Herbie Popnecker

Herbie Popnecker
Examples of Recurring Themes

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Herbie Popnecker Examples:
Fat

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Herbie's dad refers to his disappointing son as a little fat nothing, and it's hard not to notice Herbie's shape, a shape Herbie's father once had. But Herbie is never limited by his weight. As Herbie says, "So I'm fat. So what?"

Herbie acquired many nicknames based on his girth: Fat Fury, plump lump, fat like a water rat and all over red. But maybe none can compare to "fearless lump of lard" (Herbie #14a).

The Meaning of Fatness

We know Herbie's fatness came from both sides of his family from the many look-alikes such as his grandfather (#3a, #18a, #22a), his father (#15a), and an ancestor on his mother's side (#17a). His father, in a major effort described in #15a "Call me Schlemiehl!", trimmed down to his conventional form. "Nobody ever gives me any credit for what I changed myself into ... how I managed to rise above being a little fat nothing..." But while Dad shed his fatness, Herbie embraced it. "...Just like me way I am, Grandpa. Fat ... Handsome. Fat." Herbie and his grandfather both had amazing powers, powers that are missing from his father, who may have lost the potential by losing the fat. Herbie's grandfather also showed some of Herbie's abbreviated speaking in #3a.

Herbie: Not enough sun. Shadow on my face.
Grandpa: Big tree. I'll fix it.
...
Grandpa: See Churchill, Herbie... Offer your services. You're younger than I and even fatter.

Herbie was the creation of writer Richard E. Hughes and artist Ogden Whitney. According to "Forbidden Adventures: The History of the American Comics Group", by Michael Vance, Greenwood Press, 1996, Hughes' real name was Leo Rosenbaum (a Jewish name). There were a surprising number of Jewish references in Herbie comics, in addition to which there were many shrugs, and, of course, Herbie's way of speaking, such as just saying Something?, which was like an old Jewish man from New York, where Herbie was written (by a middle-aged Jewish man from New York).

So I have concluded not only that Herbie's roots were Jewish, but also that his fatness was a metaphor for it. By embracing his past, Herbie had great success. His father, however, assimilated (as Leo Rosenbaum did by changing his name in an era when anti-Semitism was widespread), and lost something great.

