Ralph: The True Story

Ralph Monotreme began life as a platypus suit, found lying around the Tasmania University Union by Geoff Tooth at the end of 1985. Geoff and James Lockett, putting together the 1986 Orientation Handbook for freshers, got Andrew Scott to don the suit and wander about the Union Building while they took candid snaps which eventually ended up in the O-book. All that remained was a name to be found for this new folk-hero. After compiling great long lists of possibilities and consuming great long glasses of beer, Geoff and James came up with “Phar Lap”. Thankfully they ditched that one and settled on “Ralph”. Why they did is unknown, but it is interesting to note that the name “Phar Lap”, with two letters removed, can be rearranged to form “Ralph”; then if you add a few letters, take some others away, add 4, divide by 7, and mix the whole thing in a blender you get “Monotreme”. Fascinating, huh?

In the O-book Ralph would have remained, had it not been for an impressionable fresher. Desperate to break into the glamorous world of student magazines (viz, Togatus), Rory Ewins took the daring step of actually contributing something. What better than a cartoon featuring Ralph? (Well, don’t blame me, it was all I could think of at the time.) Soon Ralph, in his monthly comic strip, took on a life of his own, and even death couldn’t stop him (thanks to the “Bjelke-Petersen Plot Manipulation Device”—ie, “don’t you worry about that”). By the middle of 1987, the first signs of a powerful lobby group demanding a Ralph comic book, the “We Want Walph” movement (total membership one), were manifesting themselves. The result of their efforts, a triumph of modern political manipulation and a tribute to the humble death-threat (liberally utilised by the WWW’s President), rests in your awestruck, trembling fingers.

About the Author

Rory Ewins was born in Hobart in 1968. After attending Huonville High School, Hobart Matriculation College and the University of Tasmania, he stood for Parliament in 1989 and became Minister Without a Ministry (a system designed to give everyone a shot at being a minister). After solving all the world’s problems he branched out into watercress breeding, and on his retirement in 2196 he took up writing books for people over 200 years old. He is now visiting fellow at the University of Snug, lecturing in Drawing Silly Cartoons About Platypuses.

The Small Print

Copyright A.R. Ewins, 1986, 1987. Written, Drawn and Produced by Rory Ewins. Printed by the Tasmania University Union. Published 1987 by Diogenes Press, Hobart, Australia. ISBN 0 7316 1361 9. Parts of this book first appeared in the TUU paper, Togatus. Thanks to everyone who’s taken any interest in Ralph at any time, especially my family, friends, and everyone at Togatus. This Swan’s made for you.