Some recent discussion prompted me to add Origins of the Sunday Comics to my read-if-you-get-to-it list, and their recent excursion into Dream of the Rarebit Fiend from 1913 has been an eye opener. This episode differs from the ones right before it in not having the nightmare dreamer awaken in bed to regret consuming the rarebit.
Did he go back in, to literally ask to be abused once more? And is the thing hanging from his collar in the 2nd panel the guitar seen on the ground in the 1st panel (or maybe its case)? Was his guitar playing the reason Sarge is booting him out?
Thanks to Usual John for sending this in, and for useful email discussion! His focus is on the bottom strip, where we get amusing literalized visions of some common idiomatic expressions. Except — we apparently no longer have an idiom to match “He had a pony on his cuff”. So, what would that mean, apart from what’s in the literal illustration?
By the way, can anyone assist my memory and give me a clue why I remembered this Origins of the Sunday Comics feature as not always in the past being a genuine historical exploration, but rather including sometimes a parodic or fictive-history take? Maybe mental contamination from reading a sometime series of posts in Working Daze, pretending to trace a century-long history of that strip, thru different writers and artists, and even titles and publishers.
Is it just that the guy is so shook up he books three appointments a day? Is that all there is? Is it weird that the receptionist builds on the standard “Your three o’clock is here” instead of, maybe, using his name (which she must be familiar with by now)?
This was going to be a standalone CIDU, with the question-blurb of The slug has eaten some salted snack and is having a toxic reaction?? There was another fly, and the frog scooped him up with his tongue?? Do you have another?
But then I realized the item hanging out of the frog’s mouth is not his tongue (which would be thin and ready to flick) but a wing tip, matching the wings we see on the speaking fly at the left. Well, that answers which of the explanations it was.
But I didn’t know whether to feel cheated of a mystery, or ready to applaud the skilfully delayed punch. Anyway, that landed it here!
“Love” – “Confess” – “Surf”
Those are the titles I can make out among the items displayed at this newsstand.
Okay, the joke is that this soldier (is he “Killer”?) is really just interested in eyeing the pin-ups and girlie publications, while prolonging his visit by asking for various small-town papers the newsstand does not carry.
But why do I feel like that raises gaps in the story that ought to have been dealt with? Like: is he making the towns and papers up, or are they supposed to be real within the fictive world? Is the “Nope” answer the basis for him to keep going, with possible second or third choices? Or might he have gotten them all, if commissioned by several guys back at the platoon to bring them back their respective home-town papers? And does this newsstand in fact carry regular newspapers and general-interest magazines, and the pin-up material is just what gets most prominently displayed? Or is that all they sell?
Hmm, something missing? Oh yes – the generator that would be hooked up so that the exercise bike powers the fan! Or go old style, and show some belts and pulleys making a mechanical connection. Otherwise, what’s the joke?
Here we have just one of those unanswered little mysteries, not any critique. Just what did he mean to say instead, eh?
P.S. It doesn’t answer that question, but the next day’s strip is from the same therapy session, and picks up the theme of slips.
When this was new, in 1965 or 1966 (I can’t quite make the date out — though the 6/16 at lower left is quite clear, as the pigeons have not yet picked it up), probably it was already a challenge to the reader to recognize some already-retro references, to famous real-world couples or other cartoon-world characters. And probably some randomly tossed-in names; and probably some not-famous real-world friends of Mort Walker’s; and certainly some pairing-up jokes (Emmy and Oscar?).
And after the passage of another 55 or 56 years, how many of them can we get? I’m not really much of a comics historian, so maybe … none? But others may do better.
I don’t get how the incoming storm is going to make things any better. It’ll dilute the soup in the big pot, stretching how many it will feed? It will scare away the less hardy soldiers, so our guys will move up in line right away?
Or could he mean, Relax, we’re not going to even get close?
I was almost going to say the casual acceptance of violence is actually a bit shocking. But on second thought, Beetle’s reaction is not fully accepting. (Yes, we regularly see Sarge beating on Beetle, but that’s mostly about raising a ball of dust, while Rocky’s “blackjack” or “sap” strikes a more sinister air, something like underworld associations.)