“Judge Rummy’s Court” (1926 UK edition)

“Judge Rummy’s Court” (1926 UK edition)
by Thomas A “Tad” Dorgan (1877-1929)
9 x 13 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

Anthropomorphic characters (personification of non-humans with human characteristics) have been around for a long time. Ancient fables and fairy tales abound with them.

In children’s literature, these characters emerged in the nineteenth century, with the creatures in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice” being cited as a most noteworthy early example (1865) prior to the era of animation in the 1920s and 1930s (particularly a noteworthy mouse and a rabbit).

In the comics, the use of anthropomorphic characters is often lovingly referred to as the “funny animal” motif. Dave (Cerebus) Sim, reflecting on setting anthropomorphic characters against their human counterparts: we are all just funny animals living in a world of humans.

In his early life, Thomas A “Tad” Dorgan lost three fingers in a machine accident, and used drawing as a form of physical therapy.

Dorgan’s dog-men feature varied its name from time to time. Sources cite Silk Hat Harry’s Divorce Suit, Old Judge Rumhauser and Judge Rummy’s Court, which, together, seem to cover most of its tenure (1910-1922). This episode, dated 1926, was relabeled for its publication in the UK.

Dorgan is an interesting guy. He is generally credited with either creating or popularizing such words and expressions as “dumbbell” (a stupid person); “for crying out loud” (an exclamation of astonishment); “cat’s meow” and “cat’s pajamas” (as superlatives); “applesauce” (nonsense); “cheaters” (eyeglasses); “skimmer” (a hat); “hard-boiled” (tough and unsentimental); “drugstore cowboy” (loafers or ladies’ men); “nickel-nurser” (a miser); “as busy as a one-armed paperhanger” (overworked); and “Yes, we have no bananas,” which was turned into a popular song. In the New York Times obituary, he was lauded as a popularizer of “a new slang vernacular.” His obituary also credited him as the originator of “Twenty-three, Skidoo,” “solid ivory,” “Dumb Dora,” “finale hopper,” “Benny” for hat, and “dogs'” for shoes.

“Stray Toasters”

Stray Toasters 1 p36 (1988)
by Bill Sienkiewicz (1958-)
11 x 17 in., multi-media on paper
Coppola Collection

Locked up for a crime he didn’t commit, burnt out detective Egon Rustemagick is released from a high security mental institution in order to catch a serial-killing monster who is murdering and mutilating housewives and young children.

You cannot explain the details of this story without writing another book about it, but the combination of science fiction, noir crime mystery, and straight-out horror is wrapped in some of the most compelling pop-psych artwork ever sustained over 225 or so pages.

This work was less than a decade into Sienkiewicz’s career and represents a key breakout moment for him developing his signature style.

Stray Toasters 3 p45 (1988)
by Bill Sienkiewicz (1958-)
11 x 17 in., multi-media on paper
Coppola Collection

“The Most Unkindest Cut of All”

“The Most Unkindest Cut of All” (ca. 1939)
by Charles G. Werner (1909-1997)
18 x 18 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

Early in the planning for war, Hitler put Goering in charge of the Four Year Plan. The purpose of the Four Year Plan was to provide for the rearmament of Germany, and to prepare the country for self-sufficiency in four years, from 1936–1940, including both industry and agriculture. Stockpiling food was a high priority, as WWI had demonstrated the effects of supplies when carrying out these large military campaigns.

Adolf Hitler had imposed price controls on the German people in 1936 so that his government could buy war materials at artificially low prices. Later, in 1939, Goering imposed rationing. Roosevelt and Churchill also imposed price controls and rationing, as governments tend to do during all-out wars.

And although the Four Year Plan technically expired in 1940, the “Office of the Four Year Plan”, a cabinet-level agency, had grown to such a power-base that the plan was extended indefinitely.

With the military setbacks in 1941, particularly with the Soviets, and two bad grain harvests in 1940 and 1941, the stores were drained by the end of the year. By mid-1941 the German minority in Poland received 2,613 calories per day, while Poles received 699 calories, and Jews in the ghetto 184 calories. Starvation became a modus operandi in the Nazi playbook throughout the rest of the war.

By April 1942, food needed to be moved from east to west, towards Berlin, reducing the amount available throughout Europe to feed the war effort. And at this point, the high command made the insidious conclusion that increasing the campaign of genocide would only help to increase the food supplies for Berlin.

In early October 4, 1942, Goering gave a broadcast address at the Harvest Thanksgiving festival, news of which was carried around the globe. This cartoon may have been a response to that.

