Thursday April 13, 2006          
Email Jimmy Johnson

Excuses, excuses, excuses. The problem this week has been the Internet Service Provider! Daily, the service goes out for long stretches at a time, and when it does work, it seems to take forever for Front Page to load the updates. It won't serve any purpose to go into great detail about the nature of the ISP I use here, but suffice to say the television picture has been snowy, too.

Remember me mentioning the special Christmas series that ran back in 1996? Well, Walt has sent me copies of the entire series, three week's worth. Walt must have a big hard drive. Thank you, Walt. Next week, we'll begin the series, "St. Nick of Time." I guarantee most of you have never seen it. I haven't seen it myself for almost 10 years.

Until then, here are three cartoons from the past and today's A&J. Most of you already know, the link to today's cartoon is a link to the United Media Web site. It updates automatically every 24 hours, so any link on this page to "today's A&J" takes you to the same place. If you want to read the newspaper strips from recent days, go to the 30-day archive on the UM page. It looks like a little calendar.

Speaking of exercise, I recently took up golf. A lot of my friends were surprised, and some--they didn't have to say it--were disapproving. I, myself, once thought of golf as a silly waste of time. Actually, I still do, but having been a recreational boater, I truthfully can say golf is a relatively time-efficient and inexpensive hobby.

I like to play with my brother. He took up the sport the same time as I, and we're horrible. We hack and hack and curse and moan, until finally we're wiping away tears of laughter. We like to walk the course, carrying our bags, but too often, "in the interest of time," we rent a cart. If we'd resisted the temptation more and walked more, we'd be better off. No, golf isn't exactly a he-man sport, but I think the important thing is, we do something.

This Friday afternoon, we plan to go out there, again. I'll let you know how we do. Here is the remainder of "Mall Walkers" and today's A&J. (I've been late posting this week because of server problems. Just what a heart-patient needs!) (4/11/2006)

There's nothing to do this morning but thank all of you who've sent me messages and e-cards. So many of you wrote in to wish me well and to cheer me up and to make fun of my heart attack that I actually teared up at one point Thursday.  It was great.

Back in the 90s, I did a special, three-week series at Christmas in which Arlo suffers some kind of vague cardiac event. The series was a special one, offered by the syndicate as a bonus to its subscribers. Something similar is done every year by a different artist, and that was my year. Editors are free to use the additional material or not. I dare say, most of you have never seen that effort. I can't find it in my archives or in the searchable archives at United Media's Web site. I'm going to keep trying, though, and If I do run across it--maybe in my hard-copy archives (shudder!)--be sure you'll see it here.

Here are the first three cartoons of a little series tangentially related to recent events. The cartoons you see today were pulled from the archives, but I honestly don't know if this series has appeared on the Web before or not. I don't think it has. Plus, here is today's A&J, which is a pretty good cat cartoon if I say so myself.

I used to vaguely be amused when I'd miss a day here on the Web, and readers would write to enquire nervously about my health. I am no longer amused. Early Monday morning, I had a heart attack, that quintessential middle-age experience. Oh, I'm OK! I'm out of the hospital and walking around with a slight limp, having suffered nothing more invasive than having a Roto-Rooter inserted in my groin area and shoved up my torso into my heart. Twice.

I am not overweight, have never smoked and have a normal level of cholesterol. Apparently, genetics got me, maybe helped along by stress. I'll be back with the Web site next week; I expect we'll talk about this some more. I'm going to be fine. Really. Oh, by the way, here is today's A&J.

Bob from Minneapolis has sent my favorite limerick so far:

Readers from Maine to Wisconsin
Emailed a 'toonist named Johnson
   He'd read 'em and sigh
   He couldn't reply
To all wantin' a Johnson responsin'

Couldn't have said it better myself, Bob. I have an early curtain call, so there won't be a further update today, but there's always today's A&J.

Briefly, I want to thank all of you helpful people from around the country who've written in to tell me the name of the old man who used to coach at the University of Alabama. I know none of you are Alabama football fans, though, because you'd know full well why an Auburn alum such as myself wouldn't want to remember old what's his name.

We'll have to check in on the progress of American Idol one day soon. My man Taylor Hicks did well last evening, I thought, managing to bring himself back from a rather strange performance last week. Have you noticed that the judges' advice is contradictory from week to week?

Here are three old cartoons with some fresh commentary and today's A&J. (3/30/2006)

Much ado about nothing: it's what we live for at! This quote resulted in a lot of interesting mail last week, and further Internet research has only muddied the waters. Readers wrote to attribute the quote not to the old guy who used to coach at Alabama (What was his name?!) but variously to Lou Holtz, Joe Paterno and Paul Brown. A cursory Internet query turns up the additional possibilities of Darrel Royal, Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry. I think we can conclude that a lot of coaches over the years have said, "When you get to the end zone, act like you've been there before." Who said it first is harder to establish.

Harold wrote to make the case for Paul Brown, who chronologically precedes all the above-mentioned. Anyway, as Harold notes, Paul Brown was an amazingly effective football coach at all levels, and Harold was thoughtful enough to provide us with a link to an informative article about the NFL Hall of Fame member.

Today, I have three assorted cartoons from the old days and today's Arlo and Janis. (3/29/2006)

Well, it is a good day, indeed. Many Wisconsin friends have written me this morning to say that Arlo and Janis will return next week to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as per reader demand. This news makes me very happy, and I mean that. It's a tough racket these days; slippage is never a good sign. On a more personal level, it gladdens me to know there are so many people in and around Milwaukee who enjoy what I do.

I've heard from many of them over the past few weeks, since A&J was discontinued by the MJS. I want to thank those who wrote to commiserate with me, and I especially want to thank those who let their feelings be known to the editors at the paper. I want to thank the editors themselves, not only for returning my work to their comics line-up but for being a valued subscriber almost the entire 20 years I've been doing this. Milwaukee, it's great to be back!

Someone wrote yesterday to remind me that the series "Haberdash" ran not long ago. I thought it looked familiar. Sorry about that; my memory isn't what it used to be. (Why didn't more of you write, hmm?) Today, I have three assorted old cartoons and today's A&J, which is going to be one of those cartoons, I fear. (3/25/2006)

I don't want to sound like the typical blogger who's become bored with his creation and keeps making excuses for shirking what suddenly has become drudgery; however, we might as well reconcile ourselves to the fact the next couple of weeks are going to be iffy.

I'm in the midst of a huge (for me) house renovation, and I'm still having problems connecting to the Internet. I think my DSL modem may have choked to death on drywall dust. I'm updating this through my cell phone! What a world.

I'm not at all bored with what we do here on the Web site, although I'm dying to give it a bit of a renovation as well. All in good time. This is as good a moment as any to insert my usual disclaimer regarding e-mail from you. I read all my message, and I appreciate that people take their time to write, especially nice things. However, it simply isn't possible to reply to most messages. Sometimes, a reader will write with a question, or a small, reasonable favor. It really depresses me to--in effect--ignore them. I apologize, but there are only four hours in a day. Well, that's the way it seems when I try to accomplish all I need to accomplish.

Here are the final three episodes of "Haberdash," and today's A&J. Oh, and I promise to shorten this page really soon! (3/22/2006)

I'm back! Sort of. I don't have a lot of time this morning, but I do have the first three cartoons from a series that first ran in 1996. It has run here on the Web, too, but not since the early days, if I'm not mistaken.

A lot of people wrote about the cartoon that appeared in newspapers Friday, which featured the character Jiggs, from George McManus' classic comic strip Bringing Up Father. Most of you who wrote did so to share fond memories of Jiggs and his wife Maggie, but for those of you who wanted to know who the little fellow in the strip was, the aforementioned link will tell you all you need to know.

I continue to slide, kicking and screaming, down that slippery slope I have sworn to avoid: explaining my cartoons. Suffice to say, Sunday's cartoon had nothing to do with sex. You people! I don't have time to post links, but you can get to the two cartoons I'm discussing by backtracking from today's A&J. And here are the first three episodes of "Haberdash." (3/20/2006)

A combination of connectivity problems and home-repair projects--which may or may not be related--has pretty much shot me down this week. I'll be back on Monday. I'm sorry for the interruption. You can always check on today's A&J. (3/16/2006)

We've talked about weather woes so much, I'd feel remiss if I didn't pause to commiserate with those affected by the tornado outbreaks in the Midwest and South. Having lived all over the southeastern United States, I've seen firsthand what that's like, and it's not pretty.

Speaking of the weather, an old friend of mine, Dennis Carter, sent me a photograph just yesterday that he encountered on the 'Net. Dennis and I go back to high school, and he visited me in Pass Christian on several occasions. Like most who visited there, he was quite taken with the area. He's followed the Katrina story with interest and sadness. In fact, he just returned from a trip to Biloxi with a group of fellow Ohioans that was helping with the recovery.

Anyway, the photograph is an aerial photograph taken shortly after the storm. It is the best overall picture I have seen of my neighborhood in The Pass. When I find out whom to credit, I will. The picture almost is misleading: all the homes north of (above) this area and all the buildings west (left) for more than two miles were destroyed totally. The house in the center of the photo, the one with the shiny roof, is my house. How lucky can you get?

Back to the drawing board: here is "Arlo's Haircut" and today's newspaper cartoon. (3/14/2006)

In response to this little item last week, Matthew wrote:

Two couples, Mr. Johnson, should sit that way. It's classier and more social, encouraging people to chat with people other than their spouses, just as couples should not sit together at a dinner party. Only insecure couples feel the need to sit together in a car.

I did a cursory search of the Internet for an authoritative ruling on this one but did not find anything. I'm sure, however, that Matthew is correct, especially given the context of my parents' experience. They may have been products of an impoverished time, but it also was a classier time. It's fact that the deeper the Great Depression became, the more elegant and sophisticated movies and stage shows became.  I'm always fascinated by those old movies in which people step out for a night on the town in dinner jackets and evening gowns. I keep waiting for that fashion to return, as most fashions do, but so far it hasn't. Has it?

Anyway, here's the rest of "Bob is Bob," and today's A&J. (3/13/2006)

Sorry about yesterday. I'm having drywall work done at my house, and the resulting mess simply was too depressing to cope with; I temporarily gave up. The mess continues today, but life must go on.

