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Posts Tagged ‘Comic strip

“We must believe in free will — we have no choice”*…

 

CHidi

 

In March, a group of neuroscientists and philosophers announced that they’ve received $7 million to study the nature of free will and whether humans have it. Uri Maoz, a computational neuroscientist at Chapman University, is leading the project. “As a scientist, I don’t know what it entails to have free will,” he said in an interview with Science. That’s a philosophical puzzle. But once Maoz’s philosopher colleagues agree on a definition, he can get to work to see if it occurs in humans. “This is an empirical question. It may be that I don’t have the technology to measure it, but that is at least an empirical question that I could get at.”…

Or can he?  An update on neuroscientific efforts to answer a philosophical question– and an appreciation of your correspondent’s favorite television series, The Good Place: “Can Neuroscience Understand Free Will?

* Isaac Bashevis Singer

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As we muse on motivation, we might recall that it was on this date in 1910 that George Herriman‘s signature characters, Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse, made their first appearance in the bottom of the frames in Herriman’s The Dingbat Family daily comic strip.  They got their own strip three years later, scored a Sunday panel in 1916– and delighted readers with the surreal philosophical questions they raised until 1944.

krazy-kat-first-daily1058_page2_large-2 source

 

 

Written by LW

July 26, 2019 at 1:01 am

“What, me worry?”*…

 

mad_magazine_alfred_1050x700

When Tales Calculated to Drive You MAD—Humor in a Jugular Vein first appeared in 1952, it was like nothing ever seen before. The comic book parodied comic books, which were then under assault as purveyors of violence and degeneracy that contributed to delinquency, homosexuality, and, of course, the spread of communism. Mad made fun of all that, too.

Within three years, the publication became Mad Magazine, a name change that allowed it to flaunt the prohibitions of the Comics Code Authority. The CCA was an industry effort to tone down comics and hold state censorship at bay. Soon television, movies, advertising, and politics all joined comics as fodder for Mad’s mordant humor. Indeed, the takeaway of Mad was that all of the above were forms of advertising.

Nathan Abrams argues that Mad’s non-partisan critique of Cold War America had more effect than the more famous New York intellectuals working for DissentCommentary, and Partisan Review… No icon was safe: Mickey Mouse, Khrushchev, Joe McCarthy, Superman, George Washington, Norman Rockwell, Madison Avenue, and psychoanalysis all become grist for the writers and artists working in the gap-toothed Alfred E. Neuman’s mill…

How Mad Magazine Informed America’s Cultural Critique

* Alfred E. Newman

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As we honor our elders, we might recall that it was on this date in 1939 that one of Mad‘s targets– Superman– went wide into the culture: the daily Superman comic strip premiered. (Superman, the character, had debuted in the comic Action #1 the prior year.)  The strips ran continuously until May 1966; at their peak they were run in over 300 daily newspapers and 90 Sunday papers, with a readership of over 20 million.

superman source

 

Written by LW

January 16, 2019 at 1:01 am

“There is no ‘ordinary person'”*…

 

Tobar Mayo in Abar, the First Black Superman

As Black Panther continues to slay at the box office, a look at one of that blockbuster’s less well-known– indeed, virtually anonymous– antecedents…

Abar, the First Black Superman is truly a cinematic marvel. It has its heart in the right place and fumbles spectacularly in every way possible—the painfully preachy dialogue, the scrappy special effects, the too long running time. But even if it’s not anywhere close to the achievement of Black Panther, it’s a fascinating product of the time and more proof that black superheroes have long existed outside the Marvel universe. And just like Black Panther, their superpowers are almost always political…

An extraordinary story: “One of Cinema’s First Black Superheroes Is Not Who You Think It Is.”

* “The disciplines of physical exercise, meditation and study aren’t terribly esoteric. The means to attain a capability far beyond that of the so-called ordinary person are within the reach of everyone, if their desire and their will are strong enough. I have studied science, art, religion and a hundred different philosophies. Anyone could do as much. By applying what you learn and ordering your thoughts in an intelligent manner it is possible to accomplish almost anything. Possible for an ‘ordinary person.’ There’s a notion I’d like to see buried: the ordinary person. Ridiculous. There is no ‘ordinary person’.”   – that most super of superheroes, Ozymandias, in Alan Moore’s Watchmen

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As we don our capes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1935 that America was introduced to Little Lulu (in the February 23 issue of The Saturday Evening Post), appearing as a flower girl at a wedding and mischievously strewing the aisle with banana peels.   Created by Marjorie Henderson Buell (whose work appeared under the name “Marge”), Little Lulu ran as a regular panel in the Post through 1944; then as a comic book and a comic strip into the 1980s.  She also appeared in a series of animated theatrical cartoons and in a number of TV series and specials.

 source

 

Written by LW

February 23, 2018 at 1:01 am

“Watta woil, watta woil”*…

 

Readers will know of your correspondent’s special affection for Krazy Kat and his creator, George Herriman. From the remarkable Chris Ware, an invitation to consider the modern relevance of the work…

For one of the most prolific and highly-praised cartoonists who ever lived, George Herriman, the creator of Krazy Kat (1913-1944), didn’t like talking about himself. Recoiling from photographers and brushing off personal questions with elliptical answers and even occasional fabrications, George or “Garge” or “The Greek” always preferred the focus to be on the multivalent, multifarious, and multicultural characters who populated the inner world he made every day with the scratchings of his pen. A direct throughline of thought-to-gesture in black ink on white paper, George Herriman’s drawings come alive before the reader’s eye with a vital, persuasive complexity previously unknown in the history of art. Krazy Kat lived on the page—but he—or she—had a secret. And so did George Herriman.

