PueyMcCleary's avatar

PueyMcCleary

I draw silly, silly comics.
12 Watchers21.6K Page Views2.4K Deviations
8 min read

A few years ago, Gary Shannon shared the fragment of a conlang he was working on. If I remember right, he invited others to help him decypher it as he discovered it. At the time I was busy babysitting my nieces and nephews, and so, during naptime, I took notes on the language and tried to decypher it.


A few days ago I found these notes in an old notebook, and I thought I'd reproduce them here so that there should be some record of this Shanlang. Shannon didn't give this language a name, but in my notes I called it "Cakelang," since he revealed it a few days before my birthday.


The following will be the original text he presented, the vocabulary that I extracted from it, a few sample sentences that I composed, and then some fragments and thoughts by me. The language was in a state of flux so you'll notice that sometimes I note changes in spelling. I have done my best to transcribe my notes as I took them at the time and not to change Gary's language in any way.


I present to you, Gary Shannon's Cakelang:


I: The Text


  1. Lo Nóbe Pánta le Ariál

  2. The new clothing of.the Emperor.


  1. Éneka puré pazán, oté áli ariál.

  2. Many departed years, there.was an emperor.


  1. De li nóbe pánta moté makúxi,

  2. He the new clothing loved muchly [? Result clause],


álun eyá de vahé li zábe múla ede [< le de].

for.some therefore he spent the all money of.him.


  1. Lu palatón ede nibára de nisinté,

About.the soldiers of.him never he not.thought [double negative!!]


ka ide lo naja ka lo ikavénso niozatíen,

and him the drama and the hunt not.pleasure,


pína ide de li nóbe pánta ede gané susél.

Except..that thus he the new clothing of.him was.able to.display.


  1. Oté áli nisámna pantíka ede le eke oda le zíra.

  2. There.was a different set.of.clothing of.him for.the each hour of.the day.


  1. Lu apúr ráxen ka ariálen, den rotíen << de asaténso la amotxó [< amoqó]. >>

  2. About.the other kings and emperors, they habitually.say << he is.sitting i.the council. >>


  1. Ude den rotíen, << Lo Ariál asaténso la kúti le pánta ede. >>

About.him they habitually.say, <<The Emperor is.sitting in.the <wardrobe> of.him.>>


  1. La úre akáro ya de omé li raxái akáro ede, oté nandái bára.

  2. In.the large town that it.NOM was the.ACC ruling city of.him, there.was happy time.


  1. Niíká janúin la sábe zíra lu atxida peté.

  2. Unknown people on.the every day to.the court arrived.


  1. Óne zíra, peté tóse dúte janúin ya den biajé omél tusásan.

  2. One day, two bad persons that they pretended to.be weavers [arrived].


  1. Den biajé ikél viatél túsa la masobéi rénja ka ulikáro alétxu.

  2. They pretended to.know to.weave fabric of.the most.beautiful colors and complicated designs.


  1. Pánta se maxúna túsa den

Clothing of.this wonderful cloth they.NOM


ya omé nixúna lu kítxa eden o den ya omé múma nigané lakél ide.

that were un.good for.the office of.them or they that were simple.minded not.could see it.


II: Vocabulary extracted therefrom


Correlatives: Articles, Personal Pronouns, a Deictic


Nom Acc Belong, of, by, for About, towards, to In,on

The Lo Li Le Lu La

A Álo Áli Ále Álu Ála

Some Álon Álin Álen Álun ["for some"] Álan

I Hi Ihi Ehi Uhi Ahi

Thou Nau Inau Enau Unau Anau

He, she, it De Ide Ede Ude Ade

We Han Ihan Ehan Uhan Ahan

Ye Nan Inan Enan Unan Anan

They Den Iden Eden Uden Aden

This, these So Si Se Su Sa


Affixes:


-asa (pl: -asan) Maker of

-íka one, item

Ma- absolutely, very much, extremely

Ni- Not, never, no, none


Conjugation:


Vahé Spent, gave < also, past participle>

Vahél to spend, to give

Vahénso is spending, is giving <also, gerund>

Vahíen was spending, used to give

Vahóbe usually spending, giving


Known verbs:


Asaté sit

Biajé pretend

Gané can, able to

Ikavé hunt

Iké know, be familiar, acquainted with

Laké see

Moté love, cherish, desire a thing

Omé be (location/attribute)

Oté there was [+ acc]

Ozaté please (someone)

Puré leave, depart

Roté say, speak

Sinté think, ponder, consider

Susé demonstrate, display, show of

Vahé spend, give

Viaté weave


Plural patterns:


Ariál, Ariálen emperor

Jánu, Janúin person

Pálato, Palatón soldier

Páza, Pazán year

Ráxe, Ráxen king

Tusása, tusásan weaver


Note that the accent shifts for some plurals


Known nouns:


Akáro town, city

Alétxu design, pattern

Amotxó [<< Amoqó] council, governing body

Ariál, Ariélen emperor

Atxida court

Bara time

Ikavénso hunt [gerund of ikavé]

