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Thanksgiving Story: How The Jive Turkey Hustled The Street Musician

November 22, 2012

Back in the 90s, I did a weekly cartoon feature for a local arts & entertainment paper. It was about a little street musician named Busker. Most of the time he could be found on a street corner, with a tin can and his trusty saxophone.single cartoon panel showing Busker the street musician playing his saxophone and man is showing his appreciation by putting money into Busker's tin can

The strip dates back to my pre-computer days. It was completely hand-drawn and lettered. I used to drop it off to the editor in person. Seems very strange to think there
was a time when I didn’t have email!

The strip was mostly pantomime, with no spoken dialogue. Most of the gags involved music. However, Busker would sometimes have unusual adventures, as in the following Thanksgiving strip. The only change I’ve made here to the original is to replace the hand-lettering with computer text to make it easier to read.

For those living outside the United States: Thanksgiving is still a time for Americans to gather with family and feast on turkey with all the trimmings, but many spend a good portion of the day drinking, snacking, and watching college football on television.

“First and ten” is a term one hears a lot during a football game. When a team takes possession of the ball, it has four chances to advance the ball ten yards down the field. “First and ten” simply means here comes their first chance to do just that.

first cartoon panel about Busker the street musician hunting turkey with ax for his Thanksgiving dinner

second panel of Thanksgiving comic strip about Busker the street musician and he's hunting with ax and meets turkey carrying cases of beer in opposite direction
third cartoon panel of Thanksgiving comic strip about Busker the street musician and he's carrying ax and is looking with amazement as turkey goes by with wheelbarrow full of potato chips, chex mix, peanuts, pretzels, pork rinds and other greasy snacks
fourth cartoon panel of Thanksgiving comic strip about Busker the street musician and turkey is motioning him in particular direction, indicating right this way, sir, after you

fifth and final cartoon panel in Thanksgiving comic strip about Busker the street musician and Busker is watching football on tv and drinking beer and eating snacks as turkey walks away wiping his brow with relief

The Busker strips usually ran 5-6 panels, but the feature was always published as a large single panel with two rows. Here’s what the original looked like in all it’s hand-drawn, hand-lettered glory.

Our American Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. This year, it falls as early as it possible can: today, the 22nd.

I have much to be thankful for, and that certainly includes all the wonderful people I’ve met through this blog. Thanks for visiting, special thanks to all those who follow the blog, thanks for all the Likes, all the comments, all your support. It’s wonderful to know there are so many delightful people in the world, all doing their best to make it a better place.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a Good Digestion… burp!blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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What do you think? Do you see a lot of street musicians where you live? Do you usually give them a coin or two? Have you ever performed as a street musician yourself?? Hope you’ll leave a comment.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

Oh Waiter, There’s A Fly In My Dinner, But Who’s Complaining??

That Face Looks Familiar… Good Lord! It’s Me!!

The Words Go Round And Round And They Come Out Where–??

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35 Comments leave one →
  1. robpixaday permalink
    November 22, 2012 9:29 AM


    This is sweet, poignant, funny and absolutely wonderful!
    I’m grateful for being able to see your work and “hear” your words.

    Street musicians? Ummmm…no, just the birdies. They’re GREAT at making music but [so far] haven’t set out any tin cans for donations.

    This was a TOUCHDOWN!!!!!!


    • December 2, 2012 10:13 PM

      I’m pretty sure this set a record for the most exclamation points in a comment on this blog!!!!!! There should be a prize for that, and doggone it, I’m going to institute one right now!!! I don’t have any money I can give you, but I know I’ve got a tin can around here somewhere– oh well, it’s a start… : P

      Thank you for this wonderful comment, Robin. It’s you who consistently scores touchdowns when it comes to kindness, lending support, and being absolutely delightful. You’re a wunnaful artist, friend, and human bean, and I’m tipping my beret to you, even tho I’m not wearing one– thanks a ton-eee-o!!


  2. Rusty George permalink
    November 22, 2012 10:29 AM

    Happy Thanksgiving, Mark!



    • November 25, 2012 7:53 PM

      Many thanks, Rusty– likewise, I’m sure, to one of the coolest creative principals in the game! : )


  3. November 22, 2012 8:24 PM

    They are ‘everywhere’ in Sydney, Mark (my hometown). However, here in a Regional area north of Sydney, they are hardly to be seen at all.

    There is one young lass who often plays her violin at one of the major shopping areas whilst her proud father watches from a distance. It is a delight to hear her improving each time I see her playing.

    It is now noon on Friday, here in Oz. We, as you know, don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. I didn’t realise it is such an enormous event for you all in The States…

    I certainly agree with your sentiments: How did we ever manage without ‘e-mail’?
    How did we manage without ‘mobile phones’ for that matter… We are indeed, fortunate; I think…!?!


