Tuesday, March 21, 2017

No One Likes Gaston

While I'm generally known for my Garfield Mash-ups, I've also made a few significant contributions to the other Mezzacotta comic site, Itoons, which focuses on other comics not related to Garfield.
Most of the available comics are minor edits to various online Newspaper comics and various webcomics.  But I can never do anything easy, constantly wanting to strain the limits of my imagination and a desire to stretch my creative muscles.

In addition to wanting to share my love and knowledge of certain comics, I also wanted to spread wider recognition of one of the more popular BD franchises out there.  But undertaking an endearing project is essentially taking an endurance test, especially for a labour-intensive project that's essentially a gag-a-day (or gag-a-week format if you want to be specific) comic that's still fully understandable without any translation notes handy.  Since the strips are fairly episodic - no long-lasting recuperations or ongoing story (save for a few running comic themes and occasional two-pagers) there's not much need or desire to know what happens next.

Apart from the occasional online scanlation, knowledge of this cult figure is surprisingly elusive.  Originally, I wanted to show it on my blog, but didn't want to risk any image shrinkage.  The comic in question is available now, but it's undergone the same limitations I was worried about in the first place. (I had a similar complaint when I submitted another Garfield comic that was ruined, because I decided to get fancy with the background)  So, as means of compromise, I've chopped up my submission in smaller doses for easier reading.  (It looks better at a larger size)

Translation for the parking comic partially helped out here.  For this particular verse, I originally wanted to use "Plays the Harp", as a way of introducing his musically destructive Gaffophone, but Harp doesn't really rhyme with Ark.

Here, I took some creative liberty with wordplay, combining noise pollution and night pollution into one nonsensical descriptive word that didn't exist until now.  (Then again, I coined the phrase Kvetchion too)

And yet, it looks like the cult favorite, Gaston Lagaffe may be getting an official English translation after all.  However, they're renaming the titular character as Gomer Goof, instead of his regular name to more closely appeal to Western tastes, I guess, and pay tribute to when Fantagraphics first tried their hand at translating the character.  Despite being associated with Goofy the dog, Gaston isn't exactly dim-witted.  He's just exceptionally lazy, extremely accident prone, fooling around at the office, creates loads of inventions that inevitably backfire, and is constantly getting in trouble over things that are second-hand consequencically, his fault.  In essence, like the unashamed ripoff, The Teenage Son, he's the worst traits of Archie and Jughead combined.

I suppose the name change is because of the unfortunate implications of being associated with another certain  Gaston "gentleman" who's better known for his hunting prowess and misogynist antagonistic views.  But similar names shouldn't be considered a handicap.  Nobody mistakes Sylvester the Cat and the actor of Rocky to be the same person.

Believe it or not, this is actually a conservative elaborate disguise, compared to Gaston's later dress-ups.

Another instance where I borrowed somebody else's translation, and used their editing skills, particularly Gaston's screaming "NO!", and removing the excessive 'N' at the end.

As is typical, when I send in an entry I've spent a particularly long time on, I instantly think of a new addition that could potentially be included.  Here's the bonus stanza that was excluded out of convenience, because I was having trouble thinking of a proper rhyme to go with "ell".  It's harder than you'd think!  The closest I came to a suitable one was "Rings Bells", but surprisingly enough, there weren't any Gaston comics with that particular image.  Likewise, I can't take any credit for the translation of the last panel here:

One of the self-imposed limits for submitting to Itoons is that there shouldn't be any connection to a typical Garfield comic.  In this case, I made an exception, implementing a subtle change alluding to a Sunday Garfield comic, but other than that, the rest is close to the original meaning and pure improvisation.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Super Pogo!

While looking for certain archived comic images, there are some things that pop up that are so unusual that you feel compelled to share them with the world and remind them that such things existed back when nobody was paying that much attention.

Superheroes have made a strong comeback in theaters after languishing on the funny pages for ages, but that's only after they distilled away the most essential elements, and removed all the overwrought narratives, the multi-story arcs that demanded intense attention and knowledge of what was going on in other books in the company line, and artwork that was wonky and incomprehensible at best.  (Nowadays, movies have the same creative problems that plagued comics, but that's a lecture for another time, preferably not by me)

The Superhero resurgence may have started with Blade, but the jumpstarter was Tim Burton's Batman, which radically changed the usual audience perception of the cheesy Adam West version, which was still fresh in the majority's mind, years after Frank Miller's Dark Knight take on the character.  That may have been in mind when the briefly revived Pogo strip by Doyle and Sternecky diverged in a brief parody that's just as overwrought with creative narrative bombast as the double-entendre laden monologue that influenced Tracer Bullet.  The first part (in colour) can be seen here:

