faithful Islamics into an uproar, who were more concerned over outside parties insulting a prophet, rather than how their religion would be perceived from their overreaction.

Normally, I wouldn't bother mentioning the Superman comic, save for one particular panel that always seemed unusual to me.  The one where Ali is giving a passionate speech, where we see an unusual angle of the inside of his mouth.  It reminded me of another artist, Ryochi Ikegami (who was greatly inspired by Neal Adams) who had unusual angles for the interior of a bear from the pages of Crying Freeman.  Muhammad may have been compared to various animals, but I'm willing to bet a bear wasn't among them.

Ironically enough, his slowing of speech due to his failing health and Parkinson's would've made him a natural talker in New Grappler Baki, where he showed up as a guest celebrity in the later volumes.

 (The last two volumes are just a Humiliation Conga for his son, and should be taken with a grain - make that a pound - of salt.)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Don't Box Me In

Muhammad Ali, the definitive boxer of the world, who redefined how to win a fight through strategy, just died.  While other comic fan sites are doubtlessly giving their contribution via posting the rather ridiculous Superman Vs. Muhammad Neal Adams comic, I thought I would take a different take from a lesser-known comic about boxing history from Hincker Blutch, published in a Drawn & Quarterly anthology.

More about the 'gentleman's game' after the cut:

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Secret Secretions

It's the start of June, which means not just warmer sun-baking mind-melting weather, but also more Not-Gary-Larson Cow Milk ads!  Some of these have been revised so their translations make more sense.
Looks like rain!!
4 Turbo trains, 131 cars, 128 Passengers, 27 Cargo, 5 Dining, Blah blah blah, blah blah blah, blah blah blah...
How can you remember all that?I keep my train of thought!
Have you seen...
PRINCE?  I've been looking for you!
A lick of milk...
A jug of milk...
And thou!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Born on a Mother's Day

My previous entry regarding Adam's baby was just a placeholder while I did some research.  Three weeks ago, we were all set up to have a brunch with my Mother, when unforeseen (yet inevitable) circumstances arose - my sister had contractions the day before.

I complained that my sister couldn't hold it in long enough to make it to brunch.  I was later told that pregnancy doesn't work the same way as holding in a crap, even though it feels like crapping a watermelon.
Incidentally, there was a clothing store selling maternity bras called Melons & Clementines that I renamed Blueberries & Watermelons, for the varying sizes between flat-chested and plastic surgery.  As our plans were thrown asunder, the rest of the family was left with me, and I'm hardly the most sociable person even under the best of times.  Not to mention my sister's pregnancy easily beat my dinky greetings card.  There's no way I could possibly compete with that.

The whole incident started when she was feeling what felt like cramps at her husband's sister's BBQ, which apparently was fancy enough to accommodate not just a hot tub, but a trampoline as well.  That's one big backyard.  My sister didn't know it was labor pains at that point - she just worried that the baby might be late.  While I was thinking "j'accuse", she didn't go for a jacuzzi bath, but thought that it might be fun to jump on the trampoline, but opted for small bounces, so the baby wouldn't be violently ejected in mid-air.

If cramps come in regular intervals, that's a sure sign that you're in labor.  If cramps keep acting up, the recommended thing to do is take a warm bath.  Either the contractions will stop or increase.  That wasn't why my sister didn't go in the hot tub earlier - the water was TOO hot.  So when they got home and ran a mid-temperature bath, the contractions didn't stop.  So obviously, she was in labor.  The husband called the hospital at 10 PM, but the contractions were considered too light and far apart to be of any use.  Their analytic method was; if the expectant mother could still talk rationally, then she's not in enough pain to be in labor.