    • November 25, 2012 7:59 PM

      Lovely feedback, Carolyn, thanks so much. Loved the story about the young violinist. I guess she’s kind of a busker trainee– interesting!! : )

      I seem to be managing OK without a mobile phone, but I must insist on email and Carolyn Page– I consider them both essentials… : )

      Hope you had a nice, er, non-Thanksgiving!! : P


      • November 25, 2012 8:06 PM

        Indeed I did, Mark… The usual; dancing my little feet off… well, not ‘off’, but you know what I mean..!

        It’s coming into Summer here (next month) and life is pretty good..! However; a ‘Mark’ every now and then ‘brightens’ up any day – Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall…! 😉


        • December 3, 2012 12:57 PM

          I brighten your day? Excellent. I can see this sequined bowtie was a good investment… : P


  4. November 22, 2012 10:52 PM

    I’m drawn a little more to your art widget with the “Christmas in Spokane” piece. Spokane was practically my second home for many summers, visiting my grandparents. I recognized the Pavilion structure decorated in Christmas lights immediately.

    That aside, I like your message. It takes effort to pull away from the commercialism and remember what the fall and winter holiday season is about. It is more than eating a lot of food and expecting to be entertained; it is for remembering our lives as a people, our connections to and within the world we live in, and celebrating our blessings. Thanks Mark, for all your artistic insights, and especially for taking time to talk shop with me.


    • November 25, 2012 8:41 PM

      Many thanks, Jak. I didn’t realize you had a Spokane connection. Interesting to think Spokane once hosted the World’s Fair (1974). I guess the city elected to retain the support structure for the U.S. pavilion as a monument to the Expo. I had to laugh when I read that locals refer to it as “The Lampshade.”

      Thanks for your very kind and thoughtful reflections on my Christmas cover. Deploring the commercialization of Christmas is a common lament. I wanted to strike a more positive note, and portray Christmas as an abiding presence in the world– something that endures despite rampant commercialization, and the hostility of secular forces.

      I sincerely appreciate your insights and thoughtful comments, Jak. Your contributions are most welcome, it’s always good to hear from you. : )


      • November 30, 2012 9:54 AM

        You’re welcome, and thank you, Mark. I attended the 1974 Expo– sort of– as a “wombmate”.


  5. November 23, 2012 10:04 AM

    Great to see your older hand-drawn cartoons! 🙂 (I prefer the handdrawn text too.)

    One question – what is ‘chex’? Or is the Turkey writing checks in plural, in the hope it doesn’t get eaten? (Note I’m using the American spelling here so as not to confuse you too much. Here it’s the unwieldy ‘cheques’)


    • November 25, 2012 7:29 PM

      Thanks, Val! You like the hand-drawn text, eh? Must admit, it has a cool retro look– very reminiscent of what I used to see in comic books and comic strips when I was a kid.

      I should have included an explanatory note about “Chex”– sorry! Chex Mix is a kind of snack food made from Chex Cereal; perhaps the later isn’t available in the U.K. Chex Mix started out as a recipe: people cooked it up at home, using Chex Cereal as the principal ingredient. Nowadays, one can buy it ready-made at the supermarket. If it’s ever introduced in the U.K., I suppose they’ll have to call it Cheques Mix… : )


      • November 30, 2012 9:53 AM

        Those in the UK and Commonwealth nations (including Canada) should recognize Shreddies and something similar would invariably be called Shreddies Mix.

        (can’t remember how I learned about this)


        • December 2, 2012 6:00 PM

          Shreddies… reminds me of the time I ran over my socks with the lawn mower. They were much harder to wear after that… : P

          You are a font of information, sir, and I thank you for sharing– cheers, Jak! : )


  6. November 24, 2012 7:51 PM

    That is one clever turkey. Distraction, then relief and escape. Hope you had a most excellent Thanksgiving, Mark.


    • November 25, 2012 7:09 PM

      Thank you, my dear Judy. Yes, I had a very nice Thanksgiving, hope you did likewise. I am very thankful indeed for delightful friends like you. : )


  7. November 25, 2012 2:35 AM

    Busker is fantastic! What an adorable character. And that is one smart turkey. Big smile from me on this one, Mark. 🙂 … More Busker, please!


    • November 25, 2012 7:17 PM

      Thanks, Maddie! Glad you liked Busker. I’ll have to bring the little guy back for an encore. Next time he sets up shop at his corner, I’ll tell him to play something breezy– just for you! : )


  8. November 26, 2012 2:07 PM

    Hi Mark,
    You are among the many bloggers I give thanks for. Your friendship and support for my blogging has been so important to me and I’m very grateful for it.

    Like jaklumen I also like the take you had on the subject. I consider it to be a blessing that I live in Canada where Thanksgiving is associated with harvest and celebrated on the second Monday of October. That means it’s not associated with commercialism like Black Friday.

