This week we're going back into history to take a look at some grandpa humor. And I'm not talking about "got your nose" or the one about sending you down to the hardware store for fifty feet of blueline or a left-handed screwdriver, I'm talking about Grandpa's smutty cartoons and the magazine that made smutty cartoons a force to be reckoned with in popular culture, the dirtiest magazine ever to come out of Minneapolis, the Calgary Eye-Opener! Not to be confused with the actual Calgarian satirical newspaper from the 1920s or the CBC news and interest program that airs today, the Calgary Eye-Opener we're talking about was published in the 1930s by various members of the Fawcett family as an addition to, or in direct competition with, their other winky comedy magazine 'Captain Billy's Whiz Bang', from which we get Whiz Comics and Captain Marvel and Hoppy The Marvel Bunny. But enough about that, on with the smut.
You know you're in for some sexy '30s humor when our happy sailor can spend an hour or two obsessed with the hazy outline of the female form as silhouetted against the moon or the sun or a runaway planet about to demolish Earth.
A lot of the gag cartoons are snappy little scenarios featuring witty repartee between a flapper and her beau. Here we see evidence that the phrase 'bullshit' was alive and well in the parlance of the times!
This composition is entitled "Invitation To The Grope."
If you think the Kool-Aid Man invented "Oh Yeah!", you've got another think coming! One that involves necking! Necking to Kate Smith! Have you ever heard Kate Smith? Dunno how you do it, fella, but good for you.
Plenty of milkman gags liven up the Eye-Opener, because we all know what happens when the men go off to work and the lonely housewives are alone at home left to entertain the various delivery men, repairmen, and pool cleaners that happen to drop in all day long.
And if there's a chance to work in some embarrassed nudity, well that's good too. Not even really a joke here, is there?
Yes! The swishy effeminate homosexual stereotype is alive and well in the 1930s! Again, not even bothering with a joke, it's all "look at the swishy gay fella, everybody, isn't it nutty?" And then your kid finds this stashed in the garage and you have to explain what "homosexuals" are and it's 1936 and you don't even have the words to explain it. Thanks, Calgary Eye-Opener, thanks a lot.
Another great way to imply sexual congress is to place it in the context of barnyard animals, who are free to talk all day long about "black cocks" without once getting arrested for obscenity.
See kids, before Tinder, before online dating, before meeting girls at Lollapallooza'97, before Duran Duran concerts, before Studio 54, before free love in the mud at Woodstock, before all that, if you wanted some action you had to go down to the sleazy side of town and visit a house of ill repute where fallen women would engage in the oldest profession, and you'd know you were at one of these places of assignation by the color of its light bulbs, which were red. Hence "red-light district" and the embarrassment of Mortimer here as he contemplates entering this establishment to get his wick dipped. G'wan Mort, what's the worst that could happen?
Well, you could wind up with some kind of venereal disease, as evidenced by THIS cartoon. Note the sign reading "Barks Apts" - famed Uncle Scrooge cartoonist Carl Barks worked for the Calgary Eye-Opener for many years in the '30s, getting all the smut out of his system before signing on with Disney. Though he did do a series of salacious duck-women paintings later in life. No, I'm not kidding.
See, this one is... see... there was this... kind of... um... thing, where for some reason Americans thought that Asian women, that their you-know-what, you know, down there, that instead of it being vertical, that it went the other way, that it was horizontal. No, I don't know why they thought this or how it originated or how the idea survived even a moment's consideration. It was a thing. What was wrong with you, 1930s? I mean, BESIDES Hitler.
I can't tell if this one is a heroin joke or a convoluted reference to retrograde ejaculation. I guess it's a heroin joke. Try some bleach in your works, junkie lady. Also try some humor in your cartoons, Calgary Eye-Opener.
Here we're reminded of the consequences of all the sex the Calgary Eye-Opener keeps telling us about - hilarious cartoon references to erections! And babies. Lots and lots of babies.
The Calgary Eye-Opener would close its eyes soon enough - would this mean the death of smutty cartoons and salacious adult gags? Not on your life, Charlie! many fine publications would continue the tradition of dirty gag strips, among them that giant of American humor, the Parts Pups, a handout of jokes and humor published by the National Auto Parts Association as a promotional tool for their salesmen, who could be assured of a warm greeting in any garage, service station, or machine shop in America as long as they had the latest issue.
Prostitution, sexual assault, impotence, and foul-mouthed clergy - it's as if Parts Pups can see right inside the tortured psyche of the anxious American male!
But we can't leave dirty gags to the Parts Pups - the men's magazines that flourished in the 50s also did their part to bring busty ladies and zany laffs to lonely guys worried about the Reds and taxes and psychoanalysis and women.
Is this a joke about how great it is to have your needle nose plunged into a stranger's cleavage, or about how this guy totally has a boner and he'd be embarrassed by his boner if he stood up? Or both?
Both of these cartoons are excuses to draw scantily-clad women. I mean, not that guys really need excuses to draw scantily-clad women, but I think you get paid a little more if there's a joke involved.
THE GOOD: some great Dan DeCarlo artwork. THE BAD: implied date rape. THE UGLY: considered perfectly hilarious in 1957. But remember, it's COMEDY! Says so right at the top!
Smutty cartoons would continue to titillate (!) readers for decades to come, culminating in Hugh Hefner's PLAYBOY magazine which paid amazing rates to some of cartoondom's top talent at the peak of their careers. Now, of course, off-color jokes and suggestive illustrations are available for free at all hours of the day and night via portable electronic devices, and cartoonists' pay is at an all-time low. But that's the price we pay for progress, I suppose. Anyway, my advice is to avoid the 1930s and subsequent decades at all costs, especially if you're a busty lady.
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