CSotD: Spun Out

Cartooning doesn’t have a lot of rules, but “If you thought of it fast, so did everyone else” is pretty reliable.

Be glad I didn’t do this with all the corgi cartoons that followed QEII’s death.


And that, over at Drawing Fire, Clay Jones compressed the gas-pump-snake cartoons into a single piece.


Can’t we talk about something a little more pleasant?

I had no idea who Izabela Kowalska-Wieczorek was, but last month she was named a winner in a cartooning contest in Syria with this brilliant, touching, infuriating piece.

I feel sorry for the dog, but I’m not sure what to do about the parents.

I suppose we can take comfort in knowing that there are indulgent folks like that in Poland, too, and, given the international award, all around the world.

Here’s some more of her work, and be sure to click here, too, because that competition gave a number of prizes and those two sites should make up for my shower of revolving door gags.


And I’m handing out a personal award to The Buckets (AMS) because, while there are plenty of Halloween candy gags going around, I hadn’t thought of those pieces of peanut butter/molasses taffy in a very, very long time.

I don’t think they had a name, because I suspect they were sold in mixed bags of cheap candy, along with those Saf-T-Pops with the string loops instead of sticks and, yes, rolls of Smarties equivalents, since I don’t think Smarties themselves had penetrated the American market yet.

Of course I’d reach for the Hershey miniatures first, but the peanut butter/molasses whatevers were good once you’d eliminated the really good candy, and softer than Mary Janes, which were roughly the same flavor.

I see bags of candy corn, which takes a lot of abuse as well it might, in the stores now. The problem with selling it by the bag is that you can’t hand out unwrapped candy anymore, and that, while it’s nice to have a few pieces for the nostalgia rush, nobody needs a whole bag of it.

If they’d put it in “fun size” packets, I’d take one and it would scratch the itch for the next 11 months.

Meanwhile, this year’s scary version of razor blades in apples and Mickey Mouse blotter acid is colored fentanyl, which uncritical police departments are warning parents about.

It is, of course, bullshit, because what drug dealer would give away his supply to little kids? What’s the benefit? Where’s the return business?

There was reportedly a brief moment when emergency rooms would x-ray Halloween candy as a public service to panicked parents, but, assuming it was really happening at all, it passed quickly.

When my son was working the ER, his advice was to just throw it out. It’s five bucks worth of candy, ferchrissake. If you’re that frightened, go to the store and buy your kids replacements.

Something better than candy corn and peanut butter/molasses taffy.


Different sort of nostalgia rush from this Pardon My Planet (KFS), coming from a later point in my life.

As I’ve mentioned before, when I was in talk radio in the early 80s, the view from the studio window was of Cheyenne Mountain, which made our EBS tests feel futile, given that we’d all be glowing jelly within about five minutes of a real attack.

I did get someone from the Defense Department on the air to admit that throwing dirt on a door and hiding under it was pointless and that the only real solution would be to recognize the threat of nuclear war a week or so in advance, before the highways were clogged with fleeing civilians.

And, yeah, while you could still find toilet paper. He didn’t say that, but Vic Lee is right.


There are more immediate threats out there, particularly if you’re a not-quite-marginally-competent attorney like Samuel Rhodes in Pros & Cons (KFS), whose legal shortcomings are a constant burr under the saddle of the district attorney.

I’m assuming Ms. Jaggers’ name is an homage to the highly successful, highly aggressive solicitor in Great Expectations whose housekeeper was an exonerated, if perhaps not innocent, murderer, and whose presence in the courtroom was intimidating all around.

The magistrates shivered under a single bite of his finger. Thieves and thief-takers hung in dread rapture on his words, and shrank when a hair of his eyebrows turned in their direction. Which side he was on I couldn’t make out, for he seemed to me to be grinding the whole place in a mill.

Tread lightly, Samuel.


When Lemont holds forth in Candorville (WPWG), I’m as likely to agree with his opponent in the conversation as I am with him.

