Monday, March 31, 2008

NCCCCC: Alarming Alcoholic

Welcome to the National Corniest Cliché Comic Character Countdown, where I annually pick some comic chestnuts to run through the wringer. Our first category this year is everybody’s favorite role model, the liquid substance abuser.

Comics like to traffic in stereotypes. They form a great visual shorthand to help set up a joke. And nothing is funnier than a falling down drunk in the funny pages where kids learn to read and adults commiserate their sad existence. Comic strip drunks are keeping things on the down low in today’s MADD invested political correctness. For many of these strips, I couldn’t find recent examples of their signature lush actually hoisting a glass, so in some cases, you’ll have to use your imagination and your alcohol soaked memory.

Hagar The Horrible

Hagar, the least horrible barbarian ever, is a heavy drinker in all senses of the word. He’s even willing to endure spousal abuse in order to be able to drop in for a drink or twelve. In addition to being a horned drunk, he also traffics in the heavy-set nagging wife stereotypes.

General Amos Halftrack

The drunken lecherous leader of Camp Swampy has been through several rounds of court-ordered sensitivity training and is now rarely seen with a martini glass in his hand. Like all good comics writer doppelgangers, he still enjoys golf. Surprise! He also has a heavy-set overly stern wife. Battle-ax spouses must drive comic characters to drink.

Thirsty Thurston

One of the frequent recurring GoogleStorm hits that infrequently hit my blog is for “Hi and Lois drunk neighbor”. It seems Thirsty is rarely referred to by name anymore and even more infrequently seen with his trademark pile of empties under his hammock. He must be doing all his drinking off camera because he still has his advanced rhinophyma.

Andy Capp

Everybody’s favorite wife-beating drunk epitomizes British lower class substance abuse better than an entire season of Eastenders. While he too has lowered the spousal abuse content, he still likes to bend his elbow plenty.

Leroy Lockhorn

Leroy likes to give his buddy across the pond some competition. Nothing says hilarity more than Leroy three sheets to the wind wearing a lampshade and hitting on some hottie half his age and twice his height.


The Wizard of Id’s town drunk is everything a dysfunctional wino should be, including it seems, a professional musician.

Remember when voting that “best cliché” means many things to many people. Vote according to your conscious and blame the results on a blackout hangover.

Please be patient with the voting software. Your vote may not register immediately, but it is being counted.

As always, explanations and rationalizations are allowed and expected in the comments.

Update: You may keep voting, but the Dopiest Dad and Perplexing Pet categories are now open as well.


Ben said...

I'm going to vote for the Perfesser in Shoe. A lardass bird too depressed to fly is just such a perfect representation.

Anonymous said...

Ah, here we go (rubbing hands together). Let's start by eliminating some non-contenders.

Hagar: As a viking, Hagar must, by definition, do a lot of quaffing. Though we often see him with a tankard or a bottle in hand (and occasionally stretched out under a keg), we rarely see him drunk.

Thirsty Thurston: Thirsty was officially dried out several years ago. He is no longer shown with the various lines and symbols to indicate inebriation. His alcoholism has been completely swept under the rug.

Andy Capp: Andy was a lush's lush, but he has been in reruns for several years now. As with last year, I refuse to vote for zombies.

Leroy Lockhorn: While Leroy is sometimes sozzled, I'm really not sure he counts as a drunk. Like thewife-hating "jokes", Leroy's drinking stems from the 1950s and the cocktail culture, three martini lunches and drinks before dinner.

It might be possible to make a case for Cap'n Eddie from Non Sequitur. He is frequently shown with a bottle and his tall tales are often alcohol fueled, but we also see him hanging out in a coffee shop, not a bar.

So, this really comes down to Gen. Halftrack and Bung. As you have noted, the General has cut way back on his drinking. He still gets slightly tipsy from time to time, but he isn't the lush he used to be.

That makes my pick for this category Bung. He has resisted all efforts at being politically correct toward alcoholics and protecting our precious snowflakes from psyche-damaging images. On those rare occasions where he doesn't have a bottle in hand, he is still shown with bubbles surrounding his head and all sorts of wobbly motion lines. Of all our candidates, Bung is NEVER sober. (Even if his strip does stink.)

Anonymous said...

Senator Battson D. Belfry, from the comic strip Shoe. I know he's not on the short list, but he's often been depicted has having too much booze at Roz's. Moreover, at least once he's even fallen down and couldn't get up, as the cliche goes. He is purported to be based on the the late U. S. House Speaker T. P. O'Neill and on the senior Massachussetts Senator Ted Kennedy.

