Thursday, May 29

The Excruciating Demise of the American Comic Strip

When I was growing up, it was a tradition that every Sunday morning my siblings and I would fight for the Sunday Comics that wrapped around Dad's newspaper. It had its own section, like the Business or Metro section - - so we must be getting smarter by reading them, right? Sort of like getting a fake lawn mower to use when Mom was cutting the lawn, or a fake baby to pretend like we were a parent too. Although this section was special, it was filled with color - not like the daily strips that usually got lost on a bland black and white page in the paper from Monday thru Saturday. The characters really popped in this setting. Some of our favorites even hogged up lots more space, like everyone's fav - Calvin and Hobbes.

We all had our favorite strips, and some of us had strips that we NEVER would read. Most of my favorites don't exist anymore, or have been taken over by other artists/writers. I haven't read a Sunday Comic Strip section in YEARS. There is something very sad about that, less about the medium of the current state of newspapers, and more about the current line up of talent and strips that are out there.

Am I in the minority when I say that the newspaper strips just aren't funny anymore? I know that many artists had issues with the space getting smaller, and smaller but I have seen artists fill up tiny boxes in brilliant ways before, so I don't think that is it.

We haven't figured out the best way to utilize the "comic strip" in the internet medium yet. There are links to classic strips, and even current strips on the net but we haven't really incorporated the traditional strips into the news sites. Wouldn't be great to read your news for the day, with sprinklings of comic strip humor that you could click on for relief?

Anyway, good bye American Comic Strip, may something emerge that can shine as bright as you did.


Breadwig said...

The newspaper funnies are indeed not what they were at all. Very very few funny or interesting comics in the funnies. On the flip side, there are TONS of awesome independent comic artists now doing amazing stuff. The good stuff's not in the syndicated strips anymore.

FinnFactory said...

It's a true, albeit sad statement. If you can suggest sites for others to check out to capture some of the better comics on the net, I'm sure others would appreciate it.

Paul said...

So what other strips, besides "Calvin and Hobbes," did you used to read that "aren't funny anymore?" I'm taking "The Far Side" off the table, because, like "Calvin," it transcended the medium. So what else ya got?

If those are the only examples you have, then I'd say you were never a comics fan to begin with. I'm inclined to believe that anyway, since holding up "Calvin" as an example isn't much of an argument.

Many of the best-respected comic strips from "the good old days" weren't laugh-out-loud funny either. "Pogo" and "Li'l Abner" were social satire, and were rarely rib-splittingly funny. And "Peanuts", the grand-daddy of them all, was sweetly sentimental.

As for today's new strips, there's lots out there that are frequently funny (no strip EVER was always funny). Check out "Brewster Rockit", "The Duplex", and "Pearls Before Swine" and give them a few days. Many folks love "Get Fuzzy", although it's not my cup of tea. But (and here's the key) just because I don't like it doesn't mean it's not good.

FinnFactory said...

Hey Paul,
Thanks for stopping by. I agree, CALVIN AND HOBBES and THE FAR SIDE are exceptions to the rule regarding the rise and fall of the comic strip.

As far as other strips that I used to read that I found funny, but not so much anymore because it lost its original voice or for whatever reason, I just don't care much about the characters anymore. I never said I thought these strips were laugh out loud funny, I agree - most aren't.

BEETLE BAILEY, DILBERT, FAMILY CIRCUS, WIZARD OF ID are some that I enjoyed. While we said CALVIN AND HOBBES wasn't a good example, I do have to say that I would hold that one up as a poster child for American comic strips. What is today's leading comic strip? I couldn't answer that.

I'll check out the ones you mentioned, thanks.