Grill o’ My Dreams

March 9, 2005


I begin today’s post with apologies and credit to Looney Tunes and Bugs Bunny. Readers always seem interested in knowing what or who influenced a cartoonist during the formative years. It’s a question that ranks right up there behind: “Where do you get your ideas?” “How far ahead do you work?” “Do you ever work in your underwear?” and “I don’t get it.” OK, that last one isn’t a question, but I hear it a lot. My lame stock answer usually is, “Oh, the same things that influenced other cartoonists my age,” meaning the same features that everyone else liked at the time I was a boy. Peanuts, for example. In reality, it can be a surprisingly complex question to answer. Every now and then, though, I am reminded of cartoon work that did influence me directly, and the old Warner Bros. Looney Tunes animated cartoons, originally produced for theater audiences of all ages, would be right up there. Even as a kid, I could appreciate a subtle, grown-up wit that absolutely was missing in the Disney cartoons that dominated the scene in my day. However, I would have to say I was a huge fan of Scrooge McDuck comic books and the work of Carl Barks. I think I may be the first person to apply the word “subtle” to a Bugs Bunny cartoon.



39 thoughts on “Grill o’ My Dreams”

  1. I love the sequence of styles of both Arlo and Janis drawing. You (JJ) have talked about how they changed over the years, but this particular cartoon with each panel from a different era is really great!

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  2. Disney’s edgy work in cartoon shorts came during the early years, before WWII. They got more polished after, but were not so funny. But Barks got better throughout his working life and I miss having new work from him. I’m glad Fantagraphics is publishing the hardcover series of his work and buy them when I can.

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  3. Back in the late 80s I met and talked a few minutes with a childhood hero of mine, Clayton Moore of The Lone Ranger, while at a MacWorld Expo in San Francisco. He still had, in his 70s at that time, that wonderful voice with the cadence and intonations! Meeting him was far more impressive and enjoyable than anything else at the expo.
     
    Have any of you met any childhood heroes in real life? Did they live up to your expectations?

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  4. I so agree with you about Looney Tunes cartoons. I was even afraid to follow your link, afraid it led to a YouTube video of one, and I’d be lost for the day. (It doesn’t, but I was still almost lost for the day just reading it and some of the links in it.) Those cartoons still bring a smile and a chuckle. Maybe I’ll spend a day with them before this shelter-in-place order is over.

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  5. Trucker: Yes. 1. Eugenie Scott, retired founding director of the Natl. Inst. for Science Ed., Berkeley. Anthropologist by profession, saw need for org. to combat attempts to curtail evol. ed in public schools. Ideal for the job: bright, outgoing, people-person. Met her seldom [but once with Elaine], each time rewarding. In Berkeley, CA, she learned of my upcoming 17 Nov.’19 90th b’day BUMC bash, found an excuse to visit friends in Mpls & drove here for the party! Spent maybe a half hr. conversing w/ my skeptical* younger son[61]; must have been a rewarding dialog for both. Family took her out for supper afterward. Best b’day ever. *But sings bass in the Minihaha UMC choir.
    2. Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, ret. primatologist, one of several women who revolutionized the study of social monkeys & apes [you men should stay with those troops of baboons and langurs longer & pay more attn to the females, not just the supposedly dominant males, & to natural infanticide & cuckoldry that reduces it], etc. Sev. books: “The Langurs of Abu,” “The Woman that Never Evolved” [but she did], “Mother Nature”, others. Good speaker & writer, and also a gracious host when Elaine & I visited UC Davis, ’96?, pregnant at the the time with son to be named Niko, .
    3. Loren C. Petry, Cornell Botany Prof., Quaker, knowledgeable in many subjects, loved appreciative students, my chief role model.
    Peace,

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  6. Jimmy–

    The lack of extremities in today’s “classic: strip is unnerving? Was this a coloring error, an experiment, or an attempt to reuse the same background and just add a new foreground?

