Another letter from a reader (The Mr. Boffo Incident)

I recently received the following letter from a fan:

Dear Mikey,
Please don’t laugh at me, but I’m one of 2,485 Americans that suffer from a very rare brain condition called Nogetus DeBoffo Disease. There is still very little known about this strange condition, but what we do know is shocking. Almost immediately upon the onset of the disease, the carrier of the condition ceases to maintain the capacity to understand single-panel comic strips such as Ziggy, The Lockhorns, Family Circus, and of course, the strip for which the disease is named, Mr. Boffo.

It is not known what causes this condition to take over the mind of such a select few individuals in this country. But a group of doctors working in conjuction with the Tribune Syndicate has developed a theory. It appears that through their extensive research, it has been determined that readers of the funny pages who tend to read their strips in a particular order have been exposed to a combination of eye stimulants that, individually, would be harmless to the human receptors, but combined, they form a deadly mixture of ink, newspaper grain, and adoloscent humor that can be crippling to the brain’s primordial lobe region.

But there is a separatist movement in the medical field which has seen a small cluster of doctors coming out against the aforementioned theory. This group of doctors, known simply as The Mary Worths believe that the problem is genetic. They believe that an extremely miniscule percentage of newborns are brought into this world missing one-twenty-fifth of their humor chromosome. The Mary Worths hope to prove this theory through extensive stem cell research.

The fact remains, Mikey, that I am one of the unfortunate souls who has spent his whole life traumatized by his inability to grasp those simplest of life’s little pleasures. And that pleasure is the single-panel comic. You can’t possibly know what it’s like to find yourself gathered around the office coffee maker as everyone admires the new Ziggy cartoon that someone posted on the company bulletin board. Faking a laugh can be a traumatic experience in its own right, and I challenge anyone to live in constant fear of the inevitible happening: “Hey there everyone, let’s see if Greg can tell us why this Ziggy cartoon is so darn funny! Greg?”

I can’t take it another day. So in a last ditch effort to keep from flinging myself into a wood chipper, I’ve enclosed a few single-panel comics in the hopes that you might be able to help me wrap my tiny little brain around them. I have no where else to turn. Please, can you help?

Signed,
Not Gettin’ It Greg

Dear Not Gettin’ It,

It just so happens that this is a field in which I am a trained expert. You’ve come to the right place. Let’s get right to it.


Clearly, poor Ziggy lost his luggage. Upon inquiring about its whereabouts, he’s informed by the friendly customer support representative that his luggage was sent to another country. Once again, poor Ziggy finds insult added to injury when it’s determined that the French luggage collectors actually became offended at the sight of Ziggy’s luggage, and decided that the best course of action would be to throw it away, rather than send it back to the place from whence it came. This is funny for several reasons: 1) Ziggy just has no luck with anything, let alone luggage; 2) the stereotype that the French are arrogant snobs is perpetuated with some effectiveness; and 3) the woman relaying the information about Ziggy’s luggage is doing so with a high level of earnestness, thus providing a subtle undertone of implied irony. But really, it just comes down to Ziggy’s penchant for bad luck.

Moving on:

This one is particularly funny. Let us break down why. For starters, it is expected that the reader know and understand that Don Juan was a man well-known for his ability to woo and bed women on a regular basis. It is expected that the reader recognize that Don Juan was a master of turning a seductive phrase at the most romantic of moments, thus rendering his female prey unable to resist his charms. However, what cartoonist Joe Martin has done here is substitute his Uncle Leon for Don Juan. The first reason this is funny, is because Uncle Leon is a much funnier sounding name than Don Juan. Secondly, the reader is expected to infer that Uncle Leon is still lamenting about the missed field goal that cost his team the big game (presumably the missed 45-yarder by Mike Vanderjagdt which cost the Indianapolis Colts a trip to the 2006 Superbowl, a game ultimately won by the team at whose hands the Colts were dealt defeat, the Pittsburgh Steelers). Thirdly, this is not the sort of question one would normally expect a gentleman to ask a lady when he is attempting to win her affection. Finally, the ultimate punch-line occurs when the reader accepts that this alternate-universe that Joe Martin created is one in which a line about the what-should-have-beens of NFL football serve as a spoken aphrodesiac. Ah, if only this world was real, and our current reality just a cartoon.