D.B. Echo said...

My votes would be for two who have passed into the great beyond.

One would be for Philanderer Flop from "The Flop Family", a comic strip so disregarded that I can find no reproductions of the strips I remember from the 1970s. Philanderer, the father, was drunk much of the time, and if you had to put up with his grotesquely drawn family, you would be too.

The other is Jiggs from "Bringing Up Father". Despite dressing like an early 20th century bourgeousie aristocrat, his only pleasures in life were his corned beef and cabbage at Dinty Moore's, and his drink. He needed to alcohol to numb the pain of the repeated skull fractures he received from his over-the-hill flapper harridan of a wife, Maggie and her trusty rolling pin.

D.B. Echo said...

Ach, I should have used my real name, as on The Comics Curmudgeon. I'm Harold.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

Leroy..he's also the biggest skirtchaser in the comics.

Anonymous said...

I voted for Leroy Lockhorn, although I pondered a write-in for Uncle Duke from Doonesbury. However, I think he'd be disqualified because he's usually also stoned.

I don't think Jiggs was ever really portrayed as being drunk, despite all the time he spent at Dinty Moore's.

Francesco Marciuliano said...

Andy Capp far exceeds the definition of a mere cliche comic strip drunk. He's more like Ken Loach's version of a Charles Bukowski character, always just one Black and Tan away from complete spiritual meltdown and colossal hepatic failure.

Mooselet said...

I'm going with Andy Capp. You cannot reform Andy as has happened with Gen. Halftrack or Thirsty (that's his name??? really???). He's a drunks' drunk and if you dried him out I'd suspect all you'd have left was his cap.

And uh, voting software? Either your pulling my leg or, in my alcoholic haze, I'm not seeing it.

Kip W said...

A sentimental write-in for Soppy out of Tumbleweeds. Since his strip just died, I figure it's time for a pity nomination, even though -- apart from being able to walk or even stand -- he seems pretty well in control of the facilities that matter in the strip (ability to give a punch line), he's still a drunk's drunk, never seen sober or far from the saloon. (And it is possible to be far from the saloon in Tumbleworld, you just have to leave town.)


McBangle said...

I agree with Ben; it's gotta be the Perfesser from "Shoe".

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... Even though you never see him with a drink, I bet Mr. Wilson in "Dennis The Menace" can tie one on with the best of 'em. Just look at that nose.

Anonymous said...

It's got to be Thirsty Thurston. Here he is showing up drunk for the Easter-morning church service. (Contra demetriosx from above, you can see the little bubbles over Thirsty's head signifying inebriation):

Cedar said...

I'm surprised to see Leroy Lockhorn winning. To me, his character is mostly about bile, not alcohol.

I didn't think of Gen Halftrack at first, but I think he makes the most sense.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Compared to the contest last year, you are getting tons more votes.

I voted for the Gen.

Anonymous said...

It would have to be the Perfessor if he was in here, but Leroy sure gives him a run for his money.

yellojkt said...

The extra votes are the Power of Josh. The Comics Curmudgeon readership keeps getting bigger and bigger.

And The Professor isn't the drunk in Shoe. That's Senator Battson D. Belfry.

Anonymous said...

Though it appears that Amos is a drunk:

in fact, most of the time he's simply high as a GPS satellite:

Hence he should be disqualified from this competition.

Violet said...

I realize that Gil Thorp's Marty Moon doesn't really qualify as a stereotype, insofar as that would entail some vague semblance of recognizability as something represented, depicted or imagined in some form elsewhere in the known universe, which is not exactly Gil Thorp's strong suit, but he sure as hell qualifies as a drunk. Although he may have little or no chance of winning, I feel that he and his liquor-soaked van dyke at least deserve some small mention.

yellojkt said...

That first Beetle Bailey link is much better than any I found. I just didn't have the stomach to go that far back in the archives. You're braver than I.

Anonymous said...

Say whatever you might about any candidate: the only one actually drinking is Leroy Lockhorn.

Anonymous said...

First they came for Andy Capp's wife-beating, and I thought it was a damn good thing. Then they made him stop dropping his "h"'s ('e's supposed to be a sodding Cockney, innit?) and I died a little inside. Now I hardly ever see the little bugger drink, although he's still the pub philospher. Pfui. I vote for Lockhorn, who's everything he started out to be, cliches and all.

E. Peterman said...

Thirsty's got this one on lock. I mean, the dude's nickname is "Thirsty," for God's sake.

NotAGoatHead said...

Talk about names! How about the camel from Crock named "Quench." With the cast that camel's got to be with, you know he's drinking!

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