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December 03, 2004

On Little Dot

While meandering through the New York National convention trying to find my table, I came across a copy of an early issue of Harvey Hits – one featuring “Little Dot’s Uncles.” Since I had a great deal of time to think about this title while trying to find someone who might actually know where my table was, I came to a number of conclusions.

First of all, Little Dot has to be the biggest obsessive / compulsive in American popular culture. I understand what drives sports fans and comic book collectors and even Dark Shadows enthusiasts who buy and trade human skulls, but it took me a while to understand – let alone appreciate – Dot’s particular obsession.

Little Dot collects dots. Black dots. Polka dots. Anything perfectly round and flat on any surface whatsoever. Fabric, rare bird eggs, zits on her boyfriend’s ass, whatever. She wears dot-strewn clothes, sleeps under dot-patterned bedspreads, her bedroom drapes are littered with perfectly patterned dots. If she has a hamster, it looks like a tiny Dalmatian. She spends every waking hour tracking down dots, she spends every sleeping moment dreaming about the damn things.

But what, you might ask (since you’ve made it this far), is the cause of this mania? I’ve figured it out.

It’s all those “uncles.” And “aunts.” Every time you looked around, Little Dot’s mom was bringing home a new “uncle.” Not that Old Man Dot complained; upon occasion, an “aunt” would appear at the door, sometimes with an uncle. Over the course of more than 700 Little Dot stories, I dare say Mom and Dad brought home several hundred different “uncles” and “aunts.”

I’m sure Mom and Dad had a swell old time with their so-called family, but damn, that couldn’t have been a healthy environment in which to raise a kid.

Not that Dot was unique in her suburban environs. Her best friend, Little Lotta (and that has got to be an assumed name) was morbidly obese. Richie Rich had more money than Donald Trump after a casino re-fi – his fucking dog was named “Dollar” for crying out loud! And then there was Paranoid Little Audrey. The less said about her, the better.

Little Dot’s uncles and aunts. That was even the name of an ongoing title that ran for 52 giant-sized issues. And here’s the kicker.

In case you doubt my analysis, the Harvey Comics line, which included Dot, Audrey, Lotta and that Rich brat, was distributed by Flynt Distributing. As in Larry Flynt. Hustler Magazine’s Larry Flynt.

Now, I ask you. All those “uncles?”

Posted by Mike Gold at December 3, 2004 05:34 PM

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But does she have the zipatone wallpaper from 666 5th Avenue?

There's another explanation for the "aunts" and "uncles". We know that things that can make any sort of Dot often combine in exotic patterns-- as Dean Martin says, that's a moire.

Posted by: Glenn Hauman at December 4, 2004 04:08 AM

You bear watching. :)

Posted by: Tony Isabella at December 4, 2004 08:46 AM

remember when george carlin used do that character in his comedy act? the one that was a drug using hippie but was cleverly disgiused so ed sullivans audience wouldnt catch on?

Posted by: art mann at December 4, 2004 11:51 AM

I'm afraid I must respectfully disagree on your assessment of Dot as an obsessive-compulsive. The true definition of an obsessive-compulsive is a person who is compelled to perform a specific act or acts (in this case, collecting dots) in order to relieve the stress caused by a particular obsession.

In this case, Dot's obsession is unclear. From what I can recall from Harvey comics, there is no indication that she is suffering stress due to a lack of dots, nor indeed from any other source that the collection of dots seems to relieve.

Therefore to label Dot as an obsessive-compulsive would be a misdiagnosis, as while there is certainly compulsive behaviour present, the evidence for an obsession is dubious at best.

Just in case anybody cares. =)

Posted by: Jeff Lawson [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 4, 2004 12:54 PM

the distribution by Flynt would have had to be later in the company's history -- because Flynt didn't start publishing, much less distributing, until the 70s. and I believe that the Harvey Brothers also had a stake in PDC, a distribution company, at least through the 50s.

