“Are you holding tenaciously to my buttocks?”
No, this isn’t a He Could Get It. This week’s Superhero in focus is a bit-character from 90s cartoon Ren and Stimpy. He obscure, yes – but he’s a hero so he definitely counts. He does. This post has been on the back burner of my brain since losing the remote one Saturday night and watching the last five minutes of an episode called Powdered Toast Man vs Waffle Woman.
Powdered Toast Man has a piece of toast for a head and is the ambassador of a breakfast treat that “tastes like sawdust”. If that wasn’t weird enough, powdered toast doesn’t taste the way it’s supposed to unless Powdered Toast Man farts on it. Like most things, really. It’s precisely this bizarre aspect of this hero that not only makes Powdered Toast Man (as he shall henceforth be known) brilliant, but Ren and Stimpy a classic cult cartoon.
What made Powdered Toast Man (or PTM as he shall henceforth be known) so great was that he was a spot-on send up of comic book superheroes. He was spoof superhero created with care and attention to detail, a love-letter to caped crusaders.
PTM was over-earnest, over dramatic, over-muscly, over-patriotic. He possesses traditional superpowers such as flight, but also others that are very fitting with the show such as super-powered farts and the ability to fling toast shavings from his head at will.
He had cheesy catchphrases (“Leave everything to me!”) and even a reserved, introverted alter-ego (sound like anyone familiar?) in the form of a youth deacon who wears glasses and a clerical collar – BUT STILL HAS A PIECE OF BREAD FOR A HEAD. Yet no one knows who he really is.
Like all good superheroes he owned an arsenal of villain-busting weapons – namely slices of olive loaf that could read and send emergency codes, a phone in his tongue, the ability to shoot raisins from his mouth and inflatable briefs. Everything a fully-functioning superhero could want. Can you imagine being able to shoot raisins from your mouth? You would cinnamon swirl everything in sight.
At his core he was a good person who wanted to help those who are vulnerable, like all the decent heroes. What made him especially hilarious, was the fact he accomplished banal things at the expense of something massive i.e. he helps a cat cross a road but a plane gets completely totaled in the process.
His assistant, Catholic High School Girl, with whom it is suggested he has a romantic relationship, is a bit less heroic however; but that was the cheeky dash of adult-humour PTM was loved for.
What was particularly cool about PTM was that Marvel – that giant of comic book heroes – even featured the bread-headed character in one of their comics. He fought Spider-Man after Dr. Donut turned him to the dark side, and Spidey uses milk to re-instill PTM’s good-hearted nature. When Stan Lee and the Gang want you in their pages, that’s the sign John Kricfalusi created something a little bit special.