I feel as if I should mention that I will be at "Garden in the Park" in Opelika, AL, Saturday afternoon, sketching, signing autographs and otherwise being out of place at an event designed to showcase garden and yard activities. So, if you happen to be in Opelika, drop by.  The event is being staged by "Keep Opelika Beautiful," a worthwhile organization devoted to encouraging everyone to, well, keep Opelika beautiful.

The festival will be held at Municipal Park, also known locally as "the monkey park." This is because at one time there was a cage of monkeys who lived there. As you won't have trouble imagining, that arrangement proved problematic, so you can no longer go to Municipal Park and see the monkeys. However, you can see me on Saturday.

Today, I reached deep into the files of and pulled out a series that many of you haven't seen. I call it "Bob Is Bob." Please remember to check out the newspaper cartoon as well. (3/9/2006)

Yesterday's conversation about boats and sailing and margaritas has me mourning for my old sloshing grounds. From the armpit of Florida (What do they call that swampy area between Carabelle and Cedar Key?) to the gulf coast of Texas, hurricanes over the past two seasons have wreaked havoc on marinas, yacht clubs and vessels. With so much human misery to go around in the wake of the storms, recreational boating doesn't exactly rate top priority, but it is worth mentioning.

Exactly one week before Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, I walked the shattered docks of Apalachicola, one of the better examples of old Florida still in existence. Apalachicola and the Cape San Blas area took a serious wallop from a little-remembered July hurricane named Dennis. If you watched  television at the time, you probably got the impression Dennis didn't do much damage. In reality, destruction from wave action was extensive, albeit more typical of the hurricane damage to which we'd been accustomed in seasons past.

In Apalachicola, there was an humble but sturdy municipal marina with plenty of room for transient boats. It was one of the few places I know where you still could tie up without asking anyone. I don't know if you were supposed to, but you could! It was in shambles, particularly the long and welcoming transient piers. It was one of my favorite spots in the world. I hope they've fixed it. As for Pensacola and west, well, as they say in New Orleans, "Fergidaboudit."

So, here are some old cartoons and a new one. (3/7/2006)

Judging by the mail, a lot of people remember the early cartoons of Hanna-Barbera Studios, which I talked about last Thursday. Several went on to mention their dearth of quality compared to the cartoons that preceded them, cartoons which mostly were produced for the cinema, whether as shorts or the full-length masterpieces of Walt Disney's geniuses.

It wasn't my intent to hold television cartoons up as superior examples of animation; I simply said they were a great influence on me as a little kid, especially visually. We all know the maw of television requires quantity first and foremost; quality is always lagniappe. The stiff and jerky animation of the first cartoons produced exclusively for television certainly was a portent, although I do daresay they were better than much that followed.

Today, I am rerunning a little series that has appeared here several times before; spring fever, I guess. It's one of those things: if you like it, you won't mind seeing it, again, and if you don't, well... there is some new commentary. So, here is "Arlo's Sailing Dream" and today's A&J. (3/6/2006)

One of the earlier cartoon influences upon me as a youngster was the animated work of the Hanna-Barbera Studios that was ubiquitous on television when I was a tyke. It's hard to remember how cutting-edge The Flintstones were in the early 60s. The 30-minute episodes premiered every week during prime time, on Friday nights if I'm not mistaken. Keep in mind, these were new episodes, Flintstone cartoons no one had ever seen. I remember it was a highlight of my week.

Other H-B cartoons were Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, The Jetsons, Snagglepuss--there were so many. If you follow the link in the first paragraph, you can see an archive of these old favorites; you will also see the studio is very active today, producing many of those gross but often funny cartoons that appear on "The Cartoon Network."

My earliest cartoon work was copying Fred and Barney and Yogi Bear. I became quite proficient and was able to amaze my friends. Actually, if you'll notice, Fred and Yogi really are very similar.

Here is a series about vacation from 1998 and today's A&J. (3/2/2006)

People often want to know which cartoons and cartoonists influenced me most. Going back to when I was a boy, I'd have to say there were many that influenced me indirectly. I loved comic strips and comic books. I read a lot of them. I read a lot in general, for a kid.

I don't think my father was totally comfortable with my bookish side. I played outdoors every day. I owned and used all the standard sporting gear, including a BB gun which was not always employed on the right side of the law, strictly speaking. My friends and I rode our bicycles all over creation, sometimes stopping on creek banks or railroad trestles to tempt fate in ways that would have made our parents' hair stand on end, had they known. However, I also enjoyed curling up with a good Hardy Boys mystery or some other, more weighty jewel dug from the dark shelves of the Hawkes Children's Library in West Point, Ga. On more than one occasion, I remember my father making some crack about me having my "nose in a book."  I think he was wrong to do that, and it puzzles me a little to this day.

He was a witty and intelligent man, although the difficult circumstances of the Great Depression had prevented his finishing high school. He and my mother both were determined my brother and I would be educated through college. Of my parents, my father actually was the more aware. He read a couple of newspapers each day, although not always well. He devoutly followed the Sunday interview shows on TV, which were fewer in those days and the better for it. I don't know why he would have been hostile to my recreational reading. My father's wit could be acerbic; it's possible he was teasing. I didn't take it that way.

We started out to talk about cartoon influences, didn't we? Well, maybe later. Today, here are four cartoons from the past and today's A&J. (03/01/2006)

I thought I'd tie up some loose ends today. About this American Idol folderol. When I first told you about contestant Taylor Hicks, the current season was only beginning, and I didn't know much about the show. I'm learning. They winnowed out several thousand contestants in no time, but apparently it's going to take weeks to plough through the remaining 20. The final episode is scheduled for May 24. It's still February, folks! They obviously are bent on dragging this thing out, and if you don't want to stick with it week after week, I don't blame you. It looks like Mr. Hicks will be there right to the end, so I'll tell you when it's time to pay attention, again.

Several of you wrote last week to inform me that the sport ski-jumping is judged by a combination of distance jumped and points for style. The points, of course, are assessed by judges. Cousin, if I ski off a ramp and fly down a mountainside and live to know I jumped further than anyone else, I sure as heck would expect to win. Has ski jumping always been scored this way, or is this a recent innovation? "Recent" is defined as "in my lifetime." I could try to find out, but I'll let someone else do the research for a change.

Many of you wrote yesterday to remind me of American Splendor, a movie about a cartoonist, Harvey Pekar. I believe I said, "There haven't been many movies about cartoonists." I don't think I said, "I'm going to name all the movies about cartoonists, and you write me if I leave one out." Just joshing with you! I appreciate the reminders, because I have always wanted to see American Splendor but have not. I will make it a point to remedy that.

Finally: it looks like I would learn my lesson. Twice in the past two weeks, I've rerun what I consider the meat of a series of cartoons only to have readers write and request the entire fare. Well, here is the first week of "But Is It Art," the second week of which concluded here yesterday. Got that? And there's always today's A&J. (02/28/2004)

I watched an interesting movie the other evening, Modigliani, the title role played passionately by Andy Garcia. It was about the life of Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani, who lived and worked in that early 20th-century Paris scene.

I wouldn't hold up the movie Modigliani as the best example, but I have always been a sucker for movies about artists and musicians, from well-known movies as Lust for Life and Amadeus to less remembered efforts as De-Lovely and Pollock. Frame-for-frame, this genre of movie tends to have less gunplay than most; some producer and some director somewhere must decide to take a chance on unadorned human drama. Of course,  it doesn't hurt that artists and musicians tend to endure more unadorned human drama than most.

To my knowledge, there haven't been that many movies about cartoonists. There was, of course, the relentless documentary Crumb, but I would like to think Mr. Crumb is a rare genius. Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, the list of watchable movies about artists, musicians and writers goes on and on.

So, today, I'm replaying part of the series, "But Is It Art?" I just made that title up; I like this business of giving my work titles--makes it sound important. Don't forget today's newspaper cartoon. (02/27/2006)

Ski jumping is idiotic. What they're doing, actually, is skiing straight off a cliff, something thousands of sane people go out of their way to avoid every weekend. Remember the glory days of ABC's Wide World of Sports, when every show would open with that poor ski jumper sliding off the ramp sideways, exemplifying literally "the agony of defeat?" (By the way, his name was Vinko Bogataj.) Ski jumping and ski flying--the sport's terminal stage--were my favorite winter sports when I was a kid. To watch, I mean. I still like to watch ski jumping. I bring all this up in the probably vain hope of inoculating myself against charges of hypocrisy because of what I'm about to say next.

That winter sport called "aerials" is really idiotic! Oh, it's amazing! Little girls and boys on skis fly down one ramp and up another, to launch themselves high into the air--on skis, mind you!--where they twist and turn and somersault until, alas, they come down, sometimes on their skis and sometimes not. Watching this on TV the other night, I was struck by how many appearances were described as the culmination of a valiant struggle back from some truly horrific injury. I don't wonder. Plus, it's another one of those sports where you do this amazing thing and then wait to hear the judges' opinion of how truly amazing this thing was. At least with ski jumping, the issue is settled with a tape measure. I only brought this up to say, I'd encourage my son to take up drag racing or football before aerial skiing. My daughter, too.

Recently, I showed you the first four cartoons of an early beach series. The cartoons stood alone, and I thought that'd be the end of it. However, several of you wrote to request the remainder of the series. I think that's a reasonable request, and here it is. And here is the Thursday installment of what I'm now calling, "Where's Janis?" (02/24/2004)

I saw Arlo last night. It was a rare treat. He came onstage at the Opelika Center for the Performing Arts and by way of introduction said, "I've been doing this for 40 years, and I thought I'd been just about everywhere, but they found a place I hadn't." Then, he and his band, The Massacree, proceeded to mesmerize with two and a half hours of music, 20 minutes of it taken up with his trademark song "Alice's Restaurant."

Arlo and The Massacree closed the regular show with his father Woody's most famous song, "This Land Is Your Land," including the seldom-heard final stanza:
   Nobody living can ever stop me
   As I go walking
   That freedom highway.
   Nobody living can make me turn back.
   This land was made for you and me

Which brings us to the question, was Arlo the cartoon character named after Arlo Guthrie? Only indirectly. Maybe. When I was in college, I had a friend named Pat Wingo, who had long, kinky hair resembling the young Arlo Guthrie, who was just becoming well known at that time. Pat's nickname among our crowd was "Arlo," because of his hair. Years later, casting about for an arresting name to give a cartoon character, I recalled the name Arlo. Exactly which synapses in my brain produced the suggestion is open to interpretation. Of course, "Janis" seemed a good match for "Arlo."

