Saturday, December 25, 2010

CRACKED #212: Robert C. Sproul, Over & Out

July 1985
By Pierre L.

I don't know when exactly Mr. Sproul took over the Editing of CRACKED. Sol Brodsky is in charge of the first issue. I have the fourth one and Mr. S is on there. So, either 2, 3 or 4. Up until 212...From mid-1958 until July 1985, he led us through the world of Pop Culture alongside MAD magazine and about 100 other "Comedy" Magazines that fell by the wayside. Well done, Mr. Sproul. You made me laugh a lot. Now, let's check out his last issue.

All pee-yellow background on this cover. Maybe it was his favorite color for the cover and the posters after all? It's a fun joke. Although, I don't know about that enormous box on the mid-upper-left. Why put Simon & Simon's faces on your last issue? Maybe he was goofing with us here. Not the strongest cover to go out on but a decent gag.

POSTER: THE UNITED STATES OF CRACKED is one of the coolest posters they ever did. OK, a slight chintz on the front cover hides a cool-cool poster. Have you ever been to Grin Canyon? Or Cashville the "Hog-calling capital of the world". And, then we all go to Illbany. Thanks, Mr. Sproul, for this poster!

TABLE OF CONTENTS: "Belinda Asabat, prufe rader" Best Comedy Name Ever!

LETTUCE FROM OUR READERS: "Dear CRACKED, I don't think you print real letters from readers. I bet you make them all up. Allan Gregory, New Britain, Conn." "Dear Allan, We don't think you write real letters. Bet you make them up." One guys says "You should have a joke section". A real jokester, that guy.

The Final Sproul Fan Club Message:

I believe he was saying "Goodbye" to us.

SIMPLE & SIMPLE: Wow...there really is another Simon & Simon parody in here. That's almost tragic. Prince shows up in their office. he says that someone is going to kidnap his drummer. So, one of the brothers puts on a huge afro wig and blackfaces himself up...and there's chicanery and goofballery and...oddly enough, the presence of Prince and the sheer joy of some good old fashioned Blackface makes me forget that this has anything to do with Simon & Simon. It's not a superb opening parody but when it degenerates into a crazy pie wins me over.

TV CABLE GUIDE: Hey! It's the alligator man from The Alligator People! Looks like this issue of the cable guide is going to have a lot of great stuff in it. "How watching TV 23 hours a day broadens you (mostly in the seat). "Strawberry Shortcakes Harrowing Day" "See what happens when Ms. Shortcake gets caught in a can of whipped cream." Da Movie Channel is playing some great stuff. This is a very in-depth article with some very funny bits. It ends with some Cable Chatter. I miss my Old Cable Guides.

YOUR MONEYS' WORTH: One-pager with great art and a very obvious joke.

KIDS, TOYS AND FUTURE CAREERS: Welfare Mother - Surrounded by dolls. Undertaker - A kid burying a stuffed animal out back in the middle of the night. A poet sits alone in a corner with all his toys far away. And, the sad one...A little girl is dancing ballet. There is a sign on her wall that says "Ballet is My Life". And, another things that says "I [heart] ballet." What is her career? ...Housewife. Wow. A little poignancy in the closing Sproul.

MAGAZINES THAT TRIED TO COPY CRACKED, BUT FAILED (Thank Goodness!): Beautiful stuff. We are shutting down here. The first one is from 1959...a magazine called Nuts. A satire magazine focusing solely on nut related humor. We see a page from the magazine and then a series of captions describing assorted reasons for its failure. Great idea and funny. "Merchants hated the magazine because it was the only one using 'nut' currency. Customers would continually pay with a 50 nut bill..." Each issue of "Nuts" was salted. Love it!

"Apples" Magazine was satire for very, very young kids. It sold well at first because fruit distributors thought it was for them. No words, only pictures. Who wrote this? Why wasn't this person allowed back all the time?

"Fool Magazine" started in 1970 and tried to get an all-female readership. It was printed on green newsprint that clashed with most women's clothing. The articles were really odd... (Housewives Are Dumb Because...was alienating to ladies and unfunny to guys.) I would have bought every issue of this magazine.

CRACKEDER MAZAGINE This one tried to go weekly but the quality wore down and down as each week passed. "As a weekly, their writers started to run out of dumb material. As a result, they made their biggest mistake of all - they turned to things that were intelligent." Remember: If you're Crackeder, you're happier!

I love this article. Best one in years.

