So, our prompt is “ick.” Ick. I had no idea where I was going to go with this, so I started listing all the words that had “ick” in them, and a pattern started to emerge: I was listing names of cartoons.
Dick Tracy, of course, topped the list, just as it topped the comics section of the Chicago Sunday Tribune for many years, and probably still does. If you’ve been reading the blog for any length of time, you know that I thought Dick Tracy was the coolest when I was a kid. When I started reading it in the Sixties, the focus had changed from Dick and his partner, first Pat Patton then Sam Catchem, chasing after criminals and blowing them away, to technology, mostly brought to him by an odd businessman named Diet Smith. Diet brought us the Two-Way Wrist Radio that Dick talked to the Chief and Sam through (every time the TWWR made an appearance in the cartoon, it was accompanied by an arrow pointing at it along with the legend “Two-Way Wrist Radio”). Diet replaced Dick’s device with the Two-Way Wrist TV in the Sixties, and later the Two-Way Wrist Computer around the same time Casio came out with the Databank. Both were similarly annotated.
Diet also had a spacecraft that looked like a water heater. In one series of cartoons, Dick and the gang (including his son Junior) flew to the Moon, where Junior promptly fell in love with the daughter of the King and Queen of the Moon, Moon Maid, who looked like Sabrina the Teenaged Witch with antennae, so who wouldn’t fall in love with her? I know I did. I was what, eight? First time I felt any sort of emotion for a female of any species.
Al Capp, who drew the cartoon Li’l Abner (which ran in the Chicago Daily News), came up with a character named Fearless Fosdick, who was “Li’l Abners ideel.” Like Dick Tracy, Fosdick had a square jaw, and like Dick Tracy, he liked killing bad guys, shooting big gaping holes into their heads.
The Tribune also ran a cartoon called Rick O’Shay, which was a Western cartoon. Rick and his friend, Hipshot Percussion, were always getting into gunfights, drinking too much, and playing cards. Kind of like in the movies that ran in those days.
While we’re on the subject of Western cartoons, Hanna-Barbera had an animated one called Quick Draw McGraw. He was a horse that walked on his hind legs and wore a cowboy hat, kerchief, and gun belt. He had a partner named Baba Looie (no doubt a tip of the hat to Desi Arnaz), who was a burro who was similarly dressed (he wore a sombrero and wore no gun belt), also walked on his hind legs, and spoke with a Mexican accent. He called Quick Draw “Queek Straw,” because there was nothing like political correctness in the Old West, or in the Sixties. Occasionally Quick Draw would don a cape, mask, and gaucho hat and become “El Kabong,” No doubt a takeoff on Zorro, El Kabong would hit his adversaries over the head with a guitar, shouting “Olé!” before he did so. Quick Draw was the product spokesman for Kellogg’s Sugar Smacks cereal until Action for Children’s Television had a fit.
Finally, there was Chickenman (He’s everywhere! He’s everywhere!) Chickenman was a creation of Dick Orkin, who worked for WCFL in Chicago around the time they went rock & roll in 1966. Chickenman (the secret identity of shoe salesman Benton Harbor) was a takeoff on all the superhero stuff that had come to a head with Batman on TV. It ran on Super CFL in two-and-a-half minute segments, and it was strange, to say the least.
I know I left out Mickey Mouse. Never thought he was funny. More like a corporate logo than anything.
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