Absurd Delusions Revisited

By Erwin Dence, Jr.
Posted 1/2/10

It isn’t like I don’t know what mainstream humor is, or even how to produce it; in conversation, through writing, or, even through cartoons. It may just be that I insist on pursuing my own brand. …

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Absurd Delusions Revisited

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It isn’t like I don’t know what mainstream humor is, or even how to produce it; in conversation, through writing, or, even through cartoons. It may just be that I insist on pursuing my own brand. Yes, the not-necessarily-funny kind. This isn’t something new. Probably 25 years ago I produced a series of cartoons, put them together in a booklike format, titled the whole thing, “Absurd Delusions.” I took the sample copy to work at the shipyard. To my surprise, nobody thought any of the cartoons were even mildly funny. Most drew a “What?” response, and, when forced to look at several, me standing by cracking up and pointing, the typical review was that whoever drew this stuff was existing on some parallel plane. So, like, what do bluecollar folks know anyway? I showed them to some of the intellectuals who also happened to live in Quilcene, their children attending the local public schools with our children. Madeleine Pitts, mother of Brian, schoolmate of James, though she didn’t really laugh out loud (a knowledgeable chuckle the proper response in my mind), she did ask a professional local writer (Pt. Ludlow) if he would be willing to look at the cartoons. I called him one evening. No, he didn’t discuss such things in his off hours. Oh. I didn’t realize writers… okay. I used my expensive calling card and part of my lunch time to call him from a dockside phone booth. “First of all,” he said, “the title is redundant; any delusion would necessarily be absurd. When I argued the point, he asked what credentials I had to compare with his. “Well,” I asked, “What have you actually written?” When I was not sufficiently impressed with his role as a co-writer of a non-fiction book, or by how his brother-in-law had written a successful novel, the conversation, and another of my chances, ended. Still, I persist. So, having slightly depressed myself thinking of other near-misses, I now don’t feel like trying to explain this cartoon. My son critiqued it with, “I can see what you were going for.” Trisha’s review was, “I just don’t get it. Maybe people in Port Townsend will.” Here are two examples of cartoons I remember from “Absurd Delusions:” Three guys in business suits are in line at a counter identified as “Unemployment Benefits.” They are looking at another guy, in a clown outfit, stepping up to the counter with a sign identifying it as “Comic Relief.” Pause for chuckle. A guy in a total hippie outfit, long hair and beard, is being consoled by another man. The hippie is saying, “She said… sniff… I’m just a walking anachronism.” Pause.

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