Vol. 11, No. 2,586W - The American Reporter - February 20, 2005

Ink Soup

by Clarence Brown
American Reporter Correspondent
Seattle, Wash.

SEATTLE –- Encouraged by the universal acclaim that has greeted the presidential candidacy of Ralph Nader, Dr. Soup has just announced his own campaign for the White House.

Not for the presidency, of course. Unlike Nader, Dr. Soup is not delusional. It is the White House itself that he wants, not the job. To this end, he has launched a vicious series of limericks:

My name is Dubya Bush.

Whenever shove comes to push,

I send out Ms. Rice

To make it seem nice

That I'm always flat on my tush.

Melchior, Dr. Soup's mechanical man, is less than enthusiastic about all this. He depends, as does Vice President Cheney, upon oil, and he anticipates with a certain amount of anxiety the questions about his ties with OPEC, the Old Petroleum Excuse Committee.

These go way back, these ties. Melly was of course suckled on oil, weaned on oil, and force-fed oil at a time when most of his companions were growing strong bones on Alpo.

When asked by reporters why he needs so much oil, he replies that he has, to begin with, no bones at all and a very absorbent scalp.... Melchior: CB, could I ask...?

CB: Not now, Melly, I'm going to a different topic.

I enjoy letters from readers. This came from Olive Imlay Grant in response to my piece about the ice box:

"I read your column all the time in The Trenton Times. There are so many I (as an old person) can relate to.The "Ice Box" was just one of them. Ours was not on the porch, but in the kitchen and if we were not home (my Mom and all the neighbor ladies picked strawberries, huckleberries, tomatoes, potatoes and we had cranberry bogs), the ice man just went right on in and put the ice in the ice box. He always knew where his money was going to be left for him. Can you imagine doing that today?"

Another letter, in response to the column about the purloined purse, came from Mark Fredenburg, who sympathized as one whose wallet had been stolen. But he had, I am glad to say, a hidden agenda: he is a cartoonist and wanted to me vet some of his drawings.

These have now arrived, and they are fine, the best thing about them being that there are almost no words–what those of us in the trade call pantomime.

Not the least benefit of looking at Mark's cartoons is that they allow me to segue to a pet peeve: that practically no cartoon or comic strip today is funny because of the drawing alone. Language is the curse of the current crop of drawings.

Bob Thaves, the creator of the strip "Frank and Ernest," is as guilty as most–his forte is the pun, and the more forced the better–but the other day the strip was almost purely visual: Frame 1. One of the boys stands before a counter bearing the sign Chicken To Go. Frame 2. He walks away with a chicken on a leash.

There are 33 cartoons in the daily paper that I get out here. All depend exclusively upon the words. Nicole Hollander's strip "Sylvia" is as usual so crowded with printing that there is almost no room left for a few lines of drawing. But back to this topic in a moment. Melchior had a question.

Melchior: CB, this is your Easter column?

CB: Oops!

Clarence Brown is a cartoonist, writer, and Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Princeton University.

Copyright 2005 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.