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HOFFNUNG, GERARD - BIRDS, BEES AND STORKS. 1960 Dennis Dobson Press. 

 

Cartoon story booklet penned by the noted artist and orchestra leader from Germany who as a raconteur gave us the classic Bricklayer Sketch monologue. Here, an elderly, rather jovial father figure rises from his favourite armchair by the fire to talk to an unseen son (effectively making the male reader feel as he is being addressed directly). He is clearly planning to talk to the son about the act of sexual procreation, but the older man clearly has no idea how to present the necessary information. He becomes increasingly embarrassed as he presents his case, as he talks he goes bright red in the face with embarrassment (the story is presented in black and white line drawings apart from said bright embarrassed face). This reaches a crescendo as he gets the closest he will get to actually revealing the information he hopes to impart. In fact, he never succeeds in getting his case across. He starts faffing on about birds and bees, but goes off at tangents, unable to bring himself to address the subject head on. However, he concludes that he has made himself clear and as he waves the son away with a hearty cheer, and gratitude for their man to man responsible chat, he is shocked to see a stork fly past the window with a baby in a blanket suspended from its jaws, as the old waveís tale is brought literally to life before his dumb-founded eyes. The lovely final gag of the jokey story is rather ambiguous, in that the stork might be making a nonsense of the biological realism of the talk just given, and also because the stork might well be carrying the young unseen sonís child to the sonís wife, implying that the son not only knows the theory, but has already been practicing the procreation. Itís a neat storybook, marred only by the stork being mentioned in its title, It is however a terrific idea by one of the great neglected artists of the 20th century.http://www.pbase.com/csw62/gerard_hoffnung

 

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