Blame the medium

“Real Madrid can eff all, you arse-face arsing arse-heads”

I’m not trying to raise the Sharpener’s rude word count, nor shock you with poor grammar. I’m simply quoting the finest panel of Medium Large‘s recent Brit Week. (That’s just the latest cartoon: there are usually weekly archives, and the last one should be here, but it isn’t, yet.) Francesco Marciuliano understands British slang; not all his characters do.

I should explain. Medium Large is a cartoon strip which runs from Monday to Friday and is powered by Blogger, so it has comments. It’s not syndicated, though Francesco has shown over the past two years (it’s now on its 104th week), that he’s got the staying power, as well as being funny most days. I think last Wednesday’s cartoon was weak, but a miss rate of 20% is a lot more than most cartoonists ever achieve.

Most of Medium Large is oblique: it has a main character (called “MLG” for “Medium Large Guy”) but he either watches TV, where most of the content happens, or encounters people (usually cartoon characters) in a bar, and he says nothing and looks blank. There isn’t a cartoonist’s proxy who gets to tell the joke in the final frame.

ML doesn’t thwack you over the head with political statements. Some strips just seem to be an excuse for silly jokes (Robot to blonde in bar: “Whoa, someone call heaven because it’s missing a dead person.” Well I laughed). Some seem to be satirising the absurdity of television franchises. “Child CSI” from the same week may be accurate observation of ten-year-old boys. It may get to the real reason I watch CSI. Then again, it may merely be silly. “His guts are everywhere!” “That’s probably why he died.”

Brit Week was an affectionate and knowing parody of the American view of us Brits. MLG eats Hob-Nobs and balances a tea cup and saucer on the arm of his chintz chair (he usually drinks some kind of soda through a straw). Mr Blobby passes through the background of one panel. Andy Capp is directed by Ken Loach. Though my favourite is “Victorian-Era Superhero” which features a tousel haired fellow with freckles holding his cloth cap in front of his chest who is saying, “Pardon, your superheroship, but the egregious ‘Scarlet Crimson’ plans to do London a disservice with an incendiary device most foul. We shan’t tarry!” Opposite him, wearing a top hat, cape, evening suit and cravat his master replies, “Ah, but you forget Toppins — the ‘Scarlet Crimson’ is a duke, whereas I am a mere solicitor by trade. I’m afraid his higher social standing and simple decorum dictates that we must let London burn.” It’s only one strip, but it contains so much of how Americans see us. But anyone who’s heard of Hob-Nobs or Mr Blobby, and can draw an Arsenal strip knows this country better than 95% of his fellow Americans, so the joke is on them as well as on us.

I could have written yet another post on Charles Clarke, but recommending a cartoon I enjoy, and hope you will too, is a lot better for my blood pressure.

If you don’t enjoy it, you’re all arsing arse-heads. Cheerio.

1 comment
  1. I need more quality web comics – never know where to start though – other than b3ta, obviously…