Jánu, janúin person, human being

Kítxa job, position, office, career

Kúti le pánta wardrobe, closet

Kúti cupboard, cabinet, storage room

Múla money, gold, wealth

Nája drama, play

Oda hour

Pálato, Palatón soldier

Pánta clothing, clothes

Pantíka suit, outfit, article of clothing

Páza, Pazán year

Ráxe, Ráxen king, overlord

Rénja color

Túsa fabric, cloth

Tusása, Tusásan weaver, fabric maker

Zíra day


Known Adjectives:


Apúr other

Dúte bad, evil

Eke each

Éneka many

Iká known, familiar; niíka unknown

Mómu stupid, simple minded

Nandái happy

Nisámna different

Nóbe new, fresh, young

Raxái ruling, controlling

Sábe all, every [see Zábe]

Sámna same

Sobéi beautiful

Ulikáro complicated

Úre large, big

Xúna good, excellent; maxúna excellent, wonderful

Zábe all, all of [see sábe]


Miscellaneous words:


Eyá and so, consequently, therefore

Idi thus, therefore

Ka and

Kúxi intensely, much, muchly

Nibára never

O or

Óne one

Pína except, except that

Tóse two

Ya [relative pronoun] who, which, that



III: Sample sentences and fragments created by me (Puey McCleary)


  1. Oté áli naja álu Pálato ka lu Ariál.

  2. There was a play about a Soldier and the Emperor.


  1. Hi li pánta le ráxe moté, eyá hi roté ude.

  2. I love the king's clothing, and so I spake to him.


  1. Lo oda purénso, idi han gané li zíra sentél.

  2. The hour is departing, therefore we could consider the day.


  1. Lo zábe amtoxó li múla vahíen.

  2. All of the council was spending the money.


  1. Nan nibára gané li kúti purél, pína nan li bara ikavé.

  2. Ye could never leave the cupboard, unless ye should hunt time.


  1. Álo nóbe páza ka álo nóbe zíra, nibára lo sámna.

  2. A new year, and a new day, never the same.


  1. Lo eke ikavénso ihi ozatíen.

  2. Each unt used to please me.


  1. Álu múla, álo énaka ariálen súse ide.

  2. Councerning gold, many emperors displayed it.


  1. Nau asatíen la kúti le pánta ka sintíen álu pantíka ehe.

  2. Thou were sitting in the wardrobe and thinking about my new outfit.


  1. Lo ariál ále ikavénso limúla le amotxó sintóbe.

  2. The emperor of some hunt usually thinks about the money of the council.


  1. Hi li nóbe pánta le ariál vahé unau.

  2. I gave the new clothing of the emperor to thee.


The following are the random notes and fragments that I composed at the time; I present them without comment.


[Patterns for noun phrases without article??]


Éneka puré pazán

Many years ago


Tóse puré odan

Two hours ago


Óne zíra, peté tóse dúte janúin

One day, arrived two bad men


[How do past participles work??]


Puré pazán

Years that have departed


Hi puré

I departed


Hi li viaté túsa laké

I saw the woven fabric


Hi li laké rénja moté

I loved the seen color


Iké - know

Iká - known, familiar

Niíka - unknown


[Vocative??]


Ariál ále sobéi Pánta, hi inau laké.

Emperor of beautiful clothing, I saw thee


[Conjunctions]


La masobéi rénja ka ulikáro alétxu

Of the most beautiful colors & complicated designs


Hi li maxúna ka xúna pánta laké.

I see the excellent & good clothing


La masobéi rénja o ulikáro alétxu

Of the most beautiful colors or complicated designs


Hi li túsa pína rénja laké

I saw the fabric, except for the color.


[Do we need the accent for all plurals?]


Ráxe, Ráxen King

Ariál, Ariálen Emperor

Páza, Pazán Year

Pálato, Palatón Soldier

Jánu, Janúin Person

Tusása, Tusásan Weaver


[How productive are suffixes?]


Amotxó council

Amotxíka a council man

Bara time

Baríka a moment of time

Múla money

Mulíka a coin

Oda hour

Odíta a minute

Páza year

Pazíta month

Zíra a day

Ziríka daytime

Túsa fabric, cloth

Tusíka bolt of fabric

Kúti cupboard

Kutása cupbaord maker

Nája play

Najása playwright

Zíra day

Zirása the Sun

Rénja color

Renjása rainbow


[Other compounds??]


Kúti le pánta = pantakúti wardrobe

Mulapálaton, mulapalatón mercenary

Raxeroté proclaim like a king


This concludes all of the notes that I took on Cakelang. I have more to say about Gary Shannon's conlangs, but I'll have to collect my thoughts.

3Comments
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
11 min read

UNICORN JELLY by Jennifer Diane Reitz


This year I've been looking at comic strips from different time periods and different genres. I've looked at the 1920s soap opera, "Gasoline Alley," the 1940s children's adventure "Barnaby" and the lyrical 1950s "King Aroo." Now it's time to look at what may be the comic strip equivalent of Outsider Art.


When I lived in a university town, one thing that I liked to do was visit the art library. I didn't read many comics back then -- mostly I just looked at books filled with van Goghs and Monets. But a couple of books that have stuck in my mind were books filled with the artwork and writings of Henry Darger. His text was strange, sometimes a bit like the Wizard of Oz, other times bordering on incomprehensible, and his artwork was always impressive, often charming, but also very jarring as it shifted in tone. What little I know about outsider art comes from hours looking at these strange but memorable images.


