Sunday, August 28, 2005

Comic Strip Live

I started reading newspapers when I was about six years old. At first, the only thing I read were the comics. Nowadays, I read much more of the newspaper, but I still read the comics, unless I happen to be reading one of those papers that is too "sophistcated" to have a comics section. I can't say that I find many of the comics entertaining, but I can't stop reading them, even the ones that I find completely idiotic. Two such comics are Garfield and Blondie. It's a well-known fact that Garfield is not funny. The thing that annoys me about Garfield, besides its continued existence, is the visual laziness of it. Take today's installment for example. The drawing of Garfield never changes in any of the seven panels. Neither the background nor the telephone changes in any of the seven panels as well. The only thing that changes is John's facial expression and hands. I have found that most Garfield comic strips follow a similar pattern. Garfield would be more entertaining if Jim Davis ditched all of the dialog and plot structure and turned the comic into Hocus Focus.

From a visual standpoint, Blondie is much richer than Garfield, but the storyline is just as idiotic. Loyal readers of the comics know that this year is the 75th anniversary of the Dagwood & Blondie comic strip. The comic strip has obviously had to change over the past 75 years to keep pace with the modern world, but the way that it has changed has been somewhat nonsensical. Blondie joined the ranks of liberated women when she opened her own catering company maybe ten years ago. Dagwood goes to work in a carpool (perhaps in response to the oil shocks of the 1970s), but he's still the connsummate 1950s company man with his bow ties and his abusive, tyranical boss. In today's very special 75th anniversary comic, we see Dagwood in full 1950s dad mode sitting on his favorite chair watching TV with his loyal dog. The next panels show his sexpot daughter Cookie dressed up like a porn star answering a phone call from the President, who makes a cameo along with the first lady in the final panel. If we're going to be stuck reading about the exploits of Dagwood & Blondie for another 75 years, I hope they can manage to decide which decade that want to live in and stick with it.

5 comments:

MDS said...

I never read the comics, although I did recently come across my wife's Calvin and Hobbes book and I decided to start reading it. I've actually very much enjoyed it. I had never read Calvin and Hobbes at all, and I went from apathetic to antagonistic toward Calvin and Hobbes when I started seeing idiots with stickers of Calvin urinating on their cars. But I now would have to say it's my second-favorite comic, behind only The Far Side.

dhodge said...

The whole Calvin pissing phenomenon was very interesting. Calvin and Hobbes, like many great cartoons and comics, could be enjoyed on numerous levels. On the surface, it appealed to children and perhaps grown men who had an intense hatred of certain car manufacturers. On a higher level, the strip and its two main characters were named after John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes.

MDS said...

I had never known that was where their names came from. Do you happen to know why?

dhodge said...

Look at the Wikipedia entry for John Calvin and scroll down to the triva section for a possible explanation.

MDS said...

That's great. I do think Calvin and Hobbes seems to be the type of strip that exposes children to big ideas, which I wholeheartedly endorse.