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The Piranha Club (formerly Ernie) is an American newspaper comic by Bud "Bo" Grace. Started in 1988, it focuses on loser Ernie Floyd the and various eccentric and sketchy characters around him in Bayonne, New Jersey.Earning only moderate success in its native US, Ernie has become very popular in Scandinavia, particularly Sweden, where it runs in several large newspapers and has its own comic book since 1996. Two runs of collections have been published, as well as a video game.
This strip provides examples of:
Abhorrent Admirer: Used frequently. Doris to Ernie (at the start), Arnold to Doris, Effie to Sid...
The Alcoholic: Duane, who is constantly out to get people to buy him a drink or two with the help of his trusty frog.
Author Appeal: Squids and tentacles, not in a sexual context ,but Grace has stated that he enjoys drawing things like this due to a drawing by Basil Wolverton of MAD Magazine fame he saw when he was a kid.
Acquired Poison Immunity: One storyline involves a tribe of South American natives attempting to murder Sid and steal Ernst. They give him a drink made from 27 mushed up toxic leaf frogs, which amazingly has no effect. Its then revealed that years of Effie's cooking has left Sid essentially immune to poison.
Another storyline revolves around Sid and Elvis having a pie eating contest, with everyone expecting Big Eater Elvis to win. It then turns out that Sid had Effie make the pies for the contest, allowing Sid, who's used to her food, eat at a leisurly pace and win, while Elvis can only soldier through about 3 bites, while violently vomiting the whole time.
Broke Episode: One storyline involves Sid trying to get out of an audit by the IRS by pretending to be completely destitute, complete with operating a "business" out of an abandoned car in the junkyard, where he has recruited Arnold as a partner/live-in car alarm. This actually works, as the IRS agent ends up putting Sid on financial aid rather than tossing him in jail for his comprehensive list of taxation fraud.
Back-Alley Doctor: Enos Pork does operate out of a seemingly legit Head/Nose/Throat clinic, but he is a textbook example of this trope. His medical degree is from an uncredited school in South America, he uses his surgical tools as kitchen utensils, and he's been seen more than once offering sidewalk medical services.
Cats Are Mean: Almost every appearance of Doris' cat Bobo ends with a trip to the ER for Ernie.
Cloud Cuckoolander: This comic is full of them, but particularly Effie (especially in early strips).
Coat Full of Contraband: Pops up from time to time... Most often in resturants. With the "contraband" in question being stomach pumps...
Corrupt Church: The evangelical church run by televangelist Reverend Bob.
Dog Latin: the Pretentious Latin Motto of the Piranha Club is In Hoc Signo Piranhanote cf. Latin "in hoc signo vinces" - "in this sign you will conquer", a motto associated with the Freemasons
Elvis Impersonator: One storyline involves Duane showing off a cockroach he claims is a reincarnated Elvis, complete with guitar, rhinestone suit and singing ability. Ernie accidently kills the cockroach and ends up in court, accused of having murdered Elvis. When he angrily blurts out that he killed an Elvis impersonator, the judge immediatly drops the charges and invites him over for dinner.
Another storyline has Sid getting Arnold to embark on a career as an Elvis impersonator. This ends rather abruptly when Arnold attempts to wiggle his hips like the original, and his tight pants explode, hospitalizing both him and several fans.
Everything's Better with Monkeys: and squid. And ducks, parrots, moose, cows, chicken, frogs, gorillas, beluga, gigant water buffaloes, snap turtles, and cockroaches impersonating Elvis. Amongst others.
Specifically, one early storyline revolved around Ernie buying a small staff of trained house monkeys to do chores in his apartment. Unfortunatly, since he didnt know sign language, Ernie couldnt communicate with them, and eventually, the chaffeur and maid monkeys eloped in Ernie's Desoto, while the rest of the monkeys were eaten by Effie.
Evil Uncle: Sid to Ernie. Greedy, manipulative and a fraudster through and through.
Executive Meddling: On several occasions, sometimes for the better. For example, Sid was originally written as Ernie's friend, but was changed into his uncle when Grace's editor pointed out that nobody would want to be friends with a guy like that.
Extreme Omnivore: Ernst, the Piranha Club mascot and Sids pet piranha, to the point where Sid uses him as a garbage disposal. He can even devour non organic material like car tires and metal with no problem.
Fake Charity: The Piranha Club often promotes various charity drives for their Fund For Orphans And Widows. Said orphans and widows often look suspiciously like club members in bad costumes.
Fan Disservice: As mentioned below, Bud Grace tends to take advantage of the lack of censorship in Swedish media by drawing nude characters you do NOT want to see nude, such as Enos Porks mother in law, and Arnolds equally ugly sister.
Gonk: Arnold. He's fat, short, pimply and has ridiculously stripy hair.
Henpecked Husband: Enos Pork, who is rutinely abused by both his wife and his step mother.