Now, back to the present, I still wonder about outsider art. Sometimes I listen to videos about the history of comics, and occasionally the topic of "What's the Worst webcomic ever?" comes up. The internet's a weird place if that's a question to be asked. Well, I've heard discussions that "Sonichu" and "Tails Gets Trolled" are the worst comics ever, but I don't have any interest in discussing them or making fun of the artists.


One comic that may well be outsider art is Miyazaki's "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind." I know that may sound ridiculous considering that Miyazaki was a trained artist and all, but consider: Miyazaki worked on the Nausicaa manga, in his free time, over 12 years in between his animated films. He didn't really draw in the manga style but instead was heavily influenced by European comics, such as those by Moebius. Some of his work looks like it was just done in pencil, and the format is not that of a normal manga. Now, it's been a while since I've read Nausicaa, but I do remember that sometimes too much dialogue or information was crammed into too few or too small panels ... and that the story just wandered all over the place without the structure that an editor would impose. Well, the whole thing is 1000 pages, drawn in starts and stops over a decade. To me, this sounds like outsider art of the very highest quality.


Well, we'll circle back to Nausicaa. Because, a few months ago I think I stumbled upon a truly outsider comic strip.


"Unicorn Jelly" was produced Monday through Friday for about four years by Jennifer Reitz in the early 2000s. It is drawn in a very pixely manner. On the website some of the strips are colored and/or animated. The "story" progresses over about 700 strips. At the termination of this strip, Reitz went on to draw, I think, two more comic strips which I have not read, but perhaps may one day.


Now, I read Unicorn Jelly in book form. Not only did I want a permanent record, but for a strip like this a book is much easier. There are strips ... and sometimes whole pages which are boarder line incomprehensible, so it's a much better reading experience to flip to a page that makes sense rather than click through a lot of pages. The comic strip takes up about two thirds of the book; the last third is made up of supplementary world-building material, some of which is more interesting than the comic strip, others of which ... well, I had to skim or skip.


I'm going to write a lot of complimentary things about this comic strip because I think there are many fantastic elements to it, and the artist should be applauded for her accomplishments. But let me very briefly mention the challenge of reading such outsider work. It is not an easy read, and there are many panels, strips, and sometimes entire pages that can be frustrating. I don't want to harp too much on the challenges, but, suffice it to say, there are too many characters who look and sound alike, sometimes the dialogue the incoherent, there are many graphic, violent, or adult situations that do not fit into the tone or art style established by the comic, and, perhaps the biggest problem of all, the strip refuses to adhere to the "language" of comics.


If we look at sometimes like Krazy Kat: yes, Herriman plays with the form of the comic and is playful with language, but the reader still knows what's happening and what's being communicated. Sometimes the jokes in Gasoline Alley fall a little flat because we don't live in a time of Bootleggers and Flappers, but we still understand what's happening.


Unfortunately, Unicorn Jelly doesn't really do that.


Now, the reasons are probably simple. Reitz wrote that she made this up as she went along. This strip was probably only intended for a dozen or so readers, so there may be a lot that I just don't know. I don't think that Reitz read a lot of comics (though I may be wrong), so she might not have understood how to structure things. Also, she seems to have come from a computer game background, so world building are more important than plot or character.


I suppose I should take a moment to describe the story ...


Suffice it to say, Unicorn Jelly is a very cute blob who befriends a young witch in a magical world. This should be a Kiki's Delivery Service type of thing going on, and we're in a setting filled with magic, crystalline creatures vaguely out of "The Dark Crystal," and blob people. We find out that this universe is made up of triangular planet disks, we travel a little.


Then everyone dies horribly with lots of explosions. Oh, and cute Unicorn Jelly who should be the main character or at least the mascot of the comic, is barely in it. And he possibly dies horribly. We don't know.


So, I'm going to mention some things that I really do love about this comic strip.


1 -- THE FACT THAT IT GOT MADE AT ALL.


Unicorn Jelly was drawn with a mouse (!!), and it's impressive that any images at all were able to be produced. This strip is a product of the early days of the internet, before Facebook and Deviantart. It was ahead of its time in many ways.


2 -- IT'S A "MANGA-STRIP"


Reitz calls Unicorn Jelly a "manga strip," and that's very smart, especially for the early 2000s. Even today, too many strips are too influenced by Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes. She had the foresight to look into other comic paths. Now, I'm not sure she really read manga -- perhaps she just got the look from video games of the time, but still, I'm giving her all the credit.


3 -- THE DESIGN OF UNI HIMSELF


Unicorn Jelly, as a character, is the most cute and marketable thing every made. It should be a plushy and a sticker and a toy. This is what the strip should have been. Uni should have been a combination of Totoro and the cat from Kiki. You know, the one voiced by Phil Hartman or whatever. Uni is just a great design.


4 -- IT'S BRIAN FROUD WORLDBUILDING


My favorite film is the Dark Crystal, and I could see immediately that Unicorn Jelly's strength was its worldbuilding: its triangular world-plates, its Jelly People, its playable Taasen chess, and all sorts of little details. We have names for elements, forces of nature, and the like. If this would building material were dumped in the lap of Brian Froud and the Muppets, they would have a field day taking these images and turning them into the most awesomest things ever.


