The Frog Fountain

September 5, 2007 - posted in sundries


Between a pile of freelance work and my usual day job, I’ve continued creeping along on the non-animated facet of the Mystery Work In Progress, which I still hope to launch this fall.

I was doing more writing than I had time to animate, and most of the writing seemed to center around the same themes and characters. So now I’ve got all this material and I need to put it somewhere. It’s a little bit like having to poop… except for the impulse to share it with the public… which in both cases is unhealthy…

A lot of this writing was done at a certain coffee shop (I won’t mention its name because all you have to do is look out your window and there’s probably one there). Normally, I’d hang at one of the local joints. But this particular location, in a busy shopping district in Kansas City, has a special feature that I enjoy.

This bizarre fountain, brought back from Italy in 1928 by a major Kansas City land developer, depicts a frog squirting water straight into the crotch of a cherub, who looks absolutely ecstatic about the whole thing. (who wouldn’t?)**

About two feet above this lovely scene is a large window and a comfortable table inside the coffee shop. Beyond that is a fireplace. There is no better place in the world to write cartoons.

A constant stream of tourists and suburban shoppers passes this fountain, holding their shopping bags and cameras. As I sit there, every few minutes I’m treated to the sight of a family doing a double take, stopping in their tracks, pointing, smiling, joking amongst themselves, and then snapping a picture.

Kids under a certain age don’t find it funny or odd. (why on earth wouldn’t a cherub have a frog squirting him in the junk?) Older kids find it hilarious. Most adults do too. Some of them try to hide it. Once in a while a pack of high-school kids will walk by and struggle to maintain their fragile teenage composure. Few can resist smiling as they pass.

Nothing washes out the wretched stench of cynicism that can come from working in commercial art like spending an hour next to this statue. People are caught off guard, and for a brief moment they stop trying to look cool and just smile and point like first graders. It’s an oddly beautiful thing.

You can keep your Rodin and your Michelangelo and your Lipchitz and Moore. Give me Rafaello Romanelli’s masterpiece, “Frog Spritzing Cherub In Wee Wee.”

So that’s where I sit and write sometimes. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, come say hi. Better yet– let’s have a secret code so I’ll know it’s you!

If you see a guy sitting at the table by the fountain, watching the people and scribbling in a notebook, come up to him and say this Secret Production Log Pass Phrase:

“Excuse me. I’m looking for Mr. Romanelli.”

If he replies with the Secret Production Log Answer Phrase:

“WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT?! GO AWAY!”

then you’ll know it’s me… or some unsuspecting, foul-mouthed stranger…

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