April I, 1997
To the esteemed Reverend Coffee,
Well by now I trust you've had ample opportunity to peruse and mull over the cruel whimsy of THE ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY BOOK OF JOKES. Were you charmed by the foibles of heroic explorer Rocket Sam? Did you wince to witness the intolerable abuse meted out to a certain Big Tex? Perhaps God in his inscrutable benevolence brought a warm twinge of sympathy to your heart? Did Jimmy Corrigan provide for you another sobering reminder of our astonishing capacity for misery? Were the games, puzzles, and various departments head scratchers and rib ticklers? Whatever your reaction, I'm confident we both agree on one important point: it's not quite so easy to be a caped crusader nowadays in this ironic age of deconstruction. You'll notice discreetly how the resident ACME superhero now sports a paunch and tell tale snow upon the roof. Furthermore, his moral fiber has slunken unquestionably into a turptitude which could almost be deemed poignant were it not sociopathic.
As the slightly embarrassed owner of all six prior issues, I can attest to the unhappy exploits of Big Tex, Quimby the Mouse, Jimmy Corrigan, God, et al. Only Rocket Sam, owner of perhaps the most glaring character flaws, is new to the ftCME NOVELTY family. Poor sod, all his best intentions, whatever they might be, all overcome by a woefully short fuse. If only he would ' cut his man-made robot friends a bit more slack, and maybe ease off on the distilled spirits; one can't help venture'a guess , that his days would become more fruitful. Hopefully, further ' adventures will find him maturing, growing more comfortable with his flaws, as well as learning to make the best of being marooned on uncharted planets. I roust venture a suspicious guess that if planets X-9 and X-38 did indeed exist, then the ACME astronomers j ji would have a. thing or two to say, and that the corporation at • 1 large would invariably determine a way of gleaning a profit frora_ the matter.
THE ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY offers the public, great unwashed all, an endearing brand of chiding benevolence, gently coated with a sugary layer of manifest destiny, then artfully sprinkled with a tart assortment of cruelty, mirth, and guile. Did I mention greed?
You'll notice in the letters department how Dawn Moriarity, the perfect picture of a future Emersonian, comes in for a sound editor^ thrasing, well deserved at that. Letters to the crack editorial staff at THE ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY are not to be dashed off merely upon whim. I compose mine with great care, all under a variety of psuedonyms. Flay I suggest you do the same? With regards to miss Moriarity, perhaps as a result of her well deserved admonishment she will indeed pull herself free from her heretofore slothful ,
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indolence. In all truth, I doubt it. More enlightening are the questions posed by the elusive miss Panda Stiffelbeam. Thanks to sterling editorial advice, she should by now find herself awash in domestic bliss, even if said bliss does possess only the thinnest veneer of truth.
A note concerning the variety of mail-away offers found upon page five. Most are valid, though still in jest. The ACME svengali, a Mr. Chris Ware, has apparently prepared a series of mock pamphlets. How irresistible. Furthermore, his elaborate series of cut-out models do actually work, that is to say, they exist corporeally in three dimensional space. I've encountered finished models from prior issues. So the intricate series of cutting instructions are borne out by architectural truth. While neither you nor I entertain the faintest notion of squandering our precious remaining hours, few as they might well be, engaged in the completion of such tripe, comfort is nonetheless found in the notion that THE ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY indeed presents 'the real thing', despite what other more disreputable animators and cartoonists might have us think.
The question we must ask of ourselves, "Is ACME a proactive, beneficial contributor to human culture, or are they instead a scheming, greed-fuelled menace?" is not an easy one to answer. And while the inherent duality of human nature certainly lends credence to the avoidance of 'either/or' thought processes, THE ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY offers up a confusing series of proofs towards either side of the ethical fence. Perhaps most disturbing is their eagerness to revise large segments of canonized human civilization, codified astronomy being their most recent target. Indeed, one shudders to imagine what exact"ACME induced penalties will befall the dissenting Classic Studies professor mentioned upon page seven. It is tempting and perhaps accurate to view the earnest ACME boardmembers and fellow decision makers as self-appointed crusaders, forgers of their own 'brave new world1. What then is to be the fate of all that is not ACME? This sobering question aside, their eagerness to snatch up our money at every possible and even improbable chance (Sir Corrigan's speaking engagement bookings, THE ACMENOVELTY LIBRARY media kits to aid in the employment of snappy, pre-fab trademark comebacks, taunts, jests, etc., and their myriad of sister publications) points toward a, how shall we say, rather alarming capital savvy. As their earnings are so clearly not being funneled back into any discernible employee, benefits, or even safety measures, could said funds be being utilized to stockpile a cache of sophisticated weapons? Or perhaps a fleet of audacious luxury yachts? The odd leisure activity nonwithstanding, one can't help but think they may have gone too far. And how gleefully they point out their mercantile ways, stressing the self-serving qualities which have elevated them unto the pinnacle of commerce; How gay they all are, how unfettered their moral paradigm!
