Weekly Web Series Review: Behind the Pen

Fans of the excellent satirical newspaper The Onion should be familiar with the name Stan Kelly. A fictional editorial cartoonist whose reactionary views on current events and the way things used to be in the “good old days” (he supposedly began working for the paper in 1957) are expressed with hacky, obvious writing and a crude, simplistic drawing style. I remember when I first saw his work in the pages of “America’s Finest News Source” years ago, I totally fell for it, believing it to be a real strip The Onion had picked up to display ironically, like when they used to run Cathy Guisewite‘s “Cathy” in Spanish. Eventually, though, I realized how unlikely it was that any newspaper anywhere would seriously run strips celebrating the deaths of beloved celebrities like James Brown, for example, and that Kelly’s political cartoons were a joke from the start.

The Onion recently confirmed this all over again with the new web series “Behind the Pen,” in which “Kelly” describes his artistic process and explains the thought process behind his awful, out-of-touch jokes, as if anyone who can read would have trouble understanding his points. In the first episode, “How Marriage Works,” he explains that he’s doing it “to reach the youngsters” with his message. These hypothetical young people are illustrated by archive photographs of at-risk teens, and even one African child holding an assault rifle. He then proceeds to explain his cartoon, “Holy Matri-Money,” complete with an absurdly unnecessary explication of his “last word,” in which his self-portrait alter-ego delivers the punchline. This is a feature of all Kelly’s cartoons, and each episode correspondingly features a “Last Word” segment.

The second episode, “Collective Wisdom,” features another segment entitled “Tips for Young Artists,” in which Kelly hilariously explains the subtlety of his technique: “If you wanna show somebody’s in love with somebody, you put a little heart next to ’em.” Each subsequent episode (there are five so far, uploaded within the last two months) is better than the last, with Kelly increasingly going into angry tirades about his own family, especially his darkly comic explanation of his cartoon “Nanny State, Ninny State,” in which he skewers the Big Brother program by saying, “A kid’s heart oughta be calloused, it oughta be weathered.”

Kelly’s voice is wonderfully grizzled and mean-spirited – not unlike another brilliant Onion creation, the politician Joad Cressbeckler, who now has his own segment on the Onion News Network television series on IFC – and “Behind the Pen” shows great promise in continuing to develop this fascinating character. The more unhinged and apoplectic he becomes, the funnier he is and the more his character is revealed, so hopefully the series will continue in this direction, as it already seems to be doing.

Behind The Pen: ‘High’ Ideals


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13 most sexually aggressive cartoon characters

Quagmire Mugshot.

Cartoons are maybe the only way you can make the sort of cloying, slimy sexual aggression in characters like Pepé Le Pew funny. Anywhere else (and even sometimes in animation) and it would just make your skin crawl.

This list from Ranker.com has 13 of the funniest and creepiest characters from animated history. Here are just a few of the best entries:

1. Pepé Le Pew

The premise of each and every one of Pepe Le Pew’s cartoons (although hilarious) is that the poor guy has perpetual emotional blue balls throughout his entire Skunk life. There are no other skunks around (which brings me to the conclusion that he’s probably just not going to the right places), so whenever he sees someone that he thinks is a skunk (most often a black cat who accidentally gets white paint on them via walking under a fence or car that has just been painted white), he just up and goes for it.

6. Glenn Quagmire

Of course Quagmire is on this freaking list.

Glenn Quagmire is the resident sexual pervert of Quahog, the fictional Rhode Island town where the fictional cast of Family Guy lives. He basically takes the role of that guy in college who always used to get laid even though his hair was weird, and brings it to a whole new level.

Quagmire will do just about anything to get laid, as you’ll see in the embedded video compilation, and has absolutely no shame about anything he does — which is why he’s awesome.

9. Jafar

The villain in the movie Aladdin, Jafar spends the entire movie trying to marry Princess Jasmine (who, after watching this video, actually kind of looks like a Kardashian) against her will. As one of the most iconic villains of animated film, Jafar commands a presence of high sorcery and extreme power… until he’s foiled by our heroes. But before then, he dresses Jasmine up in an almost Slave-Leia-esque outfit that showcases her body and makes her take up a little bit of Stockholm Syndrome to trick him into letting Aladdin take back the power (the lamp) and save the day.

For the complete list, head over to Ranker.com. They’ve got the full list of the 13 most sexually aggressive cartoon characters, including a video clip for each entry. While you’re there, check out some of their other content. It’s pretty funny stuff.

Image: TheDrunkenClam.com


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