Monday, August 31, 2009

The Doctor is OUT!

I am not a political person. I really don't pay much attention to political dealings and doings, as I have much more important things on my mind (Doctor Who Action Figures, for instance).

One issue, though, has really caught my interest, mostly because it affects even me.

I am speaking about the big debate over Health Care here in the good ol' U.S. of A.  A lot of people are taking sides and arguing about what would be the best solution to the problem of a whole bunch of our countrymen having crappy heath care, or, in way too many cases, none at all.

As much as I hate to talk politics, I hate seeing people argue more. I have then, come up with the perfect solution to this health care dilemma.

Here it is: Any citizen of the USA should get full health care coverage. For free. They can go to the doctor or the hospital and receive the treatment they need at no cost to them. If they need prescription drugs to help them on the road to recovery and feeling fine, those would be free too. Of course, many of these trips to the hospital could be prevented with regular medical checkups, so those would be free, too.

Naturally, a lot of people who wouldn't like my suggestion would ask where all the money for this "free" medical care would come from. That's a fair question. How about we stop fighting all these wars in other countries that are costing us billions of  dollars a month? If we dragged all our troops home from those hopeless situations, we would have more than enough money to finance our plan. Not to mention a having a whole bunch of our young men and women home in one piece.

Of course, the insurance types and other slime who've been raking in the moola under the current system won't like this plan. Do we really care about what they think? Besides, I'm sure that they can find other human fears to exploit for profit.

I realize that my plan is rather simplistic, and there would be a lot of little details to iron out. The way I see it though, figuring out those little things are what those folks we elect to office are supposed to be good at!

Some of you out there might think this plan is stupid, misinformed and incredibly naive. Maybe so, but admit it, it's a great plan.

It sure beats what we have now.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Smarter Than the Average Penciler

Since I don't really have anything else to post today, here are some pencils for a Yogi Bear comic I did awhile back. 

Oh that Yogi! He's a liar and a thief! No wonder the kids love him!

Again, these images are copyright whoever the heck owns the rights to these characters now, so you can look, but don't copy!

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Fan Mail for a Flounder

I was sifting through my archives (AKA: Boxes o' Crap) recently, and I came across this item, so I thought I'd share it with you.

When I was young I used to write a lot of fan mail to the  various cartoonists I admired. My letters to them were full of gushing praise for their work, as well as requests for original artwork. I would mail off the letters and then every day after school I would race home to see if I got any goodies in the mail. Some cartoonists never responded, which sort of soured me on them (although now that I am an "adult" and seldom even answer the phone, let alone return mail, I am willing to cut them some slack). Other cartoonists were great though. One of my favorite replies was from Mort Walker, creator of Beetle Bailey. Back in the day, I was a big fan of his clean modern style, and I was thrilled when he answered my letter. Not only did he send a warm note that gently critiqued the crappy cartoons I  sent him, but he also included this personalized print in response to my request for a drawing. It's obvious that he printed these up to deal with the numerous requests he must have received from little pests like me, but it was still a thrill for me to see the Beetle characters using my name.

After all these years, this still makes me smile.

I realize my posts lately have not been too engaging, so I promise next time, no mention of my childhood, Perfect Wife, Doctor Who or Rocco the Wonder Dog.

Unless I can't think of anything else...

BTW, as I'm sure you realize, the above image and characters are copyright Mort Walker, so don't even think of using them elsewhere!

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Full Disclosure

I know. Regular readers of this blog are tired of me going on and on about my "Perfect Wife". While it's true that anyone would be hard-pressed to find a more fantastic mate, I have recently discovered a "chink" in the armor of her overall fabulousness.

No, I am not talking about the fact that she recently purchased a bag of "unsalted" potato chips. This is a matter far more serious.

My wife has never heard of "Beany and Cecil"!

It's true. When I read recently that this classic cartoon was having a volume two re-released on DVD, I ran in to tell my Wife the happy news. 

"What's Beany and Cecil"?, was her reply.