That's not to say I'm not an earnest fan of Woody Guthrie and his dedicated, talented and funny son Arlo. I am.

I'm running dreadfully late today. For now, I'm going to leave you with only today's newspaper cartoon. (02/23/2006)

This is a very intellectual Web site, as you know. You have to be very smart to understand my cartoons; at least, that's what I'm constantly telling folks. The kind of people who visit here just aren't the kind of people who admit to watching American Idol. I'm aware of that; I'm the same way. Ask me six weeks ago if I watch American Idol, and I would have rolled my eyes and said, "Puhleeze!" Just like you! If I had known local singer and songwriter Taylor Hicks was going to do so well, I'd never have mentioned his name.

However, Taylor has made it to the final cut! There are twelve young men and twelve young women who, beginning tonight, will perform and be voted upon by the viewing audience. These are the crème de la crème. Plus, since I know you're not the types to visit Web sites devoted to American Idol, I've done it for you, and guess what? Wherever there's speculative online voting, Taylor comes in at or near the top. Yep, that's my buddy, Taylor Hicks! Remember me, Taylor? I saw you play one night! I was the guy sitting in the back, talking to his friends and ignoring your insightful lyrics and your soulful melodies. Yeah, that was me!

I ripped Taylor's song Hell of a Day off the Web site of WBHM, public radio in Birmingham, for you to hear. I hope they'll forgive me. It may take a little time to download. I'm kind of new to rippin' and burnin'.

Speaking of entertainment, I have for you some old cartoons and today's installment of "Where's Janis?" (02/22/2006)

I'm very happy! The number of regular visitors to this Web site has increased steadily and significantly since the first of the year. I appreciate you regulars who have spread the word, and I welcome all newcomers. I must confess, as much as I enjoy doing this, almost every morning I'm briefly tempted to post the message, "No update today." However, remembering all those people who take time every day to visit me here keeps me plugging away and ultimately makes it all rewarding.

As you've probably already figured out, though, I'm not exactly busting my hump here today. It's a holiday! I have four old cartoons that ran in the newspapers in the spring of 2002. They ran here on the Web last spring, but the commentary is updated. Also, there begins a little A&J series in the newspaper today. (02/20/2006)

A lot of readers write me asking very politely if I can rerun a specific cartoon, often because it's a favorite they want to display on their refrigerator or on their computer at work. Nothing would please me more than to accommodate them, but it's a practical impossibility. They're suffering under the delusion I have organized and searchable files of old cartoons. I don't. If I am provided the exact date, there's a good chance I can retrieve from CD a specific cartoon back to about 1995. However, I would have to have the exact date, and that's ignoring the additional problem of time. I don't have enough.

As I do every so often, I'm going to refer you to the United Media Web site. This isn't a commercial, necessarily, but if you desire you can pay to receive dozens of UM and other cartoons via email and--more to the point-- to search literally thousands of cartoons by date, by dialog or by key words. Not only can you search thousands of old cartoons, you could spend the rest of your life just looking at them. It's a pretty good deal, if you like comics. (I think we're talking about the "Extra Gold" service.)

Speaking of old comics, I'm rerunning a series that has run here before, but I'm showing it to you today in its entirety, all 12 episodes of  "The Party Splashers." And speaking of United Media, don't forget to visit their Web site for today's A&J. (02/16/2006)

I don't use last names much here at I'm not sure why; it just seems like a good idea. So, let's just say I got an email yesterday from a reader named Michael in Dublin, CA, thanking me for mentioning his famous cousin, Al Capone. Michael says there are older family members who remember Cousin Al, but they don't talk about him much, to Michael's regret. Michael also regrets that the only thing to trickle down to him from Cousin Al was a good cocktail-party story and an interesting surname--which we won't mention.

I, myself, am related to Pretty Boy Floyd, but only by marriage, sort of. Charles Arthur Floyd is a distant cousin of my brother's wife, Melinda. I suppose that hardly makes me a desperado. Melinda's maiden name isn't even Floyd. She is very pretty, though.

Here are three cartoons from 2002 and the A&J comic strip running in newspapers today. (02/15/2006)

I asked our friend Paul, of Scituate, MA, to give us a firsthand report of the blizzard that hit the northeastern United States over the weekend. Paul, a survivor of many a nor'easter on the Massachusetts coast, wasn't overly impressed. He said the snowfall in Scituate barely qualified as a blizzard, and the tidal flooding associated with the classic winter storms of that region did not materialize. He was much more impressed that the Boston Red Sox were loading up equipment for spring training in Ft. Myers, FL.

Nevertheless, winter has found most of us, again. I believe more snow fell on Central Park in New York City than has ever before been recorded; the Midwest is getting hammered with its typically abysmal winter weather, and it's finally cold down south. We had frost two nights in a row.

Enough about the weather. You know what today is, don't you? That's right! Today is the anniversary of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. A friend in Alabama was telling me not long ago that one of the gangsters snuffed out that day is supposedly buried in my old stomping ground of Lee County. I don't know if that is true, but I'm going to put reporters on it, and I'll let you know. 

Here are four cartoons for the occasion, as well as today's A&J tribute to that patron of love, Steve Martin. (02/14/2006)

Do you remember Terry McDermott? I do. Terry McDermott was a speed skater who won the only gold medal for the United States in the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. I was an 11-year-old boy growing up in the deep south, but I strapped on my metal roller skates--the adjustable kind that slipped over your shoes--and bounced across the A&P parking lot with the cheers for Terry roaring in my head. It was right out of some inspirational television commercial, except I never got any further than the A&P parking lot. Besides, baseball season opened soon after that.

I always enjoyed the Winter Olympics, however, especially when I was young. Not only was there breathtaking scenery I could only imagine otherwise, there were all these sports going on that looked like so much fun! Skiing and sledding and skating. I thought the ski jumpers were just about the most amazing human beings ever. I admit, I didn't care too much for the figure skating back then.

Today, like all televised sports, the Winter Olympics are overblown, but I disagree with my fellow curmudgeons who surface every four years to say the Winter Olympics are contrived, are boring, are elitist, are not real sports. I can't imagine anything sillier than arguing the merits of bobsledding vs. discus throwing, so I won't. Suffice to say that while I'm not as riveted by them as I once was, I think the Winter Olympics rank way down near the bottom on the list of evils that face the world today. Besides, I can't wait for the ski jumping!

Here are three--or four, I can't remember--cartoons from the past and today's A&J. (02/13/2006)

Remember I mentioned Taylor Hicks last week, the geezer (to listen to the judges' commentary) advancing through this season's American Idol competition? Well, he's a local boy from where I come from in Alabama. OK, OK, he's not really a local boy. He's from Birmingham, 100 miles away, but he is a professional singer and songwriter who plays regularly around Auburn and Opelika. When you get on national television as much as Taylor lately, your locality expands dramatically.

Taylor and I aren't exactly buddies, but I have seen him play on occasion at The Eighth and Rail, my favorite "dessert cafe" in Opelika. Well, that's what the Web site calls it.

Much has been made about Taylor's prematurely gray hair, but he probably is both the oldest contestant remaining, at 29, and the most experienced. In fact, according to Reality TV Magazine, he is too old to qualify today, but he was 28 and eligible when the competition began. You can read a little more about Taylor on the Reality TV Magazine Web site.

Needless to say, everyone in east central Alabama is rooting for Taylor. He's doing well, although I'm not sure exactly where things stand at the moment; I'm new to all this. I think he is one of 25 finalists after the second round of competition in Hollywood. Anyway, I'm solidly in the corner of the old man of 29 who's hanging tough with his Elvis/Rod Stewart/Sam Cooke style.

Today, I have the first four cartoons from an early beach-going series. I thought maybe a lot of us could use it, as Mother Nature begins to lower the thermostat in many regions. And there's today's newspaper cartoon, which also takes a dig at February, if I remember correctly. (02/09/2006)

We were wondering where winter went. Apparently, it went to Europe. Remember last week when I repeated coverage of the 2005 International Comics Festival in Angoulême, France? Well, we picked a good year to attend. My sources there tell me the 2006 festival was beset with bad weather. It was cold, and the worst was Saturday, traditionally the busiest day of the festival, when snow made driving along the western edge of France's Massif Central problematic and even prevented the arrival of some of the trains from Paris.

As a result, crowds were down, and the enthusiasm of those who did attend inevitably was dampened. I was sorry to hear this news, but c'est la vie. The festival's Web site will inform you that it is only 351 days until the start of the 34th International Comics Festival in 2007.

Today, I am repeating three limericks, with which I indulge myself occasionally, and there's today's newspaper A&J. (02/08/2006)

Cartoonist's note: I want to thank Phil, in Sugar Land, TX, for sending me a link to Google, where you can see all the commercials we're talking about.

OK, a communicant from Opelika, AL, (that's OH puh LIKE uh) wants to know what Super Bowl commercials I did like. (He liked the FedEx caveman commercial.) OK, fair enough. As a whole, I liked the Bud Lite commercials. I thought most of them were very funny, especially the "Magic Fridge." That's how some of my brilliant ideas seem to turn out. The Bud Lite campers were over the top, though, schlepping bottled beer into the mountains in their backpacks. Yeah, right! Everyone knows you'd take cans.

Yes, the cutest commercial was the little Clydesdale, aspiring to pull the Budweiser wagon and succeeding (with a little unseen help from his elders.) For your information, AOL conducted a poll of favorite Super Bowl commercials, and the winner was Budweiser's streaking sheep. I guess the beer companies have had a lot of experience with football-game advertising.

Apropos my comments yesterday, if you'd observe that victims of alcohol abuse might not find these commercials so funny, I'd be the first to admit, you have a point. (I think the Budweiser folks might deserve a special "honesty" award for the Bud Lite ad where everyone is going berserk and trashing the office looking for--and presumably drinking--Bud Lite.) As I also said when I was grousing yesterday, critiquing Super Bowl commercials is an activity in its own right. It's something we do.

We're going to see "Harvey," again, today. Then, there's the newspaper cartoon. (02/07/2006)

I know what it is like to have your creative efforts criticized, especially when someone reads into your work something you obviously did not intend. Therefore, I'm always reluctant to criticize others. However, watching and critiquing the lavishly hyped Super Bowl commercials has become a sport unto itself, so here goes.

