Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Waxing poetic about the Great Depression

Chances are, you have a grandparent or great-grandparent who lived through that very trying time in American history known as the Great Depression.  If you've ever had the opportunity to listen to a relative who lived through this decade-long ordeal, he or she likely did not paint a rosy picture.  Soup lines, apple carts, and extremely high unemployment were commonplace, especially in the larger cities.  But Americans living in rural America, in some ways, had it rougher than their urban counterparts.  That being said, quite a few of them had skills steeped in self-reliance that were especially helpful during those dark times.  And those who were not so rugged or able-bodied could usually count on a close-knit community to help whenever possible.

If you've ever tuned in to a CBS station on Thursday nights in the 70s, you might have been a fan of that rural family drama set during the Depression, The Waltons.  OR if you were late to the party or hadn't even been born while it was still on the air in primetime, you may have caught reruns on the Hallmark Channel or UP TV, which is how I discovered them.  

Sure, I found the program to quaint and homespun, even corny at times.  But I liked the fact that it showed a close, loving family who faced difficult challenges together living in Depression-era Virginia.  It ran for a total of nine seasons (although I think it should have stopped at six as the show was morphing from a family drama into a soap opera), not counting a number of reunion specials and movies in the 80s and 90s.

I have no ideal what the hell the writers of the Jackie Jokers TV Special I'm featuring in this post were thinking!  Obviously it's a spoof of The Waltons, but the writer was probably sipping brandy Alexanders as he cranked out this tripe.  Not only is it not funny (as if anything Jackie Jokers does IS funny), it's just plain annoying!  Don't believe me?  OK, go ahead and enjoy "The Walltuns" (even the owl in the tree is questioning this deadline-cruncher).


Yeah, OK, "Jack-Boy"!  I'm sure magazine editors and book publishers will be soooo anxious to have a writer named "Jack-Boy" in their respective stables.  


And what's with all the repetition?  Is this supposed to be FUNNY?  See what I mean about annoying?  I seem to recall a certain cartoon character that repeated words and phrases a lot and was just as annoying, if not more:



What was the point exactly?


So Jack-Boy gets tossed out of the family for not pulling his weight and runs off to the "Big City" to become a rich and famous writer.  Yeah, good luck with that, Jack-Boy!  Try getting a job first so you won't end up a starving artist on the street like those two winos in the alleyway.

And you're going to help that robbery victim how, exactly?  By scribbling down the conversation between robber and victim verbatim?  Yeah, don't bother trying to find a cop; jotting down what you hear is MUCH more important!


Of course the Big City newspaper will print your story!  RIIIIIGHT!  You'll have better luck submitting it to Reader's Digest!


Well, there's something else that's needed for television to really take off!  Like, oh, I don't know....multiple TV sets sold to households throughout the country, local TV affiliates to broadcast those television signals to said sets, TV advertising to be the source of revenue, and, most importantly, millions of eyeballs to watch TV programming!  

So in this supposed parody of the Waltons where none of the characters even vaguely resemble those on the actual show, we instead get some kind of alternate universe version where the protagonist makes it big writing TV scripts based on his family rather than books based on said family.  I'm not sure where the writer was going with this story, but it probably didn't help him including it on the resume he sent to Mad Magazine.

I get the feeling that the creative staff at Harvey had no idea where to take the Jackie Jokers character.  First, they start him out on his own solo series; that gets cancelled after 4 issues.  Then they pair him up with Richie Rich for another 48 issues.  But there's only so much Richie can do with a friend in show biz, so some brainiac editor came up with the idea of doing movie and TV parodies featuring Jackie in the lead role.  A great way to fill up pages, sure, but most are poorly executed.  In fact, the Jokers character is poorly executed.  Must have been a pet project of a Harvey family member.  But at least we didn't get a continuing Billy Bellhops series!

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OK, that's it for now!  See you next time!

Excelsior!



