Sunday, January 5, 2014

Readers' Write (3): Who's the Best... Anthropomorphic Character?


While Karen and Doug are on vacation in January, our readers have been entrusted with carrying on the daily conversations.  Today's "Who's the Best?" is a do-it-yourselfer.  As we've done in the past, the first commenter gets to pick today's topic of conversation.

Generally speaking, "Who's the Best?" is for historical topics.  For example, in the past we've started conversations such as "Who's the Best -- Thor Artist?" and "Who's the Best -- Frankenstein Monster?"  Start a conversation that is broad enough to elicit an ongoing conversation, and that even might lend itself to tangential musings.

Thanks for holding it down for us!

Anonymous and Redartz say:  Today we're talking about favorite characters in the vein of Rocket Racoon, Howard the Duck, etc.  Who's the best?

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

What? you're leaving us alone here without any adult supervision? You both know we all have a tendency to get into trouble, without sensible moderation!
It strikes me as irresponsible, is all I'm saying.
Okay, deep breaths.
I'm just gonna throw this out there, just to get the cannon ball rolling:
Did anybody see Rocket Raccoon coming?
That one surprised me.
That's all I could come up with on short notice.
Ladies and gentlemen, the floor is yours.
M.P. (comic fan and closet insomniac)

Redartz said...

Okay, I'll risk venturing out here. Taking inspiration from MP's comment above, who is the best anthropomorphic character? I'm not too familiar with Rocket Raccoon. Therefore here's a nod to Howard the Duck (as portrayed by Steve Gerber, of course). Those appearances in Man-Thing and the first year or so of Howard's own title were great! Loved the little curmudgeon.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking Avengers 167-era Kovac saga Guardians of the Galaxy, so Nooooo, I was not expecting Rocket Raccoon as a Guardian of the Galaxy.

As for my favorite anthropomorphic character (I had to look for the spelling), Howard the Duck does have a strong argument. Stranger in a strange land, cigar smoking, taxi driving, rock star duck does look like the complete package but I must, in all honesty, tip my hat to GONZO THE GREAT (or the Great Gonzo). Daredevil/stuntman, musician, enigma, and the chicks dug him. Always looking on the bright side and a buddy that would have your back in an instant (as well as always ready to blow something up). Gonzo, today, tomorrow and to infinity and beyond (is that already taken?).....

The Prowler (from the old Spider-Man Crawlspace).

david_b said...

In all honesty, when I first heard of the movie plans for GOTG, I too thought it was the original four.., not the treeguy or the racoon. We'll see how it goes.

No connection, but when I think of Rocket for whatever reason, I think of Jaxxon, the furry rabbit-looking mercenary in the SW comics. Probably because personalities are the same or something, not sure...

My vote would typically be for Howard the Duck, but with qualifications. First off, immersed in a media world of cute Disney/WB animals, Howard's first splash on the scene with his own title was a HUGE provocative gamble for Marvel (despite the fan mail from his early appearances). The Colan art was superb, the stories a creepy social commentary on current trends, and an anti-hero who at best tapped his cigar in cynical disgust at situations he found himself thrown into.

And to paraphrase Spock's hilarious Nixon comment in 'Undiscovered Country'.., 'Only Gerber could make Howard the Duck #16.'

Having said that, to me Howard doesn't really exist outside of Steve Gerber. I've got the entire run (cheaply purchased..), and even bought a b&w issue of the short-lived title Howard was relegated to after his series. Moreso than Starlin on Mar-Vell, a Gerberless Howard held little if any interest for me.

If we're going to include Muppets in this category, I'd go with Kermit. Easily.

Matt Celis said...

It it's comics, it's Scrooge McDuck (closely followed by Donald and the supporting players) by Barks and Rosa! Howard the Duck I never laughed out loud when reading, always felt like they were trying too hard.

If it's cartoon, it's Bugs Bunny. He's hilarious, flawed and fallible, but lovable. No one else even approaches, not even my wackadoodle favorite Daffy Duck.

If it's newsprint, does Hobbes count if he's only in Calvin's imagination?

Edo Bosnar said...