These problems have been solved and will never recur. The conquered territories are the most fertile in Europe. Most of the talk about the seriousness of the food situation in occupied countries is just propaganda. I am firmly resolved that while I do not want to see the populations of occupied countries suffer hunger and privation, if through enemy measures privation is unavoidable it will in no circumstances affect Germany.

German workers and German agricultural laborers will be fed better than any others. The German peasant goes out to fight, leaving his work to women. Children are helping as soon as they are able.

There should be no difficulty feeding Germany, but there are over six million foreign workers in Germany and over five million prisoners of war who have to be supplied.

Now that the future is clearer, the meat ration is to be increased by another fifty grams in the raid-threatened areas.

The German people come before all other peoples for food.

The whole German Army is fed from conquered countries.

“Non Sequitur 06/04/2017”

“Non Sequitur 06/04/2017”
by Wiley Miller (1951-)
6.5 x 17.25 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

I already think Wiley is an editorial genius, and love getting in quickly when I see a strip whose art I simply have to have. This characterization of the US Jester-in-Chief was worth the price of admission alone, but the entire strip this day was inspired. I asked for what I thought was an appropriate inscription: a clip from “Send in the Clowns” (written by Stephen Sondheim for the 1973 musical A Little Night Music, popularized immediately by Frank Sinatra and charted, for those of us of a certain age, by Judy Collins in 1975):

But where are the clowns? Quick, send in the clowns. Don’t bother, they’re here.

“Terminal City: Ariel Graffiti (#4, cover)”

Terminal City: Ariel Graffiti (#4, cover; 1997)
by Mark Chiarello (1960-)
13 x 18 in., acrylic on board
Coppola Collection

Terminal City: Ariel Graffiti is a five-issue follow-up to the 1996 Terminal City series. The collected series, in one volume, is still in print.

Terminal City is a place where transistor-tube robots rub elbows with old-time gangsters, and this fabulous cover by Mark Chiarello captures the spirit and tone of pulp science fiction stories.

Synopsis for Issue #4: Cosmo goes to the Aerodrome to stop the mad skywriter from creating any more aerial graffiti while Hope causes even more chaos when she poses as Charity. Meanwhile, the Lady in Red learns the true conspiracy between the Imperial Zeppelin Co. and Doctor Wu’s Perpetual Inertia ship; Rhoda Helle confronts her rival; B.B. gets kidnapped by a robot; and Monty Vickers makes a surprising proposition involving the Loch Ness Monster.

“Blitz Bum’s Rush”

“Blitz Bum’s Rush” (April 28, 1939)
by Paul Albert Plaschke (1880 – 1954)
24 x 36 in., ink and charcoal on paper
Coppola Collection

History records Hitler as an inept military leader.

During WWI, Hitler led a failed effort referred to as The Spring Offensive, which came to represent his uninformed hubris as a strategist.

During the first part of WWII, Hitler continued to be as brazen as he was naïve. He did not sit back and allow his generals to run the war. He overrode them, instead, and was proved right, or lucky, perhaps too often.

The generals argued against the occupation of the Rhineland in 1936, and were convinced it would lead to war. But Hitler was confident that that France and Britain would sit by. And he was right to read these countries as sheepish after WWI about restarting any conflicts, so he ended up with appeasement.

The generals also disagreed with the annexation of Austria in 1938. Hitler overrode them and this, too, went without a hitch. Same with Sudetenland (1938), and the European sell-out of Czechoslovakia, both of which the generals thought he would not get away with.

Although there does not seem to be a triggering incident for this cartoon, it might simply be a general commentary on the public criticism that Hitler would make about his timid military in the light of his victories.

This bold lucky streak built Hitler’s confidence, and eventually led to recklessness. The decision to stand firm and fight it out in front of Moscow (June-December, 1941) turned out to be the last time that Hitler was right to override his generals on something major.

The second Moscow offensive, during the bitter winter of 1941-42, ended with the successful defense of the Soviet capital, just as the United States was being brought into the war following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

From then on, Hitler’s decision making was generally disastrous for the rest of the war. But Germany would not have gotten to that 1941 peak, just a few miles shy of Moscow and within a whisker of defeating the Soviets for good, if Hitler had not refused to listen to his generals and overrode their recommendations on prior occasions.

Dark Chocolate and Sugar

Dark Chocolate and Sugar

When I reduced eating highly processed foods, I lowered both my salt and sugar. I never liked salt all that much, and never added it to recipes in cooking, and even then (by some calculation) I went from 3000-3500 mg/day to what is now an average of 900-1000 mg/day without doing anything else to avoid it. My sensitivity to detecting salt got correspondingly higher, and I am nearly convinced that all the fancy chefs in the world have just overloaded their salt-detection systems by insisting that it needs to be added to everything or you are not a good cook.

