Archive for the ‘cartoons’ category

Space Jam: A New Legacy…

July 5, 2021

Perhaps the alarmed expressions on the faces of the Looney Tunes characters is a reaction to their new movie, Space Jam: A New Legacy, opening July 16th in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously. A key question is whether the world really needed a sequel to 1996’s original Space Jam movie, and the consensus of opinion is not only no, but hell no!

Now the sequel a quarter century later involves basketball superstar LeBron James’ young son Dom being captured and held by a rogue A.I. in a digitized world from which he will be released only if LeBron can best the A.I.’s team in a game of basketball, with LeBron’s team consisting of the classic Warner Bros. Tune Squad characters.

They’re almost all there, with Pepe Le Pew having been deleted due to criticisms that he “normalized rape culture.” I kind of miss the lusty French skunk already, and hope that somehow the character will be reintroduced someday, although probably it will be in a contrite, sanitized form. Well, first they came for Mr. Potato Head and then Pepe Le Pew, and now it would appear that Lola Bunny has also been subjected to cultural revisionism as having been overly sexualized in the original Space Jam movie. – – Give me a break! I’m a furry but not of the ‘toon subdivision. Now Cheetah from Wonder Woman 1984 was a stunning anthropomorphic shifter, much more to my liking. But I digress…

Now the redrawn Lola Bunny (left) is rendered less curvy than her 1996 predecessor shown to the right. Lola is also rendered more fully clothed and styled less like a teenager than her previous incarnation. We wouldn’t want Bugs Bunny to be considered a pedophile, after all. A previous love interest for Bugs introduced in 1966 was Honey Bunny, although she was dropped as she overly resembled Bugs, and might have been him in drag. So now we have the revised Lola Bunny, looking less hawt than before…

..So Space Jam 2 is a mixed bag, with some things that are painful to see, like Porky Pig performing in a rap battle. But other things are a hoot, like Granny channeling Trinity and Speedy Gonzalez doing the honors as Neo in a take-off on the The Matrix. “Abuela, let’s do this!,” exults Speedy before effortlessly dodging bullets like a furry Flash.

Just don’t tell Yosemite Sam to “shoot the ball,” because that’s exactly what he does! And may Speedy have a long run!

“Jellystone” Is Coming!

June 26, 2021

William Hanna and Joe Barbera are sadly dead, to begin with. Thankfully not so Warner Brothers Animation, which is producing a major revival of classic Hanna-Barbera characters in a new HBO Max series streaming beginning July 29th and appropriately called, Jellystone, named after the fictitious park where Yogi Bear raided pic-a-nic baskets, and plagued Ranger Smith. In this incarnation, however, Jellystone is not a park but rather a town where the characters live, play, and work, inevitably interacting with and causing one another difficulties. The mayor of said Jellystone is none other than Huckleberry Hound, who was notable for holding a variety of diverse jobs in his day.

Sound good, right? Cherished animated characters from your childhood? The animation style you may find a bit disquieting, however, as the characters do not exactly resemble the classic renditions. The animation has been compared to that of the infamous ThunderCats Roar series. Consider Yogi here; this is a cartoon of a cartoon, and Yogi, Boo-Boo, and Cindy Bear provide medical services…hah, and you thought your health care plan was bad!

Well, I’m at least glad that they’re getting the band back together, even if they look rather different. The town of Jellystone, by the way, is best known for producing the hats and ties that its denizens and presumably other ‘toons wear. You wouldn’t want them running around naked, after all…

Some of the characters depicted haven’t been seen on television for over thirty years, and will include “deep cut” as well as mainstream Hanna-Barbera creations. It’s just hard to improve on the originals… 🦊

Geico’s “Bear Country” Commercial…

May 18, 2021

  
Geico Insurance has already featured Rocky and Bullwinkle and Casper the Friendly Ghost in commercials, so we shouldn’t be surprised that they’re punching the nostalgia ticket another time with a crossover commercial featuring Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo.

