Improve the Comic Pages

June 24, 2008

I got an email over the weekend from a guy on a mission. I initially thought it was spam; there are a lot of spammers who drop comments on a blog post with some generic comment that could apply to anything you might write, but then with a link to a page where you can order erectile dysfunction drugs.

This email's author had done a little homework. He had specific comments on a couple of recent posts, and he was very complimentary. Then, he asked for some favorable feedback on a survey. I took a looksee, and it turns out that his cause is one that deserves my attention.

It seems that our local newspaper pet cage liner is running a survey to see which comic strips they should run and which ones they shouldn't. My correspondent is the author of Deflocked, which looks to be one of several newer strips seeking to replace the tired, old, crappy comics that we're subjected to each weekday.

Here are a few drawings from the deflocked web site that I liked.

Let's look at some of the worst of the comics that The Advocate is considering keeping:

    B. C. -- If it weren't for bad puns, this strip would run day after day with no discernable joke at all. Cathy -- Perhaps the absolute worst comic strip of all time. The theme of the comic: Cathy feels ugly. And who would blame her? I would slice off my own penis with a butter knife before I spent the night with the real-world equivalent of that troll. What a waste of paper and ink. Curtis -- What's worse than featuring a not-funny comic strip just to get some ethnic diversity on your page? How about featuring a not-funny comic strip that perpetuates negative stereotypes of a minority? I'm betting that anyone with an ounce of creativity can set a comic strip in an inner city without featuring barber shop gags. For Better or Worse -- Even worse than bad puns, neurotic women, and non-funny African Americans is a comic that intentionally tries to be NOT funny. We can get our cute turn or sappy smile by turning the page to Ann Landers. Leave the comic strips to comedy (bad or not). Garfield -- Remember when Garfield was a new comic, and people went ape-shit about how funny it was? "The cat eats lasagna HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" Well, absolutely nothing new has happened since. For 20 years, we've been reading, looking for that original bit that must show up sooner or later. To say that Jim Davis is mailing it in is to point out a waste of postal resources. Hagar the Horrible -- Here's the gag: he's a Viking who loots castles, but treats that looting like a normal 9 to 5 job. And his wife still rules the roost. Not much, for sure. You would have to have a lot of nerve to run that same gag day after day for thirty years, wouldn't you? Well, someone has just that much nerve. Mallard Filmore -- Because there might be a man, woman, or child who longs to be told what to think by conservatives, but who might have missed the 23 out of every 24 hours that Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh seem to be preaching on radio and TV, there is this cartoon duck to fill the void. Honestly, if he wasn't so preachy, it might funny, but if the political conservatives won't even shut the fuck up on the comics page, where can I get some relief? The Wizard of Id -- I'm tired and bored of writing about how tired and boring these comic strips are. This is just another one that hasn't had a creative idea in my adult lifetime.
(By the way, old comic strips don't necessarily mean bad ones. Blondie still delivers from time to time. Blondie is the anti-Cathy: confident and sexy, owns her own business, is not an overbearing wife, but one who can prod her husband to take up the (very) occasional weekend chore. Likewise, the Peanuts reruns that run every day are really good. Sure, you should be able to pick really good comics from a library of 50-years of strips, but they stayed good throughout the run, I think.) Knowing my fellow Advocate-subscriber is likely to be a semi-conscious septuagenarian, I don't hold out much hope for change, but please, please, please, go to the Advocate's poll, and fill your list with the comics that you've not yet had a chance to read. If you do this, and if they listen, I guarantee that the updated comics page will be an improvement.