So, will I read the other works by Reitz? I might, one day, if I can find them in print form. I may have to re-read Unicorn Jelly again. Reitz claims that Unicorn Jelly is a "philosophical comic strip," but I don't think that's the case. When Plato, Nietzsche, or Rand wrote philosophical fiction, it was to explain an actual school of philosophy. The Matrix is philosophical in the sense that it's a smorgasbord of philosophical schools mashed together. I thought that perhaps Reitz thought that "philosophical" meant "allegorical," and that almost works for the first few pages, but quickly breaks down. I think that "philosophical" means, to her, that characters, motivation, and plot don't matter, only creating a computer game in paper (comic) form.


What, then, is the future of Outsider Art?


I think we have some examples from history. I think it's interesting that with Greek Mythology we have bits and fragments of what the original traditions were, but what has really survived have been poetic traditions forged by centuries, or the works of poets taking material that had already existed for generations. Virgil and Homer survive, whereas much of the original is gone.


Perhaps a better example is with Arthurian Mythology. We have some of the end product of the Welsh cycles, we have Geoffery's histories and all, but it's really Mallory who crammed everything into one ginormous cycle. But that wasn't the end of it. Centuries later, White took Mallory, trimmed out digressions, put in dialogue and plot, and produced "The Once and Future King." Nowadays, I think that when most people think of King Arthur they really think of works inspired by "Once and Future King." My idea of Prince Arthur and Merlin, for instance, comes from the Disney version.


Well, perhaps, centuries hence, someone will look at Henry Darger's writings and art and produce an illustrated book that will have the essence of what he was trying to communicate.


Likewise, far in the future, I can see someone making a Unicorn Jelly Manga that would do the same.


What would a Unicorn Jelly Manga look like? Well, honestly, I think it would look a lot like Miyazaki's Nausicaa. A thousand pages, a blending of European and Japanese art styles. A single adventure that portrays an alien world.


This future artist (perhaps someone living on the Mars colony a thousand years hence) may be inspired by all the world building at the back of the book. And in his manga version, Unicorn Jelly and his witch friend travel from town to town, not unlike Kiki. In each town they meet one weird creature, perhaps experience one strange food, and meet one new character. Slowly we build up this world over five to ten years of comic strips, rather than with awkward info-dumps.


Once the world and characters are thoroughly established, and once hints of what are to come have been set out, we can finally learn the "big plot" of the comic, that is, that everyone has to go on an exodus in arks. But rather than the violence and dissonance of the original, in this version Unicorn Jelly comes to a new world and has a happy ending after a thousand pages. The end.


Who knows how characters will be reinterpreted a thousand years from now? Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, Mickey Mouse, they've all changed. And perhaps, one day, Unicorn Jelly will be added to this pantheon.

0Comments
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
11 min read

UNICORN JELLY by Jennifer Diane Reitz


This year I've been looking at comic strips from different time periods and different genres. I've looked at the 1920s soap opera, "Gasoline Alley," the 1940s children's adventure "Barnaby" and the lyrical 1950s "King Aroo." Now it's time to look at what may be the comic strip equivalent of Outsider Art.


When I lived in a university town, one thing that I liked to do was visit the art library. I didn't read many comics back then -- mostly I just looked at books filled with van Goghs and Monets. But a couple of books that have stuck in my mind were books filled with the artwork and writings of Henry Darger. His text was strange, sometimes a bit like the Wizard of Oz, other times bordering on incomprehensible, and his artwork was always impressive, often charming, but also very jarring as it shifted in tone. What little I know about outsider art comes from hours looking at these strange but memorable images.


Now, back to the present, I still wonder about outsider art. Sometimes I listen to videos about the history of comics, and occasionally the topic of "What's the Worst webcomic ever?" comes up. The internet's a weird place if that's a question to be asked. Well, I've heard discussions that "Sonichu" and "Tails Gets Trolled" are the worst comics ever, but I don't have any interest in discussing them or making fun of the artists.


One comic that may well be outsider art is Miyazaki's "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind." I know that may sound ridiculous considering that Miyazaki was a trained artist and all, but consider: Miyazaki worked on the Nausicaa manga, in his free time, over 12 years in between his animated films. He didn't really draw in the manga style but instead was heavily influenced by European comics, such as those by Moebius. Some of his work looks like it was just done in pencil, and the format is not that of a normal manga. Now, it's been a while since I've read Nausicaa, but I do remember that sometimes too much dialogue or information was crammed into too few or too small panels ... and that the story just wandered all over the place without the structure that an editor would impose. Well, the whole thing is 1000 pages, drawn in starts and stops over a decade. To me, this sounds like outsider art of the very highest quality.


Well, we'll circle back to Nausicaa. Because, a few months ago I think I stumbled upon a truly outsider comic strip.


"Unicorn Jelly" was produced Monday through Friday for about four years by Jennifer Reitz in the early 2000s. It is drawn in a very pixely manner. On the website some of the strips are colored and/or animated. The "story" progresses over about 700 strips. At the termination of this strip, Reitz went on to draw, I think, two more comic strips which I have not read, but perhaps may one day.


