Friday, October 04, 2019

I’m Sorry, the Card Says “Moops"

by BK Munn

In the Season 4, episode 7 episode of Seinfeld, “The Bubble Boy”, George plays a game of Trivia Pursuit with the obnoxious Bubble Boy and finally gets the upperhand by spitefully refusing to accept that a misprint on one of the cards should read “MOORS” instead of the nonsensical “MOOPS”.

Vexed by bubble-bound Donald Sanger's bullying during the game, George disputes the answer to the question: "Who invaded Spain in the 8th century?" Donald answers "the Moors," but due to a misprint, the question card says that the answer is "the Moops." George refuses to give Donald the point, and Donald begins strangling him. When Susan tries to help George, she accidentally depressurizes the bubble, causing Donald to collapse.

The plot of this episode is based in part on the real-life experience of Seinfeld writer Bill Masters who found the “MOOPS” answer while playing a version of the Jeopardy boardgame (the 9th edition). Here’s the card, and the game:

Now you know!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Early Darwyn Cooke Comics from Music Express

by BK Munn

Cartoonist Darwyn Cooke (1962-2016) got his start in the Toronto magazine world back in 1984 when he was hired as the art director for Music Express. He did all the design, graphics and even some photography for that magazine, and its sister mag Metallion, until he left to work for one of Canada’s biggest fashion magazines, Flare, in 1988. Looking at these issues of Music Express, you can see how Cooke was applying a retro mid-century design sense to its pages in a style that nevertheless still retains a very hip 1980s feel. The pages from this 1985 issue are crammed with Cooke’s spot illustrations and there is even a house ad done in the form of a comic strip. This is some of Cooke’s earliest published comics. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Cracked in Canada

by BK Munn

Way back in 1994, Cracked Magazine went Canuck-crazy with a special variant edition lampooning Canadian culture, a shameless pandering that only the geniuses behind a bargain-basement version of MAD Magazine could have conceived of (although there was a French-Canadian version of MAD produced by the gang behind Croc around the same period that ran for a few years). Beginning with the cover, instead of the Beavis and Butthead parody U.S. audiences were treated to, the Canadian version boasts a John Severin-drawn hockey punch-up featuring what appears to be legendary Toronto Maple Leafs brawler Doug Gilmour. The rest of the issue is dotted with a smattering of Canadian-themed features, including a generic Don Martin gag with a Newfoundland setting randomly inserted in the title.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The First Talking Cartoon Cat?

by BK Munn

Woodcut by unknown artist from frontispiece to The Excellent and Renowned HISTORY of the Famous Sir Richard Whittington, Three Times Lord-Mayor of the Honourable City of London (1690). This is a relatively “late” retelling of the story of Dick Whittington and his Cat, from a widely-circulated London chapbook. I love that this woodcut has the cat speaking in an early form of comic strip word balloon. These types of emanata are usually called “phylacteries" by art and comics historians, after the scroll-like ribbons of text and speech that first appeared in medieval manuscript illuminations. I wonder how many other early “talking cat” images are out there? There were many similar chapbooks devoted to Aesop’s Fables, plays, ballads, various fairy tales, nursery rhymes, morality tales, etc. Is there a Puss in Boots, witch’s familiar, or some other talking cat with a similar phylactery in a book or painting that pre-dates this one?

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Clowes Shut-Ups

This weekend’s antique market find: some Dan Clowes “shut-ups” from Cracked Digest #4, 1987.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Rudolph Dirks Anticipates the Group of Seven

by BK Munn

Rudolph Dirks took the characters of his Katzenjammer Kids strip around the world many times before they more or less settled down on a tropical island, and one of their earliest adventures was a search for the North Pole. As part of this epic 1907 quest, the trio of The Captain, Hans and Fritz travelled through the arctic, battling polar bears and meeting other northern inhabitants, including racist caricatures of Inuit people who speak in gibberish. The Captain, like Dirks himself, just wants to travel and paint pictures, but is constantly pranked by the kids. In the sequence below, he likens the painting of a pine tree to poetry, echoing Robert Service’s "The Pines” and presaging both Joyce Kilmer’s famous poem “Trees” (“I think that I shall never see/a poem lovely as a tree...”) and the paintings of Tom Thompson and the Group of Seven, notably Thompson’s “The Jack Pine”. Dirks was a fellow traveller of The Ashcan School of painters and was one of the cartoonists who exhibited in the Armoury Show of 1913.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Cracked Magazine Party Pix: December 1988 (Clowes,Bagge, Altergott, Severin, Martin)

 It’s a Cracked Magazine cocktail party, from Cracked #241, December 1988. The magazine was at that time under the editorship of Mort Todd and featured Todd and Dan Clowes’ Uggly Family strip, as well as contributions from Weirdo editor and Neat Stuff/Hate creator Peter Bagge. Doofus creator Rick Altergott was a regular as well. These guys comprised the “kids’ table” at this memorable meeting of the minds that also featured all-time greats like John Severin, Don Martin, Don Orehek, Bill Wray, and many more. Great to see photos of these past and future giants in a casual, but work-related setting!