Anarch-ski!

From Frizzboomski, the Anarchist, a 1905 strip posted at Barnacle Press:

The relationship between anarchism and slapstick is inconclusive. Antonin Artaud, the actor and philosopher behind Theater of Cruelty, was the first to spell out the relationship in his 1938 book, The Theater and its Double. Writing specifically about the Marx Brothers, he describes anarchy as “an essential disintegration of the real by poetry.”

Particularly the end of Animal Crackers (clip above) Artaud calls it “a distinct poetic state of mind that can be called surrealism”.

So in the strip above, written by Walter Bradford, we sense a strange tension between form and content. The content is a bumbling anarchist who always lands in a tub of soap only to hear the taunt “Call Again-ski!” to which he replies “Reveng-ski!” In other words, anarchists are idiots who smell bad. But the form of the piece turns the whole world into a random series of botched assassination attempts and comeuppances, bookended by miraculous opportunity and an insatiable need to repeat the randomness all over again. In other words, the aesthetic is an appeal to anarchy.

It’s almost as if Artaud was reading Fizzboomski when he wrote, “There is nothing at once so hallucinatory and so terrible as this type of man-hunt, this battle of rivals, this chase in the shadows…”

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Filed under Comics and Literature, Film Analysis

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