After this, things get a little trickier to figure out.  Sadly, the text is so faded away in parts that it's practically illegible.  Fortunately, I took a closer look and deducted most of what was written:

Panel 4: Bright Knight Picks a Fight: A fortunate sudden downpour saves our hero from a flaming end, but now he must lock jaws with the big ultimate foe himself!
Panel 5: Caption: Mudgeopolous at Dinnertime
Bright Knight: Alright, at the count of five.  1, 2...
Boy Pogo: Halfa sammich Goofus?
Goofus: Thanks Boy Pogo.  Us Arch Enemies allus travels on our stomachs.
Panel 7: 1989 OGPI! Distributed by the L.A. Times Syndicate!  (Until I found a clearer copy above, I thought the text at the bottom panel read: Must Obey! Receiver by The L.A. Times Syndicate!)

And that's where our adventures end.  If anybody wants to see the rest of the story for themselves, they're free to buy a physical copy of the six issues that supposedly make up this run.

Then, at the other end of the spectrum, we have some promotional material that are quite frankly, some of the most amateurish childish drawings ever done.  And the blotted black and white images of the quality coloured pictures don't help.

You'd think a franchise as large as Little Caesars would've been able to splurge for higher quality.  The left hand side is also take up not just by the title, but also an accompanying stand-alone panel that's just as amateurish as the rest of the comic.

And like the Pogo comic earlier, it ends on a cliffhanger.  Good luck trying to find the conclusion to this thrilling epic, assuming anybody bothered to save a copy for themselves, and weren't embarrassed to keep one for themselves.  (If artist Calvin Crosby is reading this, I apologize for my unflinching criticism)  I'm not even gonna bother transcribing the inane script here, save for the last panel:

Panel 7: This is (sp)Sobt.  She is Caesar Man's Girlfriend.  She hears his request.  BUT WILL SHE SAVE THE DAY?

The Superhero genre has permeated everything from Archie to Garfield (who's more suited as the Caped Avenger than the Liefeldian Pet Force), but not everything deserves to be shoehorned into a specific formula, no matter how much diehard fans insist on saying so.  Further proving that not everything can be improved by simply slapping a spandex outfit over a persona in the vain hopes of attracting a wider audience, is the long-forgotten instance of Cheerios branching out its brand into the unusual field of two Laurel & Hardy types with the tagline of "It's Applelicious!  And Cinnamoncredible!" which never quite caught on, for some reason.

Most of their time is spent bickering over which part of the cereal sprinkles these bad guys are more interested in, the apple or the cinnamon, but it never lasts for long before they decide to whup some baddie's behind.  With minimal effort, mind you - it's not like they have to actually WORK for it.

Despite their potentially limited appeal, the height of their relevance ultimately culminated in a minute-long advertisement staring a very familiar-looking 'gator Kart-Racing Villain.

Save for those annoying sponsors on Sesame Street, today's kids don't even know what Commercials ARE.
Whether this should be lamented or celebrated depends on your fondness for unskippable jingles that   Media Watchdogs have been complaining about merchandise being solely targeted at children for ages.  But at this current rate, TV shows and movies that are naked merchandising adverts for comics, toys & cards are the only likely places for advertised commercial franchises to be seen in the first place.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Al Jaffee's Old Face

Yesterday was famed MAD artist, writer and innovator, Al Jaffee's 96th birthday, who is still creating the infamous Fold-Ins for the Magazine.  At least, that seems to be ALL he does these days.  Long gone are the halcyon days when he would spout concepts such as Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions, MAD Inventions, and numerous silly concepts played out for laughs in his numerous gag books.

I figured that with the rapid loss of no less than Three MAD artists in 2016 - the influential unimitable Jack Davis, The subtle John Caldwell, and the slapdashy Paul Peter Porges, I should at least pay the man some respect while he's still alive and kicking.

If anything, the cartoonist's success can be contributed through his self-depreciative Jewish sense of humour, which played well to MAD's numerous take-downs of its quality, whether it was deserved or not.  A claim that was meant to foster rebellion against the high quality stuff that was supposed to be good for you, but has now become a victim of its own hype.  The subversive counter-culture that it so readily railed itself against has now become part of the culture itself, and it's weakest strongest imitator, Cracked, has now stepped into the very cracks that itself wouldn't follow into.

