Sunday, May 21, 2023


Over the years I've enjoyed many a comic strip that was created by a mind that was more rooted in everyday mid-20th century suburban slob living (Ernie Bushmiller) as opposed to those anchored in a chic New York/Los Angeles beret and stale doritos self-anointed snobdom (Matt Groening? Lynda Barry?? Gary Trudeau???). Y'know, comics that speak to the heart of the slobbo overweight kiddo with a love of snacks, UHF tee-vee, comic books and an intense hatred of them dancing lessons he has to take on Saturday afternoons. The kid you were long before you graduated into being an ADULT slobbo with the same desires that never did leave your beanie no matter how immature your folks told you that you were when they caught you watching Bugs Bunny cartoons long into your hapless (meaning feminine deficient) adulthood!  

No need to figure out that  """I""" was, and shall remain until the end of my born days, this exact same kinda specimen that is oft loathed upon yet, in my own corny downhome way, is proud to be. Well, without the dancing lessons of course (and as for women, most of the chubs complete with fat rolls you can hide steel girders in that were/are available to me just don't meet my fine specifications and I guess I ain't the only one who thinks like this given the steep decline in the population around here). But otherwise well, in many ways I am proud that I still have the same wonderment and awe for the comics I can recall reading (or at least looking at the pictures) since my earliest memories of a world I'd return to with the blink of an eye had I had the opportunity.

Yeah, comic strips! In any way/shape/form they were thee thing to look forward to during those post-homework/pre-tee vee times and as clockwork as supper or the 7:00 reruns. I never could get enough of 'em even when I was a mere four years old and my cyster would bring her WEEKLY MESSENGER magazine (update --- actually the publication was called OUR LITTLE MESSENGER) home from school if only for me to look through, great cyst that she was and hopefully shall remain. That was another occasion to look forward to during my late-turdler times, not for the news stories written down to a fourth grade level natch but the comic strips found within. I remember OTTO which was a nice enough wordless FERD'NAND swipe drawn in an even simpler style as well as POOCHIE, the saga of a dog that walked on his hind legs long before Snoopy. Now that 'un was done up in a no-frilled straightforward style that was a pleasant respite from some of the more detailed efforts that were found in the funny pages which hurt my kiddo eyes I'll tell ya.

POOCHIE's creator, one Marvin Townsend, was a guy whose work I would occasionally spot in various outlets as time went on. I recall when I was old enough to actually go to school coming across his cartoons on scant occasion in various education-oriented publications and if I told you that I associated the name "Townsend" with him long before I did with Pete I certainly would not be lying.

Anyway, cyster did collect all of her WEEKLY LITTLE MESSENGERs in a binder and kept it for quite awhile. In fact when I was about eleven I chanced upon it and once again enjoyed the comics that popped up within. Eventually that binder went the way of a whole lotta things my cyster had collected o'er the years that got chucked thus depriving me of those old thrills well into these old 'n crotchety days of mine.

Gotta say that I actually do miss reading POOCHIE and hoped that there would be some remnants of the strip popping up on that modern miracle we call the internet. Unfortunately it seems as if the dog has been lost to time but thankfully information on Townsend can be dredged up. For example he contributed (along with Reed Crandall and Graham "Ghastly" Ingels) to TREASURE CHEST, a comic book I don't think anyone worth their weight in no prizes would have been caught dead reading. In this particular title his ALI was published, the pantomime strip about an Indian guy (with a turban that looked more like a bandage for a man suffering from a severe concussion) who went through an entire page engaged in the usual wordless hoohaws. Like POOCHIE he was lovable in his own way as he fought one frustrating yet humorous adventure per issue in gags that I'm sure woulda offended those intelligent girls I knew who were reading Dick Gregory in fifth grade. 

Townsend must have been a guy who loved kids considering just how much he contributed his work to magazines such as TREASURE CHEST and WEEKLY LITTLE MESSENGER. Thus it's no surprise that the man had two books printed for American Education Publications, an arm of the Xerox Corporation who made them cheap paperbacks that the Scholastic News Service used to pawn off on students who saved up their pennies to purchase science books, novels or, in my case, comic collections making the day them books arrived what one would call "red letter" and I mean it!

