Molarity Classic: 241-245

Author: Michael Molinelli '82

Friday, January 18, 1980, The Observer did not feature a Molarity cartoon. Instead this notice appeared. “MOLARITY ORIGINALS DISAPPEAR. The popular campus comic strip Molarity by Michael Molinelli is not featured in today’s paper because of the disappearance of a series of originals from the South Dining Hall Wednesday. Anyone with any information concerning the cartoons is asked to please contact The Observer at #7471.”

I got word through the grapevine a few weeks later. I fortunately made copies of all the cartoons I had sent from Rome. During an expensive phone call, I figured out which cartoons they might have been and resent them. The following cartoons, already en route, must have arrived from Rome just in time for the following Monday.

Molarity classic, strip 241

241. At this time, Playboy Magazine was featuring women from specific college conferences. So I thought it would be funny to have them come to Notre Dame. Like placing fundamentalist Christians at ND, I thought the unique quality of the Notre Dame campus would give me all sorts of fish-out-water style gags. Hedonism comes to the Catholic Disneyland. It is safe to say this series just made people uncomfortable.

Molarity classic, strip 242

242. This Observer featured a cover story about the Ford Motor Company being on trial for the Pinto. It was later revealed that Ford knew that rear end crashes would probably rupture the gas tank and make the Pinto burst into flames. They did not change the design having calculated it would cost more to fix than to settle with the families of victims. I developed the retort “That’s about as funny as a Pinto at a Demolition Derby” but was never able to find the right context to use that gag.

Molarity classic, strip 243

243. Male students might perceived the cartoon was saying something about all women at ND. It was not. It was about the limited view of beauty as defined by Playboy. Admittedly a recurring problem in cartooning is that it is difficult to mock a specific character or attitude without being accused of mocking an entire segment of the community.

Molarity classic, strip 244

244. This Observer featured a News in Brief about Paul McCartney remaining in a Tokyo jail due to marijuana possession.

Molarity classic, strip 245

245. During this period Jim McClure and Pat Byrnes (now a New Yorker Cartoonist, blogger and author of Captain Dad: The Manly Art of Stay-At-Home Parenting) were doing an Observer strip featuring mischievous pigeon characters. (It was usually not about ND.) So about a week after the reported missing cartoons, Pat and Jim break the fourth wall and published this cartoon.

Published with permission of Pat Byrnes

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.