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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.
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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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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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