Based on Sunday’s Wallace the Brave, Will Henry is apparently the only cartoonist who knows that tin-can telephones require a taut line.
He’s too young to remember when comic books were for kids (rather than perennial adolescents — we’ll get back to that) and used to have filler pages with jokes, riddles and craft projects, one of which was often the tin-can telephone.
Bare minimum equipment was two tin cans and a length of string, and the cans should be relatively large; tomato cans as opposed to soup cans. The string was easy, because every little store sold kite string, though you could use “regular” string, which was a bit thicker and equally available.
If you were smart, you’d also scrounge up a pair of nails. You needed one of them to punch the hole in the bottom of each can, but the reason you should have two was that, while the instructions said to feed the string through the hole and tie a knot, (A) the knot would pull out when you tightened the string and (B) having a metal-on-metal connection at the bottom of the can increased the volume.
Where Wallace and Spud lapse into fantasy is that, if you got that far apart, the string would invariable snap because, um, some physics thing about stress over distance or whatever.
So the challenge was to stay close enough that the string wouldn’t break (or get snagged by a passing sailboat) while getting far enough apart that you couldn’t just hear each other anyway.
They were more a curiosity than an actual communications tool, but they were fun to make.
And it’s frustrating to see cartoons where the line is slack.
I’m far more tolerant of the way dogs hate mailmen in cartoons, as seen in this Pooch Cafe. And I note with approval that Paul Gilligan, though he calls letter carriers “mailmen” does add some femalemen to his illustration.
Also it’s a funny gag, and I like those.
However, I question how many dogs actually hate postal workers? I know there are yappy little dogs who go nuts each time the mail arrives, but they also go nuts when Grandma and Grandpa arrive.
Most dogs I know love the mailmanpostalworkerlettercarrier, and my own dog will jerk the leash out of my hand to run and greet ours on the street, despite the fact that I have a PO box and have never had anyone deliver mail to our door.
But he knows who carries doggy cookies.
Yes, there are dogs who bite anyone who comes into the yard. They are a minority, but, of course, that doesn’t matter if one of them bites you.
However, if the USPS would quit jerking their people around and screwing with their routes and schedules, the carriers would know which dogs were dangerous and could make appropriate accommodations, such as not delivering to those houses.
Anyway, it’s a comic strip myth that, like pies cooling on windowsills, I’m ready to accept because it not only makes this past Sunday’s Pooch Cafe possible but also inspired this classic Speed Bump from several years ago.
There was enough broken glass and litter there that we began carrying grocery bags to pick it up, and not only did we clean up the park, but the fact that we brought in a larger level of foot traffic discouraged the drug-dealing, underage drinking and general loafing about that had produced the garbage in the first place.
And, yes, we scooped our dog’s leavings as well. But, if we did happen to miss one, it went back to the Earth a lot sooner than a plastic bottle or a jagged shard of broken glass.
Now, about those perennial adolescents …
Could Be Worse plays with the imaginings of young men who perhaps should be out dating real women instead of mooning over the pneumatic, scantily clad fantasies in comic books.
I was 12 years old and an inmate at Camp Lord O’ The Flies the summer Spider Man appeared in Amazing Fantasy, and so I had a front row seat to the rollout of him, of Thor, of several other Marvel characters, and it was just in time, since the simpleminded adventures of Superman and Batman were beginning to seem a tad babyish.
But, IIRC, by the time we were 14, we didn’t have comic books around the cabin, Marvel or DC, except by happenstance. That was the summer I read “Tale of Two Cities” and “The Once and Future King.”
One of the guys in my cabin did get caught with a Playboy and insisted that he only wanted it for the articles, so the counselor took a Magic Marker, drew clothes on all the girls and gave it back to him.
That’ll test your literary interests.
Getting back to the cartoon, I don’t think either of those women are particularly realistic, but I know which one won’t fall out of her outfit the minute she moves.
Mostly, I don’t think there was anything wrong with targeting comic books at an audience whose calendar and emotional ages were synchronized.
Let the older kids buy Playboy, and, if they never outgrow that, they can always run for congress.
Seems like old times
I forget how I stumbled across this, but Ordinary Times is running a Clare Briggs cartoon once a week. This one is from 1924, but I haven’t been following long enough to know if they’re running in any order. Here’s their explanation of the fellow and his work.
And Tom Heintjes at Hogan’s Alley pointed out the other day that an artist named George Herriman doodled a little mouse and cat in the bottom of his July 26, 1910, cartoon and apparently decided there was something amusing in their interaction.
Tom also posted a link to the first formal appearance of a rabbit who is turning 80 today, which you can watch here.