I have always had a difficult relationship with technology. (And yet, here I am, on a blog! Go figure). Anyway, I was one of the last people I know to join the computer generation. I think I know at least two other hold-outs, but they are bigger old farts than me. I can say that because they will never read this, and besides, they have admitted to this old fartiness already.
I think pandas should have their own radio station. you could call it…hmmm. how about the initials N.P.R.?
Think of all the shows that could be hosted by pandas…
So, now that the panda revolution had begun, friends started giving me several things. One was stuffed pandas and anything related to pandas. The other was articles about pandas who attacked people. One article was about a man who was so overwhelmed by the pandas cuteness, he had to climb the fence to hug him. Bad idea. so of course, I thought to myself: “Hmmm… now if I were a panda that had just attacked someone who had tried to hug me, what would I do? Go on a talk show, of course!”
And then of course, there would have to be protest marches in support of Bob.
and OF COURSE, after Bob got out of prison, he would sing about his unjust imprisonment in a coffee house!
All of my new friends on Facebook have been generous, to say the least, with sharing panda cam videos. Let’s just say that I’ve watched them all, at least several times. (Don’t tell anyone!) This is a cartoon from the archives at the Institute for Contemporary Panda Satire that was drawn in honor of the panda cam. Little did I know how true it would prove!
On to the next topic: Have you ever noticed how often the word “panda” is used in reference to things that aren’t actually pandas? My favorite is a staple of English Mysteries, which is of course, “the Panda Car.” So, being the kind of bear that I am, when I hear panda car, I see this:
I hope you mystery writers among us (and you know who you are) will have this image in your head whenever you read or write the words “panda car”. Don’t bother to thank me.
An overriding theme in my work here at the Institute for Contemporary Panda Satire is that of playing with current events or making fun (!) of cliche phrases. And when you are obsessed with pandas the sequence goes like this: The right to bear arms> the right to arm bears> stressed out pandas with guns. What could be simpler? (or more absurd?) and of course, we at ICPS are all about absurd.
We had to do one more earthquake related cartoon and this one plumbs the depths of bad taste. Hope you like it.
Like many who grew up in the 1950′s and 60′s, I had a Barbie Doll and her friend Midge, and her dog fido. I always wanted Barbie’s dream car, but I never got one. I guess this cartoon is a reaction to that childhood depridation. Or something like that. Or just another excuse to make fun of stuff.
I know, I know. This was extremely tragic, horrific, and a whole lot of other bad things. However, we at the Institute for Contemporary Panda Satire firmly believe in the healing power of laughter and hope you do too. Because when it was all over and we had all seen the pictures of pandas being rescued and the devastation that the earthquake caused, the American pandas need to relieve the tension with a few cartoons.
Mehitabel would like to point out that she is NOT as insensitive as she is sometimes made out to be here.
The reference to a panda having a gun is from a earlier cartoon based on, you guessed it, the right to arm bears.
Here at the Institute for Contemporary Panda Satire we pride ourselves on the fact that there is no joke too lame for us to find a way to relate it to pandas.
During my initial period of obsession (I like to call it research) I looked at as much information on pandas as I could find. My local library had a copy of an old National Geographic video called Secrets of the Wild Panda. I thought, “oh boy! gossip and innuendo!” But it turned out to be fairly factual (read: boring,- as if anything about pandas could be boring!) So I thought I should make my own version of Secrets of Pandas:
I also began to think about various news items I would hear about on the radio and think, “How would this relate to pandas?”
Personally, I don’t think I was so far off.
Tomorrow (and I swear I’m working on new cartoons…) The 2008 earthquake in China.
So, as we return to our story, after discovering panda videos on youtube, where else was there to go? The Zoo websites, of course! The San Diego Zoo has a wonderful website with a little section called “Meet the Pandas”. I started to notice that pandas don’t all look the same. In fact, one of the pandas pictured look like a real party animal. He seemed to be saying, “Where’s the beer, eh?” even though he isn’t Canadian. This led me to make my own “Meet the Pandas” cartoon.
So that got me thinking, “well, just what do pandas do when they have a potluck dinner party?
As we continue our journey into advanced stages of Pandaphilia, something really exciting (if you have a kind of boring life, it was exciting) happened. I got a comment from a writer who was working on a book about pandas. He wanted to know how I started doing “panda satire” and whether I knew of other examples of pandas as humor material. Of course I had to look up his blog, to make sure he wasn’t some nut job, (or at least a harmless one, hopefully). He turned out to be Henry Nicholls, a serious writer of popular science with many magazine articles and a previous book to his credit. One thing led to another, and I offered to let him use one of my cartoons to appear in his book. Yay! It certainly was one of my proudest moments when I got my copy of The Way of the Panda hot off the press, with my very own cartoon in it. Attention Panda Shoppers! If you haven’t read this book, get it now! (available through Amazon and maybe your local bookstore.) Pandas, of course have written some of their own books as well:
But of course, sometimes when pandas write books, their um…fact thingies are not always um…welll…correct.
If you think that this is my sleazy attempt to foist off a bunch of old cartoons as new material, well you just might be right. However, we have recently acquired some new fans, who may not have had the patience to delve through all the old material to learn about the history of pandas. Or at least the history of pandas as represented by the Institute for Contemporary Panda Satire. So, while you explore the road to my pandapiphany, I will have a little time to work on some new cartoons. Pretty neat, Huh?
It all started innocently enough. I was reading the Atlantic Monthly magazine, and there was an article by James Fallows, who, at the time, was on a long term assignment to China. This part is absolutely true. He wrote an article about the research and breeding programs in China, and the article included pictures of many panda toddlers, doing adorable things like standing on their back legs and smiling at their attendants as they searched their pockets for treats. I was intrigued. Then, I happened (!) on youtube videos of little pandas playing in their playgrounds. Uh oh…. I was hooked.
Meanwhile, my cat Mehitabel was starting to get annoyed.
But there was no turning back.
We’ll return with further installment of the “Pandadelphia Story” in a day or two!