What a crappy way to sell Song Of The South! I guess it's a free country and all that, but as somebody who loves that movie and would like to see it unstigmatized, I gotta say this ain't helping!

The first line reads "Own the movie that THEY don't want you to know exists!" (It's a Flash graphic, so I had to grab screen shots). I don't know who THEY are, but - oh hell, I don't need to go on.

The web page auto-updated while I was making the screen shots, so the ad disappeared and I couldn't click it. I have no idea who "H" is.

Since I brought it up, here's my take on "racist" imagery. I think cartoons that have ethnic (or gay, or religious etc) characters that are unsavory buffoons are racist. I think cartoons that have ethnic characters that are clearly loveable and even heroic are merely naive. All the children love Uncle Remus. He's kind and wise. He even seems happy! It may be naive to portray a plantation slave's life as jolly, but I don't think it's mean-spirited.

Walt Kelly always treated Bumbazine with respect, in the context of Pogo comics. Compared to Albert and other swamp characters, he's a genius!

Little Black Sambo - I've never understood why that's a bad character. He tricks tigers into butter! He's the hero!

I think the waters start to get muddy when the ethnic character becomes subservient. Ebony White starts to seem a little offensive to me. I don't think Eisner meant it that way, and sadly I think Ebony White is more accepted and has stood the test of time more than Bumbazine. Sad because bumbazine should be accepted TOO, not because there's so much wrong with Ebony. In my mind, Bumbazine and Uncle Remus are just a tad LESS racist than Ebony. It ain't fair!

Anyway - promoting "arguably racist" bumper stickers with Song of the South DVDs - ugh. It slimes Song of the South. If I saw those WACKY bumper stickers alone I doubt if I'd even notice them. In and of themselves I don't find them so much offensive as just lame. But juxtaposing them with a DVD that has racist notoriety sux. The racist notoriety is unfair in my opinion, but it exists and this seller seems to be exploiting it and playing the reverse-oppression card.

eeTeeD wants me and Sculptor Rick to get that #@%#% Buddy #2 finished already, and so do we! We're working on it! I just took a break to check the headlines and saw that annoying ad and got distracted. Here's a screen shot of some work in progress. This shot shows: story by me - pencils by Rick - lettering by the font "Jack Armstrong", unless Rick changed it - space capsules and capsule interiors built by me in photoshop. If this was a work of "ART" that I felt passionate about, like a painting of Apu and Sue storm, I would not cheat in photoshop, or use typeset lettering. But since it's a commercial project that needs to look super-clean and stop taking so dang long to finish, I say cheat away!


Here's my reply to somebody who wrote and asked "how much" for TMNT art. In case anybody else wants to know.

I've been getting $100 page for "good" pages, ones with strong character presence. "Not as good" pages, ones that just don't have the same OOMPH are $75. And really lame pages - pages that have xerox special effects, or lots of text etc, pages that are still actual art from a TMNT comic but not in great demand - I've let them go for $50 or less, sometimes WAY less. The issue where the turtles are mutated into the weird robots that don't look like turtles have never been in great demand, so I'll probably sell them for $75. Personally I love them the BEST, but TMNT fans don't seem to be too fond of them. As you can see, I'm flexible. If you're interested in buying anything, let me know what page(s) and we'll firm it up.


eeTeeD said...

well, i'm glad to see y'all working on the peanut comic!
jack armstrong font. jack armstrong was the all american boy, do you remember him?
there's something i want to tell you, but it's a surprise. hopefully it can be revealed by the end of the month.
when you "... just took a break to check the headlines..." did you read about the mine hole that opened up a block away from my house? feeling a bit uneasy at the moment.

Jed said...

The Song of the South thing is in interesting question...

The Jim Crowish black dialect is probably the most offensive thing about the movie, but the stories are actually pretty good stories.

It's just the fall-out from stuff like this that is kind of dangerous.

For instance: after seeing Song of the South with my grandmother as a kid, she informed me that "some people think that the movie is racist" and that she couldn't see why that could be. As a 7 year old, I had to agree. I didn't have anything against black people, even if I didn't know that many of them. Then, when we got home, she read the stories to me in her own version of a black dialect.

