Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Teeny Weenies

When I was a child- back when the arrival of the Sunday edition of the Youngstown Vindicator was a big deal- the first part of that thick bundle (you can tell how long ago that was- newspapers were thick bundles) that I went to was the funny pages. The first part of the funny pages I went to was the "Teeny-Weenies." I have written about them before but to recap- the TW's were a race of minuscule people who lived in our world but in the corners and hidden beneath violet leaves. Each week was the story of some TW travail or holiday depicted in a single, large, beautifully-drawn panel. One week the TW's may be doing battle with towering rats who threatened their grain stores, another week it would be a TW outing on boats made from milkweed husks. The TWs were from all races and cultures.
Also each week there would be a single TW that I could cut out of the paper, paste onto a piece of shirt cardboard and trim. The art came with the flanges that could be bent back so the figure could stand on its own. I had a collection of them that I could use to enact my own TW scenarios.

That collection was long ago discarded but I have been drawing again on that inspiration for a series of small pieces. I have conflated them with my "heart-box" motif and my love of the natural world. I use the same basic template, which is a constraint that I enjoy working within.
Where they greatly differ, however, is in their basic demeanor. The original Teeny-Weenies were, as appropriate to the times, sort of can-do, go-getting, optimistic types- no obstacle could stand in their way for long, soon to be overcome with the united efforts of the population. My Teeny-Weenies, are more reserved and cautious, often looking askance at the viewer, sometimes not engaging the viewer at all. Whether they reflect the times or just my own reserve is something to ponder.

1 comment:

Ben Karlin said...

Grew up on The Teeny Weenies in the Chicago Tribune. Finally got old enough to realize they weren't going to run forever and started collecting them.
Within a few days the cartoonist died, they printed the remaining strips and that was the end of that.
A dozen years later I got married and eventually we had two children. They learned about Tintin, Betty Boop, The Katzenjammers, Lil Abner (well, the schmoos) and even found a collection of Little Nemo strips in a book. But no Teeny Weenies.