Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Peach Fuzz?

Have you seen this new comic strip? It was in Sunday's L.A. Times announcing that it would be in 30 U.S. daily newspapers. It isn't in our Inland Empire Edition yet. It seems to be about a 9 year old American girl named Amanda Keller who wants a pet. She is pleading with her parents with those "signature" soulful eyes that you've seen in other Japanese cartoons. She decides on a ferret, still illegal in these parts I think, and names it "Peach Fuzz" because of it's soft fur. It looks quite appealing especially for kids around 9, upper elementary, with it's "wide-eyed" innocence. Manga, the Japanese cartoon art, is published by Tokyopop, a leading publisher of this genre in the U.S. It is distributed by Universal Press Syndicate which, I think, is the same one so successful with "Peanuts".

Comic Strips have changed over the years. The print versions are now in a desperate struggle against all the latest "high def" digital ones on video and computer games ie. XBox etc. Fewer and fewer families even subscribe to daily newspapers, let alone read comic books anymore. Serialized episodes are a thing of the past. Sense of "story-line" with "a plot" ie. protagonists, antagonists, heroes, villains etc. seem to be on there way out; replaced by graphically exciting "hunt them down" "shoot them dead" senarios. These are just my limited observations, very limited. I wonder what long run effect it will have on our youth's ability and interest in "telling a story", "championing age-old values", wanting more "substance and content" in their lives?

But then I look back on some of the comics I grew up with and I'm not so convinced that our next generation of "comic readers" is headed to "Toonsville Shallowland". Do you remember "Blondie"? "The Katzenjammer Kids"? "Dick Tracy"? "Li'l Abner"? They weren't known for their "heavy content" either. Then we have "Garfield", "Calvin and Hobbes" and my hope is a bit restored. I used to check the mail almost everyday during the last part of the month for my latest edition of my "Donald Duck" comic book. I collected them. Wish I had saved them because they would really be worth something now. "Sadie Hawkins Day" was originally introduced (to me?) by Al Capp and his "Li'l Abner" where once a year the "spinsters" got to chase and try to catch the "dyed in the wool bachelors" all around 'Dogpatch". It was funny what they would do not to get caught. I guess that's why we called them "Funny papers".

"The Peach Fuzz Quintet" was the name of an early "Christian/Gospel Rock" Band at our church in Eagle Rock back in the '50's. Charlie Magnuson, a piano whizz and elementary school teacher, got the band going. It was all instrumental and very popular at the time. This reference to "Peach Fuzz" had to do with their not "shaving yet" but having that pre-whisker stubble that is still soft. These guys were not "cartoons" but real-life "cool guys" as I remember. ie. someone to emulate. I took piano lessons but I just couldn't play like Charlie. He went on to be the main organist and choir director at ol' Eagle Rock Covenant. I remember when he retired from teaching. I wonder of he is still with us? He was one of my "real life heroes". I don't think I ever told him. Bob


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