Monday, July 28, 2014

See you in the funny papers. (On not going to Comic Con.)

Well, looks like I missed Comic-Con International in San Diego (sexual harassment and all – although, in truth, the description of the “bad stuff” sounds like it could have occurred at half the tech shows I went to over the years, and 90% of the financial services trade shows – think models teetering around in 4 inch heels and popping out of French maid outfits on all fronts ).

And I don’t plan on being any where near next week’s Boston Comic Con.

But I’m just a no-fun kind of gal, not into fantasy, costumes, role play, super heroes. (As they used to say, a hero ain’t nothin but a sandwich. Except in Boston, where we’d have to say a sub ain’t nothin but a sandwich, or a hero ain’t nothin’ but a sub, or something like that…)

Anyway, Comic Con’s being in the news got me to thinking about the role that comic books have played in my life. Which is minimal.

Sure, if you didn’t have the 50 cents for a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys book, but you did have a dime, you might head over to Sol’s Pharmacy and pick up a Little Lulu or an Archie  or a Dennis the Menace.

But mostly, they were something that, as fifties kids, we knew we were supposed to go for, but didn’t.

No, they were not in the same category as the pogo stick, another item that TV kids all seemed to have, but which I never saw in real life until I was well into my adulthood – and well passed the age at which it might seem like a reasonably good idea to hop on and give it a go. But they just weren’t around.

(Another pogo-stick like item was the odd beanie, as worn by Jeff’s friend Porky in the Tommy Rettig Jan_Clayton_Tommy_Rettig_Donald_Keeler_Lassie_1956 (1)episodes of Lassie. While we did see kids wearing coonskin caps (hard to avoid at our house, given that one of those coonskin cap wearing kids was my brother Tom), but this cap of Porky’s and other so-called fifties kids who were clearly the conception of someone who’d been a kid in the 1930’s or 1940’s. Well, get out of here on your pogo stick, pal. Say hello to Slip Mahoney and the other Dead End Kids when you see ‘em. And leave a hand free to take your comic books with you, why don’t you.)

Anyway, comic books were never my thing – or the thing of any of my friends.

Yes, it was interesting to read the the ads in the back – sea monkeys, body building, space shoes – but for those of us committed to the written word, comic books were kind of boring.

I wanted a book to be a real book.

Give me the long form and let me imagine what Nancy Drew and her pals the girlie Bess and the mannish George looked like when they sped around in Nancy’s roadster. To some of us, one word is worth a thousand pictures, I guess.

I guess I got my funnies fill by reading the funny pages in the daily and Sunday newspapers.

I followed the soap-opera, serial strips, like Apartment 3-G, about the working gals in NYC (no, not that kind of working gal: Margo was a secretary, Tommie was a nurse, and LuAnn was a teacher) and Gil Thorp, in which the brush-cut wearing Coach Thorp dispensed sage advice to teens, and always took time out to wish us a Merry Christmas. Then there was Dondi, the little war orphan who never aged, although the war he was orphaned in  shifted over time from WWII, to Korea, to Vietnam. (If it’s still going, it must be Afghanistan or Iraq. Good thinking to have picked a black haired, black eyed kid, rather than a little blond, blue-eyed Dutch boy who wouldn’t have outlasted WWII.) I also read Gasoline Alley, if only because they had a character with the wonderful name of Moon Mullins.

I similarly read the funnies where each strip contained it’s own self-contained story: Dagwood and Blondie, Beetle Bailey, Maggie and Jiggs, The Kazenjammer Kids, (wordless) Little King, and the (similarly wordless, I believe) Caesar, which featured a dog. Some time during the first grade, I remember telling my friend Bernadette about one of the Caesar cartoons that I found especially amusing. Only I pronounced his name “Kay-zar”. Which Bernadette corrected: she was nearly a year older than I, plus had a brother and a sister who were in college. So she was in the know about advanced pronunciation, etc.

I also liked the single picture/caption cartoons that ran in the dailies: Little Iodine and Dennis the Menace.

As I got a bit more sophisticated, I added Pogo and B.C. to my repertoire. And as I got a bit more sophisticated I grew to despise the pietistic, unfunny, and exceedingly repetitive Family Circus.

And then, of course, back in the adult day when I still read a physical newspaper, there were Doonesbury, and Calvin and Hobbes, and Dilbert.

But comic books? Nah?

I think that at one point we inherited a pile of early-fifties comics that had belonged to my older cousin Robert. My Aunt Margaret was in the habit of occasionally going through his belongings, boxing up anything she decided he’d outgrown, and depositing them on our doorstep. Thus, we became the owners of what was a tremendous collection of baseball cards that might have been worth something today if we had left them neatly boxed and catalogued. Since half the players were no longer active, who cared? We attached them to the spokes of our bikes with clothes pins, which made a wonderful clacketey-clack noise as you pedaled around.

If we did, indeed, take possession of a stack of late 1940’s – early 1950’s comic books, we no doubt pillaged them, as well. What we didn’t tear through likely went to the Boy Scout newspaper drive. (Recycling was not invented yesterday.)

All this musing brought on by Comic Con.

Getting old, getting old…


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