At the height of its relevance, MAD Magazine was noted for its biting Movie Satires that a commenter reflected, read more like illustrated reviews than anything.  They pointed out inherent flaws, plot holes, and warped logic happening on the screen - a trait that had a profound effect on Roger Ebert's harshly criticisms.  But in recent years, they've fallen into the wayside to focus more on guaranteed commercial hits with their Save the Cat! plots all figured out, so where can they put their criticisms aside from rehashing tired old jokes?  The lack of relevant commentary oftentimes feels hamfisted and missing.

The singular rally point surrounding the man will forever be tied to the deceptively easily craftable Fold-Ins, and its many imitations and influences.  I've lamented about Al Jaffee's lack of motivation regarding that field, so I won't rehash that old storming ground.  What I'd like to do is focus on a certain scene early in Jaffee's career.  His first book, titled (you guessed it!) Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions at the end, had a certain cameo appearance of a certain cartoonist that we all know and love.

But an earlier version of this book (which I happened to pick up second-hand, after lending out my only copy to someone who wouldn't return it until years later), had a very different look about him:

If you look closely, you can see the seams where the new cartoonish caricature is pasted over the old realistic artstyle to more closely resemble the iconic laughing figure we're more familiar with.

I looked around, and there didn't seem to be any mention of this disparity anywhere, hence my pointing this out.  Hopefully, I haven't breached a confidential contract that prevents Al Jaffee's actual drawn face being shown in public, lest his body melts into flames.*  Which shouldn't be that problematic, since he's drawn himself being beaten up, hung, choking, drowned, sawed, and blown up enough times to fill a theater stage.

*(If such an incident occurs, I deny all responsibility)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Women Unappreciation Day

March 8th, Women's Day may have come and gone, leaving behind the stench of Feminism in the air but now that bit of token respect has finally left us, we can devote our full time and energy to totally ignoring what silly business comes out of their little mouths.  After all, these are the weaker sex that has declared a war against our freestyle way of living, so it's only fair play that we men engage in nothing less than total warfare against them.

It's not like women have contributed that much to history.  Well, other than giving birth to us, and siring our children.  That is, unless they cheated on us with the Milkman, in which case, those bastards can get along just fine without my support.  I never had a Father figure to look after and beat me up, so I don't see why they should take advantage of me.  I have no problem with beating up the little brats - I need to vent my frustration somehow - for some reason, every woman I've dated refuses to have anything to do with me.  They should be impressed by how I whip these traitorous children with ease.

Only Men are capable of handling deals that demand respect, because people worldwide respect the sound of an authoritative voice that brims with confidence, not a weak-skinned squeaky voice begging permission to use the bathroom.

If it weren't for Men, nobody would be making Women's silly little requests understood, and nobody would help in the first place.  Not unlike the Emergency Room that disbelieved a woman's claims that she was suffering, because who can possibly gauge the pain level of women who never let us know what they're feeling, no matter how much it bothers them?
Man: Tell me what's wrong.
Woman: If you already know, you shouldn't have to ask.
Man: Well, I DON'T know.  And would like some clarification.
Woman: I'm not telling you, because you never believe me.
Man: Try me.
Woman: Alright.  Everytime I tell you something personal about myself, you gloss over it in favor of your own perceived conceptions.
Man: Oh, now that's just nonsense.  You simply can't believe that.
Woman: SEE?!  You're doing it, and you don't even realize it!!!
Man: What??  What'd I say?

There's no reason for women to complain about how harsh life is for them.  They have no idea what it was like back before the olden days of Ipods and Tablets.  There's all kinds of gadgets that make life easier than ever to live through.  All you have to do is pay for them, and the world's your oyster.

For all their complaining, it's not as easygoing for Men as women make it out to be.  The Man is saddled with the burden of being an Übermensch, or Superman, while women are only expected to be an all-purpose SuperMom. When things get too hot, they get back into the kitchen.  Men don't have that luxury.  Sometimes we have to make our sandwiches ourselves, because these women won't cut off the crusts, no matter how much we remind them.  And there's no app for that.

A recent totally biased social experiment found that when two workers in the same company switched their genders, their customers treated them with less respect than usual.  The woman got lavished with undeserved praise, while the man got unfairly bashed.  After suffering through the woman's routine for a mere two weeks, the man conceded to her POV.  The man has fallen victim to the trap known as "Empathy", and we should not mourn his passing, since anybody who falls for such an elaborate ruse is no longer worthy of notice.  Any reasonably well-off person would've instantly known the gender of who they were talking to, by the precise way they pounded the notes on their keyboards.  Sexism is not a symptom, but just a convenient excuse.  After all, I've never been hit on at work, and never had to suffer any of these so-called problems they're complaining about.

