Barrel of Laughs: Why Dennis Is Buck-Nekkid In TWO Strips Today
Today, it gets even better. Dennis the Menace, that OH-so-irresistibly-mischievous cowlicked rapscallion of an overalled imp (aka: The blond pox on Mr. Wilson's house), cameos in both. Sans clothes, Dennis is rendered as perhaps the most telling symbol of economic woe since, oh, the original "yellow kid" appeared in Joe Pulitzer's penny papers.
So what's the story, exactly, with the comical cross-pollination?
"I work about eight months ahead" of publication, "Pearls" creator STEPHAN PASTIS tells Comic Riffs, explaining how he and "Candorville" artist DARRIN BELL hit upon the idea of cartoon congressional hearings separately. "I just called and exchanged e-mails with Darrin and said: 'Dude, I got something coming up that's identical to what you just did.' He said, 'We can make a joke out of it.' "
And from that spirit of cooperation comes not only sharp humor in both strips, but also a pantless scamp in both. (If only today's "Dennis the Menace" had been in on the joke, too --it would have hit the missing-trousered trifecta.)
Pastis, in fact, would like to see a half-dozen cartoonists take an identical scene -- say, a barfight -- and feature their own takes on it, on the same day.
"The effect is named for the Kurosawa film -- it's called the Rashomon," Pastis explains. "It's literally the different characters telling the same story. And a barfight is just what I thought might be a typical event. That in real life, a middle-aged dude might say: 'It was great ' A woman might say: 'It was horrific.' And a bartender might say: 'Ohh, again.' "
So why would the funnies be a prime forum for this effect?
"When you literally look at a comics page, you're looking at 40 different worlds," Pastis says. "But I like the notion that behind the page, all these connect into one room. In a [comic-strip] parody, you play in that other guy's world for a day. But I think it'd be great to do that with mary strips -- with a single event."
Officially, I second the motion.
| April 28, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: The Morning Line
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