Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Toon: Won't You Save Marriage from Those Sweet People?

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
Oct 12, 2011
Like Jim Borgman, I like drawing cartoons set at shopping malls just so I can give names to all the stores in the background. When I drew for the Milwaukee Business Journal, Christmas shopping was a recurrent theme of December editorials, giving me the opportunity to toss in The Hardhaberdashery, All Things Argyle, and Sandy's Sundries.

That whimsical approach didn't work when the topic of the editorial was on trying to boost the fortunes of a troubled mall -- Milwaukee's Grand Avenue Mall has been losing business for years -- and there were some unfortunate incidents at the Mayfair Mall which sparked editorials which would have been undercut by peppering the cartoon with frivolous shops.

But as fun as these background shops are to create, they are actually anachronistic. In the heyday of the shopping mall -- back in the 1970's and '80's -- malls were populated by lots of little specialty shops. (Does anybody remember the Saturday Night Live sketches about a shop that sold nothing but Scotch® Tape?) But the typical mall today is populated mostly by clothing stores and optical shops, with the occasional shoe store and a bunch of kiosks selling cell phones and piercing ears. The only real specialty shops are in the food court.

At any rate, I can only hope that the names of some of those stores are clues to the setting of the cartoon, since it isn't definitively stated until the last frame.

And before any Tar Heelers get upset, I'm not trying to suggest that North Carolina is totally devoid of nice people, okay? It's just that Minnesota has cultivated a reputation for niceness, don't ya know.

Michele Bachmann notwithstanding.

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