    There are many buskers on the big island and on the mainland in cities. There aren’t buskers in the bush, but there are many musicians living in the islands as we are, in large part, enclaves where many artists of all kinds dwell. That means we have lots of live music, arts, crafts and theater too.

    I can also dimly recall the days before the internet and email. I especially loved seeing your hand drawn cartoon depicting the crafty wisdom of turkeys. We have flocks of wild turkeys here that are not as dull witted as some may think. Thanks for sharing it and hopefully for forgiving me for being late to the party as usual.


    • December 3, 2012 1:17 PM

      Speaking of being late to the party, it’s high time someone replied to your lovely comment, TT… : )

      And I give thanks for you as well. And not just for all your advice and help and support, either. You’re a delightful person and all-round good influence. No, no, don’t deny it, let’s have no fuss–!! : )

      I envy Canadians their October Thanksgiving. Why we wait till the end of November, practically daring dear old Mother Nature to pound us with a snowstorm and raise havoc with everyone’s travel plans, I don’t know. We won’t speak of Black Friday, it’s about as welcome as the Black Plague…

      We have no buskers here in the New Hampshuh boonies– poor chaps couldn’t make a dime. But we, too, are blessed with a flourishing arts scene and more live music than you could shake a ukulele at.

      I often see wild turkeys sauntering thru the woods from my upstairs window. Not as cute as chickadees, perhaps, but for me they have a definite charm.

      You’re never late, no one could be more welcome here… : )


  9. November 26, 2012 11:18 PM

    And thanks for the inspirations and sharing knowledge that you’ve already written through this blog. 🙂

    Happy Thanksgiving, Mark! 🙂


    • December 3, 2012 1:35 PM

      A belated, but very heartfelt Happy Thanksgiving to you, Inge– and thanks so much for your lovely comment.

      Yours was one of the very first blogs I decided to follow– one of the smartest things I ever did! You’re a pleasure to know, and that’s the truth. : )


      • December 3, 2012 4:07 PM

        Auw! I am over the moon to know that! You are such a great friend because you are very loyal.

        You are one of some reasons why I keep blogging here though I am not keeping it up like used to be. But I know that there is somebody out there who will waiting for my cakes! ups, my posts I mean. 😀

        Oh thank you very much, Mark. I feel so honoured by. 🙂

        By the way congrats to you because you are mentioned in a post of dailypost about illustrators. 🙂


        • December 3, 2012 9:46 PM

          What?? You’re over the moon?? Well, I hope you remembered to put on a spacesuit… : P

          I look forward to your posts, Inge, and your cakes as well– and I sure wish I could download the cakes!! : )

          Yes, that was nice of The Daily Post to feature yours truly– they must be getting desperate for material… : )


      • December 3, 2012 4:15 PM

        I am over the moon to know the truth! I feel so honoured by!

        I treasure our friendship here. You are one of some reasons why I keep blogging here. I can’t thank you enough for your such loyal support to me, Mark!


        • December 3, 2012 9:47 PM

          I treasure our friendship, too, Inge, and I hope you’ll keep blogging. You’re a good influence. : )


  10. November 27, 2012 12:32 PM

    So thankful for you Mark! And I enjoyed the turkey working his way off the dinner plate too:-) I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving!


    • December 2, 2012 5:52 PM

      And I’m thankful for you, Tracey– so we’re even, pilgrim!! : )

      Yes, these turkeys are getting too smart– I think they’ve been reading Tremendous Books… : )

      I did indeed have a blessed Thanksgiving, and I’m sure ’nuff hopin’ you had the same!!


  11. December 28, 2012 11:52 AM

    I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, Mark. ^^

    I always find the Thanksgiving tradition interesting. Us British people don’t seem to have anything close to it from what I recall besides the Harvest Festival.

    I love the comic strip. The Turkey is certainly a clever little bird having all the snacks brought upon to Busker so to escape the doom of the human bellies. In the last panel it seems like the Turkey is saying “Phew! Another year of survival”. He’ll have to plan what the next year lies ahead though : P

    As for busking itself, there are always plentiful of them around. In some underground train stations you can hear them, but they’re more so in Covent Garden where all the street performers and musicians go. I remember buying a CD of Oriental music an Asian man was playing. It was ever so soothing ^^


    • December 31, 2012 12:52 PM

      Thank you, my dear Bean! I am, of course, very thankful for your continuing and most good-humoured support… : )

      I’m a long-standing Anglophile, but I’ve only been to Great Britain once, back in the 80s. One of my fondest memories is riding the Underground (believe it or not!), and that’s where I saw my very first busker– ever. I was so woefully ignorant, I’d never even heard the term before. I became an immediate fan, and have always been delighted to encounter any kind of street performance, no matter how bizarre– which makes me think of a certain art student walking around with Darth Vader!! : )



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