GENERATIONS: EVAN HAZARD: A multi-talented cartoonist: Brooke McEldowney's comics are a treat
"Pibgorn" is an online-only, when-Brooke McEldowney-feels-like-it comic: maybe only two episodes a week. Its eponymous star, Pibgorn, is an exquisite female fairy who can be tiny and dance on cobwebs, but also normal human size and quite attractive to, and sometimes attracted by, ordinary human males. She is a redhead with Caucasian hands and tootsies, clothed in skin-tight light green, if it is indeed clothing.
Pib bears more than a little resemblance to Edda, a lead character in "9 Chickweed Lane," Brooke's newspaper comic that used to run in the "Strib." The Star Tribune dropped 9CL some years back, I think during a comics turnover when some editor thought 9CL might be a little rich for a "family" paper. The comics the Strib added were poor substitutes. Nowadays, I follow both "Pibgorn" and "9 Chickweed Lane" at www.gocomics.com/pibgorn.
Pib's more sinister counterpart, Drusilla, has luxurious black locks, her body covering is skin-tight and mostly black, plus red. She has red pupils. Once, Dru told a prematurely interested young girl that her covering was much like plumage. She is not particularly wicked, but is a succubus, basically a nymphomaniac enchantress, but a kindly one. Dru zaps those who oppose her with lightning bolts.
Dru is ancient, and was once Scheherazade, who saved her life each morning by leaving her sadistic, untrusting sultan with a tale to be continued the next night. According to Brooke, she didn't originate the 1,001 tales; they were told her by a genie in return for her nightly favors (after she had satisfied the cruel sultan). Since Dru/Scheherazade was a succubus, this arrangement suited her just fine. After 1,001 nights, Dru zaps the sultan, and we return to the present, where said sultan has morphed into a most disagreeable troll who manipulates everything by computer. Learning he has accidentally saved humanity rather than wiping us all out, the troll utters, in ancient lettering, a short anagram of obscenities, which may well be copyrighted. Brooke is a skilled, imaginative cartoonist who also has a way with words.
Not having to satisfy editors (since Pibgorn is online-only), Brooke weaves all sorts of things into the comic. Example: for some months, characters from both "Pibgorn" and "9 Chickweed Lane" played the roles of the principals in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream:" Puck, Oberon, Titania, Lysander, Peter Quince, Hyppolyta, Theseus, Bottom the Weaver, etc.
(Stanley Holloway played Bottom in my LP version, which was accompanied by Felix Mendelssohn's splendid music. One of Hitler's milder crimes was banning all of Mendelssohn's music because the family was Jewish.)
In "Pibgorn," the Genie has killed the troll, turning him to a cinder, so presumably he and Dru can be together whenever they please. He is bright yellow, built like Charles Atlas, wears just a loincloth, and, like Dru, has red pupils.
Meanwhile, "9 Chickweed Lane" also often has a long story line, interspersed with gag-a-day comics. Edda's mother is Juliette Burber, a divorced biology professor, and a somewhat grumpy grandmother, Edna. Edna, now in her 90s, was a real doll in the '40s (the spitting image of Edda), and entertained for the USO. Long story short, Edna was also a U.S. spy, singing for German troops to collect info. Thinking her intended, Bill O'Malley, had been killed on D-Day, she fell in love with an Austrian officer and conceived Juliette. Bill survived, he and Edna married, he accepted the situation, raising Juliette as his daughter and died before the strip started.
Brooke sometimes mixes the two comics. Sister Steven, the nun who runs the Catholic high school that Edda and her boyfriend Amos attended, is affectionately called "Sister Caligula" by the students. She has a stereotypical rap-with-a-ruler-on-the-knuckles demeanor, which hides a heart of gold. Sister Aramus, one of Sister Steven's nuns, falls in love with a visiting priest, Father Durly. They both give up their vows and are married. In the front pews on the left side are Edna, Juliette, Edda, Sister Steven, and various others from "9 Chickweed Lane." In the right front pew are Drusilla, Pibgorn, the Genie, and a female with goat's hindquarters who is not listed in the Wiki list of characters.
Then there is Thorax, a massive farmer in bib overalls who claims to be from another planet, and keeps a quantum anomaly in his garage. He is on good terms with God, who shows up as a balding middle-aged man with a small mustache.
Do an online search for "9 Chickweed Lane." Warning: I find Brooke's elegant drawing, plus imaginative plots and use of language addictive. You might get hooked.
Right now, a rich Hong Kong cellist, Xiulan Ha'penny Yuan, who has recently married her accompanist, Hugh Portwhistle Godalming, a much older pianist, is busy cutting his hair. Her back is to us, and there is hair flying about. Enjoy.
Evan Hazard is an emeritus BSU biology professor.