Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Possum-Filled Taft Zine

My first introduction to the concept of a "zine" was way back when I was in high school and Sassy magazine would feature one each month. They always seemed to be really edgy, music-oriented things, and I wasn't an edgy, music-oriented kid, so I'd read about them with cautious fascination and then I'd move on.

After that, I never gave much thought to zines until a few weeks ago when I somehow became acquainted on Twitter with a cartoonist named Mike Rosen, who has created (with some other artists) a zine about William Howard Taft, something I could definitely get behind!

Mike sent me a copy of the zine, "Carnival of Knowledge" (Issue 1...I hope there are many more). The booklet is more than 20 pages long and chock-full of actual information about Taft, plus a lot of fun stuff, all presented in a visually appealing, easy-to-read format.

There are recipes, including one for Roast Possum with Sweet Potatoes. That will ring a bell if you're familiar with the tale of the Billy Possum. If you're not familiar with the Billy Possum (and if you didn't click the link I just provided), you'd be intimately familiar with it by the time you're done with this zine. The whole possum-saga is laid out in comic-strip form, and Rosen's depictions of the possum are hilarious. Mainly the possums look like crazed, rabid rodents in top hats, but there are a couple that look like a 1920s Disney-style possum. They're completely brilliant...and disturbing.

Like Taft himself, the zine is jam-packed with possums, including a "Hidden Possum" search (there are 19, but I've only found 18 so far) and a Billy Possum coloring page.

Other features include a piece on Pauline Wayne (the Taft presidential cow) and a word search featuring words and phrases like "mustache" and "Department of Labor." There's a drawing of Taft as a luchador (he was a wrestler in college---though not a Mexican one) with different wrestler-nicknames like "The Bathtub Behemoth," "Taft the Shaft," and my favorite, "The Thriller Who Was Governor in Manilla." I laughed out loud at that one.

I think my favorite part, though, is the Taft paper doll, complete with a suit, a judge's robe, an old-timey striped bathing suit, and---best of all---a bathtub!

The artists are still working on a website for their zines, but you can find Rosen's work here.

Continuing with the presidential-possum theme, Rosen has also created a cartoon featuring Herbert Hoover and a possum, which you can see here.

If you know of any other Presidential-possum-related stories be sure to pass them along so we can get more of these brilliant cartoons.

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