A year or so before, Anderson had had a dream in which he attended a poker party with a large, goofy moose. “I brought along this stupid moose who was doing card tricks. I woke up feeling embarrassed — I thought, you’ve been working too hard.” Anderson told the San Francisco Chronicle, “There’s something majestic about a moose. They’re macho, but they have a comic aspect, with that schnozzola of theirs. There are few creatures so begging to be caricatured.” At the time in Berkeley there was a car dealer named Clarence Bullwinkel (Anderson recalls, “He ran a Ford agency on College and Claremont Avenues in Oakland”). Jay and Alex agreed that Bullwinkel was a funny name, and after respelling it the moose had his moniker.
–Keith Scott’s The Moose that Roared, on my proud bookshelf.
Both Rob and Kellen, also big fans of Moose and Squirrel, mailed me Anderson’s obits this week. Reading through the appreciations and rereading the book’s account of Anderson’s role in the creation, what you assemble is a picture of a storytelling innovator. He meshed the concepts of an active, fourth-wall-breaking narrator and of parodic characters, using meta humor to carry cartoons beyond a struggling industry’s art and tech struggles. The hooks first, then looking good.