At 2:00 AM, after unsuccessfully trying to fall asleep, the contractions became too painful, so they went to the hospital.  For the most part, the staff was warm and accommodating, save for one woman, the medical examiner.  This woman had long nails on her hands.  Long long long false fingernails that she pulled up over her surgical gloves.  And she stuck those very pointy fingers deep up the other end where the sun doesn't shine.  She kept exploring the exit area, trying and failing to feel her way through if the cervix was ready enough, but kept having trouble.  Finally, she handed her duty over to the doctor, saying she couldn't feel anything.  (Because of the false fingernails)  After all that, the doctor did a quick cursory check, and found out the cervix was dilated to a good... zero centimeters.

In order for the hospital to admit any pregnant mothers, the cervix needs to be dilated a good 4 out of 10 centimeters wide, and my sister was nowhere close to approaching a failing grade, so they sent her home until she could get better results.

To make matters worse, this was not just a regular pregnancy pain, but a Back Labor pain.  Back Labor hurt because the baby is positioned at a sideways angle instead of flat on their front or back.  So every time she had a contraction, her husband would have to lean forward and press down hard on her back to relieve the tension.  In the olden days, trying to signal extreme discomfort could only be accomplished via a telepathic bond between soulmates.  This would be an exercise in futility were it not for the help of a phone App, Full Term, which when pressed, would signal when her contraction started, and when it ended.  Then it would record how long these contractions started and stopped.  The husband literally had her back.

In between contractions, she felt fine.  [Nothing - PAIN - Noting - PAIN]: Goto Line 10, Rinse & repeat.  While in the midst of enduring this faulty genetic human code, she coped by walking up and down stairs to help her labor go faster.  All of this was accomplished in the comfort of home.  By the time they'd gotten through the routine, and was developing contractions every minute, she was still only dilated to three centimeters.

Before leaving for the hospital again, my sister told her husband to eat first, because she didn't know how long she'd take.  Fortunately, there were still leftovers from the Barbecue yesterday, and the hubby reheated some hotdogs and hamburgers onto a combined sandwich plate special.  He started eating his first bites when my sister started having contractions right in front of him, so he had to get up and press down on her back until the pain went away, before sitting down and continue his meal.  Then the contractions started again... possibly as a result of seeing him eat so much meat right in front of her face.  This was repeated several times, though it probably would've been easier to just eat off her back instead of at the table.

Getting to the hospital was just as much of a struggle, because she developed contractions in the front seat with no surefire way to comfortably press on her back without letting one hand free of the steering wheel.
Eventually, they arrived at the hospital without having to be chauffeured by an ambulance, but there was another unexpected obstacle.  The first time they'd arrived, they had to pay for parking.  Now that they'd come again during the daytime, they were no longer eligible for the same spot they'd got last time, and had to pay a higher fee, which was quite the racket.

Once parked, my sister asked for a wheelchair because she was worried about getting hit by another contraction attack along the way to the entrance.  One was found, but it didn't have any footrests, so she had to keep her feet elevated, rather than run her legs underneath like a Flintstones vehicle.  When they finally made it to the front entrance, she was transferred to a better wheelchair, rushed to another floor, and then was told to walk to the examining table.  As if.  Fortunately, she was carried over, where she was examined by a nurse who was better qualified to check my sister's cervix with less stress.

It was still only 3 centimeters wide.

Fortunately, they didn't send them home after all that.  The nurse who made the width checkup stayed with them for the duration of the labor.  Once accepted, the first thing my sister asked for was an epidural.  However, in order to do so, they needed to monitor the baby's heart rate and her contractions for half an hour.  The only problem was, in order to do so, necessitated the expectant mother to be on her back.  Which just so happens to be the WORST possible position for someone experiencing Back Labor.

At this point, my sister's memory is a blank.  She vaguely recalls asking the nurse how much longer the procedure would take, and at the 20 minute mark, the nurse said it was fine.

Once the drugs started to take hold, they only worked on one side of her body at first, so they had to flip her over until both sides were equally under the influence.  After which, she and her husband was finally able to get some sleep after being internally tortured for almost a whole day.  This reprieve lasted two hours, after which the nurse rechecked her cervix again, which she noticed had swelled to "Oh wow, 10 cm!"  Even then, they had to wait another hour, because the baby's head was still too high.  They waited for gravity to take effect before starting pushing around 10:30.