Now, I read Unicorn Jelly in book form. Not only did I want a permanent record, but for a strip like this a book is much easier. There are strips ... and sometimes whole pages which are boarder line incomprehensible, so it's a much better reading experience to flip to a page that makes sense rather than click through a lot of pages. The comic strip takes up about two thirds of the book; the last third is made up of supplementary world-building material, some of which is more interesting than the comic strip, others of which ... well, I had to skim or skip.


I'm going to write a lot of complimentary things about this comic strip because I think there are many fantastic elements to it, and the artist should be applauded for her accomplishments. But let me very briefly mention the challenge of reading such outsider work. It is not an easy read, and there are many panels, strips, and sometimes entire pages that can be frustrating. I don't want to harp too much on the challenges, but, suffice it to say, there are too many characters who look and sound alike, sometimes the dialogue the incoherent, there are many graphic, violent, or adult situations that do not fit into the tone or art style established by the comic, and, perhaps the biggest problem of all, the strip refuses to adhere to the "language" of comics.


If we look at sometimes like Krazy Kat: yes, Herriman plays with the form of the comic and is playful with language, but the reader still knows what's happening and what's being communicated. Sometimes the jokes in Gasoline Alley fall a little flat because we don't live in a time of Bootleggers and Flappers, but we still understand what's happening.


Unfortunately, Unicorn Jelly doesn't really do that.


Now, the reasons are probably simple. Reitz wrote that she made this up as she went along. This strip was probably only intended for a dozen or so readers, so there may be a lot that I just don't know. I don't think that Reitz read a lot of comics (though I may be wrong), so she might not have understood how to structure things. Also, she seems to have come from a computer game background, so world building are more important than plot or character.


I suppose I should take a moment to describe the story ...


Suffice it to say, Unicorn Jelly is a very cute blob who befriends a young witch in a magical world. This should be a Kiki's Delivery Service type of thing going on, and we're in a setting filled with magic, crystalline creatures vaguely out of "The Dark Crystal," and blob people. We find out that this universe is made up of triangular planet disks, we travel a little.


Then everyone dies horribly with lots of explosions. Oh, and cute Unicorn Jelly who should be the main character or at least the mascot of the comic, is barely in it. And he possibly dies horribly. We don't know.


So, I'm going to mention some things that I really do love about this comic strip.


1 -- THE FACT THAT IT GOT MADE AT ALL.


Unicorn Jelly was drawn with a mouse (!!), and it's impressive that any images at all were able to be produced. This strip is a product of the early days of the internet, before Facebook and Deviantart. It was ahead of its time in many ways.


2 -- IT'S A "MANGA-STRIP"


Reitz calls Unicorn Jelly a "manga strip," and that's very smart, especially for the early 2000s. Even today, too many strips are too influenced by Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes. She had the foresight to look into other comic paths. Now, I'm not sure she really read manga -- perhaps she just got the look from video games of the time, but still, I'm giving her all the credit.


3 -- THE DESIGN OF UNI HIMSELF


Unicorn Jelly, as a character, is the most cute and marketable thing every made. It should be a plushy and a sticker and a toy. This is what the strip should have been. Uni should have been a combination of Totoro and the cat from Kiki. You know, the one voiced by Phil Hartman or whatever. Uni is just a great design.


4 -- IT'S BRIAN FROUD WORLDBUILDING


My favorite film is the Dark Crystal, and I could see immediately that Unicorn Jelly's strength was its worldbuilding: its triangular world-plates, its Jelly People, its playable Taasen chess, and all sorts of little details. We have names for elements, forces of nature, and the like. If this would building material were dumped in the lap of Brian Froud and the Muppets, they would have a field day taking these images and turning them into the most awesomest things ever.


So, will I read the other works by Reitz? I might, one day, if I can find them in print form. I may have to re-read Unicorn Jelly again. Reitz claims that Unicorn Jelly is a "philosophical comic strip," but I don't think that's the case. When Plato, Nietzsche, or Rand wrote philosophical fiction, it was to explain an actual school of philosophy. The Matrix is philosophical in the sense that it's a smorgasbord of philosophical schools mashed together. I thought that perhaps Reitz thought that "philosophical" meant "allegorical," and that almost works for the first few pages, but quickly breaks down. I think that "philosophical" means, to her, that characters, motivation, and plot don't matter, only creating a computer game in paper (comic) form.


What, then, is the future of Outsider Art?


I think we have some examples from history. I think it's interesting that with Greek Mythology we have bits and fragments of what the original traditions were, but what has really survived have been poetic traditions forged by centuries, or the works of poets taking material that had already existed for generations. Virgil and Homer survive, whereas much of the original is gone.


Perhaps a better example is with Arthurian Mythology. We have some of the end product of the Welsh cycles, we have Geoffery's histories and all, but it's really Mallory who crammed everything into one ginormous cycle. But that wasn't the end of it. Centuries later, White took Mallory, trimmed out digressions, put in dialogue and plot, and produced "The Once and Future King." Nowadays, I think that when most people think of King Arthur they really think of works inspired by "Once and Future King." My idea of Prince Arthur and Merlin, for instance, comes from the Disney version.


Well, perhaps, centuries hence, someone will look at Henry Darger's writings and art and produce an illustrated book that will have the essence of what he was trying to communicate.


