Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Hully Gee --whatever the hell that means --Geppi's Entertainment Museum of downtown Baltimore is one classy display of childlike memorabilia. They have toys and fun-stuffs categorized by era and type. Most of all, they have rare, interesting, and poignant comics that chronicle popular society and business. While cartoons are childlike, gross exaggerations and absurd in just about every way, Geppi's Museum presents an almost academic view of the cartoon: how it sells, what it sells and has sold, who done it, and what came from where. Geppi's not only familiarizes its audience with popular culture, it informs us of many others like us and not like us vicariously through what once "sold" to the public.

Although it was the last thing I saw before the gift shop, the small gallery of duck art caught me as a current fan of ducks and a long time fan of Scrooge McDuck (possibly the best character name ever). Everything else I sort of knew about, gawked at a bit, and moved on but I felt a special affinity for reading about Scrooge McDuck. I wished there were more about him and his epic adventures and legendary greed but was forced to begrudgingly move on. Scrooge McDuck sold to me.

Well that isn't entirely true, the bit alluding to general apathy. I was mostly unaware of Buster Brown and felt his design as a character was quite excellent. And what's more is that he was in the same room with Yellow Kid, a highly repulsive character meant to contrast the class difference between Yellow Kid and Buster Brown (high class v. lower class English). The blunt style to which Yellow Kid was utilized to sell things was comical (this booze is great, these smokes are the finest, buy the paper suckers!) in a way that polarized the gist of Buster Brown (Resolve: I shall refer to my male part as a tie to which I'd like to assist a female in dressing with). Both characters were utilized for sale to the markets that they ridiculed.

I suppose the same can be said of comics after the fall of racist propaganda. The stereotypical reader of comics is not particularly heroic or even athletic; heroes often battle social outcasts and people whom are quite abnormal. While media commentary of this sort is not the main of a Geppi's experience it can certainly inspire such thought, which I believe is their intent. It's quite difficult and certainly impressive to accumulate fine examples of human pop culture from the last two centuries. There's only so much room to show an audience what's important, all of which is not adequate to the vast bounds of understanding there is to be had about the subjects discussed in each piece of work. Geppi's presents material with the hope of giving patrons a deeper interest in what is and has been so damn entertaining.


Molly said...

As you may have noticed (both from my post and from our trip to the museum together), the racist and sexist comics really caught my eye, especially the ones that purported to be "good clean fun". I only wish I could have opened some of them (despite the fact that I'd probably be creasing pages worth thousands of dollars).

I liked how you incorporated the consumer aspect of the artifacts into your post. Seeing them raised up to the level of fine art (in glass exhibits and deftly placed display) almost made you forget that they are consumer goods, manufactured to make money like most of popular culture. They are not just "for the sake of art". I read an interesting piece on Gawker the other day that claimed that satirical advertising is ruining the art of advertisement; it's funny that Buster Brown and Yellow Kid represent older examples.

Alex Pullen said...

I also talked about the comic books in my post and I think you raise a good point. Along with the racism, there was also a lot of sexism that paralleled it. Although I know that EVERY girl in the world likes Barbie (I hope you picked up on my humor), it is curious that that is the only girl targeted comic that I saw.

I also think that your love for ducks is very... nice. I have never really gotten into any pop culture that dealt with ducks. I do like the Might Duck movies, but people can only take so much of that.

Lastly, I must say that your aversion to Star Wars is upsetting. The new films were very lacking, the first three are genius. You will never be able to talk any one out of believing in George Lucas's original genius.

Joy said...

you mentioned alot in your blog about the racism and sexism noted in the comics. i really had wished now that i payed more attention to the comics as well but it never caught my attention because i was never into the whole comic book thing. but mentioning about how the super hero always battles the outcast, i agree completely and that is one thing that hasnt really changed Still which blows my mind because with the media now, i almost feel as though it just keeps getting worse.