A cartoon in the current issue of The New Yorker riffs on two cherished San Diego institutions — The Famous Chicken and Comic-Con.
The Chicken sits between two sad sacks and says: “I was a weirdo in this town before anyone even heard of Comic Con.”
The real Chicken’s reaction?
“It’s hysterical!” says Ted Giannoulas, the longtime San Diegan whose famed mascot act starting in the late 1970s sparked imitators across professional sports. “This means I’ve finally arrived.”
He saw it for the first time Friday, when Times of San Diego sent him the cartoon that appears on page 66 of the July 6 & 13 issue.
Giannoulas, still busy as The Chicken at 61, said he hasn’t done anything with Comic-Con in years.
“A half-hour later, the same officials returned to take back my $20 Grand Prize when they realized I was a ‘professional’ — one of my favorite funny moments!”
He said he would be out of town on an engagement during this year’s Comic-Con International.
(A recent profile of Giannoulas in The San Diego Union-Tribune said The Chicken on July 12 will be “feted in Pittsburgh at the Anthrocon, a sort of Comic-Con for enthusiasts of mascots and anthropomorphic characters. Indeed, as the pioneer and god of the genre, he’ll be like Shatner among Trekkies.”)
Giannoulas says he’s not a New Yorker subscriber but enjoys the magazine’s website.
“I would tell Mr. Noth that I’m honored to be featured by one of the great humorists of our era. My message to everyone is to have a happy Fourth of July!”
Noth, a regular contributor to The New Yorker, lives in New Jersey and says he’s never been to San Diego — although “I would love to visit.”He said he drew the Chicken cartoon about a month ago.
“I don’t remember what inspired the idea,” he said via email Saturday. “Things that made a big impression on me when I was a kid seem to show up in a lot of my cartoons. A few months ago I heard from the actresses who played the twins in ‘The Shining’ about this cartoon. So it’s been a good year for childhood icons.”
Noth doesn’t think he’s seen The Chicken in person.
“I remember the San Diego Chicken being all over the place in the 1980s,” he says. “I grew up in Milwaukee and was a Brewers fan. I watched a weekly sports highlights show that usually featured the Famous Chicken.”
His reaction to The Chicken’s reaction?
“I’m so happy Ted G. likes the cartoon. I’m going to send him a signed print.”
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