I stand by my assertion in panel one. The nineties gave us Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butt-head, Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist, The Critic, The Tick, Freakazoid!, Animaniacs, Ed, Edd n Eddy (barely making it in under the wire), and Cow and Chicken, and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Yes, also South Park, the popularity of which I have never been able to understand—and I was twenty when that show debuted in 1997. Do you know what it was like to be a twenty-year-old who didn’t like South Park? No one under thirty would shut up about it for about six solid months. This is what made me the crabbed and bitter person I am today.

But now let’s change the subject abruptly. Am I the last one to find out that the smart kids all think Hitler showed symptoms of Parkinson’s disease? There’s footage of him being hunched and kinda twitchy, but in fairness I’m hunched and kinda twitchy just from the pressures of my life as a freelance copyeditor with mild depression, and I don’t think you have to reach for Parkinson’s to explain that. Of course no disease explains evil, and I would never suggest that any one thing explains Hitler or the Holocaust, but I find the idea of Parkinson’s as a factor in Hitler’s life interesting because my current obsession is encephalitis lethargica, the eerily named “sleepy sickness” that is simultaneously almost unknown and one of the most vexing medical mysteries of all time. It struck five million people worldwide a hundred years ago, but was overshadowed by the Spanish flu, which killed tens of millions; today EL is almost forgotten. It’s a swelling of the brain that leads (in most cases) to a sleep from which its victims cannot wake. Sometimes they slept until they died; sometimes they recovered seemingly normally; and sometimes they seemed OK for a while and then began developing Parkinson’s—tics, twitching, akinesis, mutism, palilalia, personality changes. It’s this extreme, nightmarish Parkinsonism that Oliver Sacks wrote Awakenings about fifty years later.

Was sleepy sickness a sequela of the flu somehow? No flu RNA has been found in the brains of its victims, but it happened at the exact same time, and seemed to spread from the exact same nexus—the trenches of France, whence sleepy, feverish soldiers were sent around the world to spread their sickness to their countrymen. The trenches of France, where young Adolf Hitler was decorated for courage under fire as a German courier. After which he was hospitalized for reasons that are unclear because the records have been destroyed. Did Hitler suffer from sleepy sickness, and develop postencephalitic Parkinsonism as a result? I want to know! Do any neurologists read this comic? Someone get on this!