Animal Crackers (comic strip)
Animal Crackers is the title of several syndicated newspaper comics over the years. The first was a 1930 comic strip signed by an artist known simply as Lane.
The second Animal Crackers was a cartoon panel by Dick Ryan and Warren Goodrich (1913–2002) that was published intermittently from 1937 through 1957. In some papers it ran as Animal Krackers. Goodrich recalled, "I used animals to relate human foibles with a little twist. Sometimes it would work, and sometimes it wouldn't. It seems the funny things are just short of tragic."
The third began in 1967 and continues today, distributed by Andrews McMeel Publishing's GoComics, which is run by Universal Press Syndicate. Rog Bollen drew the strip through 1994, and then Fred Wagner took over. It features a group of animals who live in a fictional jungle called Freeborn. This strip was adapted into a cartoon television series in 1997.
The San Francisco Chronicle described Animal Crackers as a "snappy little one-frame strip [that] featured a variety of animal life dealing with various silly situations of a human nature" and as a comic panel "which went on to acclaim in syndication." The San Francisco Chronicle printed the comic panel on its front page next to the weather report. Animal Crackers was syndicated by the Chicago Sun-Times to over 100 papers.
In later years, Goodrich drew a spin-off cartoon series, Creatures, collected in the book Creatures Or Not So Dumb Animals (Eden East Press, 2001). Although Goodrich drew his animal cartoons for years and then wrote newspaper columns ("Travelin' Man") and several books (An Artist's Life), his lasting fame came with a single drawing, "The Little Man," which he drew in 1942. Used alongside San Francisco Chronicle film reviews as a movie rating system, this Goodrich device was praised by Roger Ebert, Gerald Nachman, Austin Kleon, and other writers.
Passive, insecure, and a momma's boy, Lyle Lion is not what one might call "King of the Jungle". He's more (of a Prince who is trying to be king) intent on talking philosophy and ordering a pizza (preferably vegetarian) than be the dominant predator. His number one goal in life is to date Lana, being very persistent about it despite the multiple failed attempts; outside of that, his other goal is to be an astronomer. From the show, it is believed that he is left-handed.
He is the last remaining dodo alive, and is Lyle's best friend. Rash, impatient, and slightly self-centred, he is extremely hot-headed and refuses to believe that he lacks the ability to fly. This leads to multiple failed attempts to take flight, sometimes using some very innovative yet unusual techniques.
Despite his size and nature, this pachyderm is really an "overgrown baby" who craves attention. He is rather arrogant and obnoxious and is not afraid to bully others with his size and strength to get what he wants. Some of his secret pleasures include inhaling loads of peanut butter and stomping petunias, but the sight of a tiny mouse will usually give him a fit.
For a "supposed" leader of a herd, Gnu lacks any leadership qualities; rather, his traits show the exact opposite of a leader: lazy, timid, no sense of direction. Despite his nature, Gnu does mean well and is very dedicated to his herd, even though his presence there will hinder rather than help. He is also a caring parent, as he is a single father who has one son that he loves very much.
She is smart, attractive, strong minded, and the object of Lyle's affection. Lana is quite caring towards her fellow inhabitants of Freeborn, and will put the group ahead of herself. She is also an avid book lover, often found with her nose in a novel. Despite showing little to no interest in Lyle's pursuits, it has been hinted that perhaps she does have a crush on him; but only Lana knows the answer to that question, and her lips are sealed.
- Kennedy, Natalie. "Talent, humor lead Travelin Man down road of success," "The Wellsboro Gazette and Free Press-Courier, March 25, 1992.
- Adolphson, Sue (August 23, 1992). "The Golden Boy: The Chronicle's Little Man Turns 50". The San Francisco Chronicle. Sunday Datebook, Pg. 18
- (January 30, 2002). "Warren Goodrich, co-founder of the Los Altos Town Crier, dies at 88". Los Altos Town Crier.
- Cloutman, Elizabeth. "Does the name Warren Goodrich ring a bell?" Los Altos Town Crier, November 14, 2001.
- Ebert, Roger. "You give out too many stars," Chicago Sun-Times, September 14, 2008.
- "LIttle Man's blush is back," by Gerald Nachman, San Francisco Chronicle, November 16, 2003.
- Kleon, Austin. "The Little Man," Austin Kleon Blog, September 19, 2008.
- Strickler, Dave. Syndicated Comic Strips and Artists, 1924-1995: The Complete Index. Cambria, California: Comics Access, 1995. ISBN 0-9700077-0-1