Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Charles Rodrigues

Written 22 December, 2010

Charles Rodrigues

I was a huge fan of National Lampoon magazine in its earlier years.

I loved the dark satire of the magazine. It was intelligent and engaging, and, usually, outrageous.

Remember the floating Beetle ads of the early 70s?

The Lampoon caused outrage with this parody:

The text reads, in all apparent sincerity:

It floats.
The way our body is built, we'd be surprised if it didn't.
The sheet of flat steel that goes underneath every Volkswagen keeps out water, as well as dirt and salt and other nasty things that can eat away at the underside of a car. So it's watertight at the bottom.
And everybody knows it's easier to shut the door on a Volkswagen after you've rolled down the window a little. That proves it's practically airtight on top.
If it was a boat, we could call it the Water Bug.
But it's not a boat, it's a car.
And, like Mary Jo Kopechne, it's only 99 and 44/100 percent pure.
So it won't stay afloat forever. Just long enough.
Poor Teddy.
If he'd been smart enough to buy a Volkswagen, he never would have gotten into hot water.
Check out the first couple of comments on this blogpost.
The Lampoon featured work by some of my favorite artists. Here's a Gahan Wilson cover:

And here's one by Frank Frazetta:

And one by Edward Gorey:
(Click on the images to see them in all their glory.)

And then there were a number of covers by this guy:

"This guy" was Charles Rodrigues. He took up where Chas Addams and Gahan Wilson left off.
I've not been able to find much info on Rodrigues on the web, but this site notes:
Charles Rodrigues was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He drew the newspaper comic 'Casey the Cop' in the 1970s. He was also a magazine cartoonist for Stereo Review and the National Lampoon for many years and was syndicated with the Chicago Tribune. Another cartoon character created by Rodrigues is 'Charlie'.
I own Rodrigues' Total Harmonic Distortion, a compilation of his cartoons for Stereo Review. Here's a good one. Audiophiles will understand:

I also have Rodrigues' work (all of it, I think since I have almost all the issues) for National Lampoon.
It was in the pages of the Lampoon that Rodrigues could be his sickest. This image is from May, 1977:

Here's a great article about this disturbing layout.
Rodrigues could and often did go waaaay out there. No subject was sacred (quote from link just above):
Charles Rodrigues was a cartoonist for almost the entirety of National Lampoon’s history. His strips were weird, and often very gross. He would do the most awful things featuring dwarves, Siamese twins, amputees, corpses, abortions, people in a coma communicating through farts. The king of bad taste, but I’m afraid I really do like him. He also played around with the form quite boldly. Sometimes he would be half-way through a strip in an issue, get bored, kill everyone off and start a new strip, there and then.
For me, Rodrigues' most disturbing-- and funniest-- comics were the ones in which he lampooned the disabled. I remember a National Lampoon series in which he took on the disabled. 
I've chosen not to show some of Rodrigues' more disturbing disability-related cartoons-- but here's a panel from his Aesop Brothers cartoon in National Lampoon:
I have to say, the National Lampoon, and in particular Charles Rodrigues, completed my descent into cartoon depravity.


Anonymous said...

Do you have a copy of the Rodrigues comic where women bicyclists have their bikes seat sniffed by the judges at the end of the race?

Cheyenne Palisades said...

I remember that one!

I have a nearly complete run of National Lampoon in storage. The cartoon is doubtless in there.

Gregoryno6 said...

Hello, and Merry Christmas! However you plan to celebrate it - judging from your taste in cartoonists, it'll be something special.
I'm trying to recall the name of the little girl who was born ugly and got uglier every time someone tried to fix her face. Eventually Rodriguez didn't draw her face at all, just a black square labeled 'Too Hideous For Publication'.

Cheyenne Palisades said...

The people I was with wouldn't let me decorate to my taste so I wiled away the hours on the Honey I Fixed It website. Some of the Christmas trees were a riot.

Anonymous said...

The little girl's name was Deirdre Callahan.

Anonymous said...

His disabled cartoons where actually loved by the disabled! He received letters of praise all the time from people with the same physical and mental issues as his cartoon characters.If you can't laugh at yourself...