Molarity Classic: 206-210

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Author: Michael Molinelli '82

These 1979 Molarity strips are still in Istanbul and things aren’t looking good for Chuck…or are they?

Strip 206

206. We continue with the “Midnight Express” satire. At this time, before international ATMs, an American Express Card was the only means to access money from your accounts back home, but I won’t bore you with the antiquated details. Chuck’s comment in the last panel is that he traded the card for toilet paper.

Strip 207

207. This might have been a good place for a William Kunstler joke, but I suspect only three other Domers would have gotten it. The October 2, 1979 Observer’s cover noted the start of Pope John Paul II’s first trip to the United States. This means many Americans saw the Pope before those of us studying in Rome did.

Strip 208

208. Okay, so maybe a prison beating was not the best start for a comic strip gag. I wanted to create some tension by having some sort of threat to Chuck and the other inmates. And since the character on which this character was based got beat up so much I thought the cry “uncle” part was sufficiently non-sequitur funny.

Strip 209

209. This character was named after the character from the 1968 Broadway musical Hair, Frank Mills, who had gone missing. After the second Molarity Book was published (Molarity Don’t Make a Right), I received a letter noting that the first Led Zeppelin album was released in 1969. SNAGGED!! The album covers depicted in the first three panels are Sergeant Pepper (1967), Surrealistic Pillow (1967) and Presence (1976), which blow out the date completely. But remember, in the pre-internet days I was doing this from memory as all our music we brought with us was on home recorded cassette tapes without release dates. Anyway, the explanation is contained in an unpublished backstory where Frank obtains albums released after his incarceration by performing acts that I could not depict in a 1970s Observer cartoon. But after the prison guard’s surgery in 1976, Frank was not able to obtain any more albums and thus had no idea what disco was. WHEW!

Strip 210

210. I don’t know if the same thing happens on the campus currently. I suspect the current administration has found a way to stop this… at least on football weekends. An insert in the Friday Observer anticipated the Georgia Tech game. In Rome, if we were lucky, we would find the game on Armed Forces radio.


See the first five classic strips. Check back monthly for more classic Molarity strips. Molarity Redux, the updated, continuing adventures of Jim Mole and friends, also is posted monthly. For those new strips, check out the cartoon archives.


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