As it happens, I had a discussion recently with a professional about maintaining the integrity of your work as it is being adapted.

I proposed a theory of mine which is that, the more successful the Harry Potter books became, the less editing JK Rowling had to endure, with the result that the books got longer and the text became more flabby, while we had to sit through far too much description of magical candies that had nothing to do with advancing the storyline.

He offered another example, saying that George Lucas made the first Star Wars with a limited budget and very little support from a skeptical studio, such that, while the special effects were sometimes less than spectacular, the movie itself was tighter and better than what followed once he was no longer struggling.

The relevance here being that, if you are a space-opera junkie, you might want to watch them, as Lemont prescribes, in chronological order by plot.

However, as a writer, I prefer watching them by release date, and then only up to the point where I can feel the magical candy of special effects has taken the place of tight, disciplined writing.

Also, Han shot first or there’s no surprise in his heroic return at the climax.

Just as there would be no surprise in Great Expectations if Abel Magwitch had been portrayed as ethical and decent from the start.

(Great Expectations should also be read as originally written, not with the softer tacked-on ending.)


10 thoughts on “CSotD: Spun Out

  1. Another “the author succombed to pressure and softened the ending” example is A. Merritt’s once-famous fantasy novel DWELLERS IN THE MIRAGE — original ending, protagonist’s lover dies; “standard” ending she survives.


    Some other examples, including A FAREWELL TO ARMS and HARRY POTTER AND THE DEADLY HALLOWS, are described here (and I’m sure there are many more out there):


  2. I’m so old that I remember when a Three Musketeers was called that because it was big enough to share with two other friends — All for one and one for all.

    For a nickel, but that’s a rant for another day.

  3. Oh, the number of creative people whose work got worse when they got so big that nobody could tell them “No” is so large that I think it’s more of a rule than an exception. Unbridled self-indulgence.

    Certainly Lucas and Rowling. It seems to happen a lot when something blows up bigger than expected, and a myth develops around the work, and then the creator begins to believe the myth. I’d add Roddenberry and Star Trek, and maybe Martin and Game of Thrones. Plus basically any book or movie series where Volume 5 is three times bigger than Volume 1.

    Good editing can be frustrating but is invaluable. I respect it. I got an early inkling of the contributions an editor brings when reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “The First Four Years,” which was published posthumously and without the firm editorial hand of her daughter Rose. It’s noticeably different from the other “Little House” books and not good. The success of “Little House” owes as much to Rose as Laura, if not more.

    Back to Star Wars, there’s a video floating about arguing that the first movie was saved by Lucas’s film editor and then-wife Marcia, who restructured the story and assembled the climactic Death Star attack out of a garbage mound of film bits. Don’t know if it’s true, but I do think Star Wars suffered when they divorced. My relationship with my own editor is terrific because we respect each other and he’s good at finding problems but letting me come up with the solutions.

    Star Wars should be watched in order of release date. Otherwise, all the surprises are spoiled. You’re wrong, Lemont.

  4. My dad told me that 3 Musketeers was so named because there were originally three small bars in the pack — each a different flavor. Apparently they abandoned vanilla and strawberry in the early 1940s and stuck with chocolate.

    Kinda like how Snap, Crackle, and Pop abandoned their friend Pow.

  5. Brian,

    Oh gosh, I had that exact conversation with friends this week and agree with you wholeheartedly. There are editors that’s hard to work with, yes, but they’re there for a reason.

    Even when you’re working solo as an independent creator, or are self-publishing, you should always get feedback from others.

  6. Shoot, I’d take those peanut-butter-molasses whatevers anytime – especially over (ugh !) Smarties !

  7. There was another candy bar in my alleged youth (late 1950s to early 1960s) called “Seven Up” which contained not three but seven individual flavors. I recall not liking it very much, but I see it has inspired nostalgia in some folks on the net…


    (but you have to be able to get by the nails-on-blackboard terms “most unique” and “very unique” in the first paragraph without screaming and throwing your computer against the wall. . . .)

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