Monday October 19th, 2009

Neuroses on the Comics Page

hample_woodyallenI had no idea that in the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was a syndicated comic strip based on the life of Woody Allen. It was created by Stuart Hample, and the best of it is collected in the forthcoming Dread & Superficiality: Woody Allen as Comic Strip. Hample describes the unlikely genesis of the project in an excerpt up at the Guardian. Allen not only agreed to the idea of the strip, but offered to help with the jokes:

[H]is help turned out to be dozens of pages of jokes from his standup years. Some were mere shards, such as “tied me to Jewish star – uncomfortable crucifixion”. Others were even more minimal: “bull fighting”, “astrology” (Woody occasionally translated these hieroglyphs).

But there were longer notations: “Sketch – man breaking up with female ape after his evolution.” And there were little playlets: “Freud could not order blintzes. He was ashamed to say the word. He’d go into an appetizer store and say, ‘Let me have some of those crepes with cheese in the middle.’ And the grocer would say, ‘Do you mean blintzes, Herr Professor?’ And Freud would turn all red and run out through the streets of Vienna, his cape flying. Furious, he founded psychoanalysis and made sure it wouldn’t work.”

He also offered criticism of the strips: “Please don’t make me so masochistic. I’m not in life. Trying and failing is funny. Masochism is not.”

Even if, like me, you weren’t aware of the strip, you probably know Hample’s creation from its brief animated appearance in Annie Hall: