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Sunday, January 09, 2011

Sugar&Spike - Trip to the Zoo

The Chronicles of Sheldon Mayer's Sugar & Spike

Trip to the Zoo
Sugar & Spike #8 [1957]
6 pages
Reprints: None [yet]
Dedication: Mr. and Mrs. Rube Grossman (age 21 plus), New York

Rube Grossman was one of the other prolific artists on DC's humour books of the era, among other things drawing Mayer's other creation, the Three Mouseketeers, after Mayer went on S&S full-time. He's possibly best known as the artist of the annual RUDOLPH specials DC would publish (which Mayer would take over for the tabloid books in the 1970s).

To see if the kids are ready for the zoo, Sugar's dad shows them a film that his pal Rube Grossman made. The kids seem uninterested at first, fighting and talking. Then they start laughing when the camel comes on. We also get an appearance by Rube hisownself, standing next to the camel, eating a hot-dog, imitating the camel chewing its cud.

The next day at the zoo, the kids aren't very interested. In one scene, they figure out that the grown-ups will be disappointed if they don't act excited, so they both give a half-hearted "Wheeee". You have to see this panel to believe it. It perfectly captures the faces I've seen on infants when you try to get them interested in a new toy more exciting to you than to them (they're usually happy to play with the wrapping paper). Anyway, they fool around at the zoo for awhile, uninterested in the animals, but suddenly start crying when they leave. Sugar's dad can't understand. Talking amongst themselves, the kids reveal that the only thing they wanted to see was the funny man with the hot-dog.

I absolutely adore this story, one of my favourites of the whole series. Mayer captured the body language and facial quirks of kids so well in it, and the theme of the contrast between what adults think kids are interested in and what they're really interested in was fertile ground for the series. And a cameo by a fellow cartoonist tops it off.

Characters: Sugar, Spike, Mr. Plumm, Mrs. Plumm, Rube Grossman (film)
Property Damage: minimal, one lost balloon, film and projector are briefly threatened by Sugar's interest
Sugar's treatment of Spike: swings him around by his legs, but he did ask for that by whacking her with a toy elephant. She also pushes him over and sits on him.

"All the interesting toys, with parts to pull off, are always theirs! And don't they hate sharing!"

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