My nominee for worst Super Bowl commercial--hands down--was the Toyota Tacoma commercial where the surfer dude leaves his pickup truck at the edge of what I presume is the Pacific Ocean. While he is away slicing up the offshore waves, the tide comes in, lifts his Tacoma pickup, rolls it around, upends it, submerges it and finally sets it back down where the guy left it. At about that moment, he returns, cranks the truck up and drives off, presumably without so much as a bent wiper blade. Cute, but monstrously insensitive.

My friend in Pass Christian, John, had an almost new Tacoma pickup, a really nice little truck, by the way. It was parked in front of the house three doors down from my own the morning Katrina hit the coast. John was there sheltering with two other friends. The Gulf of Mexico rushed in, and they all scrambled for their lives, along with the dogs and cats, as the water rose to the rafters of the 9-foot ceilings. Outside, the water rose in the vehicles as well, including the Tacoma. When the surge receded, the Toyota pickup indeed sat where it had been, but it never moved again until a wrecker came weeks later to haul it off for the total loss it was. This was, naturally, the fate of thousands of vehicles of all makes and models.

I know the writers of the Super Bowl commercial were not stating that a Tacoma pickup truck truly could survive such an experience unscathed. However, given the very recent experiences of millions of people in Texas and in Louisiana and in Mississippi and in Alabama and in Florida and in Asia, I thought the commercial was dumb. Of course, I'm overly sensitive on this subject, but I'm sure I'm not the only one, which is the point. No, I'm not going to tell you not to buy Toyota products. Let's keep things in perspective, here. I think a donation to hurricane relief by the ad agency and Toyota would be nice, though.

I've preached too long and run short on time, so I'm dipping back into the Web page archives for these three strips. Let's not forget the newspaper cartoon. (02//6/2006)

I don't know about you, but Groundhog Day has always been kind of special for me. Did you know that the day isn't really a creation of the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce? However, we will rely upon the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club to educate us further. They have a fine Web site,, where you can learn the origins of the superstition and, of course, order groundhog souvenirs.

We talked a few weeks ago about Epiphany and the 12 days of Christmas. Did you know Groundhog Day also has roots in the early Christian Calendar? I didn't know that either, but apparently today is Candlemas, It has to do with the return of longer days and, in reality, is another co-opted Pagan observance. Well, you can read about it here.

When you've emerged from your groundhog reading, you can check out three more cartoons from the shadowy past of Arlo and Janis. If that doesn't send you scurrying back where you came from, you might want to check out today's A&J. (02/02/2006)

As I've told you, I've been giving myself a little break the past month by deliberately delving into the archives of this Web site and repeating comic strips that have been seen here already.  It saves a little time and effort each morning.

However, I also told you I would return to old material which has never been seen on the Web. Today, I have what I hope will be a treat for you, although I admit it's a little excruciating for me. I have scanned cartoons from the third week of the existence of A&J, which would be from August of 1985. You've seen the first week before but never the third week.

These cartoons, by the way, were included in the only A&J book ever published, "Bop Till You Drop." That was in 1989. You can buy a used copy at Amazon, if you want. No, I don't get any of that money.

So, here are the first three cartoons from that week long ago, and I'll have the other three tomorrow. Of course, here's today's cartoon from the week of which we're smack in the middle. (02/01/2006)

Yesterday, I mentioned an expression my father used, "Dead as Hector." Rich wrote to mention the old expression "dead as a doornail" and to observe that apparently--unlike pregnancy--there are many degrees of being dead. Hector, you may recall if you saw the movie, was a Trojan prince, who was killed by Achilles. Not content with that, the heel dragged Hector's body around behind his chariot, the Greek equivalent of hollering "neener neener neener!" So, you can see where the expression arose.

Rich also mentioned the equally vintage expression, "Since Hector was a pup," meaning a long time ago. He also included a link to a rousing discussion of the origin of that expression. To it, I would like to add my own theory. In my supreme ignorance, I assumed for years that Hector was the dog of Odysseus, the only member of the household to remember his old master when the man finally dragged his carcass home after 20 years of fun with the boys. I eventually learned this was not the case, of course: the dog's name was Argos, and Hector was, well, Hector. I like to think I'm not the only one who was unversed in the classics. Perhaps the expression really should be, "Since Argos was a pup."

Well, we haven't had any new old cartoons since Hector was a pup, but after today I'll go back into the archives and try to find some vintage A&J strips that haven't been seen on the Web yet. Until then, here are some wintertime cartoons you've seen before, and don't forget today's A&J, fresh as a daisy. (01/31/2006)

Again, I'm late, today because of a technical problem. No, the problem wasn't uncooperative software, and it wasn't a high-strung server; it was the old, reliable land-line telephone. I awoke this morning to find the phone in my kitchen dead as Hector. (There's a good simile for you, one used by my father, who may or may not have been aware of its allusion to Greek mythology.)

The first thought that came to my mind was, of course, "Did I pay the bill?" Determining with reasonable certainty that, indeed, I had, I plunged into the dewy abelia bushes with my needle-nose pliers and screw drivers and there uncovered the problem. One of the little wires--the red one--that carries the phone signal from the box into my house had, for metallurgical reasons of its own, decided in the still of a clear, cool evening to break. Try not to think about that the next time you have to fly.

Here are five old cartoons from 2002, and today's A&J. (01/30/2006)

I'm Yes, I'm running late, but I promised I'd post our last year's coverage of the International Comics Festival in Angoulême, France. Judging from the mail--or lack thereof--there aren't a lot of you overly concerned that I'm running late. I know a lot of you have seen this before. I also know many won't be particularly interested. However, I know there are a few who are going to enjoy this, and this repeat is for them. The rest will  indulge us, I know.

The 2006 festival is occurring this weekend, which is the impetus for our look back at the 2005 festival. I simply am going to furnish a link to get you to the start of the four-day coverage, just as it appeared. And here it is, the link to Angoulême. I hope  you enjoy it. And might as well throw in today's A&J.

Speaking of international comics, I'll bet you don't know what today is. I've already given you a hint. Today is the first day of the 2006 International Comics Festival in Angoulême, France. It's billed as the largest comics festival in the world outside Japan. Remember me saying comics are big in Japan?

If you've been hanging around this Web site for long, you know we were there last year. (My goodness! Has it been a year?!) No, I sincerely regret to inform you we're not there in 2006. The best I can do is recap last year's visit in a special Friday edition of So, I hope you'll come back for that tomorrow. For those of you who didn't see it last year, it'll be like new.

To be honest, I'm not sure what has happened in the United States. We comics lovers sadly acknowledge the decline of printed comics as a lamentable but inevitable thing. However, printed comics in other countries are huge! Comics elsewhere tend to be presented in book form, whether expensively bound hard-cover editions or expendable pulp versions, and they're appreciated by all ages. They'd be what we call "graphic novels," which is an interesting and vibrant publishing niche in this country, but very, very small compared to elsewhere.

Be that as it may, here are four old A&J cartoons and today's newspaper cartoon. (01/25/2006)

I've been receiving mail all week from Wisconsin where The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has dropped Arlo and Janis. I want to thank all who've expressed regret on my behalf.

Not until this morning, however, have I really paid attention to what The MJS took on in place of A&J, at least on Sundays. It is a new series of continuing stories produced by Tokyopop, a leading English-language publisher of Manga comics, and distributed by Universal Press Syndicate, a traditional newspaper-feature syndicate. I didn't manage to find anything about the feature on the UPS Web site, but I did find this news release from Tokyopop.

To be very brief, "Manga" is Japanese comic art. It has a distinctive style and appearance that should be familiar to any parent or grandparent reading this, because it has been gaining popularity in the United States for years. Its most familiar forms here involve large-eyed waifs and warriors, usually embarked upon a dangerous and often mystical quest. Manga novels have their own section in the bookstores, and the childlike protagonists have taken over much of television animation.

No country in the world loves comics more than Japan, and what we think of as Manga is only one form.  It has a rich tradition of beautiful and imaginative cartooning. Of course, it's huge business worldwide, and there's been a lot that isn't beautiful and imaginative.

I'm not about to pass judgment here on the new newspaper endeavor. First, I haven't actually seen it; second, it wouldn't appear seemly, would it? However, it will be interesting to watch this development unfold, and remember that anyone who would know cartoons today must know Manga. (Of course, none of this is any reason to yank Arlo and Janis!)

Speaking of, here's a little series we haven't seen on the Web in a while. And--for now--there's today's newspaper cartoon. (01/25/2006)

I've never asked you to do anything for me--not anything for me, personally. Today, though, I'm thinking of something you can do.

I am excited almost each and every day to see the number of visitors to this Web site increasing. You already have exceeded my expectations. Here's what else you can do, though. If you know of someone, friend or family, whom you think might also get a kick out of what goes on here, furnish them with a link to this page. Invite them to visit. Tell them it's free!

A lot of people seem to think the Web is the future of cartooning. Maybe, maybe not. I think there always will be cartoons--as there always will be words--but they will be used differently. I suspect there will be fewer people making a true living "cartooning," and those who do will be more like designers, employed by animation and gaming studios, producing computer-generated images. Probably, a lot of them will continue to work out of their own homes, in their underwear. So, you see, it isn't all bleak.

Hopefully, I won't live to see the total demise of printed comics. However, I do find this Web business fascinating, and it never hurts to keep one's hand in.

Here are five cartoons from 1995 that would not be here were it not for newsprint, and here is today's A&J, also available from news stands for 50 cents or so. (01/24/2006)

The more astute may have noticed by now that, during January, I exclusively have been rerunning comic strips that have appeared on the Web site already.  This serves two purposes: 1) since the archives at are spotty, at best, this allows the many newcomers to see strips they haven't seen here before, and 2) this allows me to save a few minutes assembling the site every day.

The series that I'm showing again today has run at least twice, but I did add some new commentary. My work hardly is autobiographical, but this week of cartoons from 1999 is an exception. It always has surprised me how easily some unconventional material can be slipped in and hardly seems out of place.

