Friday, 12 August 2016

The Many Origins Of Jaka (Part 2)

A portfolio of 10 Signed & Numbered Prints from "Jaka's Story"
Raising Funds For The Restoration & Preservation Of The World's Longest Graphic Novel


Dave Kopperman said...

Why I thought this, but watching that video made me wonder if there was ever a cat portrayed in Cerebus. There were a couple of dogs sprinkled in (the shepherding bits come to mind), but no actual pets in the entire narrative.

ChrisW said...

I've recently been reading the "Little House on the Prairie" series - no, I'm not sure why, but I have enjoyed them immensely - and this comes through as well. The first book, "Little House in the Big Woods" even has a scene where Laura and Mary play with their dolls. Mary is old enough to have a real doll, Laura only has a corn cob in a handkerchief. "But it was a good doll. It was named Susan. It wasn't Susan's fault that she was only a corn cob." Garth Williams' illustration perfectly shows two little girls playing with their respective dolls in a way that instantly melts your heart.

Later in the book, Laura gets a real doll, Charlotte, and the cover shows her smiling at her doll, who goes on to make occasional appearances for the rest of the series. A couple of days ago, I was thrilled by a Google search to discover that the one, true Little House on the Prairie that Pa Ingalls built still exists, and I would be just as thrilled to know that somewhere, Charlotte is still around. I doubt I'll ever visit any of the various Laura Ingalls Wilder museums, but I very much hope that one of them has Charlotte, safe and secure, just as Laura would want.

Unlike Jaka, Laura did not grow up privileged, unless you count being born to Pa and Ma Ingalls as a privilege, which, let's face it, it was. Reading the books as an adult, it's astounding how much description there is of food, and the ways to kill it, skin it, slice it, and grow vegetables too. Book 3, "Farmer Boy," the childhood of Laura's future husband is even more in-depth on just how much work little children had to do to help their families stay alive, without technology.

In the climax of Book 7, she solves an arithmetic problem in her head which, honestly, nobody today could solve without a calculator on their phone, watch or computer. And she's a girl! I'm smart, I'm good at arithmetic, and this fourteen year old girl would beat me like a retarded quadriplegic. Never mind the spelling, grammar, history, etc. lessons, the recitation, never mind that she can skin a pig, sew a shirt, plant a field, grow a garden, clean a house, cook a meal, all without technology, and live up to basic standards of decency while doing it. And yeah, she has a doll in her younger years.

[Yes, I know that this was edited and sanitized by Laura and her daughter Rose. But seriously, that was how Laura grew up, and it's what she was expected to do automatically, which she did because she was a good girl. That scene when a blizzard hits while Pa and Ma are in town, so Laura and Mary decide to bring in as much wood as possible, but fuss about how to open the door if their arms are full of wood, and little Carrie - barely old enough to talk - volunteers to open the door? That gets a full-throated masculine 'you go, girl' from me and anybody else unfortunate enough to be stuck in that blizzard.]

I don't know if I'm agreeing or disagreeing with Dave at this point. Girls like dolls. That's weird, but whatever. They're girls, so you have to expect some limitations. And then there's the list of things they have to do every day by themselves, that I can't imagine grown men doing, much less finding time to advance civilization. I'm approaching the end of the series now, and seriously thinking that once upon a time, Giants walked the Earth.