The problem here is that this was sometime around 1980, the civil rights movement HAD happened, and I was led to believe that this characterization of black people was Ok.

Now as adults we can put all this stuff into context, but kids don't have that kind on insight. Kids are sponges, and this and other misconceptions about black people were all too easily absorbed by the 7 year old me. Imagine, for instance, being on the playground and quoting Brer Rabbit "No no mistah Brer Fox, don't you throw me into that 'ol briar patch". And think about who might have heard me say something like this, even if it was with innocent intentions.

And yes, I had Little Black Sambo with it's little red cover and I read it over and over again and LOVED that book. I loved the idea of turning tigers into butter, and I loved those big stacks of pancakes. But the images and the history that goes along with the book, the Black Sambo restaurants and the big red lipped stereotype isn't something that a kid should be fed without context, and young children aren't old enough to really grasp that context.

I remember thinking that black dialect was a really funny way to talk and emulating stereotypical black speech up to the age of 13, and I'm sure Song of the South and Black Sambo didn't help.

And I'm not accusing you, Mark, of endorsing these stories for kids, or saying that they are in any way appropriate for kids, but I'm just pointing out--there's a reason why Song of the South isn't in wide circulation, and I think it's a pretty good reason.

And what you're doing in photoshop has got to be 10 times easier in illustrator. What are you thinking? If you're going to cheat, make it a little easier on yourself.

Mark Martin said...

eeT - NO! Have not seen the yawning chasm that is about to swallow you!

Jed - I can't go into a long techy discourse now, but Photoshop is much easier for me. Stroked marquees and line tool, snap to guides, eraser tool, layers, it's all there and way easier to use. MAGIC WAND! PLUS you don't have to go in and out of programs and export eps and open eps...

The main reason I do Teeny Weeny in vector is the tiny text. It prints better, and there's lots of it. Photoshop sux for text.

kneelsen said...

Hopefully we can wrap up Buddy McNutty before we collect social security!

Some tech notes:
The font we're using now is called Duty Calls from Blambot. Open Type version is great for cross platform work. Mark is Mac and I'm on a PC.
The layout is InDesign this time around instead of Quark.
Jed I can see where it screams Illustrator but I agree with Mark that for the way we work Photoshop has it all.

Jed said...

Found on Boing Boing today and completely awesome:

Janet said...

Jed, my sister Lisa owned that awesome set of plastic wigs when she was a kid. I feel sorry for my mom sometimes, because when we are reminded of such "jewels" from our childhood, we always get on to my mom..."Mom, why didn't you save every thing we ever owned as a child?"...

HemlockMan said...

The Ebony White image was the nastiest form of racism. It's a particular bit of urine in my cornflakes. I hate the fact that a major comics award has Eisner's racist name on it.

Not all caricature is necessarily racist. You could argue that all white cartoon characters are racist, based on certain criteria. But of course white people weren't being treated like slaves and kept in ghettos and being lynched. You have to see this stuff as part of a whole.

I think John Kricfalusi says that his all-time favorite cartoon is COAL BLACK AND DE SEBBEN DWARFS. I tried to watch it for the first time about five years ago and found it so offensive that I couldn't sit through it. A few days ago I watched the whole of it from beginning to end (Internet site) and I still find it offensive. Great animation and sight gags? No better than other toons. But certainly horribly racist.

When I was about thirteen or so I saw one of the last theatrical releases of SONG OF THE SOUTH. Having been brought up by my leftist parents, I recall feeling really creepy as I sat through the film. There was something strangely hideous about all of those oh-so-happy slaves. I've since seen the movie on Japanese video and was surprised that it didn't creep me out at all. I'm not sure what the problem is, unless it's the fact that they show all of those slaves as happy with their lot in life; or perhaps it's the dialect with which Uncle Remus speaks. Whatever the flaws, it's brilliant work and, I don't feel, overtly racist.

Nice to see the work-in-progress stuff. I love watching graphics artists at work. The first panel on the second page reminds me of a William Van Horn Disney duck page I own.

(Do you like William Van Horn's stuff? I admire it.)

SRBissette said...

The coolest aspect of SONG OF THE SOUTH to me is how Uncle Remus is clearly Disney's surrogate self in the film: it is, after all, a parable about the importance of stories and storytellers to children and their development.