So, here are Scenes from Boyhood and today's A&J. (01/23/2006)

A quick Friday update. Many took off their mittens yesterday to write and explain the meaning of "uff da." I think Evan was most precise when he described it as being Norwegian for "Oy Vay!" As you already know if you've been following the discussion here, "uff da" is dialect from Garrison Keilor country. (I know I'm being brief here today, but if you follow the link in the previous sentence, you can be reading pretty good jokes all  day long.)

Here's today's A&J. Please come back next week for the usual old stuff. (01/,20,2006)

It always excites me how excited people get about language. At first blush, you'd think we live in a non-verbal age, where image is everything, literally. Be that as it may, few subjects generate more mail and more enthusiastic discussion here at than words and word usage.

I want to tell you each and every one how much I enjoyed reading your messages yesterday. Many of you shared your own regionalisms, which I don't have time to pass along now, but I will try to return to them in the next few days. (I do have to ask Darrel what people in Minnesota mean when they say, according to his phonetics, "uff-da." Is that as in, "You're so ruint you won't get uff-da sofa?")

Regarding the word "ruint," southerners understood it without much trouble, and even others who weren't familiar with it had little difficulty with the concept, but the ones who truly understood and appreciated its significance were the cat owners. The overwhelming consensus was that regionalism and dialect are fun,  enriching, endangered and worth preserving.

An objective aside for those who mentioned my use yesterday of the word, "alright." The dictionary does include the word, calling it a nonstandard spelling of the phrase "all right." notes that it is the same as "altogether" and "already," which are considered standard. I have a feeling we'll continue to use words for our conversation.

Here are some old cartoons from 2002 and today's A&J. (01/19/2006)

I almost didn't start this Web page over a year ago, because I feared the temptation to discuss my work would be too strong. Of course, we discuss my work all the time on this site, but mostly older work that has or has not stood the test of time. Somehow, that seems alright. However, I'm always uncomfortable discussing current work, because it inevitably leads to explaining a particular cartoon. As nice as a questioner might be ("I'm sure it's just me, but could you explain...?"), I feel such discussions put me on the defensive, and that isn't a comfortable place for me.

Alas, today I succumb to temptation. I may spring a leak here and there, but you know I run a reasonably tight ship when it comes to grammar and spelling. Last week, I evidently let a regionalism slip into the dialog of a comic strip. Several people wrote to discuss this, and I concede it was an uncharacteristic faux pas. (Pronounced fox paws where I live.)

However, in today's A&J comic strip, I used the word "ruint," and by early morning several readers had written me--some with what I think is malevolent glee--to point out there is no such word. Pedantically, I know "ruint" has a suspect  pedigree, but it is exactly the word Arlo wanted and the word I provided for him. We do say "ruint" where I come from, and it has a connotation that is perfect in this case. Maybe people don't say that where you live, but if you truly don't know what it means, you don't get out enough. See? I'm being defensive.

Here are three cartoons from yesteryear. Of course, you've already seen today's A&J. What? You don't click on all the links? (01/18/2006)

Chuck in Chicago, our sports correspondent in the Midwest, isn't happy this morning. His venerable and historic franchise, the Chicago Bears, was defeated in the National Football League playoffs Sunday by the upstart Carolina Panthers. I feel for you, Chuck buddy. As one whose lifetime geographical affiliations have been with the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints, I can only marvel at the success of newcomers Jacksonville and Carolina, which is really Charlotte. I suppose everyone has to crawl before they walk, but it doesn't follow that you have to walk--if I remember my high school logic.

Today, I have four Sunday cartoons that appeared here about a year ago, and please check out today's cartoon at (01/16/2006)

Norm in Seattle was right! The photo we've been discussing all week is a fake. The story gets better., the Web site dedicated to debunking urban legends and Internet hoaxes, featured an update on the photograph yesterday and--as of this writing--was calling it genuine.  Not quite.

It is true the photograph was taken during Hurricane Katrina, but that's about as far as it goes. It evidently was taken by Don McClosky, manager of Entergy's Michoud power plant in Chalmette, near New Orleans. The photograph was taken from the power plant during the storm and is of water topping a nearby levee. Snopes mentions this, but there's mischief, also. suggests that only details about the photograph's location and its origins are erroneous. Really, the photograph that appeared here Tuesday is a small portion of McClosky's original photograph, which clearly shows bridge abutments and fencing  that give the scene proper perspective. Someone--not the photographer, I'm sure, nor Robin, who sent me the photo--deliberately cropped out the tell-tale details and misrepresented the result as a much larger wave photographed from St. Stanislaus School in Bay St. Louis, MS. There's more about the photo on the Web. In fairness to Snopes, it makes available all the information you need to reach the conclusions I've drawn here; I just think they weren't paying close attention and were overly generous when they gave the picture the stamp of "genuine." Of course, I did, too.

The cropped photo apparently has surfaced recently. It was featured on at least one television station in Jackson, MS, Monday evening and accepted as genuine, complete with details about St. Stanislaus. For the record, the ordeal at St. Stanislaus was authentic, and if you have the time and band width, I recommend you go to the site mentioned yesterday and click on the video clips.

Robin, don't feel bad: you've given us something interesting to ponder all week. Am I embarrassed to be taken in by a hoax so subtle, a hoax so believable as to make its authenticity almost moot? Nah!! Just remember where you were duped first.

Here is today's A&J (01/12/2006)

We're not afraid of the truth at, although rumors emanating from that New Year's Eve party were, in our opinion, greatly exaggerated.

Norm from Seattle, a regular correspondent known to be a level-headed sort, wrote that just maybe the photo published here yesterday was doctored. Fake, in other words.  He referred to the many fake photos of the Asian tsunami that were on the Web after that disaster, such as the one here, which I pinched from the Web site. Norm's antennae went up, because I said the photo was taken by "a friend of a friend." Such hoaxes are notorious for having a plausible-sounding source that can never quite be traced.

Robin of Norfolk, VA, who sent me the hurricane picture that ran yesterday, worked all afternoon trying to find the photographer's name without success, although she remains convinced the lineage of the photo is traceable.

So, Robin and I were unable to settle the issue that way. Yet, having seen Bay St. Louis and Waveland after the storm and having seen the Gulf of Mexico churn during mere tropical storms, I simply do not see any reason to assume the photo isn't genuine. The lay of the land is correct (the above photo actually is a city in Chile), and the story of international students riding out the storm on the third floor of St. Stanislaus School is fact. I probably clouded the issue when I said the photographer captured "the surge," implying incredible timing to freeze a tsunami-like event when in fact the surf would have roiled in such a manner for hours.

Assuming the photograph is genuine, I will say it is the most dramatic I have seen anywhere of the storm itself. Having searched the Web vigorously yesterday for images of the surge, I could not find anything remotely as compelling.  I did find a page with pictures from St. Stanislaus, taken during the storm. In fact, the photographer, J.P. Brunke, could well be our man. I hope to find out, so I can credit whomever for a remarkable photograph and put this roiling controversy to rest.

Anyway, here are three old cartoons and a new one. (01/11/2006)

Robin, of Norfolk, VA, sent this photograph. Neither she nor I know whom to credit for taking it. It came to Robin in a round-about way, from the friend of a friend. It was taken from the third floor of St. Stanislaus, a parochial school in Bay St. Louis, MS. The photographer captured the surge from Hurricane Katrina that wiped out the heart of Bay St. Louis and practically all of adjoining Waveland.

There are few points of reference in the photo to enable a full appreciation of the scale of this event, but if you look in the lower, left corner of the picture, you'll see what I think is one of the jetties along that stretch of beach  that normally would stand four to six feet above sea level. Keep in mind, this is a "protected" shoreline where waves lap, rather than crash. Waves of more than a foot would be considered heavy surf. This would be looking south by southeast, over the mouth of Bay St. Louis, not the town but the body of water for which the town is named. Subsequent analysis indicated this area received the greatest surge associated with the Aug. 29 storm, as much as 30 feet being funneled into the upper reaches of the bay.

I recall  it being explained that storm-driven surf could be half again as high as the surge upon which it arrives, meaning 45 feet of water possible in this case. Thanks for the picture, Robin, and if you learn more about it, let us know.

Today, I have three cartoons from 1995 and the new A&J. (01/10/2006)

(Cartoonist's note: Eric of the Milwaukee area has written to tell  me A&J still appears in the daily Milwaukee paper. It seems The Journal Sentinel may have cancelled only the Sunday version of A&J, which is sold separately. When I find out what's going on, I'll let you know.)

Apparently it isn't enough the Wisconsin Badgers humiliated my alma mater in the Capital One Bowl. Now, several of you write to inform me The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has dropped Arlo and Janis. Some asked me what's going on. I don't know; it was news to me. It was bad news, of course, but that's the nature of the game. If I'm not wrong, A&J has been in Milwaukee almost since the strip's debut, and I appreciate their extended patronage.

Often in cases such as these, well-meaning friends ask what they might do. I didn't instigate this Web site to promote my work directly. I think of it more as a chance to visit. It's not my style to whip you into an unthinking frenzy, to tell you to inundate newspaper editors with remonstrations on my behalf. Keeping my work in newspapers is my job, not yours.

However, there're some aspects of this topic that warrant our attention, generalities that apply to all your favorite--and least favorite--comic strips. Often when newspaper editors want to make a change, they'll drop a strip that, for whatever reason, they might think is a  weak link. Then, they'll sit back and wait to see what happens. If enough readers complain, the strip returns. So, whenever your local newspaper makes  a change on the comics page with which you disagree, it is useful to tell them. Explain your preferences, albeit succinctly, and there's no cause to be nasty. The point is, you can make a difference. It happens all the time.

Here are three old strips from yesteryear and today's A&J. (01/09/2006)

It's the Twelfth Day of Christmas, and you'd better set some extra plates! Today, the UPS man brings 12 drummers drumming. This on the heels of 8 maids amilking, 9 ladies dancing, 10 lords aleaping and 11 pipers apiping.

'Fess up. I'll bet you thought the 12 days of Christmas ended with Christmas Day. No, they begin with Christmas Day and end tonight, Twelfth Night,  the last night before Jan. 6, Epiphany. Tomorrow, you're supposed to feast and take down the holiday decorations. What?! You've already taken them down?

