Friday, July 29, 2011

Strange Moments in Comics

When Good Objects Turn Human

Last week I found this cartoon plea from a yogurt carton on a box at the grocery store where I work.

It set me thinking about the human's love for anthropomorphizing animals and objects. It also started me reflecting upon some of the weird things that have been anthropomorphized. Obviously, any creature with arms and/or legs can eventually be turned into a human-like character. Inanimate objects present a greater challenge. Over the years advertisers--ever the standard bearers of anthropomorphic objects--have met that challenge with mixed results.
Perhaps the strangest humanized object I've encountered in comics is an anthropomorphized milking machine.
Here are the cover and three pages from "Johnny Surge," a booklet from 1947. I wonder just who the advertiser thought would read this? The subject and the "we know we're kidding you" tone of the cover blurb suggest an adult audience, specifically the dairyman they hoped would buy the milker. But somehow I can't picture a self-respecting dairyman being caught dead reading a storybook about a cutesy milking machine.

Maybe they thought the the farmer's kids would read it and propagandize the Old Man. "Shame on you, Daddy, you're hurting our cows with evil milking machines!" This was not only a strange character, but a strange book.

All the same, milking machines weren't the oddest anthropomorphized object. Unquestionably the least likely--yet somehow endearing--humanized object was...who else?

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