Soft Cell

It just dawned on me that I fucked up and left the writing off the CD I’m holding in the final panel. I’m literally holding a square. It could be a bathroom tile for all we know. FUCK!!!

Okay, look, no cartoonist makes it day-to-day without a goof. Jay Maeder said that in Dick Tracy’s Official Biography, and Jay Maeder knew what he was talking about. I actually meant for that object to be a bad Dan Aykroyd movie (there are many), but I drew it too small and decided to make it a CD. Probably the Blues Brothers soundtrack, which I once owned and would conceivably listen to, but I was perilously close to deadline and biffed it.

See that shapeless black mass creeping in at the end of the strip? That’s my increasing dread and terror of destruction by unknown forces. What, you thought I just poured ink in there to fill space, out of some nascent schizophrenia or horror vacui? How dare you! I am a fine artist- a “fartist”, if you will.

What made Beldar Conehead work on SNL and not in the 1993 movie is simple; the mustache. It wasn’t just that Dan Aykroyd had the cone head and the weird clothes, it was the mustache that gave Beldar that extra-strange look, as though he’d gone the extra mile to appear “normal”. Kind of like Prymaat’s “I Hate Housework” apron.

[L-R] Laraine Newman as Connie, Jane Curtin as Prymaat, and Dan Aykroyd as Beldar.

In my opinion, Aykroyd’s best comedic film roles were Elwood Blues (The Blues Brothers), Vic Zeck (Neighbors), and Sgt. Joe Friday (Dragnet ’88, if you can stomach Tom Hanks’s relentless boobery). He was an integral part of the classic Ghostbusters quartet. He was even funny in Spielberg’s legendary turkey 1941.

Coneheads was two years after the execrable Nothing But Trouble, where Aykroyd played a centenarian New Jersey judge with a cock for a nose.

Why you do this thing?!?

Okay, full disclosure, I made a movie that featured a mob boss with a cock for a head, and let me tell you, there’s an art to these things. That aside, do you understand the difference between drawing a cock for a cartoon, and sitting in a make-up chair for five hours to have a cock glued to your face? Because I do, and it’s a major one.


My point is, Dan Aykroyd has made far more bad movies than good ones, and even playing a toilet-paper eating alien doesn’t compare to the Bataan Death March of comedy known as Caddyshack II. If you’ve never seen that sulfuric sequel, just imagine Disney acquired the rights to Caddyshack, and you’re pretty much there. (It was actually Warner Bros., and they shot part of it in their fucking proprietary theme park.)

Instead of bringing up The Great Outdoors, I’ll share these Dan Aykroyd facts:

  • He has webbed toes
  • He has struggled since childhood with symptoms of both Tourette’s and Asperger’s
  • He was born on Canada Day and his father was a policy adviser to fucking Pierre Trudeau, which is probably why his politics tend to be fruity
  • He was raised in the Catholic Church and intended to become a priest until working with Lorne Michaels at 17
  • Eric Idle considered Aykroyd the only cast member on SNL worthy of being a (Monty) Python, based on his skills at creating and acting out characters
  • Jackie Mason played the same man in The Jerk and Caddyshack II (really)

As Beldar, Aykroyd made Frank Zappa laugh so hard watching SNL that (according to his autobiography) he “almost strangled”. You may not know this, but Zappa was notoriously difficult to crack up. Even early Gallagher couldn’t pull it off.

Watch this clip and you’ll see why.

Anyway, in case you’re curious, this is the tribute Zappa wrote to the Coneheads, which originally appeared on his 1981 album You Are What You Is. It has a unique musical interlude for the matrimonial “ring toss” ceremony from the SNL sketches, and references the unusual way Beldar consumes beer (and the Coneheads’ home planet of Remulak).

That’s the only time I can think of where Zappa sincerely praised something by name from TV. He called out the Jerry Lewis Telethon on “Billy The Mountain”, but that was mocking (like the endless Jimmy Swaggart references on Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life). Frank Zappa was many things; a couch potato was not one of them.

The original version of “Tainted Love”, by LA soul singer Gloria Jones, packs a mean wallop. I described it as “tenser” in my comic strip, and seriously, it sounds like Jones just kicked in your door with her go-go boots, and she’s belting out the words an inch from your face. She had a kid with Marc Bolan from T-Rex. She ain’t fucking around.

English duo Soft Cell, whose name I always forget is a pun, deconstructed the Ed Cobb song and caught new-wave lightning in a bottle. The tone is much smoother, while still retaining the accusatory gut-punch of the lyrics. As good as Gloria Jones’s version is, I think Soft Cell really captured the lonely, resentful brilliance at the core of “Tainted Love”. The denouement that “Where Did Our Love Go?” provides is just the icing on the cake.

Seriously, where do you go from here? Nowhere but down.

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