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I'm not sure when I started forgetting to post new Toon River Anthology entries here. The canonical set is here, less some of the early ones that were too ephemeral and in-jokey to stand outside the comment section of the Comics Curmudgeon (je suis Muffaroo).

I've written a couple of new ones in the past week, beginning a long-contemplated expansion from just newspaper strips into the comic book world (and later, into animation). Some day I'll have enough of these for a book or something. Another millstone: Richie Rich (the poor little affluenza victim) marks the 100th post I've made to the New Pals Club Web-Log since commencing it in 2007. I toss a Dave Madden-sized handful of confetti in the air to celebrate the achievement. So here's Richie:


RICHARD $ RICH, JR.
I had wealthy friends, but I preferred the poor kids—
Bedraggled ragamuffins with bad hair and no fashion sense.
How they gaped at my opulence! How they thanked me
For any little crumb of generosity that trickled down.
“Kissing up,” some called it. I learned the term
From our second Cadbury, on his way out: Bitter!
They could have had an easy life if they’d kept to it,
But when their voices changed, so did their tune.
They still thanked me, but there was some edge to it
That I couldn’t abide. They thought they were entitled!
It wasn’t enough that I let them ride my golden wagon
Down a hill of gold coins and jewels any more. No,
They betrayed my trust. Small gems “accidentally” stuck
In a shoe or a ragged pants cuff. Dishonest!
I might have even let that go unpunished, if it hadn’t been
For their miserable attitudes. Oh, we’re so poor. We’re so cold.
Our mom is so sick. Our dad got laid off at your plant.
Can’t you do something? You were our friend!
What do you mean “were,” you ingrates?
I sent them away. No sense of respect. Sad!
Who needs them? I have this huge mausoleum now:
A solid gold statue of myself by the best artist,
And my personal police force to keep out the riff-raff.

And here lies Dot:


DOROTHY “DOT” POLKA
Names are destiny. You have to choose carefully.
Dad and Mom loved to dance. They were the Polkas!
They thought I’d be a dancer too, but I wasn’t like them.
My aunts thought it would be cute to dress me in dots,
Like my name! I was surrounded by dots as a baby.
I couldn’t get over them. They became my life.
Dots here, Dots there. It drove Dad to distraction,
And Mom eventually left us, crying. She still loved us,
But she just couldn't cope with it, and she left the state.
I hardly noticed when she left. She wasn’t a dot!
Partnerless, Dad soldiered on. When I was fifteen, I had an accident,
Fell off my polka-dot bike, hit my head. I was okay.
But when I realized that I could see spots, beautiful spots,
Any time, anywhere, just by hitting myself on the head,
My doom was sealed.
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It's up now at the New Pals Club Web-Log. Amos Van Hoesen, of 9 Chickweed Lane.
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Toon River Anthology, part 9:

BARNABAS "BARNEY" GOOGLE

Why am I summoned
To return to the world
To be among men?
Years ago, I wanted to be
The center of attention,
The phrase maker,
The hero of song and joke.
When I was slowly pushed aside
By a one-note bit player,
I was angry and resentful.
Tried to reassert myself,
Tried to push back in
To no avail. As time passed
I realized what a blessing it was
Not to stand center stage,
Not to carry everything on my shoulders,
Not to play the clown.
But I am summoned,
So for this brief time, I return
Smile at punch lines,
Google my eyes,
And wait for the time
I can depart again,
A thing without aspect,
Without time,
Just like the world outside.