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The facts of life are all about youuuuu.....

I'm sure you TV buffs have witnessed the birth or adoption of another child on a long-running family sitcom or drama.  Usually this happens when the youngest of the original clan has experienced a growth spurt and is no longer the cute, funny, adorable moppet you grew up watching.  It's happened with the Bradys, the Huxtables, the Keatons, the Drummonds, and yes, even the Waltons (for one season anyway).  Why? Ratings tend to slip when TV show kids start hitting puberty.  Gotta do something to make the show fresh again.  Sometimes it works, but most of the time....not really.  The Brady Bunch, for instance, was already suffering from bad scripts and sinking ratings by the time season 5 came around.  Unfortunately, the obvious solution was not put into motion early in season 4, that being Carol Brady announcing she's pregnant.  No, the quickie solution was to import a young relative in the form of cousin Oliver halfway into season 5.  Sure, he wasn't the cause of the Bradys getting cancelled, but he sure didn't help!

I am digressing a bit, though.  The point is, Harvey Comics decided to add another character to Richie Rich's world.  Is Richie going to be getting a baby brother or sister?  FORGET IT!  Richie ain't having that!  But the Van Doughs, relations to the Riches, are expecting!  But this being a Harvey comic, there's no way the author of the following story is going to be so blunt and direct regarding the Birds and the Bees.  And we're sure as hell not going to get any graphic visuals!  That's a given!  But join us now as Richie meet for the first time his baby cousin Penny!     


Mater?  Pater?  If I ever called my folks by those monikers, I probably would've gotten smacked!  This is obviously a thing among rich kids.  At least in the world of Harvey Comics.  Anyway, Reggie's parents are oblivious to the presence of their son and nephew, going around mumbling and being deep in thought. 

Even Richie is affected by their lethargic behavior.  Hey, Rich, Regina is your mother; your aunt's name is Vanessa!  And she's obviously too pre-occupied to correct him. 



Yes, what IS going on?  Maybe Mr. Van Dough decide to have a vasectomy.  Or Vanessa is having her tubes tied! One spoiled rotten, mean, bratty kid is enough!  


Say, that's some souped-up ca...hey, WAIT A MINUTE!  What's Richie doing driving?  He can't be more than 11 or 12 years old!  Simple!  He's Richie Rich, bitch!  He can do whatever he damn well pleases!


Aw, that's cute!  Mr. Van Dough gets his consonants backwards!  And since when do doctors take on the role of bellhop?  He better not be expecting a tip! 


Ya know, I have to question the quality of education these rich lads are receiving!


What, was Peewee in the womb for over 5 YEARS???  I know that sex education is a sensitive topic for some, but a five-year gestation term is just plain wrong!


Is Reggie that upset he's not going to be an only child anymore?  Frankly, I'm surprised the Van Doughs decided to have another child!  You'd think they would have learned their lesson unleashing Reggie on the world. 


Is the doctor the only one working this hospital?  Is there a nurses' strike going on?  

Never mind all that!  We're now treated to the first appearance of the next Harvey Comics cash cow (maybe).

Aww, so cute!  Eyes wide open and a full head of hair with just a hint of a blonde dollar sign on her forehead!  

Oh, boy!  We're told to watch for more Richie Rich comics featuring Penny!  I'm looking forward to that about as much as Baby Trixie's adventures in the bland Hi And Lois comic strip, like the example below:


Yep!  Hilarious, right?
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OK, that's going to do it for now.  I'll try to have the next post up before Thanksgiving!

Excelsior!

Alan

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Ooooo, that smell!

Ok, so it's been a while since the last post!  Been really busy and I haven't had time to devote to this blog!  But good news!  I have this post and another in the pipeline in about a week, so I'm going to be making up for lost time!  

You'll notice that I have a portion of the next pic cut out!  It's not a mistake; it's by design!  Obviously it's a Richie Rich story, but the title of it gives away the surprise, so I decided to crop it so nothing will be given away too soon!  Enjoy!


