February 6th, 2008

The Zombie

Loose Change

February 5 -  Well.  Where do I start?  It's been a really tough week or so.  And, in many ways, it has also been a remarkable period.  I lost my grandfather, Cliff Fry, but I also gained a new nephew (The WOMP Staff's brother and sister-in-law had a boy, Gage, Sunday morning).  I drew dozens of caricatures for the annual Eagles Club Heart & Cancer Telethon (raising $175.00), yet fell behind on dozens of art commissions.  While I've scheduled a "Done In One" comic book workshop for June, I have also been rescheduled to just ten hours a week at the dread "real" job.  I had plans fall apart, ideas come together, old friendships tested, newer friendships strengthened, limits pushed, and doubt consume me.  So much, and yet so little, has happened to me that I just don't know where to start.  Toss in this up-in-the-air Presidential Primary season and a Super Bowl upset, and it feels like nothing is the same as it was just a month ago.  Everything seems different now, you know?  This week has forced a weird sense of perspective upon me, and everything looks so unfamiliar from this odd new vantage point.  Some kind of big changes feel not only inevitable, but important or even required.  Like what?  Well, in many ways I feel like I should scrap the old WOMP-Blog - or even the entire WOMP-Site - and start from scratch.  Heck, I should scrap my cartooning "career" while I'm at it.  Or, at least I should try to be more proactive in how it's all changing.  So, how to proceed?  Maybe I should clean up some old business so that I can start with a blank slate.  I'm already slowly working through my backed-up commissions, so I should probably wrap up some unfinished WOMP-Blog business while I'm at it.  So, as much as this seems silly, let me try to conclude last month's discussion of Millionaire Comic Book Characters!  First, I wanted to say a little about what I think of as the third type of millionaire character used in comics, the...

Millionaire Eccentric Screwballs - It's a long literary tradition to show some obscenely wealthy characters as being cluelessly self-absorbed.  Ancient or mythical kings were always offering treasure and prizes for sport and amusement, and their "descendants," millionaires, have followed suit.  Their use of fortune often acts as a virtual extension of their hands, allowing them to touch whatever they please.  Take Richie Rich.  Granted, his perversely extravagant lifestyle (designed to be the ultimate in the concept of wealth) doesn't change the fact that he is still "poor" in some ways, but it's hard to feel too sorry for a kid with a robotic maid, superhero butler, dog with dollar-sign spots, and solid gold everything else.  Even he, a good boy with a good heart, can do whatever he pleases...and he often wants to do some pretty outlandish stuff.  It's pure wish fulfillment (and, like the wishes granted by genies, Richie's often had unhappy consequences), which was the entire point of the character.  Richie Rich is basically that wish-premise, which has been worked and reworked into decades of stories.  Other wealthy crazies, from Maxie Zeus to Hedonismbot, have also been used to provide the unbelievable framework upon which a story is placed.  That seems to be the general role for the eccentrics.  Within that group I'd include "take over the world" villains like Doctor Doom and Goldfinger.  They, too, are more story elements than they are story characters (especially those interchangeable Bond villains).  Because of that, I think that there is still a lot of unexplored territory in the eccentric millionaire character type. 

Of course, as I mentioned almost a month ago, most millionaire comic book characters are composed of blended bits and pieces of each of these three types (business people, alter-egos, and eccentrics), but it's interesting that the prototypes are still among the most popular comics characters around.  It may be no surprise, then, that my own "most popular character," Monkey, is also a millionaire.  I was a huge fan of Batman, Uncle Scrooge McDuck, and Richie Rich when I was a kid, so it was only natural that my own little cartoon creation should follow in their millionaire shoes (or podboots...or whatever those things on Monkey's feet are).  As I revamped my childhood ideas for my "grown-up" comic books, I had a lot of trouble with justifying to myself that a multi-millionaire was the hero, but I didn't want to deviate from what I'd believed and drawn when I was little, so I was stuck with it.  I eventually solved my concerns with the concept, and hope to someday continue to explain my reasoning with you, but I think I'd better get back to the artwork commissions now while I've still got the energy.  To wrap this up, though, I'll give you a list of what would have been the remaining Millionaire Comic Book Characters of The Day - Wilson "Kingpin" Fisk, Lex Luthor, Norman Osborn, C. Montgomery Burns, Mom, Katherine "Kate" Kane, Gomez Addams, Jed Clampett, Thurston Howell III, and Uncle Scrooge McDuck!