LOWEEZY SMITH

Oh, I were bodacious.
Tiny waist, nice apples,
Blond hair that fell lak
Water ripplin' down a hill
All the way t' my li'l cut-offs,
Then it were laigs, all th' way down
T'mah big ol' bare feet.
Snuffy caught me 'hind th' hen coop
An' we trysted, an' Paw caught us both.
We said our I Dos in front o' his sawed-off,
An' I started a-swellin' up right away,
Not 'cuz I had a bun in th' oven, mind,
It's jest what wimmen hereabouts do
When we're married, er fifteen,
Whichever come first.
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Also posted at The New Pals Web-Log and The Comics Curmudgeon.

morning

May. 31st, 2011 08:39 am
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Grass and weeds bow down
To the mower as we pass
And rise when we're gone.
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NO NAME* [*in the Bandar tongue]

I was born to follow the proud destiny of my father
And his father, and his father, and all their fathers
All the way back to the first Phantom in 1536.
I trained rigorously for years, learning science,
Languages, literature, martial arts, armaments,
Just as my fathers had before me.
But our fathers could not teach us who to love,
Or teach a heart to weigh consequences,
And because my father followed his heart, rather than tradition,
I was not suitable for my own destiny. I was miscast.
Father seemed not to notice. Perhaps he was acting too,
Perhaps he was truly oblivious. I played my part.
He was pleased with me right up to the day of his death.
And then I did what I had to do. I looked around
And found another who could fill the role I couldn't,
And avenge my father's death.
I franchised my destiny. I gave my birthright to another
For the sake of the legend of the undying Phantom.
I found one, light-skinned, well-formed, strong, quick-thinking, ruthless.
Now his dynasty will continue the work my forefathers did.
Though I've grown fat and bald, I continue to advise him
Behind the scenes. It's best this way. After all,
Who could ever believe in the myth of the eternal Ghost
When confronted by an undersized half-Bandar
With a round head made to wear a lampshade?

also published at New Pals and the Comics Curmudgeon
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yard work

May. 6th, 2011 01:54 pm
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Bright dandelions,
Each one perfect in its way;
Mowing them, I smile.
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MARK TRAIL

I was a confident, take-charge guy,
Savvy to the ways of nature, a two-fisted he-man,
And a family man with a loving wife and a spunky kid
Waiting for me at home after each adventure
With a stack of pancakes to make it all perfect.
Yet I threw myself into peril
Over and over, risking it all on each toss,
Miraculously carried through by brute strength
And my abiding hatred of facial hair.
It was all too easy. I couldn't lose.
I started taking more risks, and more.
I even let myself get shot in the head,
And escaped with nothing but an inch-long dab of medical tape.
It was then that I understood I wanted to die.
My life, I realized, was a sustained falsehood.
And nobody would end it for me. I was too strong.
Well, I finally stopped relying on proxies and did the deed myself,
With organic, sustainable hemp rope.
I left no note. What would I have said?
"I'm sorry, Cherry, but I have been living a lie.
The man you thought you knew was a fraud,
And you may as well know this:
I was only pretending to love pancakes."

.

also published at the Comics Curmudgeon and the New Pals Club Web-Log
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JULIUS DITHERS
Even though Cora was friends with Blondie,
She used to ask me why I didn't just fire him
And let him stay fired. He didn't get much done,
And he took long lunches and he goofed off
At his desk all day long. Oh, he was honest
But I couldn't trust him with any important work,
So I fobbed off the clients I didn't care about on him,
And let him reorganize the stock room from time to time.
Some of the board members mentioned him in meetings,
With pointed references to 'Dead Wood' and such,
And one even hinted that those little bits of hair that stuck out
Bore some kind of resemblance to my own. He didn't last.
A man can stand for just so much. No, he wasn't my son,
But I made a promise to J.B. when he disinherited the boy
That he'd always have a job at J.C. Dithers and Company
As long as he lived. I kept that promise, hard as it was.
But I never promised I wouldn't kill him, and one day I did.

originally printed at the New Pals Club Web-Log
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TRIXIE FLAGSTON

Life was static. I went from bed to bath to floor
And was carried places, sometimes crawling,
Sitting and staring. I watched my family stay the same
For year after year, decade after decade
Stuck in infancy, unable to talk, or walk
My only friend was the dog, and after a while,
He found somewhere else to be.
Mom was the only one who ever changed. Once.
She went from staying home to showing homes,
And didn't even hire a sitter or get my siblings
To pay any attention to me. So I stewed
In my filthy diapers, which led to a rash, which led to infection
And that led to a welcome demise.
My stone is under some trees. I stare at other stones
And never see anybody, and they don't come to see me,
Not even the damn sunbeam!

