March 5th, 2008

The Zombie

African American Cartoonists Month Concludes (a week later)

Uh, let's just say this is February 29 -  If my life were a juggling act, I'd be dropping balls left and right.  Wrapping up African American Cartoonists Month is just one of the many projects that I had up in the air when I became distracted by other things, so it fell off my schedule....PLOP!  At least I had some legitimate and unexpected interruptions, rather than just my usual laziness and general procrastination.  One of those surprises was the February 29th performance of the local middle school play, a loopy little farce called North Woods Nonsense.  While in many respects this year's annual production was like the twenty-one that have preceded it (gaffs and laughs), it was remarkable for an unfortunate reason; it was the last one ever.  Yep, after twenty-two years, director Cindy Hertrampf has called it quits, and the school has no plans (nor means) to replace her.  My own involvement with Cindy's shows began with her second production, meaning that I have been a part of her "crew" for half of my life!  Yowza!  So, although I hadn't originally planned to attend the performance, I sorta had to...especially since I was part of the parting surprise Cindy had planned for the cast.  As curtain calls ended, she announced to the kids that, in lieu of an after-party, all of us are going be treated to a University of Wisconsin at Platteville performance of the musical Anything Goes!  When I was invited, Cindy didn't even know that I had directed Anything Goes back in my community theatre days.  Of course, I'll technically be accompanying the entourage as a chaperone...ironic, since my favorite lyric in the show is -

We're all alone,
No chaperone
Has got our number.
The world's in slumber;
Let's misbehave!

Anyhoo, for that reason and others (including a scary flat tire immediately following the show, and the resulting day-long fight to have it replaced under warranty) I didn't complete my plans for daily listing African American cartoonists.  The last two "...Of The Day" artists are all-time greats, too.  The African American Cartoonist of The Day for February 28, Jackie Ormes, was the first African American woman to have a syndicated cartoon strip (the amazingly groundbreaking Torchy Brown).  Her influence as an inspirational figure has only increased since she passed away in 1985.  In fact, her artistic "descendents" have formed a confederation in her name.  Their WEB-SITE explains -

About The Ormes Society
The Ormes Society, named after the legendary pioneering cartoonist of color Jackie Ormes, is an organization dedicated to supporting black female comic creators and promoting the inclusion of black women in the comics industry as creators, characters and consumers.

The last African American Cartoonist of The Day (for February 29), George Herriman, is a somewhat controversial choice.  During his lifetime, the light-skinned artist did nothing to dispel the impression that he was of Greek ancestry, in spite of his Creole heritage.  Even so, he was arguably the greatest American cartoonist of all time, using his classic Krazy Kat strip to explore, exploit, and explode concepts of race and discrimination through surreal humor and clever slapstick.  Look; Mr. Herriman lived and worked decades before the Civil Rights Era.  What he did, no doubt, he did because he felt he had to.  In fact, I don't think that he made a specific effort to disavow his heritage, necessarily, but I do think that people around him suppressed the truth for their own gain, and he didn't object publicly.  Still, he was of African American descent, and to not mention him this month would be a crime worse than throwing a brick at a cat's head.  So, that brings African American Cartoonists Month to a close...but, before I drop the subject, I have a special BONUS for any of you who consider yourselves comic book geeks!  It's a funny animated examination of old-school superheroes of color, from Mama's Boyz comic strip creator, and EXTRA African American Cartoonist of The Day - Jerry Craft!  Check it out by clicking HERE!  See ya!

The Zombie

March, March, March

March 4 -  Hey!  What up?  Have you been having a good March so far?  I hope so.  As for me, I'm just swamped with stuff.  That's not a complaint, and it's not a boast.  It's just true.  I'm a little behind on commissions, but not too bad (yet).  Still, I have tonight to try to get back on the WOMP-Blog horse after having fallen off again for a few days.  I've already posted a "February 29" entry tonight, so now it's time to get March rolling. 

1) First, let me say a little about last month's news of the loss of Steve Gerber, comics writer extraordinaire.  Although not the most famous or anything, Mr. Gerber may have been the King of Modern Weird.  His best stories were so far off the wall that they were in other time zones.  It's not terrible that he is best known as the creator of Howard The Duck (especially since he fought so hard to assert that), but it's a bit of a shame that his other work is known almost exclusively to diehard comics geeks.  For me, he'll always be the outside-the-box visionary who put the Defenders through heck, creeped me out (and inspired me greatly) with tales of a zombie, broke ground with Void Indigo, and turned the concept of superheroes upside down with Omega The Unknown.

2) Of course, it was a black day here in the frozen land of cheese and beer.  After sixteen magical years, Brett Favre has retired from The Green Bay Packers.  Ugh.  It's like being told that there is no Santa Claus...or, more appropriately, that Santa has decided to quit because you were a bad boy!  I joke, but you non-Wisconsinites have no idea what this Mississippi native meant to us all.  He exemplified the qualities of workmanlike grit, enthusiasm for life, and good-natured humor that we like to believe we too possess.  There is an entire generation of Wisconsiners who have never known another Packers quarterback.  Heck, a significant portion of the state's income was derived from sales tax on replica "4" jerseys!  Now, I know that the rest of the world was sick of him...or at least about hearing about how great he, was.  I know, I know.  Sometimes, even we get sick of it (especially when John Madden repeats, verbatim, previous gush-fests), but I ask you to please cut us a little slack, if you will.  Football is just a sport, yes, but it's also a big business.  The Packers are the only publicly owned football team in the country, and most of that "public" are common Wisconsin natives.  For us (and I do mean "us," as both my parents and I own Packers stock, thanks to a mid-1990's offering and a gift from my Grandma Mundt), this is a matter of investment, both monetary and emotional.  What are the chances of The Pack ever having another quarterback of the same caliber as Mr. Favre?  About the same as a cheesehead's in Hades. 

3) Congratulations to O.F.O.WOMP Nathan DeHoff, who got hitched on the 29th!  I sent him some Oz stuff as a wedding gift, but I'm feeling pretty guilty that I didn't sign the artwork that I included!  It just slipped my mind, I guess.

4) Speaking of Oz, fellow O.F.O.WOMP Derek Anderson is directing The Wizard of Oz for the school where he teaches.  Uh, I'm still available, Derek, if you need a couple of Ozy ideas.

5) I've got to end this for tonight, I guess.  It's almost 5:00AM, and I've got to get some sleep.  I'd leave you with your "...Of The Day" feature, but I haven't settled on one for March yet.  My fallback, Comics Characters Who Wear Gloves is so lame that I'm tempted to use The WOMP Staff's idea; Comic Book Misconceptions.  I'm not exactly sure how that would work, nor exactly whose misconceptions would even be eligible, but it still beats the pathetic "gloves" thing.  Meh.  I'll think of something.  See ya!