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Book and Comic Reviews

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Hall of Shame of OBNOXIOUS TOONS

No comics to review this week -- rather, a question to pose to the reading audience.  Last Sunday, I watched King of the Hill for the first time in a long while, thanks to Mark Lungo's advisement that something big was about to happen regarding one of the show's continuing characters.  It was big, all right, as Hank Hill's unbearable dad Cotton Hill passed on to that big VFW hall in the sky.  Observing the death of one of the most obnoxious Toon creations ever to (dis) grace the small or large screen got me to thinking about some OTHER particularly annoying Toon creations.  Here's my (very) short list of the most obnoxious Toons I've ever seen.
  • Cotton Hill, King of the Hill.  He's got to be right at the top of the list thanks to his abrasive personality, grating voice, and the way he treated his long-suffering son Hank.  And to think, he was presented as a representative of the "Greatest Generation".
  • Lieutenant Pug, 101 Dalmatians (the animated series).  A bigoted shrimp who took pleasure in brow-beating the pups under his command in the "Bark Brigade."  His standard character shtick concerned an impending "Great Cat Invasion" that never quite came to pass.  His weirdest quirk was occasional attacks of narcolepsy that came on when his frantic screaming got completely out of hand (or paw).  He automatically devalued pretty much ANY 101 Dalmatians cartoon in which he appeared.
  • Stewie, Family Guy.  A homicidal toddler with an annoying voice... what fun!  I've never understood why he's so popular.  He makes Bart Simpson look like a choirboy and Beavis and Butt-Head like altar servers.
  • Pete Puma.  I know some liked his appearance as a foil for Bugs Bunny, but eeeeesh, that voice!!!  Not one of Stan Freberg's better moments.  Pitting this mental midget against Bugs was positively unfair. 
  • Mepps, Chip & Dale's Rescue Rangers.  Another moron with a screechy, whining voice (by Peter Cullen) that would have been unbearable had he been a solo agent.  As a member of Fat Cat's gang, he was (barely) tolerable.
  • Bonkers D. Bobcat, Bonkers.  I don't blame HIM so much as Disney, which butchered his one stab at fame and fortune by mucking up the Bonkers TV series.  The loony Toon bobcat would have been OK as a sidekick to the "straight" female cop Miranda Wright, but, for some reason, the powers that were didn't like the chemistry, panicked, and gave Bonkers a grouchy male partner, Lucky Piquel, instead.  Attempting to milk as much humor out of the Bonkers/Lucky relationship as possible, the show's writers resorted time and again to the theme of Bonkers driving Lucky crazy.  The resulting trainwreck is still regarded as a nadir in Disney TV Animation's two-decade history.
  • Scrappy-Doo.  I feel obligated to put him here, even though I didn't watch the later Scooby-Doo shows that much.  EVERYONE hates him, and, based on my limited exposure to the character, I'd have to agree.
  • Spritle Racer, Speed Racer.  Yeah, he DID help Speed out on occasion, but he never got the hint that stowing away in the trunk of the Mach 5 was NOT a fast track to peace and quiet.  It's hard to like a character who kept repeating the same dumb stunt over and over again.

... Feel free to reply to this post via e-mail and submit your own bad boys/girls.

8:13 pm est

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Script #3 is in the pipeline!

I've just submitted my third script to Gemstone.  It's a Junior Woodchucks epic in which HD&L and their fellow Woodchucks are led to believe that they've caused various sorts of freakish weather to beset Duckburg.  The reason?  They made a wish on a turkey wishbone.  The original author and artist, Kari Korhonen, penned one of my favorite Gemstone originals, "Sons of the Moon," and I'm delighted to work on one of his stories.  I had a lot of fun writing dialogue for the Nephews, and the words flowed fairly naturally, probably a result of all those viewings of DuckTales episodes (yes, even more so than Barks stories -- I just have to ask myself, "how would Russi Taylor have made this sound?").  This epic should be appearing early next year.

9:45 pm est

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Comics Review: LITTLE LULU Volume 17, "The Valentine" (Dark Horse)

Parenthetical comment... for those interested in learning a lot more about Lulu, her life and times, I highly recommend Craig Shutt's article in the recently released issue of Hogan's Alley.  Most good comics shops (and perhaps even Barnes & Noble or Borders) should have it.  To the issue (or volume) at hand...  While the quality of John Stanley's stories remains high, I do begin to detect some slippage in these efforts, which are reprinted from Little Lulu #75-#81 (roughly 1953-54, I believe).  Lulu's "storytelling" is beginning to weigh entirely too heavily on That Mean Ol' Witch Hazel by this point.  I suspect that Stanley was starting to struggle for new ideas in this fantasy subfeature and was taking the easy way out of the dilemma by recycling this perpetual (and perpetually incompetent) foe.  That's just laziness, however; a couple of the other, somewhat more conventional stories simply DON'T WORK from a logical standpoint.  In "The Magic Trick", the story climaxes with Lulu crawling through a tunnel and suddenly appearing inside a magician's hat.  If Stanley was trying to imply that Lulu found her way INTO the hat via the viaduct, then he's completely off base, since the way that artist Irving Tripp rendered the action, the tunnel DOESN'T CONNECT WITH the stage in any way.  A real "Huh?!" moment.  "The Sharpshooter," the first story in the volume, finds Lulu toppling off a beach boardwalk and falling onto a guy's head.  The man (who weighs at least 8-10 times more than our heroine, BTW) is promptly driven into the sand like a tent stake, to the extent that he can't get out and has to be dug out.  Unless the guy was standing in quicksand... just NO WAY.   Neither of these is as wonderfully wacky as the notorious "flying turkey"; they're just plain irritating.  Hopefully, Stanley was just having a bad six months, and things will improve in the immediately upcoming collections.  

9:40 pm est

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