Friday’s ad is for Asahi, from sometime over the last decade or so. It’s hard to say since Japanese anime or manga art is often so timeless. Animation in the form of anime and manga is incredibly popular in Japan, and became increasingly so in the U.S. from the 1980s on. Beyond the cheesecake factor, it’s a simple, and familiar beer advertising image, of a woman on the beach in a bikini. I’m sure that music means something, but I don’t recognize the tune. The woman also may be a familiar character from a popular manga book but I don’t recognize her either.
Today is the day when Steamboat Willie debuted in 1928, the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, the one that made the Disney company the entertainment powerhouse that it is today. But even though Steamboat Willie is the famous one, it actually wasn’t the first Mickey Mouse cartoon created. Plane Crazy was actually the first one made, and The Gallopin’ Gaucho was the second, but both were shelved to work on Steamboat Willie, and specifically to add a synchronized soundtrack, which is what helped make Mickey Mouse so famous.
But the Gallopin’ Gaucho was notable for one other important reason. In the March 1929 cartoon, four years before the repeal of Prohibition, Mickey Mouse can be seen drinking a mug of beer. And not just drinking it, but really putting one away. But as he as south of the border, at the bar and restaurant called “Cantina Argentina,” he probably wasn’t breaking any laws.
The original, of course, was in black and white.
Below is the entire cartoon, though the best version I could find was colorized.
Andy Capp, the British comic strip by Reg Smyth has been running in London newspapers, and around the world, since 1957. Even though Smyth himself passed away in 1998, the strip continued on, done by a trio of writers and artists, Roger Kettle, Lawrence Goldsmith and Roger Mahoney. Capp, of course, is a longtime fan of beer, spending much of his time down the pub. Longtime Bulletin reader Miles (thanks Miles) sent me a link to a recent Sunday strip that tackled the newer phenomenon of beer tourism, relevant to me because when it arrived in my inbox I was indeed touring breweries in Belgium. Enjoy.
Yesterday Ken Weaver tweeted out he was watching Buddy’s Beer Garden. An inveterate animation lover, I wanted to see it, too. Buddy’s Beer Garden is part of the Looney Tunes series from Warner Brothers, and features Buddy, in the second of the 23 cartoons he starred in.
Buddy’s Beer Garden’s is a fun cartoon celebrating the end of Prohibition in 1933. The humor is typical of animation of the time, with lots of sight gags and animated transitions (a common technique in the 1930s). In this one, “Buddy dons a variety of costumes and hawks his ‘beer that brings good cheer.'”
“Watch what you’re doin’ ya mug! “Don’t call me a mug, you mug!”
I’m sure this would drive the prohibitionists today into a mad rage. “But what about the kiddies,” they’d cry (as they always do). But this was made in 1933, when cartoons, believe it or not, were made for adults, and were shown, along with a newsreel, before feature films at a movie theatre. That’s why there’s so much adult humor. It’s also why the hold up so well today, because they don’t pander or talk down to the audience. They’re not trying to be educational, kid-friendly or have a moral. Even when I was a kid, when they were heavily edited for television, they were still better than most cartoons made for TV.
See for yourself, here’s the cartoon, Buddy’s Beer Garden, below:
Having lived on this side of the pond my whole life, I’d never encountered Bamforth’s comic postcards until very recently. The Bamforth company is still in business, but apparently was founded in 1904 as a photography and film studio to make picture postcards, and by the end of the First World War was producing 20 million postcards each year. In 1910, they started creating the comic art postcards. Over the next 90 years, approximately 50,000 comic designs were published, with most of them by just four staff artists — Douglas Tempest, Arnold Taylor, Philip Taylor and Brian Fitzpatrick — along with a few additional freelance artists, like the well-known Donald McGill. According to their history, “by 1960 Bamforth Postcards had become the world’s largest publisher of comic postcards.”
Bamforth’s Postcards were the market leader throughout the twentieth century. Their artists poking fun at every aspect of human activity. They commented on politics, fashion and the changes in social activity and perhaps most famously they invaded the toilet and the bedroom. Sex, in various guises and disguises, was the main subject from the start of the genre.
While sex and being “cheeky” may have been their main focus, beer also figured prominently in quite a few of their postcards.
Quite a few were part of their seaside series, meant to be sent home from vacations.
And still others were just odd.
I’m sure there were many more involving beer, and there were also quite a few depicting pub life. Just poking around eBay and the web, I found a few beer-themed postcards, which you can see in the slideshow below. Enjoy.
I thought this was a fun little video, created by Heather Arment of Seattle, Washington, for an advent calendar of beer bottles. Her animated video is entitled The Legend Behind Beer-y Christmas. And since Advent just started on Sunday, this would be a very cool way to celebrate it.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t tell if it ever actually was a real product or not. The website, BeeryChristmas.com is down for the count. But they obviously spent a lot on the design of the packaging, which was done by Dustin Wallace, and Arment did another video on who the beer advent box works.
