Here A Blue Law, There A Blue Law

the-blue-laws
Given it’s a Sunday, when Blue Laws are usually in effect, I thought I’d share this comic strip by Danny Lewis, who’s an artist living in Massachusetts. Blue Laws, of course, are antiquated laws, usually religiously based.

A blue law is a type of law designed to enforce religious standards, particularly the observance of a day of worship or rest. In the US, most blue laws have been repealed, declared unconstitutional, or are simply unenforced; though prohibitions on the sale of alcoholic beverages or prohibitions of almost all commerce on Sundays are still enforced in many areas. Blue laws often prohibit an activity only during certain hours and there are usually exceptions to the prohibition of commerce, like grocery and drug stores. In some places, blue laws may be enforced due to religious principles, but others are retained as a matter of tradition or out of convenience.

While most have been repealed, not all of them have been, and his comic strip talks about some of the remaining ones.

Blue-Laws_Full
Click here to see the cartoon full size.

Hokey Smokes! Cartoons Are Only For Kids?

rocky
As a lifelong lover of all things drawn — comic strips, comic books, graphic novels, cartoons and animated films — there’s an argument that the neo-prohibitionist wingnuts make from time to to time that absolutely frys my bacon. And they’re at it again. The increasingly neo-prohibitionist group Alcohol Justice (AJ) is unhappy once more with Anheuser-Busch InBev (are they ever happy?), this time because they’re using — gasp! — cartoons to promote their association with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). In Bud Light and UFC Push Beer to Kids with Comics, AJ makes the same tired argument they always do whenever anybody uses an image that’s been drawn in an advertisement. Here’s how they put it this time:

So how does a company that says it’s committed to not advertising to kids choose to spend millions of its marketing dollars? Get this: comic strips, posted on Facebook, targeting fans of mixed-martial arts fighting, also known as Ultimate Fighting Championships. As the primary sponsor of the brutal and offensive UFC, A-B InBev gets the Bud Light logo delivered directly to the computer screens of millions of kids worldwide. Moreover, they use the quintessential child-friendly format of comic strips to do it. The only way they could top this direct advertising to youth is if they plastered Sponge Bob SquarePants’ picture on Bud Light cans.

Well get this, comic strips and other animated fare is NOT JUST FOR KIDS. They never, ever have been. Yes, there are cartoons aimed at kids, but many, many are either for all ages or are for more mature people. People able to separate content from delivery, something that AJ is apparently incapable of, understand this. The folks that come up with these arguments must be the least fun people to be around, if they avoid anything that’s been animated because they believe it must be for kids only. Think what they’re missing.

But just a short history should convince even the most jaded neo-prohibitionist that comics have long been for all ages, and many were aimed at adults since they were first created. The very first comic strip, The Yellow Kid, began in newspapers in the last decade of the 19th century. It tackled social and political topics, and was for the adults who read newspapers. The first animated film, Gertie the Dinosaur, created by Windsor McCay in 1914, was similarly not exclusively kiddie-fare. McKay used it in his vaudeville act, which was not for kids.

All those Looney Toons, Tom & Jerry’s, Popeye’s and other cartoons we grew up watching Saturday mornings and after school began as the cartoon shown before the main attraction started at movie theaters. And we’re not talking about kiddie files, but all films. They were aimed at either the adults there to see an adult film or were for all ages (Disney being exception and the prime example of a studio that did more family-friendly stuff). That’s why there are lots of old Warner Brothers cartoons (and others) that are never shown on television when they repackaged them for TV, because their subject matter is seen as inappropriate for today’s youth.

Comic books in the 1950s covered a wide range of subjects, not just superheroes, but another wingnut wrote “Seduction of the Innocent,” a deeply flawed book that equated violence with reading comic books, and comic books were reduced to only kid-friendly stories (at least until the 1980s).

Try to watch Rocky & Bullwinkle or Beany & Cecil and not see all the adult political references. You’d have to be utterly clueless to not see that cartoons have never been the exclusive realm of children. Many mature adults love cartoons now, and have since people first started drawing them.

That AJ and other anti-alcohol folks claim this is, for me, more proof of how they’re willing to bend the truth, and common sense, to push their agenda. I don’t even like the UFC, or any type of fighting sports like boxing, etc. (except for the NFL), but just because they use a comic strip promoting it does not ipso facto mean they’re targeting kids. You’d have to be a child yourself to make, or swallow, that line of reasoning.

Another interesting tactic that AJ uses again here is claiming they’re not the only one outraged, when they state that “Culinary Workers Union recently sent a forceful letter to A-B InBev expressing disgust at the company’s ‘socially irresponsible behavior.’” Except that when you look at this letter, it’s also signed by AJ’s executive director Bruce Lee Livingston, meaning it’s more likely AJ’s letter, or at a minimum a joint letter. But that fact is conveniently left out of their press release, most likely because it would weaken their already questionable argument. As I said, I’m no fan of the UFC, or similar spectacles, and I tend to believe the world would be a better place if people didn’t enjoy violence quite so much, but any meaningful public discussion has to start by being honest. And starting that discussion by claiming that if anybody uses a cartoon then they’re only targeting kids, is hardly honest. Now I need a beer, and the Simpsons is on.

Pairing Beer & Comic Books

comics-wolverine
Here’s an odd, but interesting article (especially if you’re a comic book geek — which I am) on comic books and beer. The author makes suggestions of beers to pair with your favorite comic book characters. Weird, but why not? We’ve tried pairing beer with everything else at this point, so why not comic books.

wolverine-beer

The article, A Guide To Pairing Your Comics & Beer was published yesterday on Quirk Books. The suggestions, a dozen in all, range from obvious to clever to head-scratching.