Much as I love Rocket Raccoon - in his original appearances written by Mantlo back in the '70s and '80s - I have to go with Howard. Having a Disneyesque duck sharing the same world with Marvel's superheroes was such a great idea. However, David's right - only Gerber seemed to be able to pull off writing good Howard stories.
But I have to say, if we're opening this up to Muppets and - why not? - cartoon characters, then both Donald and Scrooge McDuck come into play, as well as the greatest of them all: Bugs Bunny.

As for the Guardians of the Galaxy, yes, I too only recognize that original team, i.e., the first four plus Starhawk/Aleta and Nikki. All of this Star Lord, Rocket Raccoon, etc. stuff just makes me scratch my head in bewilderment...

Matt Celis said...

Does anyone actually like Guardians of the Galaxy? It's the first Marvel movie I very much doubt I'll bother to see. Never liked the characters in comics.

Anonymous said...

David made a pretty good point, I will always wonder how the heck Gerber got the green light for HTD.
Or how they talked Colan into drawing it. Maybe he was sick of superheroes.
Either way, it worked.
What's this about a "tree-guy"?

Rip Jagger said...

I love the original quartet of the Guardians. Vance Astro, Martinex, Yondu and Charlie-27 are great characters in my estimation. The later treatment by Valentino was okay, but developed them in ways I didn't always prefer. The new gang has little relationship to the originals, some great individual characters but not the ones I care about.

Rip Off

Rip Jagger said...

And my vote for favorite anthropomorphic character is one Mr. Hector Peabody. I love his ultra-dry wit. A close second are his comrades in cartoons Bullwinkle J. Moose and Rocket J. Squirrel.

Rip Off

Anonymous said...

I liked the original Guardians of the Galaxy with Vance Astro, Martinex, Yondu and Charlie 27, not the newer team with Groot and Rocket Raccoon.

As for anthropomorphic characters, for Marvel it has to be Howard the Duck. Outside of Marvel, I'd give my nod to Bugs Bunny and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.


- Mike 'human version of Porky Pig' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Redartz said...

Matt- absolutely Hobbes counts; wish I'd thought of him!
Trying to think of some possibilities from DC; there was Captain Carrot but that group never quite grabbed me. Bugs Bunny definitely tops the carrot crowd...

david_b said...

Brian from Family Guy...? He's always a trip.

But yes, count me in for a vote for Hobbes as well

david_b said...

My 'treeguy' reference was pertaining to Groot.

Proudly displaying my ignorance of GOTG..

Humanbelly said...

I would like to put in an honorable shout-out for Caesar (actually a hyper-smart "real" dog who operated using an entire prosthetic robot "body")in Alan Moore's superb TOP 10.

Perhaps a mention for Underdog, too? That whole Jay Ward universe was sooooo confusing to me as a youngster, with it's indescriminate mixture of human & anthro characters. Could they intermarry? Were they just, like, different races?

OH! Which puts me in mind of PBSKids' ARTHUR! HBSon loved that show as a toddler, and I thought it was a hoot as well-- but the OBVIOUS question that multiple-animal milieu presents to a kid is, "Could Arthur and Francine get married? They kind of like each other-- but he's an aardvark and she's a gorilla. All of the families are only one kind of animal."

Hoo-boy-- that can sure blindside an innocent parent.

HB

Rip Jagger said...

Not to necessarily take the conversation in that direction, but one area in which anthropomorphic comic book characters thrive is in the "furry" community.

Omaha the Cat Dancer is one of the most durable characters in comics outside of the mainstream.

And that made me think of Thunderbunny, one of the best animal superheroes I've tumbled across. Love what they did with him.

Rip Off

david_b said...

To further expound on Howard.., I will admit that my earnest appreciation goes farther than just his published exploits. To an early Bronze Age Zuvembie like myself, in some ways he subjectively symbolizes the final pangs of that early Steranko-Gerber-Smith experimental Bronze Age phase, the final time Bullpen imagination and execution felt 'cutting edge' to me. Oh, he had sassy-spouting copies later on, but the essence of Howard was original and birthed from the pages of 'Man-Thing', he represented a stretch from your normal hero-western-horror-monster-lovestory titles which were still being inked back then.