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Edited to add — That web page that tells you who you write like? I put this in it: "Ian Fleming."
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closure

Jun. 15th, 2010 05:12 pm
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ANNIE WARBUCKS

"Daddy" made me feel loved and welcome.
He even got rid of that wife of his
Who acted like I was some sort of trophy;
A proof of her virtue. She was soon gone.
In her place, the lethal Asp and towering Punjab,
And Sandy. Always loyal, wonderful Sandy.
I would see "Daddy" mostly when he came in,
Guns blazing, fists flying, to save me
From the enemies of our country,
As well as from callous orphanages and cruel caretakers,
Just in time to sever them from success
And to protect this nation, and me, and Sandy,
And his own financial interests as well.
As days accreted into years, I wondered
Why my loving "Daddy" always ended up placing me
Back into those dark places where I had no protector
Save the good-hearted weak ones who folded like leaves
And sometimes a sympathetic gangster or mystic,
And I began to notice how my salvation and their demise
Solved at once some pressing business problem of "Daddy"'s
Until, at last, I resolved to contrive a test for him;
A setting of peril for me without any hope of profit for him.
And lo! here I am, beneath this stone forever
As Sandy, faithful Sandy, watches over me
Crying helplessly at the cold white eye of the moon.

from Toon River Anthology (part 3)
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ANNIE WARBUCKS
"Daddy" made me feel loved and welcome.
He even got rid of that wife of his
Who acted like I was some sort of trophy;
A proof of her virtue. She was soon gone.
In her place, the lethal Asp and towering Punjab,
And Sandy. Always loyal, wonderful Sandy.
I would see "Daddy" mostly when he came in,
Guns blazine, fists flying, to save me
From the enemies of our country,
As well as from callous orphanages and cruel caretakers,
Just in time to sever them from success
And to protect this nation, and me, and Sandy,
And his own financial interests as well.
As days accreted into years, I wondered
Why my loving "Daddy" always ended up placing me
Back into those dark places where I had no protector
Save the good-hearted weak ones who folded like leaves
And sometimes a sympathetic gangster or mystic,
And I began to notice how my salvation and their demise
Solved at once some pressing business problem of "Daddy"'s
Until, at last, I resolved to contrive a test for him;
A setting of peril for me without any hope of profit for him.
And lo! here I am, beneath this stone forever
As Sandy, faithful Sandy, watches over me
Crying helplessly at the cold white eye of the moon.

more at The New Pals Club Web-Log
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ALAN THE ARTIST
Talent only takes you so far.
Praised in school, successful at first,
I saw my path to fame, to glory,
To all the good things in life.
But ideas were few, and I went
To the pool of creativity, which I found
In a glass pipe Jones gave me
Along with my first taste of the stuff
And I painted, painted, until I thirsted,
Went back to the pool, then painted some more.
But before long, the thirst was more important
And the next trip to the pool, and the next,
And my curtains grew tattered, and I began
To leave my shirt unbuttoned at the top,
And I even forgot to brush my teeth some times.
And then I sought out Ray, who was looking for me,
And things went bad from there, and I perished.
Students of art, always try to find yourselves
A cheaper form of creativity than mine,
And lay in abundant supplies
Before you prime your canvas.

