Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Neanderthal Funky Winkerbean

The neanderthal Funky Winkerbean

Tom Batick used two comic strip character cameos in successive sequences run September 6 & 7, 2016.And what's interesting about it (to me), is that while the point of the cameos was the same, their usage varied.



In this sequence, Wally, a vet reentering the world after rehab, is challenged by technology. We get that in the final panel where he's depicted as a caveman. But not just any caveman -- it's Alley Oop, the first such character in comics. Alley Oop first appeared in 1932, and originally was set exclusively in the stone age.

By 1939 creator V. T. Hamlin expanded the scope of the strip by adding Dr. Elbert Wonmug and Oscar Boom, two 20th Century scientists who invented a time machine. Their time machine allowed Alley Oop to journey to different times and places for further adventures.

Alley Opp travels to the 20th Century for the first time.

For the uninitiated, Batiks' final panel shows Wally as a caveman, hopelessly confused by technology. But I wonder if the choice wasn't deliberate. While Alley Oop was a caveman, he eventually became comfortable using advanced technology. Perhaps that's in store for Wally, too?



In this sequence, the caveman is Thor from Johnny Hart's BC. BC is a much later creation, appearing first in 1958. Unlike Alley Oop, Thor and his friends remain in a stone age setting with no technology at all. Nevertheless, they're quite articulate and -- curiously -- apparently Christian, although I'm not quite sure how that works for people living in the BC (Before Christ) era.

Alley Oop appeared in the last panel of his sequence, serving as the punchline. In this strip, Thor appears in the middle panel to set up the punchline. The student's high-tech answer in the last panel derives its humor from the stark contrast to the lo- or no-tech caveman of the previous panel.

An effective use of cameos and an interesting variation on a theme (the caveman).

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