Had no idea Richard Rich, Sr. was into advancement of television technology!  I wonder how far the delivery guy had to haul that monstrous package!  This had better be good!  

So far Richie isn't that all impressed!  He also decided to change up his wardrobe a bit and opt for the white shorts instead of the usual blue!  But enough of the garment observation; Richie's dad is about to reveal what sets this TV set apart from all the others on the market!  The suspense is killing me!


REALLY???  I mean, it's sort of a nice novelty, but it'll wear out rather quickly.  TV is meant to be enjoyed with the visual rather than the olfactory senses.  Already I can see problems with this gadget!


Yeah, I suppose if you have the thing tuned to HGTV or the Food Network, it has its good points.  But careful you don't change the channel to AMC when The Walking Dead is on; who wants to smell rotting flesh?


Ya know, it's a good thing this "smellevision" hasn't been mass-produced.  Palpo would go out of business virtually overnight!  Then again, look where Dollar lives!  Probably has his own chef to create gourmet meals especially for him!  


Oh, come on, Regina!  You really think your husband would bring one of his mistresses home?  


Um...might want to change the channel from that forest fire!  Jamie Farr and Lou Gossett, Jr. make special guest appearances in this story as two firemen just cruising around.  Who needs fire alarms or 911 dispatchers when you've got firemen driving around the city like Malloy and Reed from Adam-12?  Did the fire station burn down?


Yes, don't worry, folks!  Jamie and Lou are on the job, going through your front door like it was papier-mâché but amplified with a "crasho" sound effect!

Hey, guys, the Rich family is NOT on fire!  Getting sprayed with a fire hose has to hurt like hell!  Especially for Regina seen here getting a high-pressure enema!  Ouch!


The joke's on you guys?  I don't think so! You just flooded their living room!  Judging by their embarrassed grins, I'd say this was all a part of the firemen's plan to strike a blow against those capitalist pigs!  Another tell-tale sign; look at the smug look on Lou's face in the upper left panel! 


It never was, Richard, nor will it ever be!  And better get a doc to check out your left foot; punting that heavy set had to hurt!


Hey, the Looney Tunes Hour is on and they're showing a Pepe Le Pew cartoon.  Yes, indeed, good thing getting rid of that "smellevision".  Could be worse, though; what if Blazing Saddles was on TV and they tuned in during the campfire scene?   Here's what I mean:




If the "smellevision" was still in the house, they couldn't exactly blame it on the dog, eh?

OK, that's it for now!  Next we'll have a little discussion about the birds and the bees Harvey Comics style!  Coming very soon!  Promise!

Excelsior!

Alan

Friday, September 16, 2016

I've Got Something In My Front Pocket And It's None Of Your Damn Business!

In this entry, we drop in on Little Audrey clone Dot Polka.  You might be familiar with her obsession of all things dotted, spotted, or circular.  Stories featuring her having a "dotgasm" can get tiresome after a while (I should know; having spent my youth reading and collecting Richie Rich comics, half of the typical Richie book was dedicated to Little Dot [and Little Lotta] reprinted stories), so this one I'm covering takes a break from the dots (aside from her attire) as young Dorothy drops in on her scientist relative, Uncle Branes.

I have to admit, Branes is probably my favorite among Dot's many uncles and aunts.  He's come up with some really cool, although scientifically impossible, gadgets.  Why he hasn't been made an offer by Rich Labs I'll never know.

So what cool invention has he come up with this time?  Let's peek in and see!




Can't you just smell the innuendo?  




Aw, C'MON!!!  Some writer at Harvey got inspiration from an x-ray specs ad and ran with it!  But why only see through pockets?  


As Mike gently grasps Mabel's hand and slowly guides it to his front pocket...


...DOT SPOILS THE SURPRISE!!!