Likewise, far in the future, I can see someone making a Unicorn Jelly Manga that would do the same.


What would a Unicorn Jelly Manga look like? Well, honestly, I think it would look a lot like Miyazaki's Nausicaa. A thousand pages, a blending of European and Japanese art styles. A single adventure that portrays an alien world.


This future artist (perhaps someone living on the Mars colony a thousand years hence) may be inspired by all the world building at the back of the book. And in his manga version, Unicorn Jelly and his witch friend travel from town to town, not unlike Kiki. In each town they meet one weird creature, perhaps experience one strange food, and meet one new character. Slowly we build up this world over five to ten years of comic strips, rather than with awkward info-dumps.


Once the world and characters are thoroughly established, and once hints of what are to come have been set out, we can finally learn the "big plot" of the comic, that is, that everyone has to go on an exodus in arks. But rather than the violence and dissonance of the original, in this version Unicorn Jelly comes to a new world and has a happy ending after a thousand pages. The end.


Who knows how characters will be reinterpreted a thousand years from now? Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, Mickey Mouse, they've all changed. And perhaps, one day, Unicorn Jelly will be added to this pantheon.

0Comments
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
8 min read

Right now I'm reading a webcomic, but it's going to take me a couple of weeks to finish it. After that, I think I may take a dive a classic comic strip that needs no introduction. For Christmas I got a book that had all of the 1950s dailies of Peanuts, and that first decade will be interesting to explore.


Right now a lot of Peanuts books are being published, and, from what I can tell, they are shedding quite a bit of light on Schulz' life and creative process. You'd think that anything that can be said about Peanuts has been. But, I have a couple of thoughts that I'd like to get out there. When I get to Peanuts in a fortnight or so, perhaps I will have changed my mind.


1 -- PEANUTS should have been set in the 1930s.


Okay, now there's no way that the syndicate would have allowed Schulz to do a retro-comic strip in Oct 1950. The syndicate had some specific ideas about how they wanted him to develop the "Lil' Folks" panel into a four-panel space saver.


However, if we look at that comic strip as a whole, as a pure, platonic work of art, away from considerations of the time, I think that it really should have been set in the 1930s, since so much of the strip was inspired by Schulz' childhood, and even the stuff that's a commentary on the 1950s and beyond could easily be adapted (and be more poignant) if retro-fitted. After all, it's not like Asterix REALLY takes place in 50 BC, no more than the Wizard of Id takes place in mediaeval times.


Now, it's true that PEANUTS does feature technology of the 1950s -- well, televisions and telephones, but those could easily have been changed to radios and old-timey phones. This is a problem that Watterson also found -- he realized that in order for "Calvin and Hobbes" to remain timeless, he'd have to arrest the look of technology, so Calvin's phone and television don't really look like materials from the 1980s and 1990s.


One very odd thing about Peanuts is what I call "Sliding Memory." Originally in the strip when Schulz was thinking of his father or his childhood, he'd have a character say "Well, my Father blah blah blah." But as the strip continues and time passes, Schulz shifted the memory, and a character would say, "Well, my Grandfather blah blah blah ... or I saw in an old movie." Obviously these problems could be solved by halting time or having the strip take place in another world. Also remember how references to "the war" keep changing -- first it's the Korean War, then Viet Nam (Franklin's father is away fighting in that way), until by the 1990s Snoopy remarks "I don't even know which war that was."


Here are some instances where the strip takes place in the 1930s, but nobody seems to notice it.


I've seen Youtube videos of where Schulz grew up and his childhood home, and that's the set-up of the strips. Lots of small family houses connected by sidewalks with lots of common yard for the children to play. These houses are all grouped in such a way that the housewife can always yell at the kids and tell them that dinner is ready. In Peanuts we don't see the adults (except in the early strips), but with this context in mind we realize that the adults, especially the neighborhood mothers, are always around, just out of sight.


Now, while some of that arrangement continued in 1950s America, this was also a time with the beginning of suburbia, car culture, and housewives who had part-time jobs. Of course lots of children still played and lived a life kinda like the strip, but even in Oct 1950 things weren't quite as Schulz portrayed them: he was remembering.


I think we see this quite a bit with the baseball games. The Peanuts games are fairly chaotic things because the kids organize them themselves, but by the 1950s there were a lot of organized little league competitions. Kids were still kids, but I think there was a lot more organization to things. Plus, boy scouts and other activities were on the rise at that time.

A clear-cut sign of Schulz' memory is the whole Red Baron thing. Now, in the 1950s kids were reading comics about the Korean War. Not a kid was thinking about the Great War. That's a complete play-time-of-the-1930s thing.


There actually is a comic strip which is basically Peanuts of the 1930s. It's called "Skippy," whence we get Skippy Peanut Butter. I've only read a few strips of it, but one day I'll find a book version, and it would be interesting to compare and contrast it with Peanuts.


2 -- CHARLIE BROWN vs SNOOPY


The second and final thought that I have for today is one that's a bit more difficult to articulate, but one which readers have brought up for decades. The basic idea is that, despite how cute (and marketable) Snoopy is, he might have "ruined" the strip. The basic idea is that Snoopy changes the strip from an edgy counter-cultural thing to something that's a bit too cutsey.