Next:

Mr. Lockhorn has arrived home from work and he’s hungry. His statement implies that his wife, Loretta, isn’t much of a cook. That’s pretty funny.

Last but not least:

I think we can all relate to this one. What we’re dealing with here is a play on words. The author of the comic is drawing a comparison to real human life. As it happens, there are things out there called “gay bars.” These are establishments at which people of a certain tendency tend to gather. In this case, it’s assumed that dogs that don’t wear collars are considered a different breed of dog. They tend to sniff the butts of the same mutts, if you get my drift. They use the fire hydrant as more than just a deposit point, if you see what I’m saying. These are dogs that often travel in fudge packs, if you take my meaning. Therefore, it just makes sense that they should have their own drinking establishment. This is funny because these two collar-wearing breeder dogs have wandered into a bar in which they don’t belong. Good stuff.

Okay, one more:

Ziggy has been drinking and doesn’t recognize a quality television program when he sees one. In this episode of CSI: Sesame Street Big Bird was shot and killed while attempting to thwart a robbery at Mr. Hooper’s liquor store. But Ernie suspects that the case isn’t as cut and dry as that. With the help of The Count, Ernie discovers that there were one…two…three…four…FOUR bullet casings on the floor of Mr. Hooper’s liquor store, ah hahahaha! Ernie takes these to Oscar who determines that they were fired from the same small caliber, nickel-plated .22 caliber handgun that was discarded in his garbage can by a large, brown, furry, four-legged muppet with a trunk not unlike an elephant’s, and a tendency to be self-loathing and depressed all the time. Brothers and bail bondsmen Cookie and Telly Monster arrive at the home of one “Snuffy” Snufalupagus and inform him of their intention to present him to the authorities. Snuffy goes cooperatively, and is placed in a holding cell. While in the cage, Snuffy finds himself in a mortal tussle with his cell mate, Grover the Glove, known assassin. Grover was picked up selling counterfeit letter G’s in the alley. As it turns out, the bust was all a big setup. Snuffy finds himself with a shiv buried deep in his trunk as he’s ultimately killed by Grover. The blue assassin struck again before vanishing in into a cloud of chicken feathers. He’s not heard from again. Meanwhile, the post-mortem forensic results indicate that Snuffy was not the Big Bird shooter after all. And through a magnificent stroke of luck, Sesame Street officials stumble across a piece of red fur stuck under the fingerhoof of their dead Snufalupagus. Further tests reveal the fur belongs to one Elmo “Maddog” Timpowski. He’s brought downtown where he cooperates and gives the Sesame Street authorities a full confession. Sadly, after prison guards fail to subject “Maddog” Timpowski to a full body and cavity search, Elmo strangles himself with the human hand on which he has come to rely for animated body movement and well-timed, comic relief providing giggle spasms. The episode ends with a despondant Kermit the Frog unveiling the details of the tragedy to the local Sesame Street media. Elmo is survived by his mother, Elmo’s Mommy, and his uncle, everyone’s favorite former gameshow host, Guy Smiley.

I hope that helped. As always, feel free to drop me a line.

The Creation of Jim Morrison

From time to time, I like to answer questions from my fans. Feel free to email me at bloggymike@yahoo.com with your questions. Here’s today’s question:

Dear Mikey,

I happen to a big fan of the Doors and Jim Morrison, yet I really know nothing about Jim’s early years or how he fell into the band. Can you enlighten me?

Signed,
Rider on the Storm

Dear Rider,

Hmmm. How to explain the legend of Jim Morrison?

Many years ago, there was a tribe of travelers that came to be known as the “Doors.” There are many oral traditions that carry on as to how this band of weary-eyed souls came to be known as the “Doors.” However, only one is held as truth.