I know, I know, it's part of the joke, but I've been fascinated by the interlinked distribution companies and trying to figure them all out for years.

and Flynt both publishes and distributes a wide variety of magazines. He even published a Christian women's magazine for a while in the 90s that was pretty successful until the shell company got "outed."

Posted by: jim kosmicki at December 4, 2004 02:07 PM

I'm not exactly certain the year Flynt purchased PDC, and you're right, it's part of the joke. But Little Dot (and her so-called family) was brought back along with various other Harvey characters in 1992 / 1993. I don't know for certain, but I seem to recall FDC (Flynt Distributing; the former Publisher's Distributing) was the outfit that took them to the newsstands.

Little Dot merchandising exists to this day.

Posted by: Mike Gold at December 4, 2004 05:34 PM

And Richie Rich always had pictures of the dollar sign everywhere; he was probably a HUGE fan of Ayn Rand. Notice how he never once thought to slip a few quid to his poor friends, the ones who would show up wearing patched overalls and shoes with holes so big that their toes showed. Meanwhile, Richie was telling them how he was installing a jewel encrusted toilet lid along with special gold leaf toilet paper with which he would wipe his ass. Come the revolution, you can bet that Freckles and Pee-Wee will line their "pal" up against the wall and administer some proletariat vengeance.

Posted by: Bill Mulligan at December 4, 2004 05:54 PM

Bill, thanks for catching the fact that Freckles and Pee Wee stayed poor. It speaks for itself.

Posted by: David Gerstein at December 4, 2004 09:58 PM

It would fit the timeframe for FDC to be distributing the revived Harvey books -- that was the time when Flynt was really diversifying his publishing. Flynt plays stupid hillbilly really well (since he grew up in and around them), but he's shrewd, shrewd, shrewd. I just finished reading his latest book on politics and was again impressed at how well he can articulate his views. if he wasn't, you know, Larry Flynt, he'd make an interesting candidate. heck, given the public's acceptance of Clinton's pecadillos, he might make one yet.

It could also be a carryover legacy. if FDC was born out of the remnants of PDC when the Harvey brothers sold out, then there could be a contract stipulation that Harvey books still have to be distributed.

See, I told you this stuff fascinates me.

Posted by: jim kosmicki at December 5, 2004 08:49 PM

I always assumed that someone once told her to "connect the dots", she misheard it as "collect", and thus a horrid lifetime ensued.

Not, mind you, that her parents should be blameless. If you're going to stick your kid with the last name "Polka", at least give her a first name that won't encourage further peer abuse.

I suspect that by now, she's made a killing in dot-coms.

(Richie, it should be noted, -tried- to help Pee-Wee and Freckles in various ways at various times, and was refused. Nonetheless, the symbol of Richie as ultra-capitalist used to strike my young mind as incongruous with the nigh-communist "sharing" themes that pervaded Casper, Wendy, and other Harvey kid titles.)

Posted by: Nat Gertler at December 6, 2004 09:53 AM

You're missing some of the other dicey Harvey Characters - Wendy the young paganist, Little Hot Stuff the spawn of the devil, and Casper the undead child.

As for Little Dot, he obsession with connecting the dots has led her into Homeland Security - I think she was up for Tommy Thompson's job.

Posted by: Jeff Grubb at December 6, 2004 12:57 PM

Mike, I look forward to your insight into Hop on Pop. That title makes me want to cry "uncle"!

Posted by: Michael Eury at December 6, 2004 04:31 PM

see-? your mother was right. comics did rot your mind.

I can hardly wait to hear what you've got to say about Pee-Wee Harris and his Boy Scout friends. Not to mention Pedro, their donkey.

you are, of course, one very sick puppy.

Posted by: MaisonRK@aol.com at December 6, 2004 06:08 PM

Furthermore, I dunno why folks are getting all bent of out shape over the (Ahem!) body enhancement of Barry Bonds and Co. Baby Huey was doin' the cream and the clear years ago...

Posted by: Joe Pilla at December 8, 2004 01:20 AM

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