At the time, Disney was beginning to feel the first backlash concerning the fragmented families (e.g., orphan heroes and heroines, evil stepparents, etc., all true to the source material Disney gravitated to and adapted) and sometimes horrific imagery. Parent groups and critics were reacting with increasing venom, and you can see how this informed SONG OF THE SOUTH from stem to stern: Uncle Remus clearly IS Disney, or Disney's idealized projection of himself, as the loving, caring storytelling 'uncle'.

The film is really about how the little boy's life is impacted not only by Remus's influence and stories, but the conflict between that influence and the misguided mother who ultimately denies the lad access to Uncle Remus, precipitating a near-fatal disaster.

Race and ethnic imagery is part and parcel of cartooning -- always has been, always will be. Caricature, especially when its fueled by xenophobia and demonization of 'the other' (choose your era and poison) has spawned some appalling racist imagery, and its been as savagely leveled against the Irish, Mexicans, Germans, Japanese, etc. as it has been against blacks. Such is life -- I think it's important to show the racist cartoons to every generation, if only to inoculate against the virus, but also to understand our past and our history.

That said, SONG OF THE SOUTH is indeed a splendid movie, and I ache to see it on the big screen again some day. I last caught it during its 1977 re-release with THE ARISTOCATS, which was the last time Disney legally released it in the US; thankfully, the legal British video release and the Japanese laserdisc edition preserves the film for those able to locate a copy of either.

Jed said...

I would have sworn I was older than 4 when I saw Song of the South, but if it was 1977, I must've been 4. I swear I saw that film in the theatre! And I totally remember my grandmother reading the Uncle Remus stories afterwards, camping up the black dialect.

Anyway, Steve says, "racist imagery,...(has) been as savagely leveled against the Irish, Mexicans, Germans, Japanese, etc. as it has been against blacks."

Now there have definitely been stereotypical and racist portrayals of other ethnicities, but African Americans got it the worst. The key here is that African American's didn't have an opportunity to portray themselves in the media as they saw themselves. All of the other ethnic groups you mention had cultural traditions that predated these stereotypes. African Americans are the exception because their culture and the memory of that culture was taken from them so completely, that white culture was the culture that defined the image of African Americans before they had an opportunity to define it themselves. It has been an uphill battle reclaiming black identity, and asserting black culture and traditions, and every image, stereotype and racial slur has been that much more damaging.

I don't think that Song of the South shouldn't be seen, but I do think it shouldn't be seen by children in the U.S. in 2008. Without understanding the history and context of these images, they should not be seen by people who don't have the ability to grasp what they mean. If we can avoid it. I don't think the movie should be suppressed or censored, but it shouldn't be on the grocery check-out rack next to The Lion King. I think Disney at least has THAT MUCH responsibility.

As for Eisner the racist--I don't think this is a fair characterization. I do think Ebony is pretty darn racist, but calling the more contemporary Eisner who wrote Fagin The Jew, a racist (the one who wrote a pretty self-aware introduction to the book addressing the issue) is to underestimate the man's ability to learn and grow with the times. I do think he had a tendency to, too easily dismiss the creation of that character with his own naivete and innocence at the time--ignorance isn't the best defense, and ignorance alone doesn't forgive the offense. But calling him a racist oversimplifies the issue.

And totally off the subject:

Janet I am so jealous of your sister Lisa. If anyone still has these somewhere, I will totally buy them from you or trade them for comics.

slatts said...


Pretty heavy blog, today.

Now, I don't know what to say.

I was brought up with all that stuff. Song of The South. Little Black Sambo. (I loved the book, too. He was a really brave and smart kid!)

But I guess I'm racist. Or a by-product of some sort.

ART ain't easy.

And what about SEXISM?

Move over, Blondie. That's bound to eat up another lunch time of heavy-guilt-ridden readin'!

*** Off to draw some silly cartoons of hillbillies ***

HemlockMan said...

"But calling him a racist oversimplifies the issue."

No it doesn't it.

Jed said...

"No it doesnt"?

Well I say, "yes it does" smarty pants. And I'm going to take my toys and go home.

HemlockMan said...

That means I win!

I used to have relatives ask me when I was going to grow up. Fortunately, I never did. (Grow up, that is.)