June 7 - Controversy, thy name is "pantsless." Another round of impassioned e-mails regarding comics characters' pantslessness has come rolling in, and each message is brimming with controversy...and one even came with a threat! Yep, in response to my posting of last night's Pantsless Comic Book Character of The Day, Official Friend of WOMP Brent Frankenhoff, whom I hitherto squarely perceived as "harmless" if not "safe," sent the following ominous e-note -
Oh, come now, he should also be in the amorphous blob category. If you don't behave, I'm going to crosslink to your blog on my site and send my people over there to debate you ...
Jeepers! Can I help it if Cap's not wearing pants? 'Cuz he ain't. He may also be something akin to a beefed-up blob, but the guy is still pantsless. Go ahead - find pants on him. Won't happen. All he's wearing is a logo on his chest, a pair of gloves, and matching pair of boots. Hmm. Sounds familiar. That brings up the following message from Official Friend of WOMP Eric Gillitzer, who brought the discussion home to my own doorstep -
What are the psychological implications of clearly public exhibitionist personas that also go pantsless?
Hhmm...It seems to me that a significant share of the Monkey characters are pantsless. Monkey is pantsless throughout his life. Even the scenes of Monkey as a child lack pants of any sort- only a hat. Granted this seems reasonable given that the other children in the jungle are likewise unclothed. However, it seems that the adults of the jungle - Monkey’s mother included, more regularly (though not universally) wear clothing.
Stretch, a surrogate for Monkey’s Id, also wears no pants.
Dan just seems to wear a diaper- but that may be due to the more conservative values of his adoptive fathers. Ted and Fred do seem to wear pants as a part of their uniforms, but they seem to do so as some sort of sign of their adaptation to the world outside of Maula Mau Mee.
So while Dan is in fact the only child in the Monkey family, he still wears pants. Why? Is it evidence of an awareness beyond his years? After all, Dan is a child in age only. He clearly feels a loss and isolation not common to most children and lacks the regular support and guidance of any parental figure. His “fathers” are never seen. Monkey is constantly too busy, and Stretch is an elastic train-wreck.
Perhaps the lack of pants is meant to convey some sort of childhood innocence or freedom. If that is the case, then Dan becomes a very poignant example. He is a child that has been in a real sense abandoned and left to make his own way with little real support of his family. Despite being the only true child in the family, he lacks the childlike qualities found in Monkey and more strongly in Stretch.
Now I think I’m depressed. Gee - thanks for making me think about this.
(Don’t even try to argue the old “it’s a jumpsuit with mittens and boots” theory. That begs the question- why is a monkey wearing a fuzzy jumpsuit over his whole body- tail included? Plus is also implies that he chooses to wear mittens when writing and typing and that he wears bulky pod boots at all times.)
Well, Gee. Eric, you know how hard I worked on all of this stuff, so you already have an idea that you're onto something with your musings. Dan is, indeed, meant to be a poignant "between" character. Not a baby, not an adult. Not powerful but not normal either. Brave and shy, boisterous and timid, selfish and thoughtful (potty-trained and...well, not). I think of Monkey's state of pantslessness, even when shown as a kid, as a visual reference to his easy acceptance of self, or of his confidence (with donning a cape for "superheroing" being like putting on extra-confidence armor). Dan is not that sure about himself, or anything really. Also, in regards to the many pantsless WOMP characters, rather than try to create a homogenous legion of characters, I purposely exploit some of the characters' obvious incongruity. While you or I might look at Monkey as some sort of half-naked alien if we saw him in real life, it's important to me that he, and other disparate character types, interact as if doing so is relatively normal. My hope is that this compels readers to see, and relate to, the inner selves of my characters, rather than just respond to their outer appearances (an idea stolen outright from the world of Golden Age Captain Marvel stories...although I've since learned of several more examples, of course). I am, therefore, quite comfortable with the various states of undress exhibited by my characters. Now, how folks at DC and Marvel can let characters like Captain Atom and Venom walk around au naturale, well, that's their problem! Oh, and some day I will, I promise, post the reasons behind Monkey's mittens and podboots. Well, gotta go. I've got a big, crazy day coming up, so I'll just leave you now with your Pantsless Comic Book Character of The Day - Fritz the Cat!