My introduction to Gary Trudeau's Doonesbury happened around the age of 8, when I discovered my father's anthology collections. (I was extraordinarily up on early 1970s pop culture for a late 1980s grade schooler.) Reading the new strip and the daily archives is still part of my morning routine. But, given that I was born in 1981, I don't always get all the references. Sometimes, that leads me to discover weird bits pop history.
For instance, the strip above ran on July 19, 1977. My first response this morning, "What the hell is Laetrile?" I mean, it's Duke, so I assumed it was a drug. But I wasn't expecting it to turn out to be a quack cancer treatment, the promotion of which led to a strange bedfellows situation where alt-med proponents joined forces with the John Birch Society to fight the federal government for the right to sell desperate cancer patients a potentially dangerous treatment that had never been tested for effectiveness or safety.
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I really enjoy Gweek, especially your recommendations section. I’d like to offer a recommendation of my own, the Jonny Quest TV show. Jonny Quest was a half-hour prime time cartoon that came out in the early ‘60s, produced by Hanna-Barbera. Unfortunately, like so many great shows, it ran for just one season, but you can see them all in a DVD box set, iTunes, or Amazon Instant Video.
Jonny Quest is about the adventures of an 11 year old boy (Jonny), who travels around the world with his father, Dr. Benton Quest, a top government scientist assigned to solve action mysteries and defuse threats perpetrated by the evil Dr. Zin. The show is aimed at boys Jonny’s age, and it has the whole package: high-tech gadgets, villains, guns, ferocious animals, and even seductresses. There are great sidekicks too -- Dr. Quest’s commando bodyguard, Race Bannon, Jonny’s Indian friend Hadji, and their feisty bulldog Bandit. Each episode takes the Quest crew somewhere exotic and exciting, from the Egyptian pyramids to the South American Andes and even out to sea. They face every challenge imaginable: flying robots, pirates, and giant genetically engineered lizards. Naturally the Quests and their team always come out victorious and unscathed.
The show has some highlights that aren’t part of the story lines, as well. For one thing, the political incorrectness of the early 1960s really shines through. The Quests unapologetically gun down bad guys, especially troublesome natives and commies, along with any menacing animals they run into. Don’t worry though, it’s so over-the-top it’s funny rather than offensive. And the animation is wonderful. It’s bold, sharply defined, and quite realistic, bringing you into the action much more than typical kids’ style cartoons of the time, flying you by the seat of your pants.
Any aficionado of Gweek is sure to enjoy this series.
Jonny Quest - The Complete First Season
Bronies, gathered this weekend at BronyCon
, are apparently getting a bad rap in the media: "Outside the convention center, young men danced and sang along with songs from My Little Pony cartoon that blasted from loud speakers as a video screen on a large truck showed the show's characters. One observer said it almost felt like a Grateful Dead concert
Yesterday I wrote about artist Mitch O'Connell's funny pencil sketches that Hanna Barbera commissioned him to create. Today, Mitch posted the paintings that Hanna Barbera commissioned. See them all here.
[Video Link]SoundWorks profiled Brave director Mark Andrews, re-recording mixer and sound designer Gary Rydstrom, supervising sound Editor Gwen Yates Whittle, and sound designer E.J. Holowicki about their work on the movie.
SoundWorks Collection: Brave
Stussy x John K. from Stussy on Vimeo.
My pal John Kricfalusi (creator of Ren & Stimpy) made an animated commercial for his T-shirt designs that Stussy released today. I love John's animation work. I asked John to write a bit about the making of the commercial and here's what he had to say:
A couple years ago Stussy put out a bunch of shirts featuring Marvel superheroes.
Stussy's art director Adam Jay Weissman cooked up the idea and asked some non-Marvel artists to do their interpretations of their favorite characters. I picked Crystal and Johnny Storm.
Then last year Adam asked me to design 4 new shirts using my own characters and to redesign their mascot, the Stussy Rat. Once the designs were done they thought it would be fun if I animated a commercial for it. I suggested we make it a story first and include the commercial within and they said yes. I always liked how early television and radio used the stars of their shows to perform the ads for their sponsors and I have been pushing this idea online for a few years now. Finally someone let me do it!
It stars Bobby Bigloaf, a nerdy kid who dreams of one day growing up to be the greatest comic book writer in the world, and Slab N Ernie, the neighborhood bullies.
I used my crack crew of John Kedzie, Sarah Harkey, Geneva Hodgson, Ben Anders, David De Rooij, Sandra Rivas and Amir Avni to make the cartoon.
I drew the storyboards on paper and animated the cartoon using Toonboom's Animate program.
Stereotypes abound of the political cartoonists found in so-called alternative papers: the weeklies full of escort ads in the back and snarky commentary in the front. Matt Bors, on the surface, seems to embody the characteristics.
He's scruffy, doesn't own a suit, and lives in Portland. He expresses withering contempt at politicians, mainstream media, and what he views as hypocrisy. He's never made more than $15,000 a year from his cartoons, and supplements that income with illustration, freelance editorial jobs, and, possibly, blood plasma—at least he did in college; he has the scar to prove it.
The 28-year-old Bors was thus a bit surprised this year, and occasionally nonplussed, when he won the Herblock Prize for "excellence in editorial cartooning," was a finalist (with Oregonian newspaper staffer Jack Ohman) for the Pulitzer Prize, and received a Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Award.