We’re introduced to some couples enjoying a barbecue while rejoicing that they’ve finally found their dream home in the mountains when the occasion is crashed by the two Hanna-Barbera ursines, first introduced in 1958.  It is bear country, apparently, and while the humans beat a hasty retreat, Yogi and his diminutive partner help themselves to the goodies, all without Ranger Smith in sight.  I’m kind of disappointed in Boo-Boo, who in the vintage ‘toons would kind of serve as the voice of reason to Yogi, or at least try to rein him in a bit, usually unsuccessfully. Here Boo-Boo is an all-too-willing participant, helping himself to the chicken and other edibles, which include corn on the cob and even steak.

Living in bear country may not be easy, but from their safe sanctuary within their house the people are relieved that Geico at least makes bundling their homeowners insurance easy and saves them money…and when Yogi and Boo-Boo have departed, one of the humans, Jack, can be coaxed down from his perch in a tree. We also get to hear Yogi’s trademark boast that he’s “Smarter than the average bear” when he suggests leaving the scene with a cobbler to go.

But hey, this isn’t Jellystone Park, and a barbecue at a house doesn’t constitute a pic-a-nic basket raid!  Call Animal Control, someone…Yogi’s apparently becoming an invasive species, and may become the recipient of a tranquilizer dart or worse if he keeps this up…and why do bears need ties, anyways?!  I don’t even like ’em…   🐻

  

Does Pepe Le Pew Stink?

March 10, 2021

(Warning:  some adult themes in the following post, albeit about a cartoon character…)

Striped skunk Pepe Le Pew has been kicking around as a Warner Bros. character since 1945, but to some this skunk is a male chauvinist pig and sexual predator.  With some saying that the amorous skunk normalizes rape culture, Pepe has been dropped from the sequel to Space Jam, and won’t be appearing in further Warner Bros. productions for the foreseeable future – – Sacre bleu!

Now this skunk was a one-trick pony, so to speak,  portrayed as a french character complete with accent who fancies himself highly desirable, whereas his skunk scent and unwanted advances made him in reality abhorrent to the object of his affections, usually one Penelope Pussycat, who was originally nameless.  In his classic routines, Pepe would be easily deceived into thinking that the black and white feline was another skunk once she wound up with a streak of white paint down her back.  Penelope would vigorously resist the skunk’s unwanted advances and attempt to flee from him, but Pepe could easily keep pace with her with a kind of bouncing hop classic to himself; he was truly “high on a feeling.” There were variations to this formula, but Pepe seldom abandoned his arguably predatory pursuit.

 

Herein lies the rub, and Pepe’s conflict with contemporary societal norms.  To the skunk, no never meant no, but resistance was all part of the game, and represented normal behavior.  It was alright for Pepe in his own mindset to persist in his unwanted aggressive physical advances, because the female was simply playing “hard to get,”  and her resistance was adorable, appealingly cute, and even amusing.  Hence, the accusations that Pepe was normalizing rape culture.  He simply grabbed poor Penelope, and tried to foist himself on her.  Fortunately, we never saw any skunk/kitty domination porn out of it, although in some dark corners of the internet you could probably find it.  Trust me on this; I’m a furry…

There was a bit more to the character as well, playing upon the stereotype that all Frenchmen were great lovers, whether they actually were or not.  Pepe certainly thought that he was, and his narcissism lent a bit of comic irony, which was part of the running shtick of the character.  He was also a skunk, and they don’t smell like roses!  Whether blinded by love or lust, Pepe in most of his cartoon outings failed to recognize that Penelope was of a different species entirely, so you had that comic misidentification  going on, a “love is blind” kinda thing.  Pepe was at core sexually frustrated in spite of his personal perspective that he was at least potentially some kind of love god, a hot item “on the make.”  He never prevailed, but he was certainly persistent, to a flaw. This is no longer considered a virtue as it once perhaps was, but now is rather a red flag of inappropriate behavior.  Pepe might today face charges for his conduct were Penelope of a litigious mind; watch out for a kitten who isn’t smitten!  Perhaps Foghorn Leghorn could defend Pepe in court…“The boy, I say, the boy was just doin’ what comes naturally, and after all, he’s French…”  

This unwanted persistence of male suitors played well generations ago at the general time of his origin, and Pepe Le Pew was certainly not the only character guilty of it.  For example, Dean Martin’s seasonal song, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” has also been largely dropped from favored Xmas song playlists for just the same reason as kind of an anthem of date rape. There’s a fine line between seductively sexy and creepy these days, and what was once constituted as “boys being boys” doesn’t fly well any more; just ask any number of disgraced pervy politicians, although charges stick much better to some than others, ahem! 

