But is it a cartoon?

From the Pun Based Humor Facebook page (ultimate source not identified):


A photograph (composed and posed for humorous effect), but if you drew this scene, it would straightforwardly be a (captionless) cartoon, so why shouldn’t  this count as a cartoon too? Not your prototypical cartoon, but a cartoon nevertheless.

An analogy would be to the art work of Pierre et Gilles: photographs elaborately composed and posed for artistic effect (often humorous effect as well), and meant as a photographic equivalent of a fantasy painting or drawing.

Meanwhile, there’s the matter of cartoon understanding: the young man, the box of breakfast cereal (Kix brand), and the highway route sign (for US Route 66) are the three elements focused on in the photograph, but what’s funny about that? Is it relevant that the route is historic, or that it’s a loop, or that the young man’s belt end is dangling (something to do with loops, maybe)? Or maybe stuff in the background is subtly significant. Or the setting, on a town street, at an intersection with a crosswalk.

First the genre. It’s a photograph intended as a cartoon, and I say we take it at face value. Maybe call such things — some others have come by on this blog — photoons.

But then the point of the thing. To get this, you absolutely have to know an American musical standard. From Wikipedia:

“(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66” is a popular rhythm and blues standard, composed in 1946 by American songwriter Bobby Troup. The song uses a twelve-bar blues arrangement and the lyrics follow the path of U.S. Route 66 (US 66), which traversed the western two-thirds of the U.S. from Chicago, Illinois, to Los Angeles, California.

The crucial intro bit:

If you ever plan to motor west,
Travel my way, take the highway that is best.
Get your kicks on Route 66.

kicks / Kix, get it? Groan.

(You can watch a fine Nat King Cole performance of the song here.)

And that brings us to the tv show. From Wikipedia:

(#2) George Maharis, left, and Martin Milner, right, the (original) stars of the series (photo: Shout! Factory)

Route 66 is an American television drama that premiered on CBS on October 7, 1960, and ran until March 20, 1964, for a total of 116 episodes. The series was created by Herbert B. Leonard and Stirling Silliphant, who were also responsible for the ABC drama Naked City, from which Route 66 was indirectly spun off. Both series employed a format with elements of both traditional drama and anthology drama, but the difference was where the shows were set: Naked City was set in New York City, while Route 66 had its setting change from week to week, with each episode being shot on location.

Route 66 followed two young men traversing the United States in a Chevrolet Corvette convertible, and the events and consequences surrounding their journeys. Martin Milner starred as Tod Stiles, a recent college graduate with no future prospects due to circumstances beyond his control. He was originally joined on his travels by Buz Murdock, a friend and former employee of his father (played by George Maharis), with the character leaving midway through the third season after contracting echovirus. Near the end of the third season, Tod met a recently discharged Vietnam veteran named Lincoln Case, played by Glenn Corbett, who decided to follow Tod on his travels and stayed with him until the final episode.

The producers were unwilling to pay Bobby Troup royalties for the song, so they had Nelson Riddle write a completely different (wordless) theme song, which you can experience in this opening for one of the episodes.

2 Responses to “But is it a cartoon?”

  1. bebopple Says:

    Great post. This touches on another idea which I’ve worked on as a visual music artist – the notion that everything syncs. That’s a truism in Cage’s work, and in all improvised music – depending only on the listener’s willingness to perceive. It’s also, in my view, true in the world as we experience it daily – things I do are echoed elsewhere and vice versa. Here it leads directly to an ‘illustration’ of Image/word synchronicity. Thank you!

  2. [BLOG] Some Monday links | A Bit More Detail Says:

    […] Zwicky considers a visual pun inspired by Route 66: Is the image a […]

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