The story begins with the tribe’s leader, a man known as Maurice Joseph Rising. It just so happened that this man was the owner of a local hardware store that specialized in porch enclosures, specifically, the installation and repair of screen doors for those porches. Now it’s widely known that Maurice Joseph (his friends came to call him MoJo), was a firm believer that doors held the key to all things in life. When we’re born we enter through a spiritual door, and when we die, we exit through a similar one. The time spent inbetween, however, is time spent searching for the door that will lead us to a level of understanding that might help guide us through this crazy ride called life. He also believed very stongly in the use of double-paned, screen-replaceable, weather-ready outer doors.

Now, it just so happened that Mr. Mojo Rising was also wildly fascinated with the field of meteorology. In fact, he combined his two passions, doors and weather, to create a theory about the “Doors of Precipitation.” His thesis on this basically broke down to: “When it rains, close the door.”

After a short time spent searching for a way to spread his message, Maurice Joseph met a group of musicians who had a desire to touch lives, but no message to spread. As you might imagine, this was a fated match made in heaven. Mr. Rising was instituted as the leader of this tribe.

No sooner did MoJo join this humble feast of friends than they encountered a problem. Following a very late night of theologous discussions around a campfire, they happened to fall asleep on a stretch of beach known as “Jesters’ Crest.” They also weren’t far from a small town known as Morse — a town famous for it’s soft stance on obscenity laws — but that’s neither here nor there. But as it happens, when they awoke, they found that they had fallen victim to the ambitious pranksters for which Jesters’ Crest was named. Our heroes found themselves in the center of an enoromous sand castle that had been erected all around them. They were completely surrounded by seven foot tall walls of sand.

Scared and confused, one of the younger players in the band of traveling musicians began to experience what can only be considered a nervous breakdown. He turned to MoJo Rising to look for guidance, but he was so distraught that his words came out terribly garbled.

It is believed that the young songsmith was trying to say, “The waves maybe will wash away the sand and we’ll be able to swim for Morse or someplace.”

In actuality, the words came out, “Save me before we’re washed away, Jim Morrisonface.”

No sooner were these anxiety-driven words uttered than the four of them froze and looked at each other. It was clear that as the leader of this tribe, Maurice Joseph Rising — Mr. MoJo Rising — was being told by his young accompanyist, speaking in tongues as the medium for a higher power, that he must assume the name of Jim Morrisonface.

Eventually, the “face” was dropped from the last name. To this day, scholars are trying to pinpoint the exact time and cause for this change, but aside from a few scientific theories and other random conjecture, it remains a mystery.

Having once again had fate step in to play a vital role in his evolution, Jim Morrison recognized that he didn’t have time to revel in his new identity. Rather, he had to act quickly in order to preserve his tribe. Once safe, the four of them could travel the world, spreading their message. From whiskey bar to whiskey bar, from L.A. woman to L.A. woman, from normal people to those people that are strange. He knew that he couldn’t let this be the end. His message must reach both angels and sailors. This moment felt like a newborn awakening.

He looked around at the four walls of sand by which they were imprisoned. He took a deep breath and looked around at his fellow tribesmen.

“These walls are sand, they are penetrable,” said the wise sage.

“Yeah, but how do we get over ‘em?” asked one of his companions. “It’s not like there’s a back door, man!”

“We must break on through,” said Jim Morrison. “We must break on through — to the other side!”

And with that, he ran at the wall, breaking through the sand as if it was nothing more than, well, sand. The group was free.

As the four men stood on the outside of their sand prison, they took a moment to relish that freedom exists. At that exact moment, a line of cars happened to be passing on the road just above them. El Caminos, tricked out and lowered, rolled by as latin salsa beats floated out on the air, surrounding the four traveling messengers.

So powerful was the line of cars, that the tribe’s leader had no choice but to simply state, “A Spanish caravan.”

The others nodded.

The rest of their history is pretty well documented in a movie called, of all things, “The Doors.”

But that’s how it all began.