But Mike has other pockets, Dot!  Maybe the pen and pencil set wasn't intended for Mabel!  Did your snooper glasses check his other pockets?  Nope, you were hell-bent on throwing Mike under the bus!!!

And we find that Branes' invention isn't limited to pockets but anything with the word "pocket" in the name like, say, "pocketbook!"  Now Dot is throwing Mabel under the bus by revealing the contents of her handbag, namely a letter written by some guy named Fred.  Not only is Dot having a ball screwing with her elders but apparently she has prior knowledge of the love triangle involving Mike, Mabel, and Fred!  Obviously snoopy long before Branes granted her unsupervised use of his gadget!


Annie looks kinda familiar.  Hmmm....could she be Lotta's sister?  Same haircut, a bow anchored to the top of her head....only difference is that she's not morbidly obese!

And how does Dot know the compact in Annie's pocket belongs to Annie's mother?  And is Dot an expert on the value of ladies' compacts?  Not only is she a snoop, she may also be a snitch, running off to tattle on Annie!


And here we see Jay trying to fend off a Bavarian loan shark.  Perhaps Dot didn't want to see Jay get his legs broken, so she kindly points out that he's got a huge wad of bills in his left pocket!  Violence avoided!


No, Dot, he didn't "forget;" he needed that money for something "more important," like taking it to the track and putting it all on "Wishing Well" in the 5th race! Sheesh!


Well, it looks like Richie Rich is spending the weekend in Bonnie Dell mingling with the commoners!  Shouldn't this kid be accompanied by bodyguards?

Anyway, as Dot sets out the next day ready to peek into more pockets, little does she know that word has gotten out about her activities from the previous day!  Her friends avoid her like Typhoid Mary.

And what are you worried about, Lotta?  YOU DON'T HAVE ANY POCKETS!  You afraid Dot's going to blurt out that you wear Hello Kitty granny panties?  Dot hasn't pointed out other people's undergarments; why would she start with you?  Relax!  You're in a Harvey comic!  It's cool!


Of course they hate you, Dot!  What did you expect?  You thought they would spot you coming down the street and say "Hey, here comes Dot!  Let's see if she can guess what in our pockets?"  You definitely don't want the town perv to approach you with "Hey, Dot, wanna see what's in MY pocket?  Just reach in and grab it...heh heh heh!"  But again, Harvey comic and code-approved to boot!  Not gonna happen!

So you finally realize that you're a "nosey little snoop," eh?  Discovered that you not so useful to people, huh?  Your obsession with dots was bad enough!  But look at the bright side; you have a potential career as a tabloid "journalist."  Or maybe borrow some money and open up a Dipping Dots franchise!  Whichever! 

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That's about it for this entry!  Be back in a while for the next one!  Not sure what's it's gonna be yet, so stay tuned!

Excelsior!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Happy Times Are Here Agaaaaaaain!

OK, so that's not how the song goes exactly!  But "Happy Times" apparently is the favorite TV program of one Richard Rich, Sr., billionaire industrialist and father of everyone's favorite macrocephalic wealthy lad, Richie Rich.

So Richie and his pal Jackie Jokers (a kid comedian who spouts jokes that make a Catskill comedian look like Robin Williams) are planning a party for their friends but can't come up with an idea at first.

This is where the show "Happy Times" comes in.  Never heard of it?  No, it's not a Britcom seen occasionally on your local PBS station.  It doesn't exist!  It's Harvey Comics' thinly-veiled version of "Happy Days", a ratings hit for ABC at the time this story was published (cover dated Sept. 1976).  Yep, a sitcom set in the 1950s was one of the biggest hits of the 70s.  Not sure if I should blame "American Graffiti" or the disco craze for the show's success (believe me, many more Americans would have rather hung out at Arnold's than Studio 54).

So iron those poodle skirts, girls!  Guys, slather your jackets with leather oil!  And get ready for (Really?  Do I have to say it?)..."Happy Times"...smh...


