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Alley Oop
Alley Oop lived a long, long time ago. Perhaps it’s time to let him die.

I can’t say that I’m a big, long-term fan of the comic strip, but it is one of several which are still around from my youth. As such, it has a special place in my cartoon universe. That’s what makes this so hard for me to write.

The attraction of the strip for me was its characters — particularly Alley Oop himself. For a Neanderthal, he is quite good-looking: thick chest, complete with hair. No neck, but a great haircut. And those forearms! They’re huge, like a gorilla’s. Alley is the original monkey man; for that, I give him high honors.

And he’s monkey strong, too. “He rides thru the jungle tearin’ limbs offa trees,” says the only rock and roll tune ever to star a cartoon character. “He’s the toughest man there is alive,” it goes; practically a super hero.

Or used to be. In 1971, “Alley Oop” began the slow decline that most strips suffer when their creators let them go. V.T. Hamlin launched the strip in 1932 and saw it through to its modern, evolved state. After he quit, it has continued under a number of hands. To my eyes, though, it is now nothing more than a cartoon zombie. No personality, no center of gravity, no reason for being. Even Alley’s monkey strength and toughness are gone. He languishes these days in the Classified section of my local paper — normally the last stop before the abyss for a comic strip.

I wish we could nudge him into that abyss and put him out of his long, attenuated misery, but that won’t happen. He’s still running in over 600 papers around the world, though I can’t imagine why. The NEA syndicate and Jack Bender, who currently draws him, will keep the zombie lurching forward as long as he can make them money.

I can’t fault them, I guess. That is the sad reality into which cartoon characters are born. But it does feel wrong for this noble savage to suffer such a fate — trapped in a twilight world of lame plots and edgeless characters, possibly forever.

The king of the jungle jive deserves better … including a decent burial in a deep, deep cave.
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon