Friday, January 9, 2009

Dog Daze: the last of Jigg and Mooch

A combination of too little sleep, too much snow, and too hectic a schedule has rechristened my cold. I'm feelin' sick as a dog, so it's only fair that I post two Stanley stories about our canine companions, Jigger (now "Jigg") and Mooch.

These are the final stories in the feature's short run, from Animal Comics 29 and 30. I've now posted the full run of this remarkable strip.

Stanley signs these stories as "Biff." Here is his cartooning at its most austere. The clean, mechanical pen lines suggest Herge, or the ink and paint department of a Hollywood animation shop.

Jigg's language is spare. Punctuation is only used when absolutely necessary. Part of the language of comix is the avoidance of periods to end sentences and statements. Periods were avoided because printers mistook them for flaws and removed them, or else they failed to survive to the photostat/engraving stage. (The same thing often happened to Charlie Brown's eyes in the early days of Peanuts.)

! replaced . in the comix vocabulary! Thus, most early comix dialogue seems quite loud! Even the simplest statement is fired off with an aggressive exclamation mark!

Stanley chooses to end his sentences like this This makes for a curious reading experience Thank goodness for the enclosure of the balloon Otherwise, one would never be quite sure where one statement ended, and the next began

In the 1950s, Stanley got heavily into his ellipse period. This...could punctuate a a number of ways...creating interesting...rhythms...

But enough of this! I hate to get bogged down in semantics Let's just...move on...shall we...

I feel rather written out on Jigger/Jigg and Mooch. I admire how Stanley kept his storytelling clean and direct. It's so nice to see an author write TO children, not DOWN to children. I think he best achieved this effect with this feature.

"Jigg" has an child's sense of urgency that is at the heart of the Stanley worldview: survive, move forward, stop and take stock of the world around you. A child can relate to this more than an adult, I think. The child in me still relates to it, very strongly...

From Animal Comics 29... a classic "mind-fudge" scenario:

The final story, from Animal Comics 30:

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