Index terms: fat, plump, pudgy, obese, rotund, Richard E. Hughes, Ogden Whitney

When Herbie got his own comic, he was dubbed "the Fat Fury".
Source: Herbie #1 (1964-04)
Updated: 2005-03-09
When Herbie got his own comic, he was dubbed "the Fat Fury".
Merlin tries to turn Herbie into a pig, but concludes he already was a pig.
Source: Herbie #1a p.7 (1964-04)
Updated: 2008-11-24
Merlin tries to turn Herbie into a pig, but concludes he already was a pig.
Dad says "You're fat" and Herbie says "He's fat" and Dad says "He's going to get killed."
Source: Herbie #1b p.4 (1964-04)
Updated: 2012-03-27
Dad says "You're fat" and Herbie says "He's fat" and Dad says "He's going to get killed."
"Can't stand anybody who's fat."
Source: Herbie #2b p.2 (1964-06)
Updated: 2005-03-09
"Can't stand anybody who's fat."
Grandfather implies that both youth and fatness are assets.
Source: Herbie #3a p.4 (1964-08)
Updated: 2005-03-09
Grandfather implies that both youth and fatness are assets.
Lard? Suet? Blubber? Little Fat Nothing?
Source: Herbie #4a p.14 (1964-09)
Updated: 2005-03-09
Lard?
"What's to say?" Herbie shrugs, "I'm too fat to have adventures." Good cover story.
Source: Herbie #5a p.13 (1964-10)
Updated: 2005-03-09
"What's to say?" Herbie shrugs , "I'm too fat to have adventures." Good cover story.
Source: Herbie #5b p.6 (1964-10)
Updated: 2005-03-13
Herbie #5b6
So I'm fat. So what?
Source: Herbie #7a p.8 (1965-02)
Updated: 2005-08-04
So I'm fat.
"Imagine how he'll sizzle with all that fat?"
Source: Herbie #7a p.11 (1965-02)
Updated: 2005-03-09
"Imagine how he'll sizzle with all that fat?"
With the Fat Fury, we begin the "Fat Water Rat" series. "Fat like a water rat and all over red..."
Source: Herbie #8a p.10 (1965-03)
Updated: 2005-03-09
With the Fat Fury, we begin the "Fat Water Rat" series.
A boar asks Herbie if he has any boar blood.
Source: Herbie #9b p.8 (1965-04)
Updated: 2008-11-24
A boar asks Herbie if he has any boar blood.
Too fat to fly... "Fat like a water rat..." "...and all over red!"
Source: Herbie #10a p.11 (1965-06)
Updated: 2005-03-09
Too fat to fly...
Broken scale joke. OINK! pig joke.
Source: Herbie #10b p.2 (1965-06)
Updated: 2008-11-24
Broken scale joke.
Fatso?
Source: Herbie #10b p.5 (1965-06)
Updated: 2005-03-09
Fatso?
"Fat like a water rat and all over red!"
Source: Herbie #12a p.4 (1965-09)
Updated: 2005-03-09
"Fat like a water rat and all over red!"
Disguised as a pig to appear more fattening.
Source: Herbie #12b p.6 (1965-09)
Updated: 2008-11-24
Disguised as a pig to appear more fattening.
"Can't stand fat..."
Source: Herbie #13a p.9 (1965-10)
Updated: 2005-03-09
"Can't stand fat..."
Yum-yum... Blubber!
Source: Herbie #13b p.4 (1965-10)
Updated: 2005-03-09
Yum-yum...
"Who is he, this fearless lump of lard who strikes like a thunderpoop..."
Source: Herbie #14a p.14 (1965-12)
Updated: 2005-03-09
"Who is he, this fearless lump of lard who strikes like a thunderpoop..."
"Little fat nothing!" "Fat, fat, water rat!" "Fat, fat, crazy bat!" ... "Never mind that."
Source: Herbie #14b p.5 (1965-12)
Updated: 2005-03-09
"Little fat nothing!" "Fat, fat, water rat!" "Fat, fat, crazy bat!" ...
"Like handsome plump type...?"
Source: Herbie #14b p.7 (1965-12)
Updated: 2005-03-09
"Like handsome plump type...?"
Dad was once fat.
Source: Herbie #15a p.5 (1966-02)
Updated: 2005-03-09
Dad was once fat.
Fat like honorable water rat..."
Source: Herbie #16a p.7 (1966-03)
Updated: 2005-09-21
Fat like honorable water rat..."
"Fat, Fat, Water Rat!"
Source: Herbie #17a p.5 (1966-04)
Updated: 2005-03-09
"Fat, Fat, Water Rat!"
"Fat... Handsome. Fat." Herbie likes fat on himself.
Source: Herbie #18a p.1 (1966-06)
Updated: 2005-03-09
"Fat...
In #18b, Dad is dreaming of an athletic (round headed) Herbie, and decides that Herbie needs to reduce. Poor horse!
Source: Herbie #18b p.1 (1966-06)
Updated: 2005-03-14
In #18b , Dad is dreaming of an athletic (round headed) Herbie, and decides that Herbie needs to reduce.
Another scale joke. OOF!
Source: Herbie #18b p.2 (1966-06)
Updated: 2005-03-09
Another scale joke.
"He's fat like a slob!"
Source: Herbie #18b p.3 (1966-06)
Updated: 2005-03-09
"He's fat like a slob!"
Their worst nightmares! A bite from a Hissian snake has made Herbie skinny, and a bite by a Pigturtle has made Dad fat.
Source: Herbie #18b p.9 (1966-06)
Updated: 2005-03-14
Their worst nightmares!
Two bites by Pigturtles restore Herbie, disguised as a Hissian, to a "Fine fat fella again. Handsome."
Source: Herbie #18b p.10 (1966-06)
Updated: 2012-05-16
Two bites by Pigturtles restore Herbie, disguised as a Hissian, to a "Fine fat fella again.
"Plump Lump!"
Source: Herbie #19b p.7 (1966-08)
Updated: 2005-03-09
"Plump Lump!"
"Plump Lump!"
Source: Herbie #20b p.2 (1966-09)
Updated: 2005-03-09
"Plump Lump!"
"Fat, fat, water rat!" BLAM! "Can't stand that water rat business. Hate rats."
Source: Herbie #20b p.8 (1966-09)
Updated: 2005-03-09
"Fat, fat, water rat!" BLAM!
"Fat like a water rat..."
Source: Herbie #20b p.9 (1966-09)
Updated: 2005-03-09
"Fat like a water rat..."
"Fat fat water rat"
Source: Herbie #21a p.5 (1966-10)
Updated: 2005-03-09
"Fat fat water rat"
"Fat, fat water rat!"
Source: Herbie #21a p.7 (1966-10)
Updated: 2005-03-09
"Fat, fat water rat!"
"Fatburger!"
Source: Herbie #21a p.8 (1966-10)
Updated: 2005-03-09
"Fatburger!"
Thin air / fat air
Source: Herbie #22a p.12 (1966-12)
Updated: 2005-03-14
Thin air / fat air
Dad says Herbie is too fat to elude him.
Source: Herbie #23a p.3 (1967-02)
Updated: 2005-03-10
Dad says Herbie is too fat to elude him.