Honest John's Dealership: Elvis Zimmermann who'd sell a decrepid trashcan of a car to his own mother... In fact, he did.
Human Mom, Non-Human Dad: The alien Zerblatt married and had children with a human female. In a somewhat uncommon variation, the resulting hybrids werent human in appearance, but resembled small frogs.
If It Was Funny The First Time: Bud Grace used to love making jokes about Doris being overly eager to get married (they often ended with a frightended Ernie running away to the Antarctic, China, etc. to escape her). Word of God suggests that these jokes would have continued indefinitely if it wasn't for Executive Meddling... In fact, it sort of has, but is more common between Sid and Effie these days.
I'll Take Two Beers Too: Ernie had a Sunday strip showing the local football team invading a bar where Ernie and Sid are drinking. It goes something like this:
Cannibal #1: Give me eleven pitchers before I snap your neck!
Cannibal #2: I want eleven pitchers too!
Cannibal #3: He said he was a halfback so I ripped his arm off and said "I'll take this half!"
Ernie: So, do you come here to party after the game often?
Cannibal #4: It's only halftime!
Sid: Careful, Ernie. It's the Bayonne Cannibals, the world's most dangerous football team.
Cannibal #5: We're not the team, we're the cheerleaders!
Knows A Guy Who Knows A Guy: Sid can't get a date even with a Mongolian immigrant just off the boat because she knows a chain of people the last one of whom dated him in 1968.
Lethal Chef: Effie Munyon, notably she is never seen eating her own food. She IS capable of cooking decent food, but seems to end up making hideous concoctions out of some misplaced desire to seem unique.
Not Wearing Pants: Subverted in an early strip. It's not a dream, though Sid takes advantage of Ernie thinking it is. Ernie eventually ends up in jail for indecent exposure.
The Prankster: Spencer Husselmeyer makes Bart Simpson look like a saint. Common pranks include greasing Ernie's toilet seat, putting tacks in Ernie's shoes, shoving raw fish down Ernie's pants, greasing Ernie's doorknobs, terrorizing Ernie with his slingshot and making Ernie eat salt.
Ernie: Why, Spencer? Why!? Spencer: I didn't want you to get bored.
Perpetual Poverty: The Piranha Club meets in a dilapidated building they havent paid rent on in years, and the various furnishings inside are falling apart, this mainly due to the fact that none of the members pay their membership fees, and Sid embezzles the clubs funds at every turn.
Relationship Upgrade: After decades of dating, Ernie and Doris finally got married, and had a daughter.
Running Gag: People deciding to go to some far off, unhospitable place whenever the prospect of marriage comes up. Also people mistaking Arnold Arnoldski for a dog. Also, in the early strips, the corpse of Jimmy Hoffa turning up in unexpected places.
Sleazy Politician: One Piranha Club member manages to get himself elected Mayor of Bayonne.
The Stoic: Provided he's not dealing with his wife or step mother, the most reaction you'll see out of Dr. Enos Pork is the changed angle of his cigarette. It's surprisingly effective at conveying his current state of mind.
Stealing from the Till: Sid has been the Piranha Club Treasurer for decades, and in all that time, the club has mysteriously kept going deeper into dept.
Stupid Evil: More like stupid stingy, but Sid would rather freeze in the dark than to pay his electricity bill. Not because he doesn't have the money, but because he refuses to use them on anything non-hedonistic.
Stylistic Suck: An early sunday page purportedly drawn by Grace's neighbour's dog, Sheba.
A series of strips supposedly drawn by Bud's brother-in law.
Too Hot for TV: Like most cartoonists, Bu Grace has a sizeable amount of strip sketches he never intended for publishing due to raunchy content. Interestingly, due to Swedens much laxer publication standards, the Ernie comic book there often publishes both these, and specials Grace draws just for Scandinavia, containing both nudity and sexual situations.
Pro Wrestling Episode: One storyline revolved around Arnold becoming a pro wrestler under the name the Masked Slapper, with Sid as his shifty manager.
You Wanna Buy A Watch?: Many of Sid's less sophisticated schemes amount to this, ranging from fake rolexes, to fake Picasso paintings.
Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Sid does technically run a sales and real estate firm, but he constantly juggles a ton of different projects and scams, mainly because he has to keep himself out jail somehow.
Why We're Bummed Communism Fell: Parodied in one storyline where the fall of communism reduced the entire CIA to following the worlds last practicing communist around, a Russian immigrant named Boris who relocated to Bayonne when the USSR collapsed. They desperatly try to keep him alive and communist, because if he dies, the CIA will be forced to resort to massive layoffs. He eventually abandons communism as well and begins selling "sexy lingerie", which turns out to be husky-sized surplus sets from the former Soviet blocks. His only customer? Effie.
Yet Another Christmas Carol: The strip had a christmas storyline with this, with Sid as Scrooge, Enos as Jacob Marley, Ernie as Bob Cratchit, Doris as Mrs Cratchit and Spencer as Tiny Tim.