At his best incarnation, he was part-Bogart, part-Ben Grimm, part-Jack Nicholson, part-loser, a true feathered anti-hero from the swamps. Thanks much to Colan's swirly-shadowy art, Howard's personality was hyper, sweaty, sardonic, perhaps even full of unresolved emotional stank, but he sure had depth.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I have always felt some aspects of the anthropomorphic comic book characters a bit errr strange i.e. when adult themes are brought in in a serious way (unlike the out and out adult farce of Fritz the Cat etc) but my favourites would have to be Usagi Yojimbo and Cerbus - if pure humour then Scrooge McDuck (although as kid I always liked the UKs Beano's Biffo the Bear and err what is "Bone" ?

Redartz said...

Rip, your comment about Omaha and non-mainstream comics brought to mind a few others that deserve mention. In college reading Arn Saba's Neil the Horse and Joshua Quagmire's Cutey Bunny were humorous respites from the Big Two. "Neil" was a very creative book, blending comics, text stories, and music ("making the world safe for musical comedy"). And Neil had a cigar-smoking cat for a friend; wonder if they ever met Howard.

Matt Celis said...

DC: Fox and Crow! Peter Porkchop?

Matt Celis said...

How 'bout Destroyer Duck? What a comic...at least the first issue...and what generosity by Kirby to do it pro bono.

Doug said...

Yesterday when I mentioned my TV viewing habits as a child, I could have brought up Mr. Ed. Great show!

My kids never missed Arthur, so that's a good call, HB. Although at lunch today I did say something to the younger about Arthur and Francine, and the response I got (from the 19-year old) was "Wait, what? Francine's a gorilla??" Sheesh...

Doug

Anonymous said...

Wow. Groot's back. Surely not the same Groot the Hulk turned into toothpicks back in Hulk Annual #7 or somesuch.
The next thing you're going to tell me is they brought Goom back, too, ha ha, ...no...surely not..no..aaahhh

Fred W. Hill said...

Howard the Duck is my particular favorite, at least when written by Steve Gerber. Some creations just work best when in the hands of the originator. Cerebus was also great, at least for most of the first half of the run, before Sim used it as a forum for his religious/political extremism. Not that I mind anyone using comics for an expression of potentially controversial ideas - Gerber certainly did it, as did Walt Kelly in Pogo. I'm all for them having the freedom to do so, but on the other hand if they espouse ideas I strongly disagree with, I'm not too likely to continue to spend my money to purchase their products.
I wasn't aware until relatively recently that there was an entirely different Guardians of the Galaxy, with Rocket Raccoon around. I'm almost curious enough to check out the comic and I definitely plan to see the movie. Omaha the Cat Dancer is another series I've read about but haven't actually read. What I have read has been lauditory enough that I might yet check out that one too.

Fred W. Hill said...

Egads! I only intended to send that once but I kept getting error messages indicating it didn't go through and finally I just logged off the internet altogether and logged back in to see it posted thrice! %$#@&* (comicbook cursing)

Anonymous said...

I'm always inclined towards 80s comics, but I actually liked that early 80s Captain Carrot series. EVERYTHING in that book was an animal-joke parody of DC or Marvel comics.
I'm a little too young for Howard the Duck and a little too old for TMNT.
starfoxxx

Humanbelly said...

Oh! And Fred's mention of Pogo made me think of another BIG personal favorite: Opus the Penguin from BLOOM COUNTY.

Anthropomorphic characters have really just about always been around, haven't they? Maybe we should pull children's literature out of the mix? Maybe? There's Winnie the Pooh; all of the Peter Cottontail canon; the Wind in the Willows gang; the Narnia cycle; Wizard of Oz; a huge amount of Mother Goose; etc, etc--- and boy, it goes clear back to Aesop's fables!

And indeed, Paul McS-M--- what the heck IS Bone (and his cohorts)?? They're sort of like evolved Shmoo or something. . .

Oh wow, again-- Snoopy, from PEANUTS?

Yeah, the field to choose from is just overwhelming me. . .

HB

Anonymous said...