In the French culture of the northern Gulf Coast, tomorrow is the beginning of Carnival, or the Mardi Gras season. The season will unfold, as seasons are wont to do, but it will be a little strained this year, after Hurricane Katrina. Oh, there's plenty of piping and dancing and leaping to be done, but where are we going to put all  those people? Anyway, today, the Twelfth Day of Christmas, we have three strips a-rerunning,  and one new cartoon. (01/05/2006)

I don't know about you, but I always have this crazy notion that I'm going to hit the ground running with the new year, when in reality it takes days to get back up to speed. These are those days.

On a more positive note, you have raised almost $8,000 for disaster relief since efforts began in November. Give yourselves a pat on the back! That's in addition to providing a few hundred blankets for those who needed them in the face of winter. Next week, I'll provide a more precise accounting, and I'll be able to tell you where the money will be going.

Today, I have three cartoons that have appeared here before. However, there is a brand new newspaper cartoon. I don't think I've yet wished you, "Happy New Year!" (1/5/2005)

Rick wrote me a note about the link to Milton Caniff's Terry and the Pirates that appeared in yesterday's entry. Rick is a big fan of Caniff and a graduate of Ohio State. He points out that as college mascots go, they don't come any safer than "Buckeyes."

Rick also noted he currently lives in the birthplace of Robert Outcault, the man credited with creating the first newspaper comic strip, The Yellow Kid. He didn't say, but my research tells me that would be Lancaster, Ohio. Rick included a link to information about Outcault, which is what I'd really like to pass along to you. The page to which the link refers is from an engrossing cartoon Web site called "Don Markstein's Toonopedia." Despite some glaring omissions, it is an extensive resource of all kinds of cartoon creations originating in the U.S.

I had heard of this site and even visited it for information once or twice, but I'd never really spent a lot of time there until now. It's great. I guarantee, you can wile away many of those slow hours at the office between Christmas and New Year's Day at "Toonopedia." Apparently, it's mostly the work of writer and editor Don Markstein--and I mean work.

Speaking of cartoons, we conclude my own little send-up of comic strips today with these three strips, and please visit today's A&J. (12/29/2005)

A bit of unfinished business. We talked briefly last week about sports mascots. I mentioned the Syracuse Orangemen, and several of you wrote to inform me that Syracuse University already has changed its name. As of this year, the school's sports teams are known simply as "The Orange." I like the part where Director of Athletics Jake Crouthamel is quoted as saying Syracuse is the only university in the country with orange as its primary color. Say that in Knoxville, Jake.

This entire conversation arose, of course, because of the NCAA's recent decree that teams with potentially offensive nicknames (I'm paraphrasing here.) would not be allowed to use those nicknames during NCAA athletic tournaments. Or something like that. I happened to have been in north Florida at the time of this decree, and you'd have thought war had been declared by the attention paid this issue on the front page of the Tallahassee newspapers. The Florida State Seminoles were on the warpath. (Sorry!) Even members of the real Seminole nation were incensed. Largely in the face of this Florida onslaught, the NCAA soon began backpedaling, saying something like it's ok if you have the permission of the your nickname's namesake.

Chuck from Chicago has written me to say the University of Illinois Fighting Illini (which is how this whole conversation got started) also has received special dispensation from the NCAA. (Obviously, this was an issue begging for bold NCAA leadership.) They couldn't find any  Native-American Illini to ask, but someone remembered that "Fighting Illini" was a name later used to refer to volunteer soldiers from the state of Illinois, so that's ok. I've already said much more on this subject than I intended. Finding myself on the same side of the issue with so many of those sports-radio hosts makes me want to go wash my hands.

Here's some more of the squirrel saga and today's A&J. (12/28/2005)

Today, we have a special, holiday treat for you! Well, to be honest, it's more like a special, holiday treat for me. Beginning today, I'm featuring reruns of reruns that have appeared here already on Hey, I like to take it easy between Christmas and New Year's Day as much as the next person!

I am happy to report, however, that we've just about doubled the number of daily visitors here to during the past year, and a lot of regular readers haven't seen some of the material being presented here this week. For example, someone who's been visiting this site for, say, three months might get the impression Arlo and Janis is just another family strip that has its moments. To disabuse anyone of that notion, I'm repeating the two weeks of strips beginning with "The Squirrel Family." And don't forget today's A&J (12/27/2005)

Was Santa Claus good to you? I received an unexpected gift Christmas day via e-mail, from my friend Steve Penland. Steve and I both are devotees of "A Christmas Memory," Truman Capote's short-story masterpiece.  Steve and I on several occasions have interrupted the running sports dialog at our favorite bistro to marvel at the spell cast by Truman Capote in "A Christmas Memory." As if Capote's well-crafted passages aren't enough, I have lived in Monroeville, AL, the unnamed location of the holiday memoir; I have less difficulty than most conjuring in my mind the scenes he lovingly sets.

Anyway, Steve sent me a link to Minnesota Public Radio, where you can hear the late Capote reading this wonderful story in its entirety, and I am happy to pass it along to you. If you have the Internet connection and the time, I highly recommend it.

As for cartoons, I have three from 1996 and today's A&J. (12/26/2005)

Chuck of Chicago is dying for me to bring up sports, again, and it probably is past time. You remember Chuck. His beloved Fighting Illini came up one win short of the NCAA Division 1A Basketball Championship last year. Of course, in future NCAA tournaments, Chuck's team must be referred to as "The basketball team from the University of Illinois." (Oh, beat me! Beat me with a big stick! Why did I have to go and bring THAT up?) What about the Syracuse Orangemen? It'd be hard to imagine a more sensitive situation than Northern Ireland. (Beat me! Beat me!)

Ah, yes! Amateur athletics. I have a lot of Auburn University fans in my family, so yesterday while Christmas shopping,  I found myself looking at cheesy, little figurines featuring tigers and such. One incorporated the single word "Auburn." I kid you not, the word "Auburn" included the symbol of a registered trademark. I wonder if Oliver Goldsmith's heirs get a cut? (Scroll down, if you visit the link.)

Today, I have for you three, eclectic cartoons from 1995, and today's newspaper cartoon. (12/21/2005)

Steve, of Royal Oak, MI, responded to "Arlo's Chevy" by writing to tell me about the Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise held every August in his hometown, near Detroit. For a week, old-car hobbyists from all over the country bring their stock to Royal Oak for the "Dream Cruise," a week of cruising Woodward Avenue, which results in photogenic gridlock.

That reminded me--of course--of yet another thing lost to Hurricane Katrina. One of the faster growing and more scenic of these old-car parties was "Cruisin' the Coast," a drive-in/tow-in affair that brought thousands of antique cars and street rods to the Mississippi Coast every October. Normally, for the better part of an entire week, old cars continually would cruise U.S. Highway 90, which runs 30 miles along the Gulf of Mexico from Ocean Springs to Bay St. Louis.

That didn't happen this year. The event was not so much canceled as literally wiped out. The scenic drives and beach boulevards where the event concentrated were all scoured by the tidal wave associated with Katrina, in many places the roads and bridges themselves destroyed. In fact, it would be difficult to come up with a better practical illustration of the damage than the fate of "Cruisin' the Coast." Billed as a "block party," participants in that event frolicked for more than 30 miles along one of the busier, more scenic, more historic  areas of an entire region. Now, that area is gone. The event pledges to be back in 2006, "Bigger and Better than Ever." Maybe, but everyone knows for a fact it won't be like it was. That's the reality on the coast these days.

Anyway, here's the remainder of "Arlo's Chevy" and today's newspaper cartoon. (12/20/2005)

Several of you were kind enough to write last week and give me a hard time about not updating because of the threat of a transit strike in NYC. Now, I know you simply were taking an opportunity to give me the business--you know who you are--but I thought a little elaboration might be in order. Besides, it gives me something to talk about.

No, I am not in New York, but the offices of United Media, where I send the A&J comic strips for editing and distribution, are in the City that Never Sleeps without the Threat of Some Little Something Going Wrong and Messing Everything Up. Real estate prices being what they are, most of the editors and assistant editors and gophers at UM don't live in Manhattan, where the UM offices are located. They live in the other boroughs. In anticipation of a strike--and never ones to pass up a chance to goad the cartoonists into working a little faster--the UM office requested last week that we cartoonists hustle it up a bit. Well, for one, I tried.

By the way, a widespread strike did not come as feared Thursday at midnight, but, as of this writing, the issues are not settled, and another general strike deadline of midnight Tuesday has been set. I think journalism tradition dictates a strike deadline must "loom."

OK, if you donated a blanket to hurricane victims last month and did not receive an autographed A&J print for your troubles, now is the time to let me know. I'll remedy the situation.

Today, I have some really old cartoons from 1986 that I know have been seen here on the Web before, but it was over a year ago. Here are the first three installments of "Arlo's Chevy." And please, don't forget to visit today's A&J.  (12/19/2005)

Because of the threat of a transit-workers strike in New York City, home of United Media, my work week is somewhat compressed. There will be no update this morning, Thursday, but I will try to update on Friday.

Honest. I wasn't fishing for compliments yesterday when I told you I think this week's run of newspaper cartoons is a little on the thin side, artistically. Several people, cat people in particular, wrote to say they liked yesterday's cartoon.

I simply remember it was a difficult week. There were many distractions, and the ideas did not come easily. They were forced. I was very dissatisfied and unsure at the end. I admit, the "bad" cartoons never seem quite as bad when they hit print, but the divinely inspired never seem quite so divine, either. Time is nothing if not a leveler.

Some asked yesterday if there is a way to donate money for hurricane relief without a PayPal account; in other words, is there somewhere to send a check? Yes, there is. Donations can be sent to: The First Universalist Church Relief Fund; c/o Barbara Taylor; 2961 County Rd 89 S; Camp Hill, AL, 36850-3112. Checks can be made payable to: The First Universalist Church Relief Fund.

Today, I have three cartoons from December of 2000 and the newspaper cartoon. (12/14/2005)

I don't want it all to become "gimme, gimme, gimme" here at, even if it's for a good cause, but I feel I should call your attention to the new feature above, which enables one to donate money that will go to relief efforts in the Pass Christian, MS, area.

Since we're already on the subject of money, though, I'd like to mention that the auction last week brought in over $5,500 that will be passed along. The bidding was very lavish and motivated--I suspect--by something much higher than an appreciation of my cartoon art. Money donated will be added to this total. I'm proud of what we've been able to accomplish so far.

