Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Rain, Erasers, and Social Commentary

Growing up, I was never one who was much involved in social, political, or environmental issues. Coming from a small midwest town in the 80s that didn't even have a recycling program, it just wasn't on my teenage radar. Of course, I was aware of many of the issues. Dad was a regular watcher of the nightly news, and I wasn't one to ignore what was on the television (for better or worse). 

For a time, my friends and I decided that we were going to be Republicans, not necessarily because of the ideality, but mainly because our parents were primarily DFLers, and we weren't going to be like THEM. Also because, even in the post-yuppy late 80s, Alex P. Keaton was still cool. Today, this group of individuals encompass a wide spectrum of political beliefs. But that's not the point.

In the late 80s, there was a TV movie that was part of the Wonderful World of Disney called "Earth*Star Voyager." It was pretty standard family sci-fi fare, but the primary plot device was that Earth's climate had degenerated so badly that humans had to find another planet to live on. So a groups of teenagers were chosen and trained to go on a mission to a habitable planet discovered orbiting a distant star. One of the scenes involved the characters getting caught in the rain in the over-crowded city. Since the atmosphere was so polluted, it was producing acid rain, and the characters had to use breathing apparatuses while out in it.

Strip 17/166 - No, acid rain won't melt your umbrella.

Now, even back then, I understood that the term "acid rain" didn't equate to sulphuric acid falling from the sky, dissolving things. But, the visual stuck in my head, and I thought it would make a funny gag, without being too heavy-handed on the climate issues.

Strip 18/166 - The eraser strikes!

A couple entries back, I stated that I love the concept of the "fourth wall". Obviously, like any trope, it needs to be used sparingly (unless it's part of the story or character), but I did use it a fair bit.

This particular instance was directly inspired by the Daffy Duck short "Duck Amuck", where Daffy's antagonist is the artist drawing the cartoon (which turns out to be Bugs Bunny in the end). It's definitely one of Chuck Jones' more surrealistic outings. The idea that the creations were alive, being created on the fly by the animator, was great.

Here, the artist is represented by the eraser, with FC calling upon him like someone calling upon God to strike him down if he's lying. But, instead of lightning, we get the other end of the pencil. Even some eraser dust left over.

Strip 19/166 - Escalation can be dangerous.

I'm trying to figure out where my brain was when I created the call-back to the previous strip. It was meant as a punchline to the punchline, but where did the little tank come from? And why is FC all of a sudden so violent? Laughing Furble looks slightly psychotic, as well. Over all, probably not the best idea, but at least FC driving the armed vehicle had a certain charm.

And it was definitely not a commentary on arms proliferation. Just the cuteness of little tanks.

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