Heh...that one was kinda funny, Jackie!  "..in case you feel your house is too small!"  You just might have a future in comedy!


Oh, never mind!  "Sir Lance-A-Little?"  REALLY???  Now I see Century 21 in your future!

I understand knights in the 12th century were of small stature, but THAT small?  And what's with the cone on the front of the helmet?  That. Just. Looks....weird....


Wow, Mr. Rich is easily amused, isn't he? Even the real "Happy Days" wasn't all that funny.  Can somebody change the channel to "Barney Miller", please?

And then we're treated(?) to several scenes of "Funzie" interrogating several guys, trying to identify the perp who dared to touch his precious bike. The artist seems to have captured a decent caricature of Fonzie, but Richie, Potsie, and Malph look like stock Harvey characters.  Either this was drawn on a Friday afternoon or the Harvey family didn't want to push the envelope so far as to get a "cease and desist" letter from Paramount's lawyers.

However, the boob tube sets off a light bulb in Richie's head!  What could it be?


Oh, OK!  Richie decides on a 50s-themed party.  Kids who weren't even born then can totally relate, what with all they've been exposed to watching "Happy Times."  Ah, well, at least the theme won't be based on "All In The Family" or "Maude."  Can you imagine all that screaming and fighting?

And Jackie called dibs on dressing up as "The Funz."  Yeah, whenever I see Fonzie on a "Happy Days" rerun, I always think "Jackie Jokers!"  Now picture me rolling my eyes!


Wow, that's some messed up science there!  This "professor" created some kind of hypno-spray designed to make out-of-work actors think they're really the characters they're portraying.  Be careful there, Prof; you accidentally spray yourself and you'll think you're Woody Allen (neuroses and all)!  Spray your henchman there and he'll think he's Vic Tayback!  STOW IT, FINKY! 


So that's what they're planning with their spray can!  While the Rich family is dazed and confused, they'll be raiding their vaults to the tune of "5 or 6 billion dollars."  Um, probably gonna need more manpower for that kind of haul!  And why do the Riches keep so much cash on the premises?  It's practically an invitation for thieves!  Has Mr. Rich not heard of Switzerland?


Cadbury announces the first of Richie's friends, Kool Katz, neglecting to also announce Kool's overbearing helicopter parent.  Mama immediately corrects him!  What did she ever do to you, Jeeves ol' boy?

Hmm...something is different about Richie and Gloria, but I just can't quite put my finger on it....hmmm......

And while the Elvis impersonator is busy unintentionally insulting Richie's dog, Reggie as Captain Bligh and Mayda as Cher enter the scene...


And here comes Jackie, as promised, as "The Funz."  Hey, were you given permission to ride that bike inside the mansion?  Tire marks, oil stains, both noise AND air pollution, not to mention putting all the other guests in danger of carbon monoxide poisoning?  You were enough of a nuisance with your bad jokes; now this!

And how are Little Dot and Lotta's boyfriend Gerald (hey, slap a cap and some specs onto Richie Rich and you have a whole new character!) able to get away with failing to cosplay as 50s characters?  Wellll...technically Dot IS a 50s character, having made her debut in 1953.  Gerald, on the other hand, didn't make his first appearance until the early 60s.  A head scratcher, to be sure...


Did the estate police have the night off or something?  These guys managed to slip into the mansion basement unnoticed!  Someone's getting fired over this!


Wow, so much going on here in this one panel!  I'm going to have to break this down!  Scroll down a bit, will ya?


As Kool the Elvis impersonator badly warbles one of the King's hits while looking like something out of a Charlie Brown cartoon, Mrs. K questions Reggie's choice of costume. Reggie needs to brush up on his history as Napoleon Bonaparte had long since departed before the 1850s.  However, there may have very well been people believing themselves to be Napoleon confined to asylums across the world in the 1950s, so Reggie could have received inspiration from America's funny farms!