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  7. My family’s grill when I was a kid looked like this: https://www.google.com/search?q=vintage+charcoal+grills&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwjE8tfj6rPoAhUHzawKHSfhAfwQ2-cCegQIABAA&oq=vintage+charcoal+grills&gs_l=img.3..0i24.38788.40302..40604…0.0..0.68.479.8……0….1..gws-wiz-img.ISgHjjs7G3k&ei=-V16XoSSNYeaswWnwofgDw&bih=578&biw=1229&rlz=1C1MKDC_enUS771US771#imgrc=0MfXUePcYHCFOM They also had one built of concrete block with stone slabs on either side of the firepit. That one was made to burn wood, like a commercial barbeque restaurant would use.

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  8. Thank you for the shoutout to the “Good Artist”, the late great Mr. Carl Barks. My brothers and I were devoted fans of “Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories” and “Uncle Scrooge”. Although most of our comic books were tossed out in the 1950s and 60s – oh, the humanity! – we managed to keep quite a few issues. I have them stored carefully.

    I understand the fandom for DC Comics and the Marvel Universe, but it saddens me that Mr. Barks did not receive the appreciation he deserved when he wrote and drew the “Ducks” for over 20+ years. DC (Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster, Bob Kane, etc.) and Marvel (Stan Lee) usually gave their artists and writers byline credits, but Disney stubbornly insisted on anonymity. Ducks’ fans did not learn of Mr. Barks until after his retirement in the mid-1960s.

    George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were great fans of Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie, Gyro Gearloose and “Helper”, Gladstone Gander, beloved, but adventurous miser Uncle Scrooge McDuck (rated the richest fictional character by Forbes!) and others in Mr. Barks’ Ducks Universe. I’m pleased to learn you are among his legion of fans too, Jimmy!

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  9. Met scientist Glenn Seaborg who made several new elements and has another named for him, if memory serves. Late 1960s. In that same era, chatted with opera tenor Jan Peerce 1:1 for perhaps 5 minutes. Were they childhood heroes? They became so as soon as I learned of them and their doings – which was certainly before I grew up.
    Met 3 IL governors, 2 of whom were not convicted of anything.

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  10. c x-p: Lovely last line.
    Met Amy Klobuchar at a backyard DFL cookout couple of elections ago & the MN Secy of State ages back. Elaine & I had coffee w/ her at a long-gone cafe. Ah, name just surfaced: Joan Grow. Pleasant, well-spoken, competent, reelected at least 2x, I think. Grow may be a good example of welfare at work. Don’t know the details, and don’t care. Believe she was a welfare recipient [maybe w/ a kid or 2], went on to get an education, perhaps also law school, rungs, MN Secy of State. Will search, report any serious errors.
    Have seen [live, not on a screen] several politicians: Walter Mondale, meeting a plane at M/SP a few decades back, NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia [also heard him read the comics to us kids over the radio, one former NY gov whose initials = FDR [amateur soft?ball match nr Pawling, NY, described here before]. Saw the bullet holes in the LA state capitol where Huey got killed, but no gov’s while in office. Am good friends w/ the current Bemidji mayor, best we’ve had since we arr. in ’58. BSU presidents? Let’s stop. Peace,

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    • Met 3 serving governors in Alabama while growing up, because elementary school did annual field trip to state capitol and visit to governor was always a part. George Wallace, Lurleen Wallace (George’s wife, who succeeded him) and Albert Brewer, who succeeded her.

