The Morning Line: 'Frazz' & the Evolution of a Comic Mystery
When a cartoonist develops a rep for lacing his comic with sly references, we begin to read that strip in search of secondary cues and clues. Suddenly it's no longer just a quick-gag comic -- it's a Sphinxian strip chockablock with hidden riddles.
So we did quite the double-take upon scanning today's "Frazz." There's the neophyte swimmer Caulfield and then -- WHOA -- that is not just a caveman. That is a "B.C." caveman. Normally we would just read this as a knowing visual wink to the reader, but we're talking "B.C.," folks! As in the handiwork of the late Johnny Hart, who laced his strip with references to Christianity.
You're surely way ahead of us here, but for the four people who aren't, here's the cause for our Pavlovian yapping: Hart's prehistoric strip seemed to preach Christian Creationism, but his character here is smack-dab in the middle of a reverse Evolution. Now these are provocative waters we're literally wading in to.
Surely Jef Mallett is tweaking, perhaps even skewering, the "B.C." creator. (This is the same Mr. Mallett who once commented on a controversial Hart strip that included an outhouse whose door went "SLAM" Mallett and several other cartoonists told The Post at the time that the strip -- with its apparent Muslim crescent symbols and possible spelling-out of "ISLAM" -- could be read with a religious interpretation.)
Do our eyes deceive us? There was only way to know for sure. Dial 1-555-MAL-LETT on the hotline.
So what is up, exactly, Jef? Is there a subtext we should be suspicious of?
"The thought was, I would do the reverse Evolution into a swimmer," Jef says by phone, warmly indulging our inquiry. "Obviously that involves a caveman. The thought was, 'Hey, there is a perfectly iconic caveman on the pages of the funnies already.' That was about as far as I went. For anyone my age (46), 'B.C.' was a favorite comic strip. There was no doubting Hart's talent. It was a fun inside joke."
Besides, adds Mallett: "Despite getting accused of it, I don't try to do any preaching in the strip. If there's any kind of tone, it's: 'Come on, people! THINK!"
Well that settles that. We'll take Jef at his word: No subversive shenanigans here. Finally at peace over the Evolution Strip, we can move on to...
...The Darwin fish symbol sauntering through "Mother Goose and Grimm"! Nooo. Now this is getting fishy...
| August 18, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: The Morning Line
Save & Share: Previous: The E-Mailbag: The Caption Contest That Does Not Insult You With Cash Prizes!
Next: The Interview: "Cul de Sac's" Richard Thompson
Posted by: f2 | August 18, 2008 7:47 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: f2 | August 18, 2008 8:10 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Daniel J. Drazen | August 18, 2008 8:41 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Sherry | August 18, 2008 9:04 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: alex | August 18, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: proxl | August 18, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Mallett Don't Preach | August 18, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: yellojkt | August 18, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Seismic-2 | August 19, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Mike Rhode | August 19, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.