CSotD: An old guy reads the comix


A tip of the hat to Africartoons for picking up this Paolo Calleri cartoon, which uses an admittedly tired image to make a decidedly current and modern point.

As noted here the other day, there is a bonding between grandparents and kids which I remember from my own youth, when “old folks” like Benjamin Spock and Bucky Fuller were more sympathetic to us than were our parents, their children.


Respect seems to skip a generation.

My grandkids are not only bonding with Greta Thunberg and the Parkland Kids, but, instead of lecturing me on the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-War Movement, they are asking me what it was like to be their age when those things happened.


Just in time to answer their questions, Deft Backderf is coming out with “Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio,” a painstakingly researched graphic novel that tells the story of that moment of horror, and how it could possibly have happened.

Like “Trashed” and “My Friend Dahmer,” Derf tells the story in fictional format, but nothing is invented beyond the specific dialogue of the characters, who are, themselves, real.

He has a complex story to tell in just under 300 pages and it involves a number of people, so that you may find it takes a few pages to get used to the compression of their conversations: They have to transmit a lot of attitudes and backgrounds in a very short space.

Which is to say, we said all those things, but we didn’t say them so concisely, and graphic novels don’t leave a lot of room for small talk except in those cases where they consist of nothing else.

This is not one of those cases.

Derf has a lot to tell, and, given that I was a reasonably politically active college junior in May of 1970, it is no small accomplishment that, in reading his book, I both remembered things I hadn’t thought of in a long time, and learned things I hadn’t ever known.


Derf contends — and he’s got pages and pages of research to back him up — that the radicals had mostly left campus and that the worst of them had likely been government provocateurs to begin with.

The Anti-War Movement on my own campus was dominated by Christian activists and so I think the feds passed us over, given what I saw a few weeks after Kent State, when I was at CU Boulder.

But on either campus — and, as Derf depicts it, at Kent State — most kids were not radical, even if they opposed the war as most did. Like the group above, they were concerned about their own futures, they hated Nixon, they didn’t want to die but they also wanted to have another beer and maybe get laid and for sure get through finals in a few weeks.


One thing I didn’t know was that the Ohio National Guard unit had just come from a fairly violent truckers’ strike. They were tired, they were stressed and they didn’t want to be there.

And, while I tend to think of the National Guard in terms of well-connected, well-heeled semi-draft-dodgers like George W and Dan Quayle, the bulk of them, as Derf depicts it, were high-school grads with real jobs and families they needed to get back to.

Derf combines a blue-collar mentality with a college background which allows him to tell the story of this tragic confrontation honestly and fairly.

That doesn’t mean that everybody is right and nobody is wrong.

It means that everyone gets a fair hearing, that everyone gets their story told.

Some people were villains — mostly, though not entirely, in positions of authority — but there were no heroes anywhere to be found.

Most of the people in the story simply wandered into fate, including the ones who died, including the ones who killed them.

The book doesn’t come out until April, though you can pre-order it here.

It’s brilliant, and I plan to give copies to the older of my grandchildren, because they will absorb and learn from it. And then the younger, when they become a little older.


Elderly Takes On A Lighter Note

Today’s Pickles is enough to make Frederick the Great weep. Or possibly Lord Nelson.

Someone or other is said to have ordered non-functional buttons to be sewn on the sleeves of military jackets in order to keep the men from wiping their noses on them, though somebody on this Snopes chat suggests that non-functional buttons are likely a vestige of functional buttons.

Which is the sort of thing that happens when you let just anyone post.

Old men remember when you carried a handkerchief in case your nose ran or you needed to sneeze or a damsel wept. For weddings and funerals, you carried two handkerchiefs so you would have both a snotrag and something pristine with which to comfort weepy damsels.

At some point, someone determined that re-usable handkerchiefs are eeevil and that there’s something wrong, too, with Kleenex, so that we should all sneeze into our sleeves.

Which is disgusting and strikes me as a futile attempt to keep dry cleaners in business, since an awful lot of sneezing happens in sweater weather and the poor dry cleaners are going belly-up because everything else is wash-and-wear.


And I laughed at the Lockhorns, but I’m older than Leroy and so find myself wishing, instead, that the pretty lady was maybe 15 years older and I were 25 years younger so we could meet around 40, which is a delightful age all around.

Women are more passionate at 40 and men haven’t lost their spark and they’re both a lot more interesting company over breakfast, which matters more as you get past “the morn and liquid dew of youth.”

Which is “when contagious blastments are most imminent.”

Don’t sneeze into thy bathrobe sleeve. Use thou thy napkin.



Found this 1973 comic while looking for Watergate cartoons. Athelstan Spilhaus is worth a click and Gene Fawcette was no slouch, but we’re just starting to work out the glitches in fauxburgers.


One thought on “CSotD: An old guy reads the comix

  1. When the Guardsmen were at the truckers’ strike they were not given live ammunition. You can imagine that if they had shot several Teamsters, they would have had their guns shoved up their butts.No such risk from unarmed kids.
    (I graduated from KSU in the winter of 1967. If I had been on campus in 1970, I would likely have been walking to a journalism class in Taylor Hall, just like a couple of the fatalities were.)

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