Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday morning toons: Celebrate Banned Books Week – read a banned comic!

Banned Books Week, sponsored by the American Library Association, celebrates the freedom to read, paying tribute to books that have been challenged or banned (in libraries, the former is the first formal step on the road to accomplishing the latter). It's celebrated the last full week in September, beginning tomorrow. This year they're giving special attention to comic books and graphic novels that have triggered someone's censorious impulses.

You can join our Banned Books Week 2014 Online Read-Out at our Facebook site. Browse the ALA's list of banned or challened books, pick something that seems to call your name, get out your smart phone (or borrow a friend's), and read a passage to share.

Today's toons were selected from the list of those that the people I like least detest the most out of the week's offerings at McClatchy DC, Cartoon Movement, Go Comics, Politico's Cartoon Gallery, Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoons,, and other fine sources of toony goodness.

p3 Best of Show(Cage Match Division): Jeff Danziger.

p3 Legion of Merit: Kevin Kallaugher.

p3 Founding Fathers Award: Clay Bennett.

p3 World Toon Review: Gary Clement (Canada), Ajit Ninan (India), Patrick Chappatte (Switzerland), Yaser Abo (Australia),

With a tip of the p3 Bell Muni bike helmet to Comic Strip of the Day, we're instituting a new group-award category: the p3 Dismal Failures Award, given to the cartoons that did the best job of taking the exact same bad idea and beating it like a rented mule. This week, it may not be that surprising that many cartoons about the Scottish independence vote this week were hung – so to speak – on the American (and Italian!) curiosity about what's under those kilts. What's surprising is how many of them failed dismally, more by lack of quality than by presence of quantity. Close behind, but not finishing in the money because more of them seemed to show some originality, were bagpipes-sound-awful themed cartoons and Nessie themed cartoons. (And I already have a pretty good idea of what's going to win a Dismal Failures Award next week. Hey, this is fun!)

Like many of his fans, I wondered why Tony Auth's page at GoComics hadn't been updated in over two months. Now we know. Rest in peace to one of the political cartoonists I – and many other readers and most of his peers – always turned to first.

Mark Twain once wrote, "God created wars so Americans would learn geography. Marshall Ramsey has found the parallel principle.

And regarding the whole banned-books thing: As bad as challenging, banning, or burning may be, Pat Oliphant reminds us that there are other, arguably worse, things you can do to a book.

Ann Telnaes looks askance – yes, you read that right: askance! – at the latest news from Iowa. (Full disclosure: Seven years ago last week your humble narrator shook hands with Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, and Governor Richardson at the 2007 Tom Harkin Steak Fry. If "having the softest hands" was the deal-making/breaking criterion in presidential elections, Bill Richardson would be raising money for his presidential library today.)

Mark Fiore suggests that, rather than all that tricky calculus about the enemies of our enemies, we should probably take a moment just to look at some of our <airquotes>friends.</airquotes>

Tom Tomorrow's Sparky the penguin talks to a citizen and finds out what his problem apparently is.

Keith Knight has a sign of the times.

He's back! Tom the Dancing Bug brings, among other treats, the further adventures of Percival Dunwoody, Idiot Time Traveler from 1909. Pray that he's not too early!

Red Meat's Ted Johnson faces the possibility of "complications," thanks to Papa Moai.

The Comic Strip Curmudgeon takes a shot at an incidental character in Family Circus panel, and it hits a little close to home here at p3. (Full disclosure – Twice in one day? What's that about? – I often go out for Sunday breakfast at a nearby bar and grill. Perhaps I'm eating there right now as you read this. Think about that. And I always sit in the same booth by the front window, reading the ever-diminishing local paper and enjoying the sight of SUV drivers totally failing to parallel park successfully along a strip of open curb that's at least three car-lengths long, so they can run across the street to the bakery. And the entrance to a big off-street parking lot that's always empty on Sunday morning is just thirty feet farther down on the same side.)

Comic Strip of the Day begins with a rant-inspiring strip, and ends with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.

And I ain't no namby-pamby! "Bugs Bunny Rides Again" was produced in 1947 and released in June of 1948 (which becomes important; see below). Friz Freleng directed, from a story by Michael Maltese and Tedd Pierce. Portland's own Mel Blanc did the voices, and Carl Stalling was musical director – and both of them got credit this time (although narrator Robert C. Bruce didn't). Stalling is at his pilfering (or quoting) best, lifting from Rossini's William Tell Overture (nailing down the Bugs Bunny/Lone Ranger Rides Again gag from the title), as well as popular tunes "Cheyene" (the opening shoot-out) and "Navajo" (the piano music in the saloon) – oh, what the hell, you can read the whole playlist here, including several themes that Stalling did compose himself. 

According to Wikipedia, the swimsuit women were removed when the cartoon was shown in Islamic countries, a couple of gunplay gags were removed on grounds that children might play with guns because they saw Bugs Bunny do it but never simply because they saw Mommy or Daddy do it, and Sam's original entrance line – "And I ain't Mahatma Gandhi!"  – was redubbed for the re-release of the toon following Gandhi's assassination in January of 1948.

The Big, And Getting Bigger Since We Decided to Cheat and Welcomed Back The Departed, Oregon Toon Block:

Ex-Oregonian Jack Ohman views the fatigue factor.

Allegedly Ex-Oregonian Jen Sorensen brings us the guide to digital dipwads everywhere. Are they iJerks? Nope, but you're getting warm.

Matt Bors wonders exactly where we get off.

Jesse Springer points out that not all progress feels like progress.

Test your toon captioning superpowers at The New Yorker's weekly caption-the-cartoon contest. (Rules here.) And you can browse The New Yorker's cartoon gallery here.

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