When the money actually is disbursed, probably within the next two weeks, I will post to the Web exactly where it went and in what amounts.

Again, I want to thank my friends and fellow parishioners at The First Universalist Church of Camp Hill for their cooperation in this fund-raising effort. Donations in reality flow into a special church account and are tax deductible. This venerable, old congregation is a story unto itself, and I hope that in the admittedly unlikely event you're in the Camp Hill area some fourth Sunday of the month, you'll drop in and visit us.

OK, enough about money. I have today three cartoons from Y2K and please check out the newspaper cartoon. (I'll warn you: it's a lackluster week this week. I don't know what was wrong with me.) (12/13/2005)

Today, we're concluding the mini-series "The Torch Singer." Sue, of St. Clair Shores, MI, wrote: The great fantasy of Janis as a torch singer gives Arlo a very special bit part, similar to the role of Cricket, played by Hoagy Carmichael in "To Have and Have Not." Arlo should take comfort that while the role was a comic moment, the role model was one of America's greatest 20th century composers.

Of course, Sue is right, and she needs to keep reading today's strips. Arlo's role is, indeed, homage mostly to the movie roles of Hoagy Carmichael and Dooley Wilson. Carmichael, along with Walter Brennan, was a saving grace in the lamentable  "To Have and Have Not," which shared only its title with the Hemingway novel of the same name. Carmichael reprised the role two years later as Butch the saloon keeper in one of the best American movies ever made, "The Best Years of Our Lives."

As I expected, half of you liked the larger cartoons that ran on Thursday, and the other half didn't. I'd like to make cartoons available in either format, but I can't afford to take on another production step at this time. It's all I can do to get the pages out now. Anyway, for now, the cartoons will stay as they've been. Thanks for all your interest.

So, here's the remainder of "The Torch Singer," as well as today's newspaper cartoon. I hope you had a great weekend. (12/12/2005)

OK, a lot of you are not going to like this. To complicate matters, I think a lot of you will. I'm experimenting with the size of the cartoons, again. They're larger today, a good bit larger. Oh, they look great, but some of you are going to have to scroll horizontally, and nobody likes to do that.

This is embarrassing to admit, but I don't entirely understand monitor settings. I have this new laptop with a huge, bright screen, but everything looks so small! I tamper with the settings, trying to find something that suits me, and there results a blizzard of pop-up messages warning me, "Oh, you don't really want to set your monitor up that way, do you?" So, I put it back the way it was--illegible. I'm such a wimp!

You may remember, I was going to modernize the site a bit, but along came Hurricane Katrina, and priorities changed. Speaking of Katrina, everyone wants to know how the recovery is progressing. Slowly. For example, in Gulfport, the tons of chicken and pork that sluiced into residential neighborhoods from the shipping terminal have not been cleaned up entirely. Yuck! Read all about it in The Sun Herald. If you read closely, you will also see an article about the coroner still working to identify storm victims. It's going slowly.

And speaking of the cartoons, I have the first three cartoons from a week-long series that ran in newspapers in 1998, "The Torch Singer."  It has run on the Web before, but it's always been one of my favorites. And don't forget to read the newspaper cartoon. (12/8/2005)

You've been very kind not to bug me about the blanket drawings. They're finally in the mail! Most of them, anyway. The remainder will be dispatched by the end of the day tomorrow. They should be turning up in mailboxes through the middle of next week. If you sent a blanket but do not receive a drawing by next Thursday, drop me an email.

I'm in a bit of a rush this morning, so I hope you'll forgive me if the "old" cartoons we look at today aren't so old. I fact, the ink hardly is dry on these cartoons that appeared this past autumn. To try and make up for this, I've thrown in four cartoons from yestermonth. (My software says "yestermonth" isn't a word.) And, of course, let's hope there's always the newspaper cartoon.

It's cold--really cold--for many of you today. Bundle up! (12/07/2005)

The auction is over, finally, and it was a rousing success. You raised over $5,000 for relief and recovery in the Pass Christian area. I have no illusions that the bidding wasn't spurred by generosity, and I thank you.

Many visitors here have offered to make outright donations to help The Pass and its citizens, 80 percent of whom were wrenchingly displaced by Hurricane Katrina, the largest natural disaster in U.S. history. I am working on that. I want to help you help, and I hope by the end of this week there'll be a means for you to donate directly from

If you don't want to wait, you can send a check to: Leslie R. Ladner, comptroller; City of Pass Christian; PO Drawer 368; Pass Christian, MS 39571. Her email address is  Mention that your contribution is for the special relief fund being established. She has a nice corner office in the new, double-wide city hall!

Today, I have three cartoons from 2001 and the newspaper cartoon. Please come back! (12/06/2005)

The auctions end today, and I want to thank everyone who has bid, successfully or not. The bids have been exceedingly generous. The money raised will be donated to a non-profit organization that has been established under auspices of the elected aldermen of Pass Christian. The fund will channel donations from a multitude of sources to areas of need. Our auction result will be donated for "humanitarian assistance." The donation will be given in the name of "readers of Arlo and Janis" and the First Universalist Church of Camp Hill, AL, which is collecting and administering the auction proceeds.

It's raining in the Pass this morning, which is always a mixed blessing these days. There is so much dust everywhere, but so many still are living without an adequate roof.

Today, I have a mini-series of four cartoons from the year 2000, "Gene's Old Treehouse." And as usual, there's the newspaper cartoon. (12/06/2005)

The Pass' leading industry.

FEMA trailers everywhere, but not enough yet.

Homeowners hang in.

The Pass has a store!

Sorry about yesterday! I sort of implied there'd be a special Friday update, but there wasn't. Work intervened. However, there is this extra special, super duper Saturday update of! I hope you find it interesting.

The thumbnail pictures on the left are links to larger photographs with accompanying information. In the next few days, I'm going to try to give you more of an idea of what's going on today around Pass Christian and the neighboring areas. I've talked a lot about the storm and the damage and about how horrible it all is. However, I don't think I've talked enough about what's happening of late. There is activity, and a lot of it. 

Survival remains the focus of much of that activity, civic as well as human survival. Especially for the small towns, it's all about trying to make the remaining residents safe and comfortable while continuously working to restore crippled services so displaced residents can return with a similar measure of safety and comfort. Already, many grand ideas for the future have been put to paper, but reality dictates they remain there for now. Not only have things not returned to normal in places like Pass Christian and Waveland and Bay St. Louis, there is no norm to which the people can return.

I've seen Gulfport, and I've seen Biloxi. The damage there is awful, the destruction along the beaches total for miles. However, the larger cities have the advantage of knowing their losses ultimately will be replaced in kind, and the cities fundamentally will be the same as before. The smaller communities that literally were wiped off the planet in large measure don't have the same certainty about the future. "What is going to replace the life we had?" That is the question at the back of every mind in the smaller towns. In the context of the modern United States, it's an extraordinary question to be forced to ask.

The auction continues, and the bidding has been exceptionally generous. I know you're probably beginning to wonder exactly where the money we raise is going to be spent. We're going to talk about that next week. I don't have any old cartoons for you today, but the newspaper cartoon is available 24/7! (12/03/2005)



Many readers in the past three months have sent me articles and links and information related to storm-swept Pass Christian and efforts to help the town. I've read the articles. I've visited most of the links. I saw your messages. I want to apologize, though, for not passing them along to other readers of this Web site. There simply is not enough time in my day to build and maintain the Web site this situation deserves. I will try to do more, but this really is a personal site, built and maintained by me alone. Not to mention, I'm an oldish coot who--despite his best efforts--is being left in the pixilated dust of rapidly advancing software technology. That this page exists at all is something of a minor miracle. Having said that, I implore you to continue sending anything of interest you might run across. I do appreciate it. Maybe, eventually, I'll even get around to posting some of it.

And I've been scooped! By network television, no less. How embarrassing is that? This week, I had hoped to show you some current pictures from around town to emphasize how fundamentally unchanged is the damage to this area. I didn't see the reports, but it's my understanding that both NBC and CBS had crews in Pass Christian yesterday, reporting essentially the same thing. Well, good.

Seriously, I do feel as if I've fallen behind a bit in my reporting lately. So, I intend (emphasis on "intend") to update Friday and through the weekend. Check back. I'll try to make it worth your while.

The auction is going great! Thank you! Now, we conclude the mini-series "Something's Missing" and visit the newspaper for today's A&J. (12/01/2005)

And now, The Hurricane Cartoon Mini Auction!

I can't get anything past you people. One of the cartoons in the suspended auction, "Claude Rains," did not reappear within the second, ongoing auction, which began Monday. It was replaced by "Women!"  Several of you noticed and wrote to ask, "Why?" I don't know why! I just do things on a whim sometimes. Anyway, I'm bringing back "Claude Rains" by popular demand. It will begin auctioning at 9:00 pm EST today, for five days. If my math is right, it will finish on Monday, with the others. Now, there are eleven.

Some good news: today is the final day of the official Atlantic hurricane season. It was a whopper, as was the year before. There were 26 named storms, 13 hurricanes, 218,549 homes destroyed outright and 192,242 homes rendered uninhabitable--all records, according to the coast's SunHerald newspaper. The Weather Channel will report from south Mississippi throughout the day, to mark the season's end. (Must get Jim Cantore's autograph!)

Tomorrow and later this week, I'll have some more pictures and information from the Menge Avenue relief center, which we've talked about earlier. You've been such a good and kind audience, I thought I'd dig out something a little out of the ordinary for you today. This is the first half of a little series that ran in 1995. We'll call it "Something Missing."  Don't miss today's A&J in the newspaper! (11/30/2005)

The Hurricane Cartoon Auction is back... definitely!

You people are great. As of sometime last evening, the A&J comic-strip auction  fully returned--all 10 cartoons--and the bidding has been brisk and generous. The money raised by this auction will come from you, readers of the strip and of this Web site. I have no illusions about that and will not forget it whenever credit is due.

Some of you have written to express regret that the bidding already is beyond your budget. I feel your pain; it is an annoying misconception that all comic-strip artists are rich. However, the auction is for a good cause, and I thank the bidders and wish them luck. During the month of December, I hope to introduce one or more other ways to help with recovery on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Remember the blankets? Again, you guys were great. I'll have more on that in a day or so--and your autographed drawings should be in the mail by the end of this week. It would have been sooner, but as you're aware by now, this auction has consumed a little more of my attention than I'd originally allotted.