It's happened to the best of us, Fred! No need to be mortified.
Actually, the more I think about a walking tree and talking raccoon hanging out together, the more it makes sense, in a weird kinda way.
I come from rural Iowa, and spent some time in woods of Wisconsin, and I've seen stuff in nature there almost as stupifyingly bizarre.

Doug said...

No prob, Fred. I cleaned up the two extra posts so as to keep it tidy around here! ;)

No prob, Fred. I cleaned up the two extra posts so as to keep it tidy around here! ;)

No prob, Fred. I cleaned up the two extra posts so as to keep it tidy around here! ;)

Doug (Haha -- hey, gotta have some humor in the midst of snowmageddon. Good lord -- we have about 14" of snow with -50 degree wind chills coming tomorrow. NW Indiana has ruled it illegal to be on any road tonight unless you are an emergency vehicle; all schools and almost all businesses are closed in IL and IN tomorrow)

Doug said...

HB --

You're scaring me with that flying monkeys reference, dude.

Doug

Anthony said...

Bucky B. Katt and Satchel Pooch from Get Fuzzy are two of my favorites.

humanbelly said...

Bucky and Satchel (and their whole host of animal playmates and cohorts and nemeses) are a great example, Anthony. Love that strip-- except the Washington Post recently dropped it because Darby Conley was really failing with his deadlines with alarming regularity. But that strip is particularly cool because it takes the "sentient pet" cocept (like Snoopy & Garfield, say) one step farther from the thought-baloon convention and has them indeed become fully articulate and directly conversant and interactive. Of course, if you scratch even barely below the surface, you have to confront the question of, why, exactly, are they not people? How can they be property?

Sherman's Lagoon? With the sharks and turtle and hermit crab, etc?

Ooh, Doug-- with Wizard of Oz I was, heh, thinking more of folks like the Cowardly Lion and such.

HB

david_b said...

Doug, this weather situation isn't all that bad. Seriously.

January 5th 1982...

I was returning to UW at Milwaukee from Xmas vacation and official records list it as close to '70 below zero.

Weren't too many folks on the road that day. I was the only passenger on the metro bus taking me back to college once I got to Milwaukee.

Once outside the bus station, I took my glove off.. within seconds the muscles in my hand started to contract and curve my fingers into a fist involuntarily. Pretty cool, but not for long-term exposure, mind you.

This stuff this week isn't too bad.

Doug said...

Ah, yes, David, I remember that time.

Couple of things -- they figured wind chills differently back then. The wind chills for tomorrow are about equivalent to those in '82 figured under the new calculations. Additionally, the new snow on top of the snow we got on 1/1, coupled with 25 mph winds, makes for some dicey travel. We were to go to Indy tomorrow to pick up our son returning from 10 days in London. Now we're wondering if and when he'll get in, as well as trying to make alternative plans with him six time zones away from us. So perhaps personally at least -- it is that bad. I'm no pansy, but let's be honest -- as you said, it's been 30 years since we've seen this weather.

No real big deal though, you're right. Just finding it to be something of which to take note.

Doug

david_b said...

Doug, incidentally did your son get in from London alright..?

Doug said...

David, thanks for asking. It's a long story that's still unfolding, so if anyone doesn't want to keep reading, stop now!

The plan was to fly from Heathrow to Charlotte, NC, and then on to Indianapolis (he's on a college trip, with the college, and his school is about 40 miles NE of Indy). The aforementioned storm has crippled travel through almost all of IL and IN since it began Sunday morning. All schools and many businesses in our area have been closed Monday and Tuesday. Anyway, their flight to Indy was canceled, so they had to spend the night in Charlotte last night. They have a flight booked today to Dayton, OH, where they plan to then rent a van (there are 8 on the trip) and drive the 95 miles to campus. However, looking at road conditions this morning, central Indiana remains impassable with numerous interstates closed and driving on secondary roads illegal due to the danger. Flights are arriving in Dayton, but we are assuming that they'll have to spend the night there. So it's been an odyssey to say the least!

I told my wife that I hope this isn't what he remembers about the trip, which was wonderful in spite of the everyday rain that is winter in the UK. And, he just wants to get home...

Thanks again for asking!

Doug

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