Now, I don't quite agree with that. I think that Snoopy (as he developed in the 1960s) not only brought a lot to the strip but ensured its longevity. But I do think that this points to a more salient issue, one that I call "Comic strip rot."


Every comic strip changes. Drawing every day, drawing the same characters, is going to necessitate changes. Usually characters get better designed, and more popular characters come to the forefront. Alley Oop, for instance, really only becomes Alley Oop with the introduction of time travel, some years into the strip.


However, there are times when a strip really just changes completely from its original conception. Perhaps "rot" has set it. It really depends on the strip.


An extreme example is Barney Google, whose entire strip changed when Snuffy Sniff was introduced. For decades the strip was just "Snuffy Sniff," and only nerds like me knew who Barney Google and Sparkplug were. To a much lesser degree we see this with other strips. A lot of the original cast of "Bloom County" disappeared or just took a back seat to Opus as the years passed.


So, in "Peanuts" we really have two competing comic strips: one is the psychological commentary among Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Linus with the other characters in supporting roles (and Snoopy as a walk-on). Then we have the more whimsical Snoopy adventures, where he's writing, imagining, having adventures with Woodstock, or meeting the rest of the Snoopy family.


Now, a way to reconcile this would have to have two separate concurrent comic strips, though, even if Schulz had known he was going to have these two themes, would not have been easily produced at the time, or even now. Schulz was a lone wolf with his strip and didn't have any assistants. Now, he did collaborate on the Dell comic books of the 1950s, with a sports comic strip, and of course with the animated specials. But it's hard to imagine his working on two comic strips at the same time since he would have had to work with another person.


Assuming that he knew he'd have these two themes, the simplest way to "arrest the rot," so the speak, would have been to have good planning. I know that mangaka plan out their lives to the minute, but I'm afraid Schulz wasn't always that particular. In his strip you can see that sometimes he'd forget that, by the time a strip was published, that it should be winter, or that he'd have to cram a Valentine's story into a couple of days because he forgot the date. But if he had a good planning schedule, he could have just mapped out the comic and decided that a certain number of weeks would be devoted to the Psychological theme that built the strip, a certain number of weeks to the Whimsical Snoopy, a certain period of time for holidays, and some free time for whatever idea came to him

.

Now, if Charlie Brown and Snoopy should have been separate comic strips, where does that put Peppermint Patty? She's a character who's certainly strong enough to have stared in her own strip. She, Marcy, and Franklin form their own ecosystem, in the next neighborhood. Easily its own strip, with occasional walk-ons by Snoopy or Chuck. Or perhaps she should have been wrapped up into the Snoopy strips. Not sure.


Anyway, these are my thoughts on Peanuts, which I'll probably start reading in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I'm reading a very, very unusual webcomic ...

0Comments
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
9 min read

WHAT IF THE COMIC STRIP "POGO" WERE WRITTEN BY A SOUTHERNER?


Last night, Louisiana didn't have its traditional Mardi Gras celebrations, but many places had "Yardi Gras" in which houses themselves were decorated to look like parade floats. Also, half of the country, including much of Texas and a lot of the South, are suffering from a late winter storm: in Texas alone hundreds of thousands have been without power for a couple of days.


All this thinking about the South has gotten me to ponder the really important question:

What if "Pogo" had been written by a Southerner?


Now, "Pogo" is a comic strip that I return to every couple of years. Walt Kelly was an expert draftsman who cut his teeth working at Disney: you'll see him credited for Fantasia, for instance. The strip, which ran from 1948-1973, is filled with Funny Animals who live in the Okefenokee Swamp, where they speak in a Vaudeville pun-laden Dialect. And they occasionally blow each other up. This may be the comic strip that has influenced me the most, though one detail does nag at me. See, Kelly was a Yankee, and most of "Pogo" was drawn in (gasp) New York City. It doesn't really reflect anything Southern at all. In fact, if I'm to be completely honest, often the strip has the aura of "look-at-how-dumb-and-lazy-these-critters-are."


Of course, I don't really expect a comic strip from my Great-Grandfather's generation really to care about portraying any real place to any degree. "Barney Google and Snuffy Smith" and later "Lil' Abner" were drawing upon the Hillbilly Craze of the 1930s, and there's nothing remotely true about the Appalachian culture contained therein. Nor should I disparage those strips for that reason.


However, as best I can tell, there was only one comic strip that came close to portraying the South, and that is Doug Marlette's "Kudzu." I only have a couple of "Kudzu" books -- eventually I'll find the rest of them -- but it most definitely takes place in North Carolina, in the fictional town of Bypass. I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Marlette did draw Kudzu in (gasp) New York City, at least for a time, and there are some strips that play upon the "look-at-how-dumb-and-backwards-these-folk-are."


But then again, the Okefenokee Swamp is a real place. Mostly in Georgia, but I think also in bits of Florida. And Pogo and his pals do mention a couple of places in George.


So, as a thought experiment, I'm going to assume that Walt Kelly lived today. He's going to make his Funny Animal strip. Maybe this Kelly moved to the South. I don't know, it's a different universe. He'll still call his strip "Pogo," and it'll still take place in the Okefenokee, but he'll also draw inspiration from all of the South, from Texas, to Louisiana, to Virginia.

