Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cartoon Dirge

Bizarro is brought to you today by Shrouds 'N More. "Filling your final needs since 1973."

The Grim Reaper has been a cartoon cliche for decades and rightly so. What could be funnier than death? Okay, you're right, almost anything is, but still, he makes a terrific spokesperson for what is untenably a very unpopular product.

The surprising origins of the Grim Reaper are fascinating. The character first appeared in a Road Runner comic book in 1914, at the height of the Nazi scourge of Europe. Because Hitler invariably wore solid black, the color was assigned to G.R. The skeleton face, hands and feet were a recent addition, however, the original reaper had no face but the hands and feet of a house cat, presumably because they are such good hunters.

Most interesting of all, perhaps, is the implement G.R. never seems to be without. Most modern-day hominids assume it is a scythe, but according to the comic in which the character originated (Road Runner vs. The Black Terror, #45, page 13) the weapon is "wrought from the crooked limb of the baobab tree, fixed with the fang of a saber-toothed tiger."

Furthermore, the original character had a prominent upside-down star, or "pentagon," on his chest, the well-known symbol of the Nazi Party. Historians tell us, however, that even though they carried that name proudly, the Nazis were not particularly good party givers. Many personal accounts and documents from the era recount how stingy the Nazis were with snacks and libations and that their choice in party music was, "dour and sometimes downright dirge-like."

Whatever your opinion of death, Nazies, WWI, or the Road Runner, I hope you enjoyed today's cartoon.

22 comments:

jimbojones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
isee3dtoo said...

The Reaper and the Roadrunner. There has to be a movie or at least one cartoon in that. If it is just the roadrunner explaining to the reaper that a saber-tooth tiger fang is needed for starters. Or, I could see the reaper at a hardware store asking for a new fang, or trying to "shop-lift" a fang from the Smithsonian. Too many possibilities.

Great history lesson on this one.

isee3dtoo said...

Also why do caskets need to be so nice, or why can't we bury people standing up or standing on their head? The dead don't care! I love the idea of green burial in fact...

...I actually believe feeding our dead to sharks makes more sense that burying them. I guess we don't want sharks to get too obese or lazy. I mean sharks hanging around the "meat boat" would be kind of gross. Also they might try for fresher product than the recent dead. But hey, I would rather feed sharks that take prime land up for eons.

jimbojones said...

If you're gonna hit a tired cliche, how about a fresh take on it?

Penny said...

I enjoyed the cartoon and I LOVED the background info on the grim reaper! I had no idea it was such a recent incarnation.

Mel2 said...

This cartoon cracked me up!

Jezzka said...

those nazis were very stingy on the snacks, mealy soups and hose water, what kind of hospitality is that?! i agree, a plate of pickles would have been nice. chips, bean dip, a little guac, a shot of whisky, anything would have been better.

Matt said...

Time-travelling Nazis. Yikes!

Mike Duffau said...

We're gonna kick the bucket one way or the other. It's better to see the light than to see the GR!

Leigh said...

Don't forget your chessboard!

Peaches said...

Isn't the scythe a sickle? Anyways in Greek myth, Cronus uses a sickle to castrate his father out of revenge for his mother's wrath. Father time is cloaked and carries a sickle. Think about that one.

doug nicodemus said...

i still say you could become famous if you put new duds on the old guy. a hoody, tennis shoes (i like keds), baggy sweats...make him a dude from the hood...or put him in a suit and tie.

anyway as i said earlier ...very funny HAHAHAHA

asb said...

I think that Penny will find the Wikipedia article about the Grim Reaper to be very enlightening. :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grim_Reaper

Tregenza said...

I think there is a typo and you mean 1941 not 1914.

Jennie Panic said...

the nazi's rose to power in the 1930's, not 1914. and the 'pentagon' is an inverted pentacle or pentagram and I am unaware of that being used by the nazi party. More familiar is the swastika.

historical inaccuracies aside, the cartoon is funny.

Shortcake said...

i think what i like best about GR is that he doesn't have to look threatening, or put off an ugly demeanor. all he has to do is appear, and people know what's up. it's always really funny when he is depicted as having a voice, and is usually like "sorry.. i'm just doing my job." that would be a tought job.. everywhere you go people are unhappy to see you. poor guy...

Tanja said...

I had a look at the Wikipedia article, too (and in two languages, geek that I am). The image of the Grim Reaper is much older than the Roadrunner cartoon. I remembered it from a German folksong from the nineteenth century (the song is from the nineteenth century, not my memory of it), but it's an image from the Middle Ages apparently.

Still, a funny cartoon, Dan :)

Tanja said...

Jennie panic, good point!! Dan, what happened? How did you get the pages of your history book so mixed up? It's 1941 you meant, right?

Hey, I rely on you for my daily education... :)

Tanja said...

In a similar vein, could there be a cartoon in the fact that Coca Cola did NOT "invent Santa"...? Like Santa, or maybe even Mrs Claus (wherever she came from), writing to Coca Cola's complaints department?

PIRARO said...

Okay, you guys are killing me. My history of the Grim Reaper is a complete farce, intended to make you chuckle. Glad to see I herded a few of you to Wikipedia, though. : )

TARDISGirl78 said...

i think this is funny. the therapist is oblivious.

it reminds me of the episode of Family Guy where the Grim Reaper likes the girl in the pet shop and he's trying not to kill all the animals so it will be quiet.

Melissa

fran said...

Yeah, these bloggers are a riot, aren't they Dan? You should have them write your comic for yo-- oh, wait... nevermind.