Thursday, September 05, 2019


I first espied one of McCay's political cartoons in some comics history book 'bout forty years ago and knew it was the most inane thing I've seen in that particular "field"! Well, at leastit was the most inane thing I've seen until the era of current editorial page amateurisms that mistake concrete thought for feminine cushy soft feelings which transpired sometime inna eighties. In the example that graced my eyes was the presence of some bearded Russian-looking anarchist with a bomb who is told by either Unca Sam or some clean cut Amerigan type that if you don't like it here in the USA why don't you go back to where you came from? Not that the sentiments aren't downright TRUE even resonating this far down the political landscape, but given what a unique and creative comics brainiac McCay was heralded as for many a year I was kinda hoping that he woulda come up with something a whole lot more imaginative and brutally cutting, like "If you don't like it here I can see to it that you'll be sent to a nice little cubicle that you'll be sharing with a man named Sweet Willie". Neater, funnier and a whole lot closer to the target.

Those of you who've read my previous reviews of various non-NEMO McCay collections will already know how I feel about the man's work and style, and the examples that are repro'd in this book are just as eye-catching and as exceptional as the efforts I've reported on earlier. But oh do they reflect a Victorian mindset that even gets me craving for that bathtub gin. Sure I can agree with some of the points that McCay makes such as his pacifist stay outta World War I tone with did a good 180 once the Lusitania deep-sixed (at which point he deserves the "turnabout from a good idea in order to pacify the big guns" award of the century!) but I most vehemently disagree with his woman's suffrage take which puts him in the same group as every other pussy-whipped male feminist wearing them pink hats with ears on 'em...I guess he didn't know just how overly emotional the species could sometimes get, but back then I guess hearts overruled brains at a good hundred-to-one ratio. But that artwork put into these works rises above any soft-headed thoughts that might or might not be emanating from the skull of McCay, what with the fine engraving-like lines which are almost unheard of anymore and sure made these early cartooning efforts such a pleasure on the orbs unlike the slapdash over-emote we've seen for ages on end.

Actually it ain't all polly-tix as usual here. McCay does a nostalgia comic for a time which has been nostalgicized years back ("Whatever happened to...collapsible hat racks, the cigar store Indian, the milkman with the bell buck-board and dipple"...) and his plea to make the holidays happier for a buncha lowbrow brats by supporting THE NEW YORK AMERICAN's annual Christmas Fund might just charm ya the same way some old D. W. Griffith socially inclined short mighta. The same goes for an important warning regarding married men with families flirting with the fresh stuff which was the basis for both of Griffith's versions of THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES. It's that early-twentieth century look and finery that makes a collection such as this so important and a potent antidote to the cheap crank out and flitzy political commentary that only tends to tell us about the general stupidity of its creators who are somehow trying to prove their innate cranial and moral superiority because well...gosh ain't they so much more advanced than the rest of us?

I dunno what your comic strip/book/art library looks like, but I believe that mine is all the more IMPROVED by the various McCay efforts that adorn the shelves next to everything from old paperback collections of long-forgotten strips to the latest IDW DICK TRACY compilation. Might do you good to add something like this to your bookshelf...I mean, those etchings just don't cut it like they used to when it comes to the gals, and you do want 'em to think you've got some sorta taste in the "finer" things!

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