The lie that Men don't work as long and hard as women is simply untrue.  Men devote their time and energy to more fruitful pursuits.  It just happens to look like unproductive play to the casual outsider, but to those inside the inner circle and proper know-how, there's a confluence of details.  A wealth of information being traded in a rapid manner that belies the high-speed communication of rapid transit.

While a woman's voice is intended to sound soothing, it actually rankles the ire of those in the know.  Women just have a condescending voice that reeks of knowing something that they won't share with us, no matter how much we beg and ask.  For all its portrayal of futuristic utopia, there was one area that the producers of Star Trek failed to show accurately.  Despite opinion to the contrary, crewmates would be constantly arguing with the Computer on the ship.
Captain: Computer, what is our ETA?
Computer: Approximately five hours, sir.
Captain: That doesn't sound right.  What time are we Really arriving?
Computer: Five hours, two minutes.
Captain: No no no, I don't believe you.  Can't you give me a more accurate reading?
Computer: Three hundred and one minutes, thirty seconds at the tone... BEEP.
Captain: (Pointing at random male crewmate) You there, what do the readings say?
Crewmate: Five hours, sir.
Captain: There!  Was that so difficult?  Honestly, you can't trust machines to give you what you want.  Computers!  They're so unemotional, if you know what I mean.
Commander: No, I'm not entirely sure I do, sir.
Captain: Well of course you don't.  You're a Vulcan.

When they're not complaining about the amount of work they have to do, women are fostering off their work on others willing to do the job for them, so what are they so upset about?  They're learning how to delegate.

Just as inefficient is the toothless threat of not having any women work for a full day.  That saves us the meager pay that we'd have to shell out for their services, which is rightfully lower than our inflated salaries.  We pay for the bare necessities, such as the car, gas, house, boats, planes, guns, drugs and bribes.  THEY waste their moolah on frivolities, such as skimpy clothing, high-heel shoes, makeup, plastic surgery, books and food.  (No fat or ugly chicks allowed)  There's no need to make so much of a fuss about having to deal with the mindless things they do - I'm pretty sure we'd be able to handle the small stuff they have to deal with on a daily basis.  How hard could it possibly be?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Lock of the Irish

As always, here's another batch of the BC gang indulging in sharing their written prose with anybody who's willing to read over their shoulders, whether they want to or not.

And here's Wily taking in account of the gradually warmer weather.  Unless you happen to live in an area that's perpetually cold, or unseasonably hot year-round, then nevermind.

Since this month's rather sparse in terms of representation, here's some relevant poemmaking via Wily's daily strips:

For a long time in the early strips, much was made of Wily's fears of Water and Woodpeckers.  It became so well-known and internalized that it would just showcase Wily's reactions to such, even when newer readers would've been stumped as to exactly why.

Much like the infamous Garfield comic where he sleeps through an early strip, only to wake up on the very next day, there was another similar comic that played upon this very theme of a delayed punchline:

The sense of anticipation may be missing here, but I'd say the extended scream certainly plays off better here, especially when you can compare the contrast the scenes between before and after.  What must have readers back then thought when they saw a dripping wet peg-legged caveman screaming his head off for the whole of the rest of the panel???

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Making Some Good Points

Arcade centers may have fallen to the wayside, thanks to the proliferation of the home console market exploding in popularity, making quarter munchers something of a rarity, appealing only to the few outlets that still allow access to the mainstays that haven't been converted to the home video treatment yet.  Not that there aren't some diehards who won't stop at the opportunity to top the latest world record in terms of useless challenges.

This has led to multiple instances of other media implementing their references without really understanding their appeal, such as Tony Soprano "playing" a lap of N64 Mario Kart one-handed just by handling the joystick without actually pushing any buttons.  (You need to use both to move)

including the Star Trek episode, The Game, where the whole crew was being subjected to being brainwashed by an addictive game that basically consisted of mentally throwing discs down funnels.
somewhat unusual for a futuristic utopia that prides itself on

Probably the biggest insult would be the cameo appearance of Toru Iwatani, the creator of the instantly identifiable Pac-Man, who quashed his moment of immortality in an Adam Sandler movie.  (I'm not even gonna justify naming it - you can find it yourself)

Then there's an outer-space Spider-Man story from Electric Company, that may or may not have been inspired by The Last Starfighter, where an average kid who's really good at a Space Invaders-esque game finds himself roped into an intergalactic war, because reasons.