PHILLIP WINSLOW
Dottie and I saw him in the window,
A small puppy, looking helplessly at us
Canting his head as if to hear something
We had just said. We brought him home
To the delight of the children. In my mind,
I had some reservations about his paws,
Which looked too large for such a small dog.
"He'll grow into them," Dottie said,
As if that was a good thing. And grow he did
Until he was bigger than any of us,
And wilfull, and selfish, and bone stupid,
Although he was clever at driving a car,
Making phone calls and operating a computer.
He was less like a dog than he was a demon,
Sucking the life out of our family,
My marriage, and our finances
Until the day I called him out to the car
And took him far away, into the mountains
And tried to lose him on a lonely road.
I got the beefsteak out of the trunk
And called to him to have a treat
But when I looked up, he was in front
And had undone the parking brake somehow
And he rolled right over me before he went
Clattering down the road, until the car stopped
Gently, the front bumper just touching a pine tree.
My last moments seemed to stretch out for me,
Seeing the quizzical expression again on that face,
With that long-ago puppy's face showing behind it
And I saw the irony as well, and had to admit
That in a way, it really was dog-gone funny.
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MARY WORTH
Time heals all wounds.
There are other fish in the sea.

I told them. For years, I told them all.
Every cloud has a silver lining.
And when they put me aside,
And pitied me, behind their smiles,
(Let a smile be your umbrella!)
I didn't let on that I saw through it.
You catch more flies with honey!
But I think they realized, most of them.
Happiness isn't a gift, it's earned!
At the end, they knew who to thank.
The end justifies the means.
Toby, plunging into endless night--
It's always darkest just before dawn--
Aldo, dying of natural causes,
(For what is more natural than sleep?)
And all the rest of them, whose stones
Surround mine, as if listening for advice
Which I dispense, as I once sold apples.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away!
A stitch in time saves nine.


PRIVATE BEETLE BAILEY
I trembled between them. There was no escape.
Then I saw the recruiter's door. I stepped inside.
Things blurred for a while, and I came to myself
With my porkpie hat gone and an army cap in its place.
And I found that in giving up freedom and self,
I had gained blamelessness and slack,
And what was at first temporary became instead
The permanent surrender of choice in exchange
For the permanent evasion of responsibility.
And as I stayed at Camp Swampy, year after year,
I was astonished one day to realize with a start
That nothing ever changed there. Nobody left
And nobody new came in, and nothing happened
Until the day I realized I had been dead thirty years
And that all of us were already in our private hell.

PETER PARKER
I never asked to be bitten. I only wanted
To listen to a scholarly talk about science
But there it was, I had great power now
And learned quickly what that entailed.
A lesser soul, gaining what I'd gained
Might have succumbed to vanity or greed,
But I had the lesson of Uncle Ben before me
And set out to make the world a better place
Whether the world wanted it or not.
For my pains, I was scorned, excoriated,
Lied about in the paper, and had my image
Which I provided for a modest fee, paraded
Before the credulous public as a menace.
Is it any wonder that I finally surrendered,
Took the easy way out, married my girlfriend
And stayed at home most days, watching TV?

THE UNKNOWN PLUGGER
Here I lie, in a humble pine box
None of your fancy caskets for me
If I'd died a few years later, it might have been
A cardboard carton for my eternal rest.
I didn't ever ask for much from the world;
Just a small-screen TV and a padded chair
The one to sleep in, the other to sleep
In front of on the nights when I didn't have to go
And work the next day. I kept my personal data
On the icebox in the kitchen. My watch
Only told time, and didn't bother me with
Phone calls, headlines, music, or games.
When I was hungry, I ate a burger with fries,
Drank the cheapest coffee, married a big chicken,
And played board games with my bored kids.
Until the day I felt my heart burst in my chest
And couldn't puzzle out the medicine cap in time.
Now I nap under a piece of granite,
Carved with my parents' names, with a line
Left for my family to fill in with mine
When they can afford it.

(originally presented in The Comics Curmudgeon)
more at The New Pals Club Web-Log

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THE BATTLE

Would you like to hear of the terrible night
When I bravely fought the-- No? All right.

from Where the Sidewalk Ends
slightly edited to show as a couplet
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Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

-- William Shakespeare

pnh said, when you see this post poetry on your page, or words to that effect. That was days ago. I am nothing if punctual.
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