Thanksgiving sacks of cement

A Thanksgiving cartoon by graphic designer Matt Reedy, requiring crucial background knowledge for understanding:


(#1) From Reedy’s pages of Den of Apathy prints (riffs on popular culture) on Etsy: WKRP “As God As My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly” (an 11×17 print is on sale there for $15)

A completely wordless cartoon (just the helicopter, the plummeting turkeys, the cityscape in the background) might not have worked, but “Cincinnati” is enough to make it the composition into a funny cartoon — if you know the background. “Thanksgiving” would work instead (with the same proviso). Or both: “Thanksgiving in Cincinnati”.

If you know Reedy’s title, you have even more of the story, but you still need to know how all these parts fit together, though you might reasonably infer that someone has dropped turkeys from a helicopter in the belief that they could fly, and that’s funny in itself. For the whole story, WKRP is crucial.

(Big hat tip to Tim Evanson, who posted #1 on Facebook and then supplied its source.)

You can watch the WKRP turkey drop episode here (#2): the tv sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati S1 E7 “Turkeys Away” (10/30/78). Two moments from the show:


(#3) Broadcaster Les Nessman (played by Richard Sanders), narrating from the street, in a style reminiscent of the Hindenburg disaster, reporting that turkeys are plummeting to the pavement “like sacks of wet cement”


(#4) Station manager Arthur Carlson (played by Gordon Jump), confessing: “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly”

So #1 inherits its humor from #2, with its ridiculous premise of a Thanksgiving turkey drop, the human ignorance and folly that lie behind it (in Carlson’s idea for the event as a holiday promotion for the radio station), and the exaggerated self-importance of Nessman’s presentation of himself.

Graphic design, art, and cartoon. Once again, brief notes on the way visual compositions are categorized culturally, in such a that their producers are distinguished as either (graphic) designers, (graphic) artists, or cartoonists (with artists often picked out as practitioners of a higher order, of seriousness and cultural value, than designers or cartoonists).

From NOAD:

noun graphic design: the art or skill of combining text and pictures in advertisements, magazines, or books.

Graphic designers (like Reedy) then produce visual compositions of practical, commercial, or ornamental value. Among these are compositions with humor, narrative entertainment, or social criticism (or some combination of these) as their point — things we call cartoons or comics.

Reedy clearly views his work as art, and himself as an artist — in my view, legitimately — though he works outside the art establishment of the present day, and his compositions are sometimes created for commercial purposes. I would also classify his composition in #1 (though not some of his other compositions) as a cartoon, indeed a wonderfully enjoyable one.

Cartoon art for Thanksgiving.

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