When I heard that everyone's favorite little stuffed bull was experiencing technical issues, I offered to fill in as a guest host for this magnificent site.
The joyful focus of Comics Oughta Be Fun may make this gig seem like an odd fit, as I have a (somewhat deserved) reputation for being a buzz-killing crankypants. Truth to tell, my cantankerous nature comes not from hate, but from love -- an abiding yet tough love for a medium (take your pick of which one) that has produced some truly great things and even more terrible ones.
It's not a matter of "high/low art," but one of intent and execution. To this end, I figured I'd use this guest hosting opportunity to spotlight some characters and comics I truly adore.
Our first entry should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with my work at Armagideon Time:
(from "Mr. Tawny Seeks Happiness" in Captain Marvel Adventures #117, Feb. 1951; by Otto Binder and C.C. Beck)
More than just an obvious example of the child-like whimsy at play in the Golden Age Marvel Family comics, Mister Tawny the Talking Tiger served as a plaid-jacketed everyman whose fallibility was offset by a noble heart and supportive peers.
Though he often played the Goofus to Billy Batson's and the Big Red Cheese's Gallant, the intent was to offer him as an instructional example for self-improvement rather than an object lesson to avoid. He slipped, he stumbled, yet always emerged from these lapses as a better person.
Whether Binder and Beck intended it to be the case, Tawny's predicament mirrored that of America's newly elevated post-WW2 middle class in his attempts to navigate a confusing environment without a clear roadmap.
His origin -- a beast of the wild who aspires toward civilized behavior -- gave a nod not only to the foibles of farm folk turned semi-sophisticated suburbanite(like my maternal grandparents) but to the process of child-to-adult maturation in general.
That's some serious semiotic baggage for a great cat in golf pants.