WISHFUL THINKING: We see someone blissed out, thinking one thing...reality looms! A happy parachutist is smiling and seeing himself landing on the "X"! In reality, he's about to drop into an active volcano! A woman hands a boy a present. He's thinking "Toy Train!" She's thinking "Inexpensive socks!" It's a fun, chaotic two pages that my eye had a bit of trouble following. But, it works.

So final. Each one of these.

THE TRUE MEANING OF ART: Clever one-pager. Not a comedy bit, just kind of cool.

VCR HOME MOVIE ACCESSORIES CATALOG: Did Mr. Sproul know that this was his last issue? The CRACKED Imitators article seems to point in that direction. This one seems like standard CRACKED chicanery...How to suit up your living room like a movie theater. You can buy a robot that walks by you a dozen times a movie, making you get up over and over again. A steering wheel can be attached to the couch to make you feel like you're at a drive-in. An X-Rated film videotape container that is perfect for putting Disney films in...what better way to get the kids to watch? Cover your ground with sticky sludge, just like in the movie theater. It's fun. This is a decent bit. The world will go on, even after Mr. S. is gone.

WHAT'S GOOD...AND NOT SO GOOD ABOUT BIGFOOT: Well, when i saw the title in the Table of Contents I got excited. But, it's about the monster truck. Spare tires are huge! Be careful at underpasses! "You'll always have a good view at a drive-in." Oddly enough, there is never a full-on drawing of Bigfoot. We see the front half. Then, we see the back half. We see underneath. We see on the side. I wonder why?

EXPANDING THE USE OF PICTURE SIGNS: Wacky signs for our wacky world. A sign for the beach shows a dog with a line drawn over it. "No ugly girls beyond this point." A leaky faucet is "Caution: News Leak Area" for politics. Coaches could signal their instructions from the bench. A coach holds up a sign with a gun shooting a clock. "Kill The Clock!" It's a nice bit but no big shakes.

IF TELEVISION CENSORS HAD THEIR WAY: This feels like an old one. Howard Cosell and Let's Make a Deal gags abound. They'd censor sports, game shows, news & westerns. They'd be re-edited so John Wayne played Duck, Duck Goose with the Injuns instead of shooting them. An interview with Pinocchio would be a big thing on the News. It's a fun bit that seems like it's from a different time. If you're talking about TV censoring in early 1985, where's The A-Team? Feels odd. Sorry.

THE SILLY COSBEY SHOW: 1984-1985 TV Season. Dynasty, Dallas and The Cosby Show, respectively, rule the roost. Starting with the 1985-1986 season, Cosby would begin its five years at the top. CRACKED got in there quick...The last Sproul TV/ Movie parody begins. Pliff and Eclair are raising their kids and making America laugh. Pliff wants to take a nap but his kids keep coming and he keeps starting monologues and stories about himself. In the end, they move out and live Pliff alone. And, hey, this is only three pages long? The heck? Well, it makes its point and goes. Nicely done.

THE POND: A one-pager to close out the one-pagers. This one's just OK. I actually missed the joke at first. And then, when I'd seen the joke, I was unsure if it was funny. In the end, I'm going to say "No."

CRACKED INTERVIEWS THE TECHNICAL SCHOOL KING: Hmmm..she doesn't identify herself as Nanny. She doesn't look anything like Nanny. But, Ed U. Cator calls her Nanny. Where'd Cassie go? Is this a repeat? I don't recognize it but it feels like a repeat. I'm going to say that it is not. If I found out that the last full article during Mr. Sproul's time was a repeat, I'd feel a little sad.

I also feel a little sad because this bit isn't so great. Mr. Cator's a shyster. ICCES - Ice Cream Cone Engineering School is an easy school to pass. There's a beauty school and a school for Humor Writers. There are lying commercials that air during old sictoms to get people down to the school. It's an OK bit but it never quite takes off. It doesn't seem to have enough "School" parodies in it. But, I wouldn't want to see it go longer so I'll take what I can get.

1 - Paperboy
2 - Prize Fighter
3 - The CRACKED Team Working Out!

Mr. Sproul, from me to you, Shut-Up!

BACK COVER: A SCULPTURE'S STUDIO - An obvious joke with some fun art and alternating blue and yellow panels. Somehow that sums CRACKED up perfectly. Oh, shouldn't it be "A Sculptor's Studio", unless it is actually a studio for that sculpture.

Not a great issue. It started strong and then began to fade but there are plenty of laughs here. Plenty of bright moments and that great CRACKED imitator article...I was hoping Mr. Sproul would go out stronger but the last issue seems to have spent most of their comedic energy. We'll take that one as the last and this one as a footnote.

Godspeed, Mr. S!

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