I know. I was taken aback too. How could anyone of our generation be unaware of the funniest TV cartoon of the sixties? The news of this ignorance of one of the most important popular culture influences of my life shook me to the core. If this fantastic woman, who was seemingly everything I ever wanted in a mate, was so ignorant of one of my favorite cartoons, what else was this unsalted-potato-chip-munching vixen keeping from me?

It turns out, in her household, Perfect Wifey's family actually spent time outdoors and doing other things that did not involve being glued to the TV 24/7. When I look at things from her perspective, I suppose I understand. She is still beautiful, funny, smart, caring and a host of other fantastic things, so I still consider myself the luckiest of lucky.

Still, she never even heard of Beany and Cecil?

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Monday, August 17, 2009

The White Glove Test

Not that it will come as a big surprise to anyone out there, but I love "classic" animated cartoons! "Classic" meaning the wonderful theatrical shorts that were made for and shown in movie theatres until television reared its ugly head and killed them all.

I am not fussy. I pretty much like them all. I love the classic Looney Tunes, the Disney shorts, the gorgeous MGM cartoons, and all the others. I can even enjoy the Famous studio shorts and even Terrytoons. (Well, that might be a stretch. I do love Heckle and Jeckle, though!)

By watching cartoons my whole life and reading every behind the scenes book I could find about them, I feel I can answer just about any question on animated shorts posed to me. Who is Shamus Culhane? I know that. Who was the voice of the Baby Bear in the Warner 3 Bears cartoons? Duh, Stan Freberg. I even know all the words to Bugs Bunny's square dance in "Hillbilly Hare"! (You can guess how much fun I am when I am liquored up!)

Even with my vast knowledge of cartoon trivia, there is one question that I do not know the answer to:  


Mickey Mouse wears them. So does Goofy. As do Bugs, Porky, Woody, Mighty and a whole bunch more. Even incidental characters, including politically incorrect African natives wear them, but why?

I know that at the turn of the century, many gentlemen wore dress gloves. More often than the "gentlemen" of today, at least. Did they wear them all the time, though? Were they always white?

There is probably a simple explanation for this. Mutt & Jeff were very popular when animated cartoons were born (they even starred in a bunch), and they wore the gloves. Maybe early animators liked the way they looked on them, so they included gloves on the characters they created. Cartoonists often rely on formulas for drawing, so maybe the white glove became yet another formula they included when they were designing a new character. It could also be an aesthetic choice. In creating "black" characters like Mickey and Goofy, they might have slapped on the gloves so the characters hands stood out. Indeed, Mr. Mouse was glove less in his early films. This doesn't explain Bugs, Woody and the rest though.

We will probably never get an answer to this question, so unless any of you out there have the definitive answer, we'll let this topic rest, and turn our attention to more pressing questions.


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Friday, August 14, 2009

Brushes with Greatness

Recently, my good pal and fellow Doctor Who fanatic, Anita Answer, had a dream come true. She actually got to meet her favorite Doctor, David Tennant. For any fan of the good Doctor, this is the Holy Grail of celebrity encounters. She claims it was the third biggest thrill of her life, following her marriage and the birth of her child. (She's serious, folks.) Anita reports he was as gracious and charming as she had hoped he would be. He was even kind enough to pose for a picture with her.

Anita was very lucky. A lot of people never get to meet the people whose work means so much to us. I have been lucky too. Over the course of my life I have gotten to meet and sometimes work with, a lot of the cartoonists who were and are inspirational to me. Some, like David Tennant, were everything I had hoped they would be. Others were everything I had hoped they wouldn't be.

They say you never forget your first. That is certainly true for me, assuming they are talking about cartoonists, of course. In 1976, I got to meet one of my favorite cartoonists, the legendary Carl Barks!

For those of you who don't know, from about 1943 to 1966, Mr. Barks wrote and drew gazillions of Donald Duck comic books. He is the man responsible for creating Donald's hometown of Duckburg, as well as a bunch of popular supporting characters, such as Uncle Scrooge McDuck. For more about his amazing career, go here. When I was a kid, I loved his stuff (still do, actually). I wasn't alone. Though a bunch of talented folks worked on the Disney comics, to the fans, Barks was known as "The Good Duck Artist".

