Tuesday, April 29, 2008

SOUTH SEA CARTOONS compiled & edited by Harold Myers

A selection of desert island cartoons from SOUTH SEA CARTOONS, a well-used Ace Paperback, compiled & edited by Harold Myers and copyright 1955 by Avon Publications Inc.

This book, as you have astutely observed for your own self, is a theme book. There are challenges with this narrow and not so deep theme. You will realize within moments why there aren't any companion cartoon cliche books from Ace like THE BIG BOOK OF BOSS CHASING THE SECRETARY AROUND A DESK CARTOONS or PRISONER SHACKLED TO THE WALL CARTOONS, etc.
"What goes on on a desert isle -- and what comes off???" reads the back cover blurb. Above is an unsigned (and well drawn) wordless cartoon the epitomizes the tone of the book. Ahh. The 1950s, back when being pervy was fodder for laughs!

"Been here a while?"

I really like a lot of the line work in the cartoons. It's crisp and looks professional. Problem is -- most of these cartoons are unsigned. Those that are, I don't know the cartoonist.

"Keep it up, Dearie, the wind is rising"

Above is a cartoon that had an interesting gag -- and it reminded me of brass player cartoony pal Mark Anderson as well.

"Oh no! Not chewing gum here too!"

The woman in the background seems greatly amused by this fellow getting annoyed. One touch that I liked was the drawing of the clenched hands; each one in a slightly different position, just like it would be in real life. The cartoonist who drew this is not afraid to draw. A good working-in of the palm in the background; a necessary visual tell to let us know we're on a desert island.

Above: a rather lush and large island, with the typical gag of the desert island guys and gals.

One of my favorite cartoons from the book. There's another cartoon that has a similar gag (see just below), but this one (one of the few to showcase that a woman also has her needs) is put together with such an expert reclining figure. Look at her dainty left foot, dangling languidly, as she smilingly daydreams.

"But aren't there any male mermaids?"

Does it make sense for a desert island to have a cactus instead of a palm tree? It's the only cactus in the book, except for the partially obscured on on the cover. I like the little fish jumping out for a brief ogle.

"Alright, already! Have your daily track workout, but not all day!"

It's good to keep yourself in shape. Above, a good gag about what to do with all the time on your hands when shipwrecked.

"Dearie, I have some great news for you!"

Another cartoon about what has gone on over time on a desert island.

"And now the mast is installed and all we need is a little bit of cloth."

Looks to me like he has more than her. I look at this and am confounded by the crosshatching. Is it a sky effect? A twig canopy?

"I don't know why we're running ... in a week we'll probably be chasing him."

Another concession that sex runs rampant on these "nautical but nice" (quote from the frontispiece) South Sea islands. A nice conceit that the lady chasees may soon become future chasers. One mistake: cropping off the top of the seminal palm tree. Now it doesn't read like a palm tree and the only way I know it's an island for sure is because it appears in the book SOUTH SEA CARTOONS.

"Hands off! It's for Daddy's birthday!"

And, last but not least, let's include a cannibal gag. If SOUTH SEA CARTOONS were published today, there would be Lost and Gilligan's Island references in place of these politically incorrect cartoons.

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