Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Don't Mess with the Pig, Man!

It starts with Porky Pig giving an elephant a bath in his girlfriend's living room and ends with a medieval-style jousting match against a mysterious Black Knight. And it all makes sense.

Well, it makes cartoon sense. "The Kingdom of Nowhere" was first published in Dell's Four Color #284 (1950), though I own it as a reprint in Gold Key's Porky Pig #4 (November 1965). The writer is unknown and the fun, energetic art is by Roger Armstrong.

Like most of the comic book adaptations of the Looney Tunes universe, this story is more structured in terms of plot than the cartoons generally were, though this does not prevent the story from being hilarious. Most great comedies have structure to them. Even the Looney Tunes shorts, as anarchic as they were, usually had some sort of structure or rules to them. (The Road Runner always stays on the road, for instance--though that rule was briefly broken in a couple of the shorts.)

Each event in the story follows a bizarre but consistent logic to lead into the next. Porky is washing an elephant in Petunia's living room to impress her by winning a contest held by a soap company--whoever uses the soap in the most unusual manner wins.

But Petunia is just fed up with Porky because he's been obsessively entering contests for some time now and she's just sick of it.  She also doesn't care for having an elephant in her living room.

After taking the elephant back to the zoo (how cool would it be if you could go to the zoo and just ask to borrow an elephant?), Porky and Sylvester find a case of money. Unfortunately, this turns out to counterfeit money from a country that doesn't actually exist.

But wait! A small country with no name is holding a contest to choose a name. Sylvester wants to submit the name Boovaria--the name on the worthless cash--so that the cash would then be legal tender.

Porky thinks this is unethical, but submits a name of his own in a desperate attempt to impress Petunia. He soon finds out that he is tied for first and is flown over the the Kingdom of Nowhere for the tie-breaker.

He doesn't realize that the tie-breaker involves fighting a duel.

The duel is wonderful drawn and choreographed, with Porky and his mysterious opponent using glue and a magnet respectively to stay in their saddles. Porky actually handles himself quite well and, eventually, the battle ends in a tie. When the two opponents find out the winner has to marry the king's daughter, both immediately flee the country.

Porky finds out that the Black Knight was Petunia, who had entered the contest to show up Porky and get him to stop entering contests.

The king and queen decide to just choose a name themselves--going with Boovaria. This makes that counterfeit cash (which Sylvester had stashed away-just in case) into real money. So Sylvester stays in Boovaria to live a life of wealth and ease--until he finds out it's illegal to buy fish. That ruins everything--if you can't buy your favorite food, what's the sense in having money? Though I always thought Sylvester's favorite food was Tweety Bird.

The story ends with Sylvester traveling home by the only route open to him.

The story really is a model of how to structure a comedy, following its own logic and with each event eventually leading to a payoff. Someone (DC, perhaps, now that Warner Brothers owns both them and the Looney Tunes) needs to collect the best of the Dell/Gold Key stories and reprint them.

That's it for this week. Next week--riding dinosaurs--IN SPACE!


  1. I recall mentioning this story in one of my comments on a previous Porky posting. It's one of my all-time favorites! Thanks for giving it a great review. I agree that it is one of the best structured of the Looney Tunes comic book adventures. Interesting how Porky, Petunia, Sylvester, and the others had so many more facets to their personalities in the comics. Several of the Looney Tunes characters in films were mostly tied to one gag, with the exception of Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck, who had slightly richer and more versatile personalities. But in the comics even Bugs and Daffy achieved a dimensionality that they did not generally possess in their screen appearances. I like how Sylvester in this story is not the "scaredy cat" of the movie teamings, but is more of a buddy with Porky.

    1. I tracked this one down specifically after you mentioned it in that comment. I do appreciate the recommendation--I loved reading and reviewing this story.

      It's interesting to note, I think, that most of the animators at "Termite Terrace" grew bored with Porky and were glad when Bugs eclipsed the pig as star. But in the comics, Porky's fuller personality allowed him to remain a leading man. Or leading pig, I suppose I should say.

      I think the need to give the plots in the comic books more structure led to the need to give the characters fuller personalities.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...