Krazy Kat has been described as a parable of love, a metaphor for democracy, a “surrealistic” poem, unfolding over years and years. It is all of these, but so much more: it is a portrait of America, a self-portrait of Herriman, and, I believe, the first attempt to paint the full range  of human consciousness in the language of the comic strip. Like the America it portrays, Herriman’s identity has been poised for a revision for many decades now. Michael Tisserand’s new biography Krazy does just that, clearing the shifting sands and shadows of Herriman’s ancestry, the discovery in the early 1970s of a birth certificate which described Herriman as “colored” sending up a flag among comics researchers and aficionados. Tisserand confirms what for years was hiding in plain sight in the tangled brush of Coconino County, Arizona, where Krazy Kat is supposedly set: Herriman, of mixed African-American ancestry, spent his entire adult life passing as white. He had been born in the African-American neighborhood of racially mixed, culturally polyglot 1880s New Orleans, but within a decade Herriman’s parents moved George and his three siblings to the small but growing town of Los Angeles to escape the increasing bigotry and racial animosity of postbellum Louisiana. The Herrimans melted into California life, and it was there that George, with brief professional spates in New York, would remain for the rest of his life.

But imagine knowing something about yourself that’s considered so damning, so dire, so disgusting, that you must, at all cost, never tell anyone. Imagine leaving behind a life to which you cannot claim allegiance or affection. Imagine suddenly gaining advantages and opportunity while you see others like you, who have not followed in the footsteps of your deception, suffering. Herriman, once he was considered white, didn’t even have a way of voicing this identity. Until he started drawing Krazy Kat

Read the essay in its remarkable whole at “To Walk in Beauty,” then peruse Michael Tisserand’s Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White.

* George Herriman’s Krazy Kat

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As we learn from the Masters, we might recall that it was on this date in 1863 that Leland Stanford, industrialist (and later Governor of California and endowing founder of Stanford University) drove the ceremonial “first spike” in the transcontinental railway in Sacramento, California. (Ground had been broken there just under a month earlier.)  Stanford drove the ceremonial “golden spike,” celebrating the completion of the railway, at Promontory Summit, in the Utah Territory, on May 10, 1869.

 source

 

Written by LW

February 2, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Life’s a lot more fun when you aren’t responsible for your actions”*…

 

Josh Millard has created “Calvin and Markov,” a “machine” that generates scrambled variations on Bill Watterson’s classic strip, Calvin and Hobbes, using a Markov chain process.

Just land here, then keep hitting refresh to experience a steady stream of random, but somehow still inspired, silliness.

And if (as your correspondent hopes and expects) you like it, try Millard’s other wonders: GarkovPreviously, On The X-Files, The Big Markovski, and Jesus Markoving Christ.

* Calvin, in The Complete Calvin and Hobbes

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As we mix it up, we might send Kryptonite-free birthday greetings to Joseph “Joe” Shuster; he was born on this date in 1914.  A comic book artist, he is best remembered for creating (with his high school best friend, writer Jerry Siegel), the DC Comics character Superman, who debuted in Action Comics No. 1 (June, 1938).

 source

 

Written by LW

July 10, 2015 at 1:01 am

Bottomed out? If only!…

Through good times and bad, comic strips have played a Greek chorus-like role in American life.  Inspired exceptions (Krazy Kat, Calvin and Hobbes) aside, the comics pages have given voice (or voice bubbles, anyway) to the dreams– and nightmares– that Americans share.

So lest one be carried away by the recent updraft on Wall Street, one might consult Cathy

…  and indeed, one might consider Comics Alliance‘s round-up of “15 Suicidally Depressing Newspaper Comic Strips.”

As we swallow our selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, we might recall that it was on this  date that the first “cartoon superstar,”  Felix the Cat, premiered in a daily strip (1923, in the Daily Sketch in England, though the panels were quickly picked up across North America).  Created by Otto Messmer (for producer Pat Sullivan), Felix had been a film star since 1919, and was in an estimated 60% of U.S. cinemas when he debuted in the funnies…  Appropriately perhaps, Felix was the first image ever broadcast on television by NBC, as RCA chose a papier-mâché Felix doll for its 1930 experiment via W2XBS New York in Van Cortlandt Park. Shot on a rotating phonograph turntable, the image was chosen less for its celebrity than for its tonal contrast and its ability to withstand the intensely-hot lighting necessary…

source: TVHistory.com

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