I’m kind of glad that Warner Bros. is dropping Pepe Le Pew rather than trying to reform him; it just wouldn’t be the same, and our skunk is after all incorrigible, a self-deceived romantic rogue whose essence would be destroyed by being sanitized.  While Pepe was a product of his time and that time is now past, I’m going to miss the lovestruck rascal even if he is politically incorrect by today’s standards…this skunk was such a dog, if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor, a slick if clueless anachronism and stereotype, the “locksmith of love” in love with love and himself.  The path of true love, so they say, seldom runs smooth, although hope springs eternal even while the “game of love” may for some have a baffling rule book.  As Pepe might say, “You know, it is possible to be too attractive.”  He may have been delusional, but he didn’t suffer from self-concept problems…

 


Dr. Seuss Books in Racist Row…

March 3, 2021


Six Dr. Seuss books will no longer be published owing to racist images and references within them, specifically in regards to black and Asian people.  Not to excuse or condone such things, but they were common stereotypes of the time, and I did grow up with them while never becoming a white supremacist.  I far preferred the surreal iconoclasm of Dr. Seuss to the exclusive vanilla wholesomeness of the Dick and Jane readers, plus he drew awesome anthropomorphic animals!

Objectionable racist portrayals in kiddie lit and entertainment of the time were not by any means restricted to Dr. Seuss.  Consider Elmer Fudd as a ludicrous Native American in Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt.  Remember Disney’s Song of the South.  Visit the 1961 Dick Tracy cartoon series for stereotyped crime fighters Joe Jitsu and Go Go Gomez.  These are but a few examples, to be sure.

The discontinued Dr. Seuss titles are but a few books among many that do not have objectionable content, and generally are among his lesser-known works.  Dr. Seuss got a lot of kids reading, and eagerly so.  His art had furry roots, and could be quite thematic while wildly entertaining.   It largely holds up well today.  While Theodor Geisel was a product of his times as are we all, he was a pretty cool dude whose legacy remains a good one.

And all I know is that I’m keeping and cherishing my Fox in Socks book forever, even if the fox does appear to have some kind of strange unknown disease or genetic affliction…

 

 

 

Andrew Marlton, “First Dog on the Moon”

October 3, 2020

  

Andrew Marlton (above) is a satirical cartoonist and more who draws for the Australian-based news publication, The Guardian.  Under his pseudonym First Dog on the Moon he has generated a universe of anthropomorphic cartoon characters that include Brenda the Civil Disobedience Penguin, the Interpretive Dance Bandicoot, and my personal faves, the Raccoons of the Resistance.  As he deals in many things political, there are themes and presentations in his cartoons that are certain to offend someone, which is perhaps as it should be.  As some of his work deals with Australian politics, it will likely pass over the heads of many if not most Americans, but  Marlton also deals with aspects of American politics through his characters, as well as global issues involving science, the Coronavirus, and the environment.  

 

It’s furry art, and can often be topically relevant and wickedly funny.  Marlton gets his ideas from the news, at other times relating that he goes out to talk to chickens and sheep.  Do give First Dog on the Moon a look…laughing and thinking are always worthwhile activities!

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Livin’ Off The Plastic…

April 25, 2020



The other day I went to a drive-up window to buy a lousy $4 ice cream, since in the year of the plague, walk-in much less full restaurant service are but memories.  Reaching the front of the line, I discovered to my chagrin that the establishment wasn’t accepting cash, but only credit or debit cards.  Cash, it would seem, is now considered a “contact point” for the Coronavirus, which can live merrily on a variety of surfaces for hours.