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Despite the aforementioned list of justifiable qualms, one unalterable fact in ACME's favor defiantly confronts us. As a contributor to the more fanciful side of human culture, THE ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY is as a beautific rose sprouting forth from amongst a sea of shit. There is no competition to speak < BOYS LIFE ceased f i'f] ing the bill long ago, RAW is deceased, THE BAFFLER too polemical, LADIES HOME JOURNAL has since sacke< their crack editorial staff, etc., etc. Need I continue? Even modern art, that once proud vanguard of unprecedented fon has become mired in its own deconstruction, and cocaine addled boot. So, three momentous times throughout the year, THE ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY offers up a special selection of pockmarked, tragedy stricken faces...all in marvelous multi-color cartoon format. Lucky readers feast upon rocket ship designs from the dim beginnings of the industrial age, dirty jokes for those evenings with the fellers, valuable insights into corporate shapeshifting policies, homespun blends of cruelty, wisdom, an catcalls to rival a certain Mr. Rockwell, profound glimpses into the creative process (the explication of the 'Electro-tooi Process1), instruction upon arcane instruments, breathtaking graphic design, the poignancy of human folly, implied nudity.,
What then, are we to do? For just as the discerning lover of poetry flinches when confronted with uncomfortable, inconv^nie factsof Ezra Pound's fascism or TS Eliot's anti-semitism, so the tasteful admirer of flawed superheroes and eclectic doo-da is left scratching his head in confusion and concern. His pal guided"solely by its quest for aesthetic refinement, has led h totjUomplex and disturbing world of ACME; now he must attend to his reckoning. Dare he proceed? Dare he drink from the coolin waters of visual fancy when they might well be tainted by sini machinations only dimly discernible to his tender psyche?
But remember, mediocri
Lovers of important art are often confronted with this conundr a veritable crisis of faitl$at its most extreme. This puzzler
not an easy one with which to grapple, never truly disturb^a seasoned eye.I present a tentative suggestion to combat the problem. A groj citizens, all with varying levels of familiarity with the AC ouvere, should band together in the hope of developing an AC watchdog group. A monthly monitering of their gai-gantuan fact as well as numerous company policies, will hopefully prevail them to curb somewhat their sinister colonialist tendencies, be fair upon the creative forces behind such a machine, they ni in all likliehood simply get carried..away with the perceived n of their cause, in the heat of the artistic .raoment presenting! few suggestions which then strike the rest of us sensitive cita somewhat less than entirely salient. By all means cartoon makl retain if you please this cruelty to slope shouldered adolescent girls,
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but leave the larger annals of human achievement well enough alone. God knows we are experiencing enough in the way of historical revisionism these days.
I liken this group to those imperial delegates who so circumspectly tour foreign nuclear power plants, all with the aim of ensuring that the natives maintain certain global safety standards. Thus is it with THE ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY. Much akin to nuclear power, the fruits of ACME'S creative endeavors burn brightly, powering our hearts and minds onward through the darkened night and frosted winter, and on toward the apex of our own personal achievement. So, I hereby propose a monthly tour of the facilities, all access permitted (we will,of course, be authorized to carry sidearms). This should ensure an artistic creature grown all the wiser and kinder. Rather than balk at the cloying cries of 'censorship', we gently reiterate the importance of 'certain safety precautions being enacted. You don't really expect Big Tex to remain forever miserable, or Jimmy Corrigan to remain forever virginal, do you now?
ACME's might is too great to be ignored. Artistic meltdown is to be avoided at all costs. Despite its relative infancy, the ACME influence is extending to even the most remote, God forsaken lands,and must be harnessed for the greater good. I think it is high time to begin welcoming concerned citizens into the fold. Don't you?