And yet, despite dozens of genres ranging from Platformers, Street King Fighters, Puzzle Droppers, Rail Shooters and the lot, the go-to representation of console games seem to be the ol' blast-em-Commies-outta-the-sky edition.

The demonization of Videogames is nothing unusual.  People have been complaining about how the latest newfangled devices these ungrateful younglings are abusing to their whim will bring about the downfall of civilization as we know it.  Well, they're technically correct, since these lawn-standing children are rewriting the rules of the previous generation that will pave the route to the NEXT batch of unforeseen upgrades, which will carry their own baggage of complaints from future Luddites.

But it's not so much the rush of playing the games themselves as is the sense of accomplishment of actually succeeding in a monumental repetitive task.  After all, if Video Games were as mindless as everybody says they are, everybody would be passively pushing buttons waiting for their turn.  In The Game Believes In You by Greg Toppo, an adult tried his hand at playing a typical gateway game, and was surprised at just how difficult it was.  (Granted, most beginner console games were Nintendo Hard)

It wasn't just the learning curve of having to readjust his preconceived notions of hand-eye coordination, but also the intense amount of concentration needed to get through a typical level.  He was surprised that despite his apparent smarts, that he was having great trouble at re-learning new traits that for all intents and purposes, should've been deceptively easy.  If you pay attention to a gamer's expression while they're playing, they intensely focused on the action happening on the screen.  (Unless it's an unskippable cutscene, at which point, they're just waiting for the mini-movie to finish so they can get back to the action)

Indeed the purpose of a good game is to force the player to keep trying over and over, compensating for their mistakes until they succeed in overcoming their surmountable tasks.  The very first Mario game level is easily recognizable and iconic, but it was actually designed near the end, so Shigeru Miyamoto could properly showcase everything the beginning player needed to learn about the basics of playing.  (Though it took a computer ages to learn what came naturally to grade-age kids)

Despite their high degree of difficulty, the game allows you to try again over and over until you manage to succeed, all for the sake of that elusive A WINNER IS YOU! end screen.  This is accomplished by memorizing dozens of patterns, calculating various formulas, testing strengths and weaknesses, using items in every conceivable combination possible and deferring to the game's internal logic, usually consisting of warped reality that naturally appeals to kids.  (And resorting to cheats when they're ultimately desperate)

In fact, because of the way games are made, the techniques and tricks you use to get past creative enemies, obstacles and traps in later hair-pulling stages are designed to gradually teach the player how to develop these traits and integrate them into their playing without being fully aware that they're learning.  In this sense, videogames are actually better teachers than most schools.  (And more fun too)

Another worthwhile quote - If schools were relied on to teach children about Pokémon, they would lose interest almost immediately.  Part of the reason is because when schools were first designed, they were intended to be suitable for children whose highest aspirations were to become factory assembly line workers, whose iteration of input and fixed formulas was a necessity.  But the latest appliances and digital devices have largely supplanted that need, resulting in teachers having to dictate an authoritarian stance over unruly children.  The earliest concept of a school worked just fine in the early 20th Century, but their model no longer applies to the modern world.  Everybody learns in a different way, and expecting everybody to conform to a single model is just asking for trouble.  Nowhere is this more clearly stated than in Japan's schools, which is more suited to produce Businessmen who are more likely to be brown-nosers and yes-men than innovative trailblazers.  In fact, the lack of harmony between Sega USA and Sega Japan was because one company was willing to take risks, and the other wasn't.  (As seen in the Sega Vs. Nintendo book, Console Wars)

Rather than demonizing the infantile traits of empowering videogames, scholars should be using the traits of videogames that best appeal to their senses.  Rather than have everybody in the class compete with each other over who gets the highest marks or best memorization, singling out the class pets, fostering an epidemic of cheating and stress, it would benefit greatly using a Warcraft model where struggling students can get farther ahead by working together.  Instead of grading students over an outmoded grading system where mistakes are seen as a black mark demerit that'll follow them for the rest of their lives.  They should be given the chance to experiment with alternate solutions that best suits their needs, substituting calculating methods with more adequate means, where they can take their time to fully understand the logic ingrained behind the theory.  Following formulas is good for starters, but shouldn't be strictly restricted to only that if the students already understand the basics, and compensate by using similar models closer to their line of thinking.  There's not just one way to calculate algebraic math.

In one instance where a student was failing in a particular field, another student offered themselves up to compensate for her loss, even though it meant losing some points himself.  The purpose was to teach how to game the playing field so that everybody gets their fair share.  In other words, compensating for their weaknesses until they're able to confidentially assert it themselves.