One of these happy days, we'll get back to doing what we do best around here: talk about nothing in particular. Until then, we'll carry on. Here are three more cartoons from 1995 and today's A&J. (11/29/2005)

The Hurricane Cartoon Auction is back... almost!

The Hurricane Cartoon Auction will begin anew on eBay today. As you recall, forces at eBay interrupted the auction on Friday, after it was off to a flying start. No one did anything bad, but I unknowingly violated their rules for charitable auctions. I've done my darnedest to remedy that faux pas, based on my newly diligent  reading of the eBay guidelines. One group of five cartoons will go online this morning at 11:45 EST, and another group of five will go up this evening, beginning at 9:15 EST.

You can find the cartoons yourself if you're at all familiar with eBay, but I will have links to them here tomorrow.

Nothing has changed. All money raised--after paying direct eBay and PayPal expenses--will be donated to groups performing basic humanitarian assistance in the Pass Christian, MS, area. As before, the proceeds actually will go to a special account set up by my friends at The First Universalist Church of Camp Hill, in Camp Hill, AL. The venerable, old church has long been incorporated as a non-profit organization. You can learn more about this from the letter posted on each of the 10 auction sites. Indeed, the letter is an important one of the aforementioned eBay rules.

Well, enough about that for now. I want everyone excited about the auction, not bored with it. We'll return to normalcy briefly with these three old cartoons from way back in 1995. And here's up-to-the-minute A&J! (11/28/2005)

The show must go on!!

The Hurricane Cartoon Auction will return Monday. I must spend the weekend dotting a few "i's" and crossing a few "t's," to be in compliance with eBay charity-auction guidelines. I understand why this is necessary. I already had made some behind-the-scene arrangements intended to satisfy concerns of legitimacy and finances, but apparently they weren't enough. I must make some more, and I hope you'll come back next week. Have a wonderful holiday weekend! -- Jimmy Johnson (11/26/2005)

The Hurricane Cartoon Auction has been suspended!

I unwittingly have run afoul of eBay guidelines for charitable giving. The ten cartoons which I put up for auction were unceremoniously removed by the online auction service, and I was sent the reason in an email. In a nutshell, eBay allows one to solicit only for a non-profit organization and only then with written permission from that organization beforehand. I'm sure those guidelines are available on the eBay site somewhere, but I overlooked them.

In reality, a PayPal account already has been set up to funnel proceeds into a special bank account of The First Universalist Church in Camp Hill, AL, a congregation which members of my family helped found in 1846, a congregation to which I belong, myself. The church is a legitimate non-profit organization. I had already discussed this project with members at the church, and they were gracious and enthusiastic about helping. My failure was not telling eBay any of this, apparently. I'm very embarrassed, and I apologize for the inconvenience and confusion.

I'm not giving up. Bidding was fantastic! It was more generous than I'd dared hope. We were all trying so hard to do something good, and we will. I'm very sorry for the inconvenience. (11/25/2005)

The Hurricane Cartoon Auction is underway!

Beginning Wednesday afternoon, the original artwork for 10 classic Arlo and Janis comic strips went up for auction on eBay. All proceeds from the sale of these cartoons will be distributed in the Pass Christian, MS, area for the relief of humanitarian crises following Hurricane Katrina.

Regular visitors to this Web site already know about this; we've talked about the auction all week, and we've talked about little but Hurricane Katrina since August 29. Today, I hope we will have a lot of new people join us while they're waiting for that little thermometer to pop out of the turkey. I'm glad you're here, auction or no auction. I hope you'll come back.

Once upon a time, we talked about everything under the sun here, including my comic strip, Arlo and Janis. The past three months, however, I've been focused on the storm. You see, I am a member of the Pass Christian community. My own property was flooded by the storm surge, but my damage was minimal compared to that of my neighbors and my beautiful town. No business stood in the town after the storm but a snow-cone stand. No schools survived. Almost 80 percent of the homes were destroyed, wealthy and poor alike--80 percent. Regular readers know all this. I hope new visitors will check out some of what we've discussed here.

The visitors to this Web site have been wonderful. So many have sent condolences and encouragement, and many more have offered to help. That's what this is about today. I know you've heard a lot about hurricanes the past couple of years. They all wrought terrible damage on someone. Katrina, however, was a truly historic storm. The Mississippi Gulf Coast and southeast Louisiana are only beginning to clean up, much less rebuild. People who literally lost everything--including jobs--are very much still in trouble. The emergency is not over.

What I normally do here is toss up a few old cartoons, and I talk about them. Or about something. Today is no different. Here are three old A&J cartoons from 1997. Also, we always take a look at the current day's A&J. Happy Thanksgiving! -- Jimmy Johnson (11/24/2005)

We're continuing to talk about the auction and will for the remainder of this week, but it's for a good cause. For you early birds, the auction already has begun. The first original A&J comic strip went on the block this afternoon, to be followed at 15-minute intervals by four more. Another group of five will begin auctioning this evening.

For those of you not familiar with eBay, you have to register to participate, but it's easy, and it's free. Besides, when The Hurricane Cartoon Auction is over, you can shop around for all the depression glass your little heart desires.

I want to thank those of you who've written in with some really good tips about eBay auctioneering. Well, we're already running late today, so let's get out of here. Here're the remaining four cartoons that are being offered for sale, in no particular order. And let's not overlook the newspaper cartoon. (11/23/2005)

Today, I'll be showing three more cartoons that will go on the eBay auction block later this week. Minus the eBay fees directly associated with the auction, all proceeds from the sale of these cartoons will be used to inaugurate a fund to be dispersed in the Pass Christian area of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, an area all but wiped out by Hurricane Katrina.

It's been three months since the storm. I don't wish to minimize the misery of others, but this wasn't your run-of-the-mill hurricane. Thousands of homes and businesses over a 100-mile front literally were swept away, and many more were ruinously flooded. Inevitably, the network news crews have been called elsewhere, but legions of people--paid and volunteer--still are working in the area every day just to stabilize existence for many. There's been much speculation about reconstruction, but the reality is, simple debris removal is the order of the day and will be for some time to come.

This was your idea! The town's problems have been the focus of this Web site since the storm, and so many of you have responded by writing and offering to help Pass Christian specifically. As a member of the community, I can't thank you enough. Whether you bid or not, I hope you enjoy the auction. Here are the next three cartoons!  And to raise money for myself, there's the newspaper cartoon. (11/22/2005)

I want to thank all of you who sent blankets to Pass Christian. Not only was that an act of generosity, it was an act of generosity that was a little bit of a pain in the butt. I appreciate your effort but not as much as those who lost everything but now have a new blanket. Pat yourselves on the back.

We're not done yet, though. Relax, I'm not going to ask you to bundle up something cumbersome and trudge down to the post office, again. Beginning Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, I'm going to offer ten original cartoons for auction on eBay, the proceeds going to hurricane relief in the Pass Christian area. This should be fun and a lot less work than the blanket thing. I'm mentioning it now, of course, so you'll get all excited and be in a bidding frenzy by the time the auction rolls around.

And, no, I haven't forgotten the autographed drawings I promised to those of you who sent the blankets. The shipments still are rolling in, and when the dust has settled in a week or so, I'll be sending out your prints. I mean that literally, about the dust: since Hurricane Katrina, the coast has alternated between billowing clouds of dust and slimy slicks of mud.

You know what I think I'll do? I think I'll show you the drawings we're going to auction off. (I swear! I just make this stuff up as I go along every morning.) So, here are three of the cartoons that will be for sale beginning Thursday. And let us never, ever forget the newspaper cartoon. (11/21/2005)

Where were we? My friend Mel (as in "Melissa") lives in Key West and works at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. Mel has been in touch since Hurricane Wilma roughed up south Florida, and the Keys apparently were damaged more than you'd have discerned watching the TV reports.

Mel's own household had a foot of water in it--not unlike my own during Katrina--while her neighbors, whose houses sat a bit lower, suffered truly destructive flooding. This was common on the island, she says; almost all the homes of her co-workers at Margaritaville were similarly afflicted. The Key West store remains open, however, and the New Orleans store has reopened since Katrina. I don't know any specifics, but Mel says the Buffett conglomerate has been very good to its employees.

What do I have for you today? I have three cartoons from 1996 and today's newspaper cartoon.  Come back tomorrow, and while you're at it, bookmark this page, if you haven't already. (11/16/2005)

Today is a travel day, so I'm going to be brief. Two things:

First, the good news. Eddie sent me a link to singer Kate Campbell's excellent Web site, where you can hear her song "Galaxie 500" in its entirety. If you want to hear the song, scroll down to the 1997 album "Moonpie Dreams" and click on "listen" to find a list of songs that includes a link to "Galaxie 500."

Second, the inconvenient news. The blankets are beginning to roll in, and it's great. Thank you! However, as you might imagine, the volunteer-staffed distribution center in Pass Christian can be a hectic place. I am afraid all the return envelopes you enclosed for a signed copy of a drawing might not make it back to me. So, if you sent one or more blankets to the distribution center, I would appreciate it if you would email me a back-up reminder, including your address. I want to take every step I can to make sure you get your personal "thank you." If you say you sent a blanket, that's good enough for me. I trust you, and I apologize for this added inconvenience.

Today, we're revisiting three cartoons from 1997 and seeing for the first time ever today's A&J.(11/14/2005)

I'm going to take a little break from Hurricane Katrina today, except to thank those of you who wrote to say you'll be sending along blankets to the Menge Avenue relief operation. I know that takes a little effort on your part, but it will help.

One fun thing about this Web site is, I never know what's going to tickle your fancy beforehand. Yesterday, a lot of you wrote to tell me that you or your family owned a "Galaxy 500" in the murky past. However, only Don, of Newton, MA, wrote to gently inform me that I had misspelled the Ford classic. It was "Galaxie 500."

Ours was maroon. My father bought it used in 1967, when it was but a year old with only 13,000 miles. It was the nearest thing my family had owned to a new car. This was an incredible stroke of luck for me, as I was just beginning to drive and to date, and I would be able to ferry my friends around with my head held high. Somehow, I suspect this detail didn't escape my father.

Today, I have for you three cartoons from the fall of 1997 and the newspaper cartoon. (11/10/2005)

Archive, from 9/5 through 11/7