Sherman’s Lagoon provides one of the best pandemic cartoons yet seen on the funny pages. With lead times for strips in general and Sundays even moreso, it’s hard to get beyond toilet paper and social distancing gags without risk of being outdated by the time it appears.
This is a more convoluted and character-driven piece than other pandemic-based gags and leads me to slightly revise or further explain something I’ve said in the recent past, which is that a lot of cartoonists paint themselves into a corner by centering their strip on a misanthropic — miszoological? — character, which simply ends up with said nasty animal saying nasty things that are no longer novel or amusing.
Hawthorne, however, is enough of an incompetent that his forays into harming others rebound on him with delightful frequency, or at least, as in this case, fall apart so ridiculously as to remain fun.
It is also helpful that he is only one character in the strip, used when needed but not over-exploited.
There is a temptation to bring one character of an ensemble — particularly an outrageous character –to the foreground, and it’s creative death for the strip.
I guess it’s ironic to say that Sherman’s Lagoon has avoided jumping the shark, but there you are.
Tank McNamara, meanwhile, points to the issue of empty chairs in empty stadiums, and raises far more questions than it answers.
I’d want to know, for instance, if, as one of the fanbot emulators, I would have the exquisite experience of hearing the fanbots around me?
Because the last time I went to an NFL game, I was surrounded by vulgar, obnoxious drunks, and I don’t know how they’d duplicate the beer-down-your-back experience but, given the price of tickets, I’m sure they could rig up something.
As it happens, a Texans announcer — though too recently to have influenced Houston-based Bill Hinds’ work on this strip — asked on Facebook how people would prefer their broadcast backgrounds: No crowd sound, constant recorded crowd sound or crowd sound on major plays.
Which reminded me of the Announcerless Game between the Jets and Dolphins, Dec 20, 1980, explained here with appropriate humor by ESPN.
It was a delightfully horrible, creative idea: Simply put on the cameras and let viewers figure it out for themselves.
And it probably wasn’t too bad if you watched it in a crowded bar, with people screaming obscenities and pouring beer down your back.
You can actually watch the full two-and-a-half hours on YouTube, and I’ll bet you won’t.
Mark Anderson sent me to the Googles today, with an Andertoons that requires a bit of cultural literacy, though, granted it’s not like he had characters from Jane Austen and Dostoevsky sitting there at the bar.
Still, flipping the dialogue — “Apes, huh? Wolves for Mowgli” — might have given readers a little better grasp of who these guys are, and yet you know what they say about people who can’t take a joke, and it also applies to people who can’t understand’em.
Anyway, the answer to the question you might be asking is that the Jungle Books were written in 1896 and Tarzan first appeared 16 years later.
Mowgli was literature, if not high literature, and the most respected of Kipling’s generous output, while Tarzan was pure pulp from the very start, and Kipling was apparently quite unfazed:
(I)f it be in your power, bear serenely with imitators. My Jungle Books begat Zoos of them. But the genius of all the genii was one who wrote a series called “Tarzan of the Apes.” I read it, but regret I never saw it on the films, where it rages most successfully. He had ‘jazzed’ the motif of the Jungle Books and, I imagine, had thoroughly enjoyed himself. He was reported to have said that he wanted to find out how bad a book he could write and “get away with,” which is a legitimate ambition.
And on a related note
Dan Thompson appears to have similar ambitions in Rip Haywire, which is no more derivative and ham-handed than the Tarzan books but a great deal more intentional, and today’s exciting episode is a particularly wonderful example.
Wikipedia says of Edgar Rice Burroughs, “He decided to write his own pulp fiction after being disappointed by the reading material others offered,” which suggests that he was aiming for some perverse level of excellence.
No such problem here, where Thompson takes every action cliche and joyfully wrings the last traces of life out of it, and I just wish we had more continuous action strips these days, because plunking Rip Haywire down in their midst would certainly, as the Brits say, take the piss out of them.
I see naked people everywhere
As soon as I’m done here, I plan to write some outraged letters to the editor about nudity in the funny pages.
However, I’ll admit that Pardon My Planet got the edge because it reminded me of when the young women in my office area kept cranking up the thermostat.
I finally warned them that, if they didn’t knock it off, I was going to start coming to work in shorts and a tank top, which — they being in their 20s and my being in my 50s — set them into paroxyms of horrified giggles.
In part because we’d all worked together long enough that they weren’t sure I was bluffing.
Not this either
Oh, my, Barney and Clyde pushed the envelope even further. Keep those cards and letters coming, folks.
Elsewise, we’ll end up with naked titmice all over the funny pages, and that’s how the Roman Empire ended.
What with the lockdown and all …
(Mike Douglas featured genuinely live performances. The immediacy more than made up for any soundboard glitches.)