Thursday, November 6, 2008

Nausea Is...

I'm all late again and stuff, but with luck, I'll be back on schedule tomorrow. This has truly been the Week from Hell.

In 1970, according to the dreaded and terrible beast that is Wikipedia, New Zealander Kim Grove (soon to be Kim Casali) decided it would be a good idea to take the love notes she had written her husband and syndicate them. She called the comic Love Is.... Ever since, we have been plagued by these putrid little "comics," which all begin with the words "Love is..." and sort of go from there. Casali, who died in 1997, has now been succeeded by her son Stefano, who continues to churn out this absolute dreck and will probably do so until the end of time.

The comic has been adroitly summarised by Homer Simpson as being "about two naked eight-year-olds who are married." That's about it, really. The two main characters, who usually appear starkers and seem, horrifyingly enough, to have no toes, are apparently deeply in love. Despite their apparent lack of secondary sexual characteristics, they have spawned at least two even smaller children, also naked. It is incomprehensible to me that anybody publishes this comic when the space it takes up could be used to advertise cold cream or feature a small editorial about how terrible comics are nowadays.

Today's vomit-inducing piece of utter dreck portrays the female Shmoo* showing off her bling,** which has presumably been given to her by the male Shmoo. In other words, this comic is informing us that if one really loves one's significant other, one will provide her with shiny objects that cost a lot of money and still don't manage to hide the fact that she never wears any clothing. I am glad to see that Casali Junior is upholding his mother's devotion to all things pre-feminist. He should draw the female Shmoo holding a little broom and leaking hearts as she merrily sweeps the kitchen floor.***

As usual, the comic is right at home in the Middle Ages, though it has a less positive connotation there. We are once again dealing with an antifeminist text. The author is clearly depicting the prelapsarian lives of Adam and Eve. Adam, as we can see from the smile on his face, is content living as a naive small child in a perfect paradise, but Eve is naturally vain, as are all women. Even in her innocence, she demands pretty presents from her husband. The serpent will be along in a moment (do we see a hint of him in Stefano/Kim's scrawled signature?), and he will play upon Eve's vanity and selfishness in order to convince her to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. She will fall because she is female and weak. Alas for the presence of women on earth! Alas for their shame! Alas for the fact that they do not all have huge breasts and no ability to speak!

We should give Love Is...the recognition it deserves as a source of Christian allegory and reverently remove it to an obscure religious newsletter composed in a small town in the American South. Who's with me?

*Well...she reminds me of a Shmoo. She has just as few toes.
**Oddly enough, there is no medieval equivalent of the word "bling." Who knew?
***In high heels...unless those count as clothes.


john said...

Um, it's not the secondary sex characteristics that are requisite for spawning, but they seem to be completely lacking in primaries as well, so your point remains intact. Perhaps Schmoomans reproduce via mitosis?

Also, no, shoes don't count.

Angry Kem said...

John: True enough. I was rather tired when I wrote that and meant that the Schmoomans didn't even exhibit secondary sexual characteristics (a fact that would seem to indicate that their primary sexual characteristics were still undeveloped).

Incidentally, I lectured to my class yesterday on the state of comics today. At one point, I read out the names of all the legacy strips I had been able to brainstorm while I was writing the lecture. I forgot several, including Love Is..., and I left out the names of strips that might as well have been legacy strips because they had run for so long (Cathy and Garfield, for instance). I even forgot Gil Thorp, somehow. Even so, I read out the names of twenty-three strips.

Something is rotten in the state of Syndicatemark.

jackd said...

Kem, no need to apologize when life interferes with blogging. Your dedication is commendable, but only post as often as makes you happy to do so.

Re the legacy strips, I'd guess one reason is that newspaper readers, who will quietly accept any reduction of actual news content, complain mightily every time the slightest change takes place on the funny pages. The syndicates and Editors appear to be convinced that every legacy strip has A Following, and every damned one of them will cancel their subscriptions if Billy, Jeffy, Mary, Mark, Dagwood, Beetle, Gil or whoever their favorite why-don't-you-just-die-already characters are, disappears.

Damn, those Schmoos are creepy.

Angry Kem said...

Jackd: I know, but I'm neurotic. And Canadian. You never want to meet a neurotic Canadian. The conversation will go something like this:

You: Hi!
NC: I'm sorry!
Y: What?
NC: Oh, I'm sorry for saying I'm sorry.
Y: Why are you apologising?
NC: I'm sorry...I'll stop.
Y: You did it again!
NC: I did? I'm so sorry!

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Your analysis of the newspaper-strip situation is probably accurate. The problem is that the newspaper comics sections are going to have to change or die. Smaller readerships are forcing editors to cut comics...and when they try to get rid of one of the legacy strips, the vocal minority rises up in they cut new, untried comics, in the process losing more readers...and then they are forced to cut yet more comics...

Wash, rinse, repeat.

It would be great if some brave editor would just make the decision to get rid of all the legacy strips and start afresh with relatively new comics. The paper would lose some (older) readers, but I'll bet it would also gain some (younger) readers. However, it's doubtful that anyone will ever try the experiment, which is not without risk.

Amanda said...

I would pay good money for a collection of "Lufe ys" comics, in which lufe ys things like not beating her with a rod thicker than your thumb and not throwing him on the plague wagon until you're sure he's dead.