Tuesday, January 13, 2009

He Ain't Nothin' But a Hound Dog

Fred Basset has always been an oddity of a comic strip. First syndicated in 1963 and now drawn by the original artist's daughter and a colleague, this bizarre little daily feature gives us a basset hound named Fred who spends all day behaving quite like a dog and thinking abstract little thoughts that have very little to do with anything at all. I will freely admit that I do not "get" Fred Basset. I am not convinced that there is anything there to "get." Granted, I will take its whimsy over the blatant stupidity of Crock, but I do sometimes wish that Fred would get the hell out of the 1970s. Perhaps his owners could even break out of their gender roles. That might be fun.

In today's strip, however, the authors demonstrate that, in true medieval fashion, they recognise the greatness of their own work. As medieval writers aspired to be "auctors" whose work would be cited and honoured by others, so do Michael Martin and Arran Graham. Their determination to have their greatness recognised has led to them placing a collection of Fred Basset comics amidst books labelled, "Tolstoy," "Dickens," "Proust," and "Mark Twain."* The self-promotion isn't even disguised. Well done, you guys.

Next week, tune in to watch Fred eat a chocolate, imply to his owner that he needs to go for a walk, and join the Third Crusade. It promises to be quite a good time.

P.S.: I had to make some stuff up here. There is no Middle English equivalent for "eponymous." Since there's also no modern English synonym, I had to break the word down and cobble it together out of tiny scraps of English (instead of Greek). There is also no Middle English equivalent for "hero" in the way meant here. Ah well.
P.P.S.: This is Japes' hundredth post. Hip. Hip. Hurrah!

*Why does only Twain get a first name? This is going to bother me for days.


dmontag said...

First of all, congrats on Post #100!

I think I know why Mark Twain gets a first name: the other 3 names are like "Cher" and "Madonna": they are used often enough as a single name. You seldom hear Mark Twain referred to as just "Twain", though.

Angry Kem said...

I guess I'm too much of an English student. I refer to Mark Twain as "Twain." However...maybe the name is less recognisable to the comic's primary (British) audience. I dunno.

I still think it's hilarious that the Fred Basset collection apparently counts as "great" literature.

Squid Vicious said...

Perhaps Michael and Arran do not wish to be associated with Shania Twain or little-known programming protocols. It might well detract from their hallowed status as purveyors of fine literature.

Jessica said...

Mentioning Mark Twain gives me performance anxiety: I fear that if I refer to "Mark Twain" I'll sound uneducated, and if I refer to "Samuel Clemmens" I'll sound pretentious.

Congratulations on post 100! "Japes" brings sunshine into my life, which is especially welcome during this dark and frigid Chicago January.

Urban Garlic said...

Acutally, they do get out of their gender roles from time to time. If you study the strips carefully*, you'll see that it's the wife who always drives the car. This is because the strip is drawn in the UK, but in full-frontal automotive scenes, they move the steering wheel on the car.

* I do not recommend this activity.

Anonymous said...

Fred Basset is well known to be a serious contender for "Most Boring Comic in the Multiverse". I must commend you for finding something interesting to say about it.