Zartan (zartan) wrote in pacific_novelty,

31 July 2008 : Bootleg T-Shirts

The phenomenon of bootleg t-shirts—off-model cartoon characters appearing in weird contexts on low-print-run shirts put out by dopey little cottage entrepreneurs—is one of those things that will always be hilarious. My earliest memory of them is the wave of now-classic "black Simpsons" t-shirts that hit its crest when I was in high school:

And they're still around! They're more popular than ever, apparently; I see people—I stress that these are grown adults sporting sizes of, like, 2 and 3XL—wearing them all the time. And now, I guess t-shirt technology has gotten affordable and widespread enough for even small-time bootleggers to gussy up their designs with all sorts of hideous shading effects and that ubiquitous bling. I hope you like dollar bills, dollar signs, and, uh, shiny shit.

The million-dollar idea of Mario and Luigi as gangstas isn't just for shitty ROM hacks anymore!

Mario's hooded sweatshirt has dollar signs and jewels all over it, to further emphasize his commitment to the concept of conspicuous wealth. Is that clown makeup around his lips?

Like grandma, Mario and Luigi just don't trust banks; they keep their cash close at hand, just laying all over the place.

"How often do you hustle, Mario?"

"It wouldn't be a stretch to say that I hustle 24/7, Zartan."


"Mario sleeps with one eye open. That eye is for hustling."

Donkey Kong is also a hustler, as evidenced by a glittering Playboy medallion and what appears to be a jewel-encrusted videocassette.

Like Mario, Donkey Kong hustles every day, but we cannot at this time confirm if all twenty-four hours of the day are committed to hustling.

The Pink Panther: as far as I know, those cartoons have not been syndicated for years, and yet he is inexplicably popular with customers who make their t-shirt purchases with the aid of a Venn diagram containing "things I saw on TV once" and "shiny things".

This Pink Panther doesn't have attitude; he just wants to entertain you. Are those randomly-placed floating paw prints meant to indicate applause?

This shirt is exactly what it is.

This is actually kind of gross.

Popeye is one of those licenses that always seems to end up on the most shoddy, bottom-drawer merchandise on the market, so I would not in the least be surprised to learn that this was an Official Popeye Product.

I like how the one I suspect of being an Official Product is actually more poorly executed than this obvious knock-off. Still, Popeye gets the shitty end of the stick again; in the absence of actual three-dimensional bling, I suppose drawing like a thousand lens flare effects all over the fucking thing will suffice.

Slimer looks less like a gangsta and more like a student filmmaker here, but okay.

I have no idea. It says "hiphop". Are those moths?

Bugs Bunny, taking his wad of hundred-dollar bills and practical rhinestone-studded front teeth out for an afternoon walk.

No funny business here; Bugs Bunny is gangsta. I love those rings. What did he do, graduate from high school like a hundred times?

"Thugs Bunny". Oh wait. I'm 99% sure that this is a visual reference to Desperado, but I still have this niggling suspicion that it's a Scarface reference because Jesus H. Christ everything is a god damned Scarface reference

Spongebob's here! The top half says Tupac, the bottom half says Timberlake, and the entire ensemble says classy. (Also gettin' paid)

Here's a horrifyingly off-model Spongebob endorsing hiphop; bonus points for including his supporting cast, which isn't something you see a lot in the bootleg t-shirt industry.

Yes, this was actually for sale on a t-shirt on eBay. In the terrifying gangsta world of Spongebob, nothing is more menacing than an MS Paint teardrop tattoo and a walking stick that vends gumballs.

That gold "crowns and paws" pattern would make a fine wallpaper for someone I disliked.

I guess Taz is past his sell-by date, or I just wasn't looking hard enough, because this was the only Taz-as-gangsta shirt I found. Time was you couldn't swing your arms without hitting some idiot with a slapdash representation of Taz either on his shirt or under his skin.

The word "ass" has been thoughtfully censored out of Homer's humorous comment, so as to make this shirt an acceptable choice for any situation.

I can't tear my eyes off of this one, and it actually kind of creeps me out.

I know you were wondering if characters from commercials would show up. Of course they would. Here's Cap'n Crunch, the obligatory spray of hundred dollar bills, and a pair of very human hands.

This shirt is incorrect in about four different ways and you know god damned well that the person that will eventually buy and wear it could not give a shit.

Congratulations on your new copy of PowerPoint.

Is he referring to his enormous ghost pistol or his dick? YOU MAKE THE CALL.

A sighting of the elusive Get Paid Man! Only available in Original Hustler Flavor.

Tony the Tiger will see your fifty bucks and raise you a bunch of bars of soap.

This doesn't even get an A for effort; it's just sullen, "fuckin' summer school fuckin' sucks" suburban gangsta Smurf.

The word "Lexus" in flowing pink script adds a touch of class to this chunky Smurfette presenting herself.

This is something I would actually not be the least bit surprised to find available for purchase at a Stuckey's.

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