And none of this mean-spirted "let's-make-fun-of-the-South" nonsense.


Now, I'm going to assume that basically all of the characters and the setting are the same. We'll just have some minimal tweaks. The art style will remain the same. The only change to the setting is that, instead of always living in the swamp, let's say that the Funny Animals also have a town, perhaps in the heart of the Bayou. That way we can have a school and small town stuff.


So, I'm proposing that this Kelly would make the following changes to the strip. These elements that I'll list aren't exclusive to Southern Culture of course, but I think that by just emphasizing them a bit the strip would be a bit more authentic.


Okay, let's begin.


1 -- GOTHIC FAMILY CRAZINESS


For those who need a refresher, most of the characters in Pogo are bachelors who hang around all day without jobs or things to do. Pogo gets visited by his sister (Petunia, I think), perhaps once, and he's got a bajillion nieces and nephews. But that's it for family. There's only a single eligible girlfriend in the entire swamp, Mam'selle Hepzibah, and we know nothing about her family.


Well, this is the easiest thing to change. Pogo should have a big family. His sister and their kids can live in a tree, and Pogo being the bachelor uncle lives next door. Perhaps sometimes he has to entertain the little tykes. I'd throw in more relatives -- a Mama Possum matriarch who's always trying to get Pogo married. Perhaps Mama Possum is friends with Miz Beaver, who in the comic strip we have seems to be the widow match maker of the swamp (she seems to have a semi-maternal relationship with Mam'selle Hepzibah).


Albert the Gator, Pogo's best friend, I think has a nephew in one strip. Well, this can easily be expanded.


It's also a little silly for Mam'selle to be the ONLY girl in the swamp, but one topic at a time.


2 -- ICED TEA AND FOOD


Food is truly universal, and a way that the strip could be more Southern is to make references or to show some of this food. Now, the original strip does this sometimes, but usually to make fun of Southern Food. Well, I see no reason that in our imagination that Kelly couldn't have drawn upon all of the culinary traditions of the south and found humorous ways to bring them up. The different animals could have barbeque contests. I'm sure that Mister Owl and Churchy Le Femme have different ideas on what makes good BBQ. Pies and biscuits. Even things like craw daddies. In much of the south the State Fair is a big deal, and food contests seem like a simple way to invoke humor.


3 -- HOLIDAYS


I mentioned Mardi Gras at the very beginning. Well, perhaps Pogo and Pals can have a parade every year. Christmas is a big deal throughout all of America, but I would also lean into that in the strip. I'm sure that someone could be very creative holiday-wise.


4 -- SILLY SPORTS


Sports culture is big in the South, and it should also be in the Okefenokee. This doesn't have to correspond to any real sport -- Kelly could make up his own version of Calvin ball. Or they could have wacky races. Imagine Pogo vs Albert in those swamp-boat-things with the fan on the back.


Also, if we can actually add more girls to the strip, we can have cheerleaders. I'm going to assume that Mam'selle is a cheerleader too.


5 -- HURRICANE SEASON


If you're within 50 miles of the coast, Hurricane Season is also a Big Deal, and I think it could be incorporated into the strip. Kelly was good at drawing rain, but I'd love to see flooding and waves too. I'm not saying destroy the town every year, but there can be hijinx that involve floods.


In fact, now that I think about it, I'd have Pogo have mountain cousins and coastal cousins, so that we can visit each from time to time to have the appropriate adventures.


6 -- TEXAS and COWBOY CULTURE


In the comic strip, the only cowboy references that come to mind is when Kelly was making fun. Well, I'd say that cowboy culture as well as country music has become more ingrained in the south than in his time. Kelly was actually a good lyricist -- that's part of the joy of the strip -- but I don't think it would hurt for one or two of his characters to have a cowboy hat. What about Beauregard the Hound Dog? In fact, there can even be a cow rustling contest every year or so.


7 -- SNOW IS A BIG DEAL


Outside of Appalachia, Snow is a Big Deal. Well, once a year or so, let snow come to the Okefenokee, and Pogo and his pals have to deal with all of the snow craziness. Half an inch of snow, and the entire swamp panics and shuts down. There's a great deal of humor to be mined there.


8 -- Say "Y'ALL," y'all.


Finally, if Kelly were a Southerner, I think that the biggest change he would make would be to make the dialect somewhat close to the way that any Southerner actually speaks. As brilliant as the dialect in the strip is, it's basically just a more readable version of "Finnigans Wake."

I'm not even sure he ever uses the word "y'all."


Now, I would keep his dialogue as close to standard American English as possible, but a few "y'all"s and other words wouldn't hurt. Southern English has some distinctive features that can be incorporated and still make it readable and enjoyable.


There is actually some interesting character work that can be done. For instance Pogo's girlfriend Mam'selle Hepzibah speaks with a French accent, and Pogo's friend Churchy Le femme has a Frenchy name. Well, just make them Cajuns who've moved into the swamp.


Anyway, these are just a couple of thoughts that I've had this Ash Wednesday.


I do love the comic strip "Pogo," but I think it's also important to consider other possibilities.

From the Georgia Encyclopedia:


https://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/arts-culture/pogo

0Comments
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
Featured
No Featured Journals Yet
Check back soon for PueyMcCleary's first Featured journal.