Regarding comic strips (part 1)
There are those habits that you persist in continuing out of what seems like sheer obligation. Obligation to what, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s an obligation to continue merely because you’ve been doing it for so long already. That’s a lame-ass reason, I know.
For me, one of those habits is reading certain comic strips in my daily newspaper. I do this daily. If I miss a week, even two, I generally go back through my old papers and read them. Some of these comic strips, to be sure, I hate. And yet I continue to read them. Why? I’m not completely sure. I suppose because reading comics strips do what it do.
If I had to honestly break it down, I think it’s because of the positioning of the comics on the page. The two I like the most are near the top, then there are a couple toward the bottom that I also like. I tend to start at the top and then read down, and yet I feel compelled to read the crappy strips in between. It’s like I’m uncontrollably drawn to see how much the bad ones suck today.
I don’t read The Family Circus, but the speech by the Todd Gaines character in the movie “Go” was the best speech anyone could’ve come up with to describe my feelings on The Family Circus: “Bottom, right-hand corner, just waiting to suck.” That’s how I feel about The Family Circus — as well as some of the strips I actually read.
I’m limited to what my local paper prints. I’m not a big comic-strip aficionado, so I don’t go seeking out other comics on the web. I read what’s in front of me. My paper only publishes one page of daily comics, so there are countless strips out there that I’ve rarely or never read. When I was a kid I used to read the Sunday comics, but that’s a practice I’ve long since given up, especially since the serialized storylines of most comics generally don’t hinge at all upon the Sunday entry (because of the nature of syndication).
So let’s run through the comics I read and my general thoughts on them. I’m going to start at the bottom and work toward the top. That way I’ll end on my favorite strips.
Baby Blues by Rick Kirkman & Jerry Scott: This is a decent strip. I occasionally get a chuckle out of it. It probably works better for those who can relate to the whole “parents of young children” thing, but what works for me is the acerbic one-liners from kids where you wouldn’t necessarily expect such a clever line. I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to read this strip, but it’s likable. Sometimes it’s a little too cute. To my surprise, it’s written by two guys. For some reason I’d pegged this as a woman-written strip.
B.C. by Johnny Hart: This is where I turn mean. B.C. sucks. A lot. This strip should be pulled from all newspapers immediately on general anti-hoariness principles. There might have been a time — long, long ago — when B.C. served as clever commentary (though I can’t contemplate such an era), in which current-day references cleverly find their way into caveman times. But the joke is over, folks. The author of the strip, Johnny Hart, died a few weeks ago. All due respect and all that, but, much to my dismay, the strip will continue, apparently to be written by his successors. Why, oh why? Can’t we let this lame strip die? Day after day the jokes are pallid, obvious, trite, unfunny, obvious, lame, obvious, perfunctory, obvious, and — oh, yeah — obvious. My reaction to B.C. when I read a punch line is usually, “Did he really go with that obvious a punch line? Come ON!” I laughed when a recent episode of “Family Guy” had Stewie point out, in no uncertain terms, that B.C. is LAME. It’s the only strip I can think of that honestly believes puns are hilarious.
It’s gotten to the point that the lamer B.C. is, the better I feel about it, about myself, and about my day. I think to myself, at least something in the universe is constant! Several months ago, I came across a B.C. that actually made me chuckle and it was like a shock to my system: Check that shit out (fig. 1). My whole day was thrown for a loop. If B.C. could make me laugh, what else was in store for me? Would I get hit by a bus? Perhaps struck by lightning?
More comic strip comments in the conclusion of this entry tomorrow.