What I did not see coming was the comparable sensitivity to tasting sugar.

This took longer, but I am convinced it is real. My calibration point is dark chocolate.

First off, I did like sugar. I was a fan-atic for creamy sweet milk chocolates, ganaches, toffees, brittles (and pastries, cakes, muffins, eclairs, frosted scones, and you get the idea). And I would leave the Hershey’s “Special Dark” in the bag. I was not at all keen on that taste.

In May 2015, I went cold turkey on all of that sugar.

Of all the things I have learned about sugar, the two most interesting things have been (1) until the early 1800s, the daily intake of refined sugar was on the order of 5 g/day – it was simply not a part of the everyday diet, whereas the latest averages in the US diet are at 150 g/day; and (2) the warnings we were getting in the 1970s and 1980s were right.

The most insightful academic work was carried out by Sidney W. Mintz (1922-2015). Mintz was a professor at the Johns Hopkins University, where he taught anthropology. His academic specialization focused on the anthropology of food, with a particular focus on the consumption and commodification of sugar.

This anthropology of sugar shows how the cultivation of this crop and the use of the end product affected people in two parts of the world: the Caribbean islands and the British Isles. The book gives a short history of sugar and its origins in New Guinea and subsequently the Philippines and India, how it spread west with the Arabs and eventually found its way to Europe. It goes on to tell of sugar’s role in European Imperialism, and how the production of this “drug food” lead to the use of slavery in pre-industrial plantation agriculture; and conversely, how its eventual use by the common people of England helped to adapt them to the industrial economy, where one had to eat quickly of prepared foods during an assigned break in their work schedule.

Mintz’s 1986 book, “Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History” is a good starting point. A reviewer writes: My greatest insight from this book derives from the above understanding that the increasing use of sugar in the diets of “modernized” people reflects upon its ability to provide calories (thus energy) at a cheap price, in a product with “shelf-life” that allows people to focus on their work (for their employers) for eight or more hours per day.

However much sugar I was taking in each day, getting down to about 18-20 g/day has been astoundingly easy. And if not for the 10 g sugar in the Light Yogurt I have for breakfast, I’d be at half of that, even.

Missing chocolate, I started to do a bit of reading on the dark chocolates and their sugar content. And as anyone may have noticed, boutique chocolate making has been booming in the US for the last few years, so there are definitely choices out there.

To my surprise, the Ghirardelli 72% bar, with 3 g of sugar in an 11 g piece (one of the squares), was quite tasty. The normal milk chocolate is about 32% cocoa with 8 g in an 11 g piece.

I am surprised to report that I seem to have picked up the same sort of taste sensitivity to sugar that you see happening with salt. Over the course of 12-18 months, I kept sliding up the cocoa scale, from 70% to 85% to 90%. I accidently opened an 85% bar without noticing the label while I was on a trip and digging the thing out of my backpack, and the difference in the taste with respect to the 90% that I was expecting was immediate and not all that pleasant.

The 90% bar has 3 g of sugar in 30 g (6 blocks).

And finally, a little over 2 years later, I am astounded by the delightful taste of some of the 99% and 100% chocolates.

The 99% bar has 1 g of sugar in the 50 g bar. And, with the intensity of the taste, a little goes a long way.

If you are interested, do not start with these high percentages. But if my experience says anything, it takes a while to wean off the taste of sugar, but it opens a new world.

The most accessible 99% bar is by Lindt, which is mass-produced and can be found at many high end stores. The 50g bar is usually about $2.50-3.50 in the stores.

The best recommendation I have for a boutique 100% that is astoundingly good is by a San Francisco maker called Lamourette. They have a big line of high % chocolates, but the 100% bar is really special. The 100g bar is $8.00.

Although a slightly different taste, the TCHO company, out of Berkeley CA, makes a melt in your mouth 99% that I like. An 8 oz bag (225g) of little nibbling pieces is about $10.00.

‘Of Dust and Blood”

‘Of Dust and Blood p 59” (2016)
by Val Mayerik (1950 -)
17.5 x 11.5 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

“Of Dust and Blood” is an original graphic novel, developed through a Kickstarter campaign by writer Jim Berry and featuring veteran illustrator, Val Mayerik. The story details the day of The Battle At The Little Big Horn through the eyes of Greenhaw, a 7th Cavalry scout on one side of the battlefield, and Slow Hawk, a young Lakota warrior on the other.