Mr. Rich could have gotten a haircut to  resemble Eisenhower more, but people might have confused him for  1970s TV character Kojak.

And Freckles and Peewee, the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers?  Really?  Takes 9 players to make a baseball team!  Could have gone as Wally and Beaver Cleaver!  Perhaps the writer of this story is still butthurt that the Dodgers moved to LA.  Let it go, guy!


So Mayda arrived as her version of Liz Taylor?  Looks more like Cher to me!

And all Richie and Gloria had to do to transform themselves into Desi and Lucy was get a dye job and remove a hair ribbon?  Seriously?  Hey, Rich, you don't have to cosplay on a budget; I'm sure you can hire people to work on you and your girlfriend to be more convincing as America's sweethearts of the '50s.  At least strap on a conga drum!  Sheesh! 


Yeah, nice bike there, "Funzie!"  I've seen Vespas that were manlier!

And again, we see a half-assed attempt at cosplay; in fact, NO effort was made to make Dollar look more like a collie!  Not even a mane!


What?  Somebody farted?  Don't tell me we have a party "pooper" in the house (pun intended!)?


OK, so the hypno-gas is doing its magic!  Richie now speaks with a bad Cuban accent, Mayda brags about wrapping up production on a movie released at least 20 years prior to this party, and Peewee believes he's Brooklyn Dodgers standout Gil Hodges.  Hey, Freckles, Gil don't need no coaching from you!  Shut it!!!


"Rocking and rolling star?"  Hey, Mama Katz; do us all a favor and stick to watching Lawrence Welk!

And Kool/Pelvis, your suede shoes are white, not green or even blue!  Furthermore, I don't believe Elvis ever had a red Jewfro; just saying...


I can get behind Mr Rich/Eisenhower's mentality; all citizens should engage in the pursuit of happiness!

And Richie/Dizzy, drop the bad accent already!  It's just annoying now!


Despite each other's lack of knowledge or French and English respectively, Reggie/Napoleon and Mr.Rich/Pres. Eisenhower manage to diss each other just fine!  Wait, what?  This exchange reminds me of this classic Looney Tunes bit:


Got it?  Good!  Let's move on!


Yep, totally oblivious to a couple of guys in gas masks trying to crack a safe!  Nothing to see here, folks!

Hey, way to think on your feet there, Prof!  Who ARE those masked men?


Yes, make way, people!  These guys have unmasked themselves, yet no one suspects a thing as the crooked pair waltzed out of there with bags of money in hands!  Wonder if there's security in front AWAY from the air vents!




Mayda/Liz still making with the "mirror mirror" bit.  Is she still in character or is she her usual self?  Who can tell?

Hey, Prez and Napoleon, why are you still talking to one another...IN ENGLISH???  I don't think Scotty beamed down a universal translator to either one of you!  These scenes with you two make no sense!


And Peewee/Gil Hodges hits a line drive, knocking out the crooks in the process!  

Say, Lotta was a guest at the party AS HERSELF!  Why isn't she kicking those guys' asses???


Uh-oh, did somebody spike the punch?  No, the effects of the gas are finally wearing off!


Wow, do you see that look Kool is giving his mama?  Clearly he's weary of her overbearing nature!

Really bad pun there, Jackie!  Now do you understand why your parents set up a college fund?

And as Richie bids his guests a fond farewell, he makes sure they don't forget the theme of the party!  Like a banner inside staring them in their collective faces wasn't enough!

So what's the theme for next year?  A 60s party?  Love beads, peace signs, fringe skirts, and Nehru jackets all around!  See you next summer, kids!  Peace!

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So that's it for now!  Sorry this one took so long!  Such a lengthy story and I didn't want to rush through it!  But it's in the can, so I hope you enjoyed it!  I might feature a Jackie Jokers TV or Movie special next time, so watch for it!  I'll try not to be so long in getting it out!

Till next time,

Excelsior!