Even More Readers Weigh in About Newspaper Cartoons
The letters section of Westword's September 13 issue is absolutely jam-packed with missives from readers responding to the previous week's Message column about the weakness of far too many current comics. Still, we couldn't fit every worthy take in the print edition -- so here are three more pieces of correspondence, which touch on everything from the value of "Get Fuzzy" to an unexpected defense of "Garfield."
HERE COMES THE FUZZY
For the most part, I agree that the golden age of comics appears to have passed. However, “Get Fuzzy” was not on your list. It is a clear standout in my opinion, although I do think it is less consistently funny/original than it was a few years ago. Still, I put it in my top three.
One thing I think you may have overlooked is the familiarity and "fondness" factors. I think a lot of people find comfort seeing the same characters every day and are willing to overlook poor quality on occasion (or, in some instances, always). I admit to this with “Luann.” While not one of my favorites, I read it every day just to find out what is happening. Nor do I think a cartoon like “Luann” is supposed to be a hilarious "gag" strip every time. Sometimes there are days of setup, and if you have no attachment to the characters or don’t understand their personalities, you will find it unfunny and boring.
Anyway, thanks for the article -- even though to me, a comic lover, it is sad. Perhaps we will see a renaissance in the near future.
Klamath Falls, Oregon
ARE YOU POSITIVE THE FUNNIES AREN'T FUNNY ANYMORE?
Sure they are....you just need to know where to look.
The paper is like military food: it has to be bland so that no one is offended. And you nailed “Garfield” -- his business is (self-admitted) merchandising; the comic is the afterthought. It's a commercial you pay him to run.
You mentioned Berkley Breathed- - his latest strips mentioned a burkah and were banned from many papers. Must....stay...bland....
Try a few of these [at xkcd.com] in Internet explorer, and mouse over the comic. Romantic, funny, and intelligent -- including some science/math theory references. No wonder most people don't get them, but they hold high in the geek community.
If you look online you can find a lot of comics both at Ucomics [now Gocomics.com] and other sites, and at independent sites.
Big Nate is good, it came out before Calvin and Hobbes and has stuck around after.
Tom Tomorrow/This Modern World?
I built my own list in Mozilla, saved them all as a single link (of tabs), and read them in the morning.
MORE WEB TIPS
Three notes on your fine rip-apart of the lack of funny in the funnies:
* One pseudonymous blogger has taken it on himself to explicate Marmaduke daily [at Marmaduke Explained]:
* Lio is a fantastic new strip being carried in my market by The Seattle Times. It's weird, gorgeously drawn, and unique. Also, creepy, which is fun.
* Frazz has a Calvin and Hobbes vibe -- there was a funny thread across several Web sites trying to pin the strip on Bill Watterson, working under an alias -- but it's got its own good mojo.
I still read almost all the comics in the Seattle Times each day, despite my knowledge that many of them will be unfunny. Oddly, per Garfield, I started reading it again because after 75
years of the same stuff, he introduced some new elements.
Weirdly, too, CATHY IS FUNNY AT TIMES these days. The marriage, the tech-obsessed husband. It's actually changed quite a bit.
Oh, and I subscribe to MyComicsPage.com from Andrews McNeel Universal. They can't get all the strips (they have had some cross-syndicate deals that have come and gone), but it's a good way to find my favorite strips.
I'm a freelance journalist, and I've written over the last several years a number of articles about the Internet and cartooning, including a piece on how "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog" (the New Yorker cartoon) had made its cartoonist $10,000s from resale rights. And that was in 1999.
Obviously, plenty of folks are passionate about this subject, and why not? Given the dourness of most news these days, all of us could use a good laugh. -- Michael Roberts