Thursday, May 19, 2011

Go Go Pogo

Cartoonists who do it for a living publish 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The Monday through Friday comics page in the typical newspaper is filled with four-panel black and white strips, but on Sunday, the cartoonist gets a half page and produces what is typically an 8-panel cartoon, in glorious living color. Most of my cartoons were four panels, but I did experiment with the Sunday 8-panel format, only I didn't colorize them. Because Stickles was appearing in the Tech at the time, I didn't have a whole lot of space for my cartoons, and so consequently, it is likely that the larger format strips were not published. But I managed to create a half dozen of the Sunday format strips in the early 1980's, and this is the first of them.
What a line-up, indeed. The year is 1980, the last year of the presidency of Jimmy Carter, and in England, it is early in the term of a political ideologue named Margaret Thatcher, a prime minister who would become an example and the muse of Ronald Reagan. On the East and West Coasts of the United States, where economic malaise had settled in, punk rock and new wave music are just beginning to leave their mark. I was in Palo Alto at the time and settling into my first permanent 40-hour-a-week job, and the Bay Area, like Boston, was teeming with young bands playing aggressive music that sounded just like the music happening in the night-clubs in London (no, not the discos!). It was a time of Turning Japanese and Dancing With Myself, of Urgh! A Music War, skinny ties, skinny-legged jeans and sleeveless tee-shirts, when bands such as the Dead Kennedys, the Circle Jerks and X were just beginning to establish a name for themselves, and KROQ in Los Angeles was beginning to shake up the airwaves. You could still see Greg Kihn and his band performing in the Stanford Student Center, in the days before "The Break-up Song" and "Jeopardy" made him a nationwide phenomenon (Kihn hailed from Beserkeley and his band was a Bay Area favorite - at least among the skinny tie, skinny-legged jean and sleeveless tee-shirt set).

Boston had its own favorite haunts for music, promoted by WBCN and a host of college radio stations. Because I was on the West Coast, I had no idea who the big names in underground music in Beantown were, but if I had to guess, new wave bands in Boston got named the same way new wave bands in Berkeley got named. Hence, the strip above.

Incidentally, the typical 8-panel strip always had a 2-panel joke followed by a 6-panel joke. That 2-panel was kind of a warm-up act for the headliner. In the strip above, the reference to "three-out-of-ten" is an homage to Darryl Martinie, the Cosmic Muffin, who was a long-time reader of Zodiac signs for the star-struck and star-crossed, on the radio in Boston and elsewhere. He would come on every evening, usually late at night, with his cosmic predictions for the coming day, replete with references to rising signs, moons in seventh houses, cusps and other astrological phenomena. Before he signed off with his customary salutation, "It's a wise man who rules the stars. It's a fool who's ruled by them", he would summarize with a numerical prediction for the coming day. If he gave you a 7 or 8 out of a possible ten, it was going to be a good day to take that all-important final or call that chick from McCormick that you thought was giving you the eye in the 8.03 lecture. But woe be unto you if he only gave a 3 or less out of a possible 10; then it was a good time to hole up in your room and avoid direct sunlight for a while. When the '90s came around, so did Miss Clio, who could be summoned up by phone - which kind of dimmed Darryl Martinie's star.

No comments:

Post a Comment