As I fumbled awkwardly for my debit card out of my wallet, the thought surfaced in my mind that these must be terrible times to be Scrooge McDuck.  I mean, that bird would literally go swimming through his cash vaults!  He had, by a Forbes estimate, a net cash worth of over 44 billion dollars. Swimming and burrowing through his money brought this duck pleasure!  He was, by the standards of many, one lucky duck…

Now in these plague years, could Scrooge be considered to have a fatal attraction to money, considering his physicality with it?  With money being considered filthy lucre, does Scrooge McDuck have a death wish, or is he just severely conflicted now about his practices?  Is an intervention needed to save this duck from himself?!  These thoughts eat away at me, terribly.  We may never know the answer to these timely questions, but press on nonetheless.  It is our calling, our mission here… 🐺

 

Of Octopus Farms and Anthropomorphic Octopi…

January 2, 2020


Scientists warn that octopus farms may not be a great idea despite the fondness of some people for eating them.  This is to say nothing of the fact that an octopus farm sounds like a recurrent theme in a Gary Larson Far Side cartoon.  For one thing, octopuses are carnivorous, eat a lot, and are intelligent. They can figure out how to open jars, recognize individual humans, and identify puzzles that they’ve seen before.  They also can become bored, and toys are sometimes put into aquariums for them to provide cognitive stimulation.  They can even learn how to escape their containment facilities, possibly in search of video gaming systems.  

As fishing for octopuses yields a variable and unreliable supply, efforts to farm them have been made that include dabbling in genetic modifications of the creatures.  Now I, for one, don’t want to have to deal with roving mobs of bored, carnivorous, genetically-modified octopi that have escaped their farm aquariums, although this appears to be a promising premise for a Syfy Channel movie.

One might even become concerned about the plight of Hanna-Barbera’s 1960’s character Squiddly Diddly becoming frustrated in his musical aspirations, and escaping the confines of his aquatic park to take the musical and entertainment worlds by storm. Despite his name, the character was essentially an octopus, and might indulge his carnivorous nature on us if we failed to give him a listen…

 

The Legacy of Foxy Fagan…

November 29, 2019



In the mid-1940’s, the funny animal cartoon boom was in full swing, and every publisher wanted a menagerie of such anthropomorphic characters in print.  Foxy Fagan  was an obscure, Golden Age comic book character who was commercially unsuccessful, running for only a brief seven issues from 1946 to 1948.  Furthermore, the drawn character had a disquieting resemblance in some panels to Tom of Tom and Jerry fame, almost as if he was a cat with a few fox features tacked on.  The feet were also terribly wrong for a fox, but were drawn in the cartoon style of the day…

If the late great Foxy Fagan resembles the much more successful feline Tom, that’s because he was drawn by Harvey Eisenberg in collaboration with Joe Barbera’s storylines in a low budget, moonlighting-type operation called Dearfield Publishing which operated out of a shed while both of them were under contract to MGM.  Dearfield also produced Red Rabbit comics.  Eisenberg was a highly experienced and admired cartoonist who was for many years the main artist on the Tom and Jerry comic books, and he also did numerous stories for Disney comic books featuring Chip ‘n’ Dale, also drawing on the Yogi Bear and Flintstones newspaper comics.  He could draw characters convincingly in any pose, and gave them expressive personalities, making them relatable and alive.

Now Foxy Fagan was cut in the Bugs Bunny mold, with Foxy being sly but trouble-prone, and things often didn’t work out as he planned.  His foil was a hapless canine inventor, Bobble, who bore a striking resemblance to the later Hanna-Barbera character Droopy Dog, and kind of played the Porky Pig role.  We can almost see Foxy morphing into Tom in this bottom image, and Tom and Jerry would become an enduring part of cartoon history…

 

 

 

Movie Night with Casper the Friendly Ghost…

October 21, 2019

I’m not a big fan of Casper the Friendly Ghost.  It’s not that I have anything against him, it’s just that I prefer my ghosts to be scary if not outright terrifying.  Casper may be friendly, but I find that annoying, and so he is to me in this Geico commercial, in which young couple Kurt and Jill are preparing to enjoy a movie in the living room of their new house…

“I can’t believe it,” says Jill.  “You can’t believe that our house is haunted by ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost?,'” replies Kurt.  At that moment, Casper enters the scene, cheerily greets the couple, notices the movie, and enthusiastically invites himself to go get some snacks.  He then returns with popcorn, announces the other varieties of it that are available, and sits or hovers there on the sofa back between them, stuffing his face and making a pig of himself.  Jill then clarifies herself to say that she can’t believe how much money they’ve saved on their car insurance with Geico.

Perhaps the couple could invest some of those savings to hire Ghostbusters to get rid of this pest, who even chews loudly.  This ghost is a milquetoast, not a proper haunt, and his cuteness gets cloying very quickly…

 


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