Molarity Classic 101-105

Author: Michael Molinelli '82

Strips 101-105 of the popular comic strip Molarity, which previewed in The Observer in 1977, follow the tune-in,drop-out philosophy of Timothy Leary, as well as the importance of laundry.


101. Timothy Leary, the guru of turning on, tuning in and dropping out, was speaking on campus the night this cartoon appeared. Fortunately, with Internet search engines, I don’t need to explain all the names in Chuck’s autograph book. But back in 1979, most of the students probably would not have known who these people were.


102. I attended half of the Timothy Leary lecture and went directly from Washington Hall to The Observer offices on the top of LaFortune to do the cartoon. The cartoon was not meant as a slight to South Bend as much as the isolated void around some people at Notre Dame. In other news, an AP story in The Observer noted that the Shah of Iran had weathered the storm threatening his 37-year reign.


103. Once a week every male Domer would make the trip to the building behind the Administration Building to get the brown paper package that had their laundry. This cartoon features three arkie classmates and their real laundry numbers: John McDermott, Steve Riese and the naked Bob Ritger.


104. Steve’s Western character appears again for some cross-country cultural dueling. Steve, Bob and I stayed in close touch over the years. (Bob and I flew to Steve’s retirement ceremony from the Army a few years ago.) Bob later turns up in the strip as rock star Morrison Schwartzer.


105. On the cover of this Observer, a story appeared about Charles Manson not getting parole after telling the parole board he is “totally unsuitable for the world out there.” Chuck Mason’s name was derived from Charles Manson. Chuck was designed to be a blurred anachronistic consolidation of every ’60s radical that ever existed.

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.