Around this time, my sister really wanted her baby to be born before midnight, since it'd be so suitable and funny considering the holiday.  My sister's something of a procrastinator even under favorable circumstances, and works best under total deadline pressure, so she was really racing against the clock here.  Not to mention the nurse's shift ended at 12:00, but she was willing to stick around past then if it meant helping my sister just a little longer, since she'd stuck by her side all this time.

She juuuuust barely made it around 11:56, four minutes before midnight.  When the baby came out so suddenly, the husband took Lord's name in vain and my sister was so surprised to see the thing that'd been living inside her for so long that she said "Holy Crap!" (toned down for children in the audience).  The baby's head had been stretched out so much from squeezing through a small entrance that it looked like an alien.  Fortunately, babies are resilient, and bounce back easily, and her skull reshaped itself back to a more familiar form.

This meant that she was born not just on Mother's Day, but also on a Sunday, making her a suitable candidate for my variation of Monday's Child, which I'd created as a Take That to my sister who was born on a Thursday, while I was born on a Wednesday.  When the baby came out, she also was born with a surprising amount of hair.  My sister was similarly born with not just hair on her head but also on her back, making her "look like a monkey", according to my mother's words.

When removed from a safe cocoon so suddenly, blankets, as well as a hat was put on the baby's head to keep her warm.  This had the side benefit of absorbing her sweat, which would come in handy later.  After awhile, her husband took the cap off, and drove home and plopped it on the floor, so the cats would get used to the new arrival.  Since cats are generally resistant to any sudden changes, and have strong senses of smell, this was a smart move on his part.  Training cats is not like training dogs - they refuse to adhere to puny human demands.
From Jeffrey Brown's Little Things.
After some further tests, it was also noticed that the newborn baby had borderline jaundiced skin, and had to be put under a sunlamp (with protection wrapped around her eyes) until she got some colour into her cheeks.

But before all that, the mother held her baby girl in her bare arms for some skin-to-skin contact which was important to foster a bond between mother & child.  40 minutes later, she noticed a funny discolouring & smell.  The baby had pooped all over the mother.  She certainly didn't waste any time in relieving herself - a feat she has yet to let up on.  It took two nurses to clean up the mess - one for the mother and one for the baby.  Holy Crap indeed.

I've been told that the first month raising a child is the hardest - waking up every hour demanding to be fed & changed.  Then every two hours, then three.  After which, things would get theoretically easier.  Physically easier maybe, but not emotionally easier.  It's an endurance contest the parents can't possibly hope to win.  At least when my sister does her breastfeeding, she's assured that I'll be only looking at her lips.  Except for when she looks down to see if the baby's done.

For me, the hardest part is not being able to share any recommended comics with my sister, since she's so tired all the time from breastfeeding on demand.  I won't even be able to engage with the kid until she's able to talk and express her opinions.  I'm not very sociable, being woefully inexperienced in that field.  Nromal conversation drains my stamina.  Exercise routines bore me.  The only thing I can do is find suitable books that they'd like.  So what if the baby can't read right off the bat?  There's no disadvantage in getting a head start.

To that end, I looked far and wide in bazaars and garage sales for cardboard page books for early readers that had to follow several requirements:

  • Have appealing artwork
  • Be gender-neutral
  • Non-threatening
  • Not put undue pressure to uphold an ideal (Baby Einstein)
  • Have a diverse cast

I'd greatly identified with the main characters from Quick as a Cricket and Flight of the Navigator, both having worn a striped shirt like me, so it stood to reason that having a protagonist that looked like them would be of great interest to them.  I had to pass over a cardboard baby popup book because the stock baby was too white for my taste.

At least we're assured that the newborn has hearing.  Having a Deaf Grandchild would've been too much for my mother to deal with, after raising two Deaf children.