Friday, August 01, 2008

Stimp Me

Saturday leftover day.

Wow. One mention by John Kricfaluci has almost tripled the amount of traffic to my blog. I expect it to trickle down in the coming days, but we'll never be the same again. I envy the amount of posts John K. gets and wouldn't mind a bit of that here. In fact, here is one of the more disturbing responses to my site from John's post about it and my reply.

Here's the post from a guy called Trevor.


I think this is the first time I've ever disagreed with you, John! Thinking.... yep, been a fan since I was eight ( Mighty Mouse ) and haven't disagreed with you ever... until now.

Johnny Hart, talented? Are you serious?

There's a lot to dislike about B.C., but the biggest reason I avoid it when reviewing the comics page ( which is a quick read now considering that 80% of the fun and excitement has been ruled out, squashed down to a third the size of legibility and reduced to xeroxed talking heads in some cases ) is the fact that I don't read comics to get preached to.

In the later years, B.C. seemed to be hell-bent ( pun intended ) on sending me to Heaven. Every other time I read it, Hart seemed to be preaching about his crush on Jesus. And his cartoon was about cavemen! Not Adam and Eve! There were no cavemen in the fucking Bible! Darwin wasn't a Creationist.

Besides, if you're gonna talk about modern newspaper comic artists, why not mention guys who actually have a unique voice, style and the ability to draw beyond stick figures.


Brooke McEldowney
Jim Borgman
Mike Peters ( mentor and friend )
Berke Breathed
Aaron McGruder
Gary Larson
Garry Trudeau

...and the king of all that is fun, well-worded and an absolute dream to view... Bill Watterson.

Jeez, gimme a break. Johnny fuckin' Hart. What are you, high?

I could draw a more entertaining cartoon with a broken crayon on a paper napkin.

A small one.

In the dark.


- trevor.

PS: I suppose next you'll tell me that the best humor in the comics page comes from the likes of Snuffy Smith and Family Circus.

Here's my reply.

Hey, guys!

I don't mind if you comment on my site too. I like a little bit of 'intullactual' banter. And to Trevor I say: stop judging the past through the eyes of the present. Your opinion is a modern one in all respects: set in stone, based on a limited amount of exposure, judgemental rather than searching for new truths. The worst qualities of your generation. Man, you are all worse than the baby-boomers in your doubtless ego-absorption. Never mind, I'm just a self doubting good for nothing post-boomer letting off some steam.

But I do get the impression that your dismissal of Hart as a cartoonist is not based on your going to my blog and actually having a look. I give many samples of Hart's flawless timing and cartooning skills. John K. even adds one of his own (which I am not sure if I included it): Hart's wonderful way of showing pain.

My whole intention, by the way, is not to show Hart 'used to be good'. I think the qualities of his strip remained into the eighties. And even then, they did sometimes surface. In fact the 'good stuff' disappeared long before Hart 'found religion'. Somewhere in the eighties, he changed the strip from being character-driven to being gag-driven and dropped his cartoony style in favor of people sitting around telling each other various jokes. The religious aspects of the strip were always there, from the beginning (although they did get worse, they were never as bad or preachy as some people say). I also think his grandson Mason is one of the few comic strip inheritors who has brought his strip back to the qualities of it's original good years. I suggest you find some source for the strip and have a really good look, before you bother other people with your loudly yelled opinion.

Oh and by the way, I do intend to show you some stuff to convince you of the genius of Family Circus' Bill Keane. Reserve judgement until then.

To award everyone for getting this far, I am uploading some of Hank Ketcham's originals and sketches. They are from the Heritage Archives, of course, and give a look into Ketcham's process in making his early masterpieces. I am starting with the original for a cartoon from 1000 Jokes, I have already shown here. the other may be from the same source.


pspector said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pspector said...

Ugh...I don't know what I dislike more; reading this kind of stuff or feeling compelled to sink down to the same level to enter it.

Re the comment, "...why not mention guys who actually have a unique voice, style and the ability to draw beyond stick figures." With Hart and the example of, say, Trudeau, and using an era, respectively, where they were both at the top of their game, I don't know anybody, including cartoonists, who hadn't, or wouldn't have said that about Hart. With Trudeau, among all the positive things he was/is, I don't know anyone who gave much praise to his drawing style -- the idea behind his drawing style, perhaps, but not the finished product.

trevor said...

Well, my ego for the week's been sated. ;)

The truth is, I was a bit drunk when I wrote all that, and I have been taking out aggression on innocent forest creatures, sweet old ladies, stick insects and finally, my drawings.

I responded on John's blog to your comment ( which was well-deserved, I might add, even if I don't completely agree with you ) so the ball's in your court now, mate.

While we're on the subject of Hank Ketchum, what do you think of the ghost artist they have working on Dennis the Menace now? And have you ever seen any of the animation work he did? ( Ketchum, not the new guy )

Talk to you later, sir.

- A Guy Called Trevor.

trevor said...

PS: Got any Walt Kelly in your archives?

Ger Apeldoorn said...


You are a brave man to come back and answer here. I too felt the need to vent a bit, so I took your post as an excuse. Actually I do find most of the people who take over strips rubbish. It's extra sad when family members are involved. That makes it so nice for me to see that the team continuing B.C. is actually doing quite a good job. I can see that strip going somewhere else than backwards. Other good samples of people taking over strips are Stan Drake on Blondie (although he didn't bring it back to the level of the late forties, which I will gladly show someday), Neal Sterneckie's run on the Pogo revival and Dick Moores and others on Gasoline Alley. The problem is always in the writing not in the art. That is why I do have a weekness for people doing a strip in someone else's style, such as Charles Schultz one-time assistant doing It's Only A Game or Hank Ketcham's assistant doing Half-Hitch. Gill Fox is another sample of a stylistic chameleon, although I like him best when he was doing his own Bumper To Bumper. It's a case by case thing, is what I'm saying. Judge an view each case on iot's own. For me, that means the new Dennis the Menace is out. Not because of the art, but because the ghostwritten gags had outlived their welcome long before Ketcham left the panel.

Ger Apeldoorn said...


Walt Kelly is being reprinted more than adequately. But be on the look-out for the Pogo wannabe Coogie. And I may end up doing the whole Walt Kelly Mother Goose series from Raggedy Ann and Andy. Does anyone know if and when Fantagraphics is finally coming out with their Complete Pogo series> I have many Pogo sundays, but none from the first two years (except a couple of black and white copies).