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  11. When I was growing up, our next-door neighbors were the talk of the neighborhood…they had a red brick BBQ pit in their backyard. I don’t remember it ever being used for cooking, though, but their maid did burn trash in it. It looked very much like this…
    https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/Jxm0jpSEwcY5MJmFWPtnKKdlNIs=/0x0:3726×2385/1120×0/filters:focal(0x0:3726×2385):format(webp):no_upscale()/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/19503203/03_barbecue_pit.jpg

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  12. From “Life In The Even Slower Lane”: Today, the Governor of Oklahoma effectively placed Jackie and me under house arrest until April 30th. Under his decree, people judged to be “vulnerable” to the Novel Coronavirus (over 65 and/or with underlying health issues…like no one else is, amirite?) have been ordered to stay at home, except for visits to pharmacies and food stores. Not sure how this is to be enforced…the honor system, perhaps? All others seem to be free to go where they wish to contract and/or spread the virus.
    I’m not being bitter…today, Jackie and I voluntarily closed down the boutique for two weeks, even before the new rules were announced. I just don’t see this doing much good in the overall scheme of things, with everyone else (including every kid in the state turned out from school) still roaming around. (To make it even worse, workers over age 65, of which there are many in OK, are now out of work. And I have no idea how unemployment benefits will be applied in their cases, or if they will be at all.)
    Who knew the Zombie Apocalypse would come to small-town Oklahoma, even if the zombies themselves were no-shows?

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  13. We were mentioning “heroes” of our young years. When I first got “into” pro baseball in the late ’40s, I liked Carroll “Whitey” Lockman of the Giants and also John Mize, soon to sign with the Yankees. I was surprised when, probably in the ’70s, my dad (as an officer of his HOA in FL), hosted Mize as a guest speaker and even had his photo with Mize published in the major newspaper of the area. I was nowhere near FL, so did not and will not meet either.

    I did meet and greet Harry Gallatin, former NY Knick basketballer and a fantastic rebounder. I attended an away college tournament basketball game about 1960 and recognized him as the opposing coach. He was pleasant.

    Back in the middle ’50s, a buddy and I attended some pro hockey games at Madison Square Garden, and we always waited for the players to leave at their door. I got a few dozen autographs from the NY Rangers’ members, and I still have them to this day. I also managed to get autographs from most of the other 5 teams in the NHL by writing to each club and asking. No doubt, the batch of autographs [from the era when Johnny Bower was NY goalie] are worth abut two liters of RC Cola today!!

    Thanks for bringing this up; have some decent memories.

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  14. They say always begin with a joke. Porky Pig is in bed and hears a noise downstairs. “I better go down and inve-inve- inve-look around.” Ok, why do so many people act like the Japanese looking down the street at a 50 foot wave full of cars and buildings moving toward them at 100mph. Do we run? I don’t know. What do you think? Well, we are looking at a tsunami. Do we stay home? I don’t know. What do you think?

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  15. When I was in High School 60+ YA I worked for a fellow that devised a grill that
    had a pole that jammed between hearth and lintel of a fireplace. There was a rectangular pan
    that held charcoal that could be swung in and out of the fireplace so smoke went up the chimney.
    It had an adjustable grate and if I remember correctly the whole unit could be adjusted up or down the pole.
    .
    I was the packing & shipping dept. in the cellar of his house.

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  16. Cartoonists often mention Krazy Kat and Pogo as inspirations, but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen any mention one of the all-time top 3 comics: King Aroo. Odd, that.

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  17. I didnt know anyone who had a fancy grill when I was growing up. The neighbor who boiled peanuts outside, dug a hole for his wood. I did know some BBQ hog cookers who still used the hole in the ground method as well – although all the professionals used a brick pit. And of course there was those who had a set of bricks and a grate – instant grill.
    For the first ten or so years of his retirement, Carl Barks was pretty accessible and answered letters from fans. However he became so popular, he had to hire folks to deal with his mail, so that he could paint his Disney Duck paintings. I had no contact with him myself, but I know a lot of folks who did.
    I did do some correspondence with a couple of Warner Bros animators They enjoyed having their work remembered.

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    • I wished I had purchased some of Mr. Bark’s “Ducks” paintings when they were still affordable.

      Bob Clampett, the legendary “Porky Pig” and “Beanie & Cecil” creator/animator was a common guest at comic and science fiction conventions. I saw him speak at one in L.A. in the early 1970s.

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