Phil Frank has died, but a week after his announced retirement … and no, this isn’t going to sink in … though the sadness has … until spring, when the bears awaken from their winter slumbers at the Fog City Dumpster for their annual trip to Asphalt State Park (a.k.a.Yosemite) … which demanded the annual commandeering of a Muni bus, complete with hapless drive (donning their bandolera first, of course) issuing, once more, the treasured line,
“Bodges! We don’ need no steenkeng bodges!”
Or perhaps it was badges … no matter. The title, above, is the name of the law offices—Dilly, Dally, Dolittle and Stahl—of the feral pigs, who, being in the profession, carried fine briefcases and drove fast nasty cars. Beemers, of course. Frank had a way of weaving the actual pests of nature hereabouts into the world his strips created that utterly suited them. Utterly. Feral pigs, for those of you who don’t live in Marin or Sonoma County, are ugly, merciless, ever-hungry animals who will rip up anything to get at what they want, who will kill your dogs and are otherwise extremely single-minded.
And sweet Orwell, the feral cat who lived in Golden Gate Park, who embodied the left-over hippie-ness of the Park as well as the homeless who live there, with one eye out for the deal, but basically good of heart, in a way that … well, Frank always drew the truth.
Baba ReBop, sigh, whom we shall consult no more. Baba wore a propeller beanie, along with his flowing, guru-like robes, and always displayed his fax number … and damn it, I never faxed him. Farley himself, Frank’s alter-ego, played both observer and fool, and held the whole thing together, in his reportorial way.
Frank said in an interview that unlike Garry Trudeau, he didn’t skewer his subjects. Ah, yes, but he did. True, not in the fashion of Uncle Duke … but showed the foolishness of us all—including aging hippies. But most of all, Frank used us, human and non-human alike, in the same way he used himself … as instruments, gorgeously drawn instruments, of an apparently endless wit.
And then it ends. And we try to cope with that.