You can imagine my excitement then, when I found out Carl Barks, THE Carl Barks, was going to be guest of honor at Newcon '76, a big comic convention being held in nearby Boston. I had never been to a comic book convention, and this one was a biggie! In addition to Barks, the guests included: Harvey Kurtzman, Joe Kubert, Jim Steranko, Dick Giordano, Mike Kaluta, Gil Kane, Bob Overstreet, and a bunch more. Even famed Little Lulu artist/writer John Stanley made an appearance, his first and only, I think. Any one of these guests would be a big deal at any comicon nowadays, to have them all under one roof was pretty amazing. At the age of 15, I really didn't appreciate it.

I didn't appreciate it because I was there for one reason: Carl Barks! Since I had never been to a con before, I wasn't sure what to expect. Would he be sitting on a pedestal surrounded by security? Speaking from a podium in front of  a packed auditorium? I had no idea. No matter what happened though, in the off chance I met him face to face, I wanted a drawing from him. I knew I didn't really stand a chance of getting one though.

When I arrived at the con, I was overwhelmed. So many geeks just like me, most of them grown men! So much for comics being "kid stuff", as most of my peers told me. Wait till I told them  about this at school! They would sure change their tune. (As you might expect, my tales of the con did not, to put it mildly, change my peers tune one bit, but I digress.)  I asked one of the convention volunteers if Carl Barks had arrived yet. "Yeah", he replied casually, "I just saw him wanderin' around here someplace". I was dumbfounded. THE Carl Barks was just wandering around like a normal person?! I ran off in search of him, and quickly spotted an elderly gent strolling around who I suspected was him. How to be sure, though? I soon discovered a way. The man in question was wearing a big ID tag that said, "Carl Barks".

Carl Barks was right there.

Right in front of me.

I was very shy when I was young, but I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I marched up to him, and my courage faded completely. He turned and looked at me and said, "Yes? Can I help you?" I have no memory what I babbled to him, but it wasn't very loud. Mr. Barks had to explain that he had a hearing problem, so could I please speak up. I did. After I blathered on for a bit about how much I admired him and his work, and how I was planning on a cartoon career, I asked him for a drawing of one of the Duck family. He said he was sorry, but recently the Disney company had revoked his rights to draw the Ducks. He did have some pre-printed cards like the one I show here, that he graciously signed for me. He also signed my program. After a few more inane questions from me, he shook my hand and wished me well on my cartoon career. Then he walked away.

I was on cloud nine for days afterwards. It wasn't so much the autographed picture he gave me, it was that Carl Barks, THE Carl Barks, took the time to talk to me like I was just as important a person as he or anyone else. I hope that other celebrities, especially the "pros" at today's conventions, treat their fans with the same good will and grace that Carl Barks showed me. I ain't holding my breath.

Thanks, Carl. 

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Sneak Peek!

Who is the man in this picture, and why does he think comic books about ducks are so funny?

You cartoon fans worth your salt already know who Carl Barks was. Next time I'll tell you other clueless souls who he was. I'll also spin the thrilling tale of how I once actually met him!

See you then...

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Resting in Pieces

Don't worry, I feel fine. Today though, I have been thinking about what will happen after I shed this mortal coil. What will happen to me when I pass away?

I am not thinking about the whereabouts of my soul in the afterlife. My mind is on much more practical matters: What will my loved ones do with my remains? Since I don't wish to take up valuable real estate in some cemetery, I would prefer to be cremated. This presents some problems for my survivors. They either have to find a fitting place to scatter the ashes the funeral home has told them are mine, or find a stylish urn to place them in.

Ideally, I would love to have my ashes scattered across Disneyland. Apparently, though, this is against Disney company policy. That's a shame. For any child vacationing in the Magic Kingdom, my ash-scattering ceremony would be something they would never forget, try though they may.

Since I can't be strewn about where I wish to be, I guess my family will have to plunk me in an urn. I was worried, until recently, that finding a suitable vessel would be a challenge. Was there an urn out there that would honor the good taste and dignity that have been the hallmark of my life?

I needn't have worried. I will have the dignified, tasteful resting place I deserve, thanks to this company.

Please don't let all this morbid musing bring you down, though. Really! I feel fine!

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