Managed to get what I think is the extent of Townsend's published "bookage", '70's LAUGH OUT! and the following year's GHOSTLY GHASTLY CARTOONS and both of 'em are what I'd call winners in the realm of suburban slobdom entertainment. It's obvious where Townsend got the title of the first 'un out, but there ain't no "sock-it-to-me" humor to be found nohow...LAUGH OUT!'s crammed with a slew of neat panel cartoons naturally featuring Townsend's deceptively simple style with gags that would never make it in THE NEW YORKER but might have in THE SATURDAY EVENING POST. Who'm I kiddin' --- not even the POST woulda accepted any of these kiddo comics which is their loss but our gain for they do have a nice simpleness to 'em that kinda reminds me of what life was like before everything that came off nice and copasetic to me suddenly turned into an evil monster that seemed intent on devouring me like a bag of pork rinds!

Most of you sophisticados will undoubtedly up your snoots at a panel cartoon featuring a goat walking out of the animal section of a library smacking his lips or a squirrel mistaking a turtle for a huge nut. However to someone like myself who has been inundated with a whole slew of unfunny and downright insulting comics that have been published in "forward looking" weekly papers since the eighties (haven't read any of 'em in ages but I assume their comics have only gotten worse) these panels do work the kind of magic that lingers more'n most of the moderne strips I have been unfortunate enough to come upon. 

Now I'm "brave" enough to admit that most of these comics might come off too cornball on one level but they are kinda witty on another, at least with a wittiness that I assume would zoom past the Hi-Q minds of many a superior being who I'm sure looks down on everyday working jerks such as myself from their high towers located on the shit strewn streets of San Francisco.

GHOSTLY GHASTLY CARTOONS collects some rather macabre panels, or at least macabre in a fun, kiddo level custom made for the single-digit set buying up these books (as well as the folk taking a sneak peek when Junior wasn't around in the hopes that he wasn't picking up any pornographic material on the side). Some of these are actually a tad shocking (such as the one where, in the first panel, a stranded man on one of those cartoon islands cheers when he sees a boat being rowed his way with only his bones remaining in the second one while some monster rows away picking his teeth), while others are surprisingly current and up-to-date as in the one where some white ghosts tell a black one that it's OK if he haunts a house in their neighborhood. Goes to show you that Townsend had a quite devious wit about him and perhaps wasn't the old snoot that I'm sure some of you more sanctimonious readers would assume him to be.

Yeah, these books are highly recommended for those of you who miss the straighter, yet funnier cartoons that seem to have either been long gone or distorted way beyond recognition. I mean, have you read a NANCY or MARK TRAIL these days? Kinda makes me wish there was a collection of POOCHIE cartoons out and about --- yeah I'm sure I'd probably be the only one who'd want to read it but sheesh, I'd like to connect with an old friend who never did let me down.

In the course of doing research for this post I discovered a little bit about Townsend, like he was from Kansas City and turned down a job in Hollywood offered to him by none other than his friend Walt Disney. And, believe-it-or-not, but cartooning was his second love, his first being his family. Seems like the kinda guy we could sure use a whole lot more of these days, which is but just one reason I decided to give him and his work a long overdue royal treatment. I mean, considering what a noble and truly talented man he undoubtedly was who else on this planet would?


jimbo jeeves said...

wot abot som PUNk rock ? !

n y doll s ! !

poso said...

totally ot: yah, so the dandy warhols are, let's face it, toast. toasted. utter toast. so what do they do now? zia was never anything to look at. a tub should, at least, avoid "tats." too bad, so sad! right?

Ted Kaczynski said...

For Christ's sake, get off your ass, I'm bored in here and I need more record reviews. Don't make me mad, you won't like me when I'm mad.

poso said...

hey, ted! get off your fat ass, jailbird! and while you're at it, kiss zia mccabe's fat behind. lol. but, i guess, you'd rather kiss courtney taylor-taylor's butt, ya homo! ps: you'll never see the light of day. lol.

Christopher Stigliano said...

I really hate seeing the comment sections being hijacked like they are. Wish you all could do something about it.

poso said...

poor chris. lol. "highjacked." lol.

why don't you call the aclu? lol.

ps: the cartoon books look swell.

Robert Crumb said...

Always loved Marvin Townsend! Overlooked genius.

Christopher Stigliano said...

Hey Ted...sorry I'm taking so long with the latest post. I hope you can hang in there a little longer until the thing is nice 'n ready.

Alvin Bishop said...

Did Victor Moscoso go tango au go-go for Nico in Soho whilst playing a Dobro? Or is that a no-no? Asking for an amigo.