Soapy Strip by Sean Tenhoff

My friend Sean Tenhoff is going to be swapping comic strips with cartoonists next week… Sean draws the absurdly violent comic The Bean Men. This is the cool Soapy strip he drew for me in exchange for me drawing a Bean Men episode. You may recall Soapy made guest appearances in the Bean Men previously on two occasions, which you can see here and here. I’ll post here when he posts my Bean Men strip so you can check it out… it should be some time after the 5th.

Rogues’ Gallery #4: DR. CORNELIUS SHAM

The more you dig into the life of Dr. Cornelius Sham, the less you find you know about him.

He is pictured in two versions, the one on the right being the image he used on the labels of bottles of healing elixir he used to sell (considering his long life, perhaps it works in spite of the high amount of radium in the solution).

The only consistent information, it seems, is that he was born on May 5th, 1923. However, this lone documented fact (backed up by an Oklahoma City birth certificate) casts the shadow of doubt on many of the other tales and rumors about Sham’s colorful and mysterious life.

For example, if he was born in 1923, how could he be a part of the scores of stories about him that took place before his birth? How could he have run off to join the circus with Tod Browning in 1896, only to end up running the sideshow a mere month later? How could he have been there at Teddy Roosevelt’s deathbed to cryogenically preserve his head?

However, the birth certificate is all the tangible documentation of this man that we have… no paper trail has ever caught up to him. No social security number, no addresses, no license plates… it would be easy to think that the man never existed if there wasn’t such a wealth of anecdotal evidence of him from so many different sources.

Did he really kick Mrs. O’Leary’s cow? Was that really him on Elm Street in Dallas opening the umbrella in the sun as the motorcade passed? And if he really had a flying solar car in 1953, why did he choose to bike the Appalachians distributing hallucinogenic toads for breeding to the poor in 1955? And why is he wearing an Eleganza leisure suit in the grainy photos of him meeting Rockefeller in 1948? Certainly, that couldn’t really be his reflection in Buzz Aldrin’s helmet, even if the photos are from NASA.

Obviously, many of the stories about him are complete fabrications… but it is troubling that there are often scores of corroborating witnesses in many of the seemingly impossible ones. In spite of reports of his death in 1968 (honey overdose), 1972 (plane crash in Antarctica), 1997 (fell into vat of hydrochloric acid), and 2002 (eaten by elder god) there have been sightings of him as recently as three months ago. He was reported to have been operating a smuggling operation moving cloned sheep out of Australia in the pouches of kangaroos.

His current whereabouts are- you guessed it- unknown.

Soapy the Chicken is Getting Really Corny

While many of you may have noticed that this comic strip has no fear of corny (or even outright bad) jokes, my friend David Steinlicht is going to great lengths to create the corniest Soapy ever. In addition to being an excellent cartoonist, David is also an enthusiast of “crop art.” What is crop art, you may wonder… why it is elaborate art made from seeds! For a more involved description of crop art, see the rules of crop art here.

Here is David’s amazing gallery of crop art, featuring many of the stars of Hong Kong cinema (another of David’s passions… he once went to Hong Kong to meet Jackie Chan… his crop art rendition of Mr. Chan won third place in the amateur category in 1997. I think David has gone professional now).

David is honoring us by choosing to make his next crop art project Soapy the Chicken! And he is blogging about it while he builds it! Hopefully we’ll all be able to check out the finished Soapy at the Minnesota State Fair this year.

Rogues’ Gallery #5: THE AZZOLI BROTHERS

Meet Gino “Calamari” and Freddy “Muzzle” Azzoli AKA the Azzoli brothers. These two are as inseparable as Laurel and Hardy… they are rarely seen in public without each others’ company.

Technically, they aren’t brothers, if you must know… cousins, but raised in the same house… Gino’s old man Tito’s place… Freddy’s Uncle Tits. The old man liked Freddy best (everyone does, really, even though he never says much, and he does the vast majority of the killing), so everyone just treated it like he was the old man’s kid, and not the bastard offspring of Tito’s whore of a sister. Easier for everyone that way. Besides, Tito beat him just the same as he beat Gino when the wine told him to.

Still, Gino wasn’t without remorse when he flushed the old man’s pieces down the john.

One might assume that such an upbringing would breed intense competitiveness between the two brothers, but this was never the case. They have always had an incomprehensible understanding… an unspoken language that they shared.

It probably helped that, although they are both quite stupid, Freddy is about one pube this side of retarded.

Thus, Gino has always had an easy time dominating Freddy intellectually, and Gino generally does the talking for both of them. As a result, you can’t shut the guy up without a blunt object. The only time Gino keeps his yammering maw quiet is when they’re on a job. Few people realize the depth of Freddy’s dim wit, because the way Gino tells it, the guy is Socrates.

Freddy is certainly an asset in his own way, though. Freddy’s good looks get enough tail for both of them in spite of Gino’s obvious and severe physical shortcomings (as long as Freddy doesn’t open his idiot gob). Freddy never insists on taking the pretty ones, either. And, of course, Freddy is strong as a lion and kills on command without hesitation.

Together, they make a pretty perfect team, really. Few professional murderers have long careers, yet these guys have been at it since John Travolta was still dancing in a white suit. Part of this longevity comes from being protected by the mob, certainly, but beyond that they are extremely skilled at what they do.

All together, they have only been in the pokey five times (Gino for burglary, Freddy for assault, assault, assault and pissing in public). This is not through any sort of cleverness that they have avoided being caught for any of the abundant corpses they have created. Pure talent is what keeps them alive and in shiny shoes. Freddy is fast and remorseless, Gino is brutal and thorough. They go and get the job done and leave before the blood stains the carpet.

Rogues’ Gallery #3: “STARRY-EYED” LESTER

Christ knows Lester would do things differently if he could do it all over again.

The misery of his present situation… cigarettes as cash, eating with sporks, counting the days until it is over with a line drawn with an off-white pebble on a his wall… these things, and others much darker, force him to take his thoughts to elsewhere, another time, another place, anywhere but here.

In the black and white 1965 Zenith television of his mind, Lester never did the things they said he did to anybody. At least not permanent, or to anyone that mattered, or to anyone who would talk about it afterwards… and certainly not to that cop’s kid. He’s innocent as the day he was born, when he pissed all over that doctor.

In fact, he is not merely innocent, he’s famous. The star of his own tv show, a household name and idol of the hungry millions. It’s a sitcom, if you must know: Lester is the single father of three precocious children (Gary Coleman, Jaleel White and Emmanuel Lewis), trying to make it all work out in spite of comical hardships, often with the help of a wacky oddball neighbor played by Pat Harrington, Jr. Ted Knight plays the man who lives in the wall with a cat.