Here’s the list, though I’d encourage to check out author Thom Dunn’s reasons for each pairing.

  • Batman: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout or Left Hand Milk Stout
  • Captain America: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • Daredevil: India Pale Ale
  • The Flash: Four Loko
  • Ghost Rider: Rogue Dead Guy Ale
  • Green Lantern: Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale
  • The Hulk: Brooklyn Monster Ale
  • Iron Man: Chimay
  • Spiderman: Hard Cider
  • Superman: Yuengling Lager
  • Wolverine: Labatt’s Blue
  • X-Men: Anything from Dogfish Head

The two that seem most wrong to me are Batman and Wolverine’s choices. Batman wouldn’t drink something sweet, he’d have an imperial stout, something bigger and rougher like Three Floyd’s Dark Lord. And a better Canadian choice for Wolverine would be Unibroue’s Maudite, which is based on a legend of eight lumberjacks, a pact with the devil and a flying canoe.

And here’s a couple more I came up with. What comic book and beer pairing would you suggest to add to the list?

  • Ant Man or The Atom: Anchor Small Beer
  • Green Arrow or Hawkeye: Strongbow Cider
  • The Joker: Shmaltz Brewing’s Coney Island Freak beers
  • Martian Manhunter: Biere de Mars
  • The Penguin: BrewDog Tactical Nuclear Penguin
  • The Punisher: Steel Reserve
  • Silver Surfer: Maui Big Swell IPA
  • Thor: RedHook Long Hammer IPA
  • Wonder Woman: Amazon Beer

amazon-beer

Archie Comics Tapped To Teach Kids About Underage Drinking

archie
The neo-prohibitionist organization MADD today sent out a press release announcing that they’ve partnered with Archie Comics “to raise awareness about underage drinking.” The new issue of Double Digest #217 hits the comic book stores tomorrow, and features an 8-page story entitled The Madd Cowboy of Riverdale High. Below are a few sample pages.

Archie-217_8

Archie-217_9

The “Cowboy” part of the title is for Dallas Cowboy tight end Jason Witten, who appears as himself to speak to Archie and his classmates in an assembly. He’s specifically promoting MADD and their Power 21, which will take place April 21 and is touted as a “national event that seeks to have parents talking to their children about underage drinking.”
Archie-217_10
Believe it or not, I’m not entirely against this latest effort by MADD, although I don’t believe the goal should be to completely eliminate underage drinking — an impossibility, in my experience — but should instead focus on figuring out an effective way to allow parents to educate their kids about drinking alcohol as they grow from teens to young adults. In my opinion, that would go a long way toward encouraging responsible behavior and reducing drunk driving and binge drinking. Though to be honest, by the time that message might have been relevant to me as a child, I was done reading Archie Comics. I’m not sure what their main demographic is, but my guess would be pre-teens, around 8-11 or 12.

Beer In Art #93: Matt Dembicki’s Brewmaster’s Castle

art-beer
Today’s featured artwork is thoroughly modern, but on an old-time subject. It’s about the mansion built by Washington D.C. beer mogul Christian Heurich, who was born today in 1825. It’s a twenty-page independent comic book with a story by Matt Dembicki and art by Andew Cohen. Entitled The Brewmaster’s Castle, the story takes place March 7, 1945 as an 102-year old Heurich takes a bittersweet final stroll through the mansion he built between 1892-94. Here’s page 1:

Dembicki-brewmaster-4

The actual building still stands, known today as the Christian Heurich House Museum it’s billed as “Washington’s Most Intact Late-Victorian House” and described as follows:

One of Washington’s best-kept secrets, The Brewmaster’s Castle is the most intact late-Victorian home in the country, and a Landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.

Built in 1892-1894 of poured concrete and reinforced steel by German immigrant, local brewer and philanthropist, Christian Heurich (HI-rick), it is also the city’s first fireproof home.

Heurich was Washington’s second largest landowner, the largest private employer in the nation’s capital, and as the world’s oldest brewer, ran his brewery until his death at 102.

A visit to The Brewmaster’s Castle is a visit back in time to the late-19th Century, when the Heurich family was in residence in Washington’s premier residential neighborhood.

Here’s what the mansion looks like today.

The Heurich Mansion  (The Brewmaster's Castle)

But back to the comic book. Here, Christian Heurich strolls through his mansion.

Dembicki-brewmaster-2

And near the end of the story, Heurich begins turning out the lights.

Dembicki-brewmaster-3

The original Christian Heurich Brewery opened in 1873 but was closed in 1956 by Christian Heurich, Jr., who took over the brewery after his father died in 1945. Where the brewery stood is now the site of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In 1986, Christian Heurich, Jr.’s son Gary Heurich started Olde Heurich Brewing, an early D.C. microbrewery that lasted twenty years, closing in 2006.

You can buy your own copy of the comic book for only $5 (plus $1 shipping) directly from the author. You can pay him directly via PayPal using his e-mail address of mattdembicki (@) gmail (.) com. He’s “hoping [they] might get some funds soon to print a larger run and get greater distribution. You can help. Support the arts and brewing history (not to mention independent comics) — all worthy causes IMHO — by buying this unique hand-crafted comic directly from the artist. Below is the cover.

Dembicki-brewmaster-1

RustyCans.com has more on Heurich’s history.