The story is a compelling drama while being as historically accurate as possible. Although the two protagonists are fictional, there are plenty of featured appearances by the famous characters of the day – G.A. Custer, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse – all highlighting what it might have been like on a hot afternoon in 1876. The 96 page hardcover book is 11.5 x 7.5 in., and has a limited first edition run.

Search on eBay for the author’s store. As of this writing, the book costs $30.

The Battle of the Little Bighorn, known to the Lakota and other Plains Indians as the Battle of the Greasy Grass (and commonly referred to as Custer’s Last Stand) was an armed engagement between combined forces of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes and the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. The battle, which occurred June 25–26, 1876, near the Little Bighorn River in eastern Montana Territory, was the most prominent action of the Great Sioux War of 1876.

The fight was an overwhelming victory for the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho, led by several major war leaders, including Crazy Horse and Chief Gall, inspired by the visions of Sitting Bull. The U.S. 7th Cavalry, including the Custer Battalion, a force of 700 men led by George Armstrong Custer, suffered a major defeat. Five of the 7th Cavalry’s twelve companies were annihilated; Custer was killed, as were two of his brothers, a nephew, and a brother-in-law. The total U.S. casualty count included 268 dead and 55 severely wounded.

Custer underestimated the size of the tribal communities present, and had no strategically defensible position. By almost all accounts, the Lakota annihilated Custer’s force within an hour of engagement.

P.S. As part of the Kickstarter reward level that I contributed to, a character was drawn into the book based on any picture of me that I sent to Val. And I got the page and the hand-colored version of the page in return. This is the page. Here is the picture I sent him (figuring a soldier would not be 60…) and “my” character in the book. I got to be in a parallel panel placement with Custer!


Once upon a time, I despised losing out on online auctions in their last few moments to the verdammt class of bidders known as snipers. From the buyer’s point of view, someone is riding in within seconds of the end of an auction and outbidding you by $1 or $2, or whatever the minimum increment turns out to be.

The other side of the coin are auctions that automatically continue for a certain time period if a bet is made within the last minute, or five minutes, or whatever you set it to be.

I have been on both sides of this debate. I used to bet by incrementing up the ladder until I just poked over the top. To me, I was looking to win by a small increment, so I bet that way – even though I understood the hidden-high-bet system, I had not quite internalized it. I was angry with snipers and imagined them sitting there, finger on the betting trigger, winning my item for their $2 increment.

I ended up changing my mind once I actually understood that no one loses an action for $2.

I think eBay’s position is probably right: stick what you are willing to pay as a hidden high bid and be done with it. If it wins, you win. If it does not, then someone wanted it more than you did.

On a recent auction I had a hidden bid of $350. I got the item for $305 because the other bidder did not have a higher reserve. To that person, it looks as though my $305 bid outdid their $303, and they might come back and say ‘well, I could have bet $310 and then I would have it…” Nope. I would still have it. The only way to get it is to bid more than what I have deemed it to be worth.

Now, it is true that I use a sniping service that blasts my bids in 5 seconds before the end, and I do think it saves me money. If the auction ends up with two or more people who are really interested in something, they might well want to duke it out in the last 5 minutes. In my example, above, I did not give that other bidder a chance to come back with $310 and goose up the price towards my $350.

And a seller might say, hang on there. I lost out because the two of you did not get into a last minute bidding war. On the other hand, a couple of snipers in the weeds with bids that they think can top the highest bid of another might push the price up higher than it would have otherwise.

With my hidden high bid, I could assume that all the other bidders are being reasonable in their high bids, so if I still an unreasonable number ($1000) then I am guaranteed to win it and not get screwed into paying too much. But all it takes is two people who think that way, and that $100 item is going to sell for $500. I do not know what others do, but I think the mutually assured destruction scenario means that most people do what they are supposed to do: pick the amount you are willing to pay, enter it, and then go think about something else.

Because you can see the ratcheting behavior is still prevalent when you look at the after-auction bid list, then sniping your high bid will save you money.

Is there a way to actually figure out which bidding system is the best for sellers?

I have no idea about how to do the math, but I would bet that the people who set up eBay sure do, and while the extended late time might be best in some cases, and the non-extended late time might be best in others, the fact that eBay uses the latter tells me that it is the best for sellers because they would clearly pick the system that maximizes the winning price, on average. And the only way for them to get more is for the seller to get more.

I really did change my mind about this over time, once I got over the anger and frustration from watching auctions end and seeing the number tick over during the last 10 seconds, thinking that someone was there just adding a few bucks. That is not true.

No one actually loses an online auction by $2.