Jesus Christ, Matt, when did you fucking sell out?
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Mental Floss's Rob Lammle has researched an admirably thorough history of The Animaniacs, one of my all-time favorite cartoons.
Of the Warners, the voice of Wakko was the most difficult to cast. During auditions, the producers said they were looking for “wacky,” so all the actors delivered a voice that was over-the-top crazy, but none were the right fit. On the last day of auditions, Ruegger brought his 1990 Almanac to the office, hoping to find some inspiration that might shake things up. Many wacky Wakko’s later, they still didn’t have the right voice. So during their last appointment of the morning, with voice actor Jess Harnell, Ruegger opened the almanac to a list of celebrities and asked Harnell to do his best impression of Elvis, Rodney Dangerfield, Jackie Gleason, Frank Sinatra, and other notable names. When the Beatles came up, Harnell proceeded to do every one of the Fab Four so well you could actually tell which individual band member he was mimicking at the moment. However, it was Harnell’s Ringo that struck a chord with the producers, so after a few tweaks, that became the voice of Wakko.
To promote Animaniacs before the show’s premiere, a giant balloon in the shape of Yakko was placed on top of the water tower on the Warner Bros. lot. Unfortunately, no one told Bob Daley, who ran the studio. When he pulled into work that morning, he thought someone had put a bad Mickey Mouse balloon on the tower and ordered it removed. The inflatable Yakko was in place for less than 12 hours, and then popped shortly after he came down. Writer Paul Rugg was able to snap a photo to prove it happened.
After the balloon incident, Daley worked to ensure no one else would mistake the Warners for Mickey. Daley decided that Yakko and Wakko were too smooth and rounded. So while he watched, he had Ruegger add side whiskers to the drawings, which he felt would prevent confusion – and potential legal action. Ruegger and Warner Bros. Animation president Jean MacCurdy had to rush back to the animation studio with the changes, because the cartoon was already being drawn, with some segments in the can. You can see the Before Whiskers and After Whiskers comparison below:
Way More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Animaniacs
djBC, the archduke of mashup, has created a video to accompany his 2005 "wemix" of the classic Chuck Jones 1957 Bugs Bunny cartoon "What's Opera, Doc?"
Whats Opera, Doc? (dj BC Wemix)
[Video Link] The Wilco track "Dawned On Me" re-imagined as a classic, early-era Popeye cartoon. The song is from the band's Grammy-nominated 2011 album, "The Whole Love." They're on tour now, and should not be missed, as they are one of the greatest live acts on the planet. The animation is a collaboration with King Features, and is "the first hand-drawn Popeye cartoon in more than 30 years." Directed by Darren Romanelli. Best url ever: wilcospinach.com.
A little more about how the video came to be, below, from Wilco and Romanelli...
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At The Awl
, Kase Wickman covers the first major Brony convention, an "explosion of wild color ... the glitter, the rainbows, the homemade pony-mane hooded sweatshirts, all of it bright and sparkly enough to send any pop culture-aware preteen princess into spasms of jealousy
At Comics Alliance, Chris Sims makes such a good argument that I can only gape and think, "Oh my god, why had I never noticed this before?"
Because that's the thing about Scooby-Doo: The bad guys in every episode aren't monsters, they're liars.
I can't imagine how scandalized those critics who were relieved to have something that was mild enough to not excite their kids would've been if they'd stopped for a second and realized what was actually going on. The very first rule of Scooby-Doo, the single premise that sits at the heart of their adventures, is that the world is full of grown-ups who lie to kids, and that it's up to those kids to figure out what those lies are and call them on it, even if there are other adults who believe those lies with every fiber of their being. And the way that you win isn't through supernatural powers, or even through fighting. The way that you win is by doing the most dangerous thing that any person being lied to by someone in power can do: You think.
But it's not just that the crooks in Scooby-Doo are liars; nobody ever shows up to bilk someone out of their life savings by pretending to be a Nigerian prince or something. It's always phantasms and Frankensteins, and there's a very good reason for that. The bad guys in Scooby-Doo prey on superstition, because that's the one thing that an otherwise rational person doesn't really think through. It's based on belief, not evidence, which is a crucial element for the show. If, for example, someone knocks on your door and claims to be a police officer, you're going to want to see a badge because that's the tangible evidence that you've come to expect to prove their claim. If, however, you hold the belief that the old run-down theater has a phantom in the basement, then the existence of that phantom himself -- or at least a reasonably convincing costume -- is all the evidence that you need to believe that you were right all along. The bad guys are just reinforcing a belief that the other characters already have, and that they don't need any evidence before because it's based in superstition, not reason.
... To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, Scooby Doo has value not because it shows us that there are monsters, but because it shows us that those monsters are just the products of evil people who want to make us too afraid to see through their lies, and goes a step further by giving us a blueprint that shows exactly how to defeat them.
Via Chad Towle
Obviously, Fab Ciraolo's newly-recovered illustrations of Oldschool Heroes provide more evidence of the ruthless looting of 19A0s culture by the subsequent memetic counterrevolution.
Prints are available for $16. Designer Yoni Alter also published a cheat sheet, if you can't figure them all out!