Monday, July 3, 2017

But what if Louis C.K. were a cartoon lion? What then?

My biggest artistic challenge: giving a lion a goatee.

This was my bible.
Have you heard of the comic strip Animal Crackers? You can be forgiven for saying no. This particular newspaper feature, revolving around animals who act and talk like people, was originally created in 1967 by cartoonist Roger Bollen. It's carried on today by Fred Wagner. When I was growing up, our local paper, The Flint Journal, didn't carry Animal Crackers, so I never read it.

My only brush with Animal Crackers occurred when its protagonist, Lyle Lion, showed up in a book called Draw 50 Famous Cartoons by Lee J. Ames. That book was like a sacred text to me when I was eight or nine, and I dutifully followed Ames' instruction and drew my own wobbly, lopsided picture of Lyle Lion using ovals and cylinders, but I was never compelled to track down this comic strip.

I guess this would be Animal Crackers' 50th anniversary year, but it's not getting much media attention the way Sgt. Pepper is. Shown above is the installment of the strip for July 3, 2017. It's based around a tired mother-in-law joke that would have been dated in 1967. No wonder Animal Crackers hasn't captured the public's imagination in half a century of continuous content.

I decided that what Animal Crackers needed was a more modern approach to humor, so I rewrote Lyle Lion as if he were comedian Louis C.K. That's not so far-fetched. Louie played a dog in The Secret Life Of Pets, so why not a lion? And, besides, it's not like any kids read the newspaper funnies anymore. Why can't the humor be a little more grown up? Naturally, the profanity from C.K.'s act can't be included in a daily newspaper, but this just requires some tasteful pruning of certain offensive vowels (as shown above).

Here's one more example to illustrate the concept. I promise you, my version could have been an episode of the FX series Louie.

I tried a different approach to the goatee this time. What do you think?

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