Of course, in the end, they were trying to sell a cardboard box, which gives it something of a pet rock vibe.
Perhaps if they had sold them full, but it might be cool to fill one yourself. Although that is a tough commitment for a gift. It requires that the person giving it knows what to fill it with, then has to find the beer to put in it. I think that’s why the pre-packed gift boxes sell so well. All the hard work is already done. All you have to do it buy it.
But I have to confess getting one like this would be a great gift.
Hmm, I wonder if in fall of 2011 this ever saw the light of day? It looks like it didn’t but I subsequently discovered that Heather Arment was also the inventor, and she’s still trying to get them produced through Quirky, which is a website for inventors and their … ahem … quirky inventions. People submit their ideas, and get them posted on the quirky site, and people vote on them. Ideas which get enough votes go to the manufacturing stage and are created and sold, also through the Quirky website, but also at select retailers, too. It looks like her idea for the beer advent box may actually become a reality, though probably not in time for this year’s holidays, because the web page currently says that the “idea has been placed under Expert Review,” which suggests it’s passed one hurdle is on to the next step in their process. So now you know what to get me for the holidays next year.
Here’s a hilarious marketing development, one that would absolutely never fly in the land of the free and the home of the “think about the children” neo-prohibitionists. If you’ve been the parent of a young daughter, you’re probably already familiar with the marketing juggernaut that is Hello Kitty and her legion of cute minions from Sanrio. It’s hard to think of another character with as much licensed tie-in merchandising as Hello Kitty. She makes Disney look like amateurs. So really, it should come as no surprise then, that Sanrio has licensed Hello Kitty for a series of four fruit beers, brewed by the Taiwan Tsing Beer Co.. The four initial fruit beers include Peach, Passion Fruit, Banana and Lemon and come in 330 ml cans.
Bloomberg Businessweek referred to the announcement as Zen and the Art of Crass Marketing, which is surprising since I never really thought of the business press, or indeed the business world generally, as having high moral standards if there was a buck to be made. When you consider that it was big business that sank the country, and the world, into a global recession, then getting a bailout from us, while still collecting their bonuses, I have had time swallowing Bloomberg’s assertion that this is the line that business dare not cross, that this is the one going too far into crassness. If anything, this is pretty harmless and funny.
The ABC News Report is slightly more balanced, and reveals that these “new fruit-flavored cans mark Hello Kitty’s second entry into the world of alcohol. Previously, Hello Kitty wines were licensed in Asia, Europe and the United States.”
I can’t say any of them look particularly good, but one thing most news accounts overlooked is that the beer is actually only 2.3% a.b.v., making them session beers, and actually the opposite of the evil Bloomberg makes them out to be. Also, Kotaku, reviewing the beers, describes them as “closest to Chimay but with stronger fruit flavorings. The fruit isn’t a note or a sense in these beverages but instead the overpowering star of it all.” That’s hard to swallow, but then I haven’t actually tried them and it’s likely I won’t ever have the chance to, not that it will keep me up at night. Still, an odd and twisted development.
As a long time geek of many stripes, not just beer, I’ve been a longtime reader of comic books. I still regularly read a number of comics, and I’ve gotten Porter into them as well. We have our weekly father/son ritual of going to our local comic book store each Wednesday to pick up the new books. He’s a big fan of Captain America. He loved the movie and started reading the comics shortly after it came out. So an item about some new superhero art in the new issue of Playboy stood out.
A French artist, Grégoire Guillemin, did a series of works under the title “The Secret Life of Heroes,” where he drew many of the classic comic book superheroes, and few other fictional folks, engaged in mundane pursuits, many quite ordinary and few others downright racy and subversive. They remind me of a cross between Roy Lichtenstein and Mel Ramos.
The series includes such images as Wonder Woman scratching her butt, Batman eating a doughnut, Hulk rolling a joint, Superman eating a hamburger, Spiderman brushing his teeth and … well, you get the idea. Go take a look. There’s one more that stood out as a favotite, and that was one of a number featuring Captain America; this one’s entitled Captain Drinks, and features him knocking back a cold bottle of beer. Enjoy.
It’s a slow Sunday, but I came across this editorial cartoon by Jeff Danzinger from February of this year. Entitled Coming Soon — All Big Brewers Owned By Some Corporate Giant, it certainly plays on the fears of ever-increasing consolidation in the market, especially internationally. It’s happening in the brewing industry, without a doubt, but perhaps more frightening is that it’s happening in virtually every sector of the marketplace. I especially like the Ballantine-like logo on the wall with the tagline “Drink … Pay … Go Home.” You can see more of Danzinger’s cartoons at his official website.
For our Friday Frivolity here’s a fun little cartoon created by H. Caldwell Tanner. Entitled Beer is like Ice Cream for Adults, and subtitled “and here’s why” explains why those of us who are of an advanced age can enjoy both beer and ice cream. Hooray for us!