Cloudy dreary Saturday afternoons tend to cloud your mind with unhappy thoughts. I was thinking about how it will be very likely I will be working long grueling hours at a at a droneworth job, at pay that can’t begin to compensate the slow death that it will accelerate. That I will work for many more years, since by the time I’ll be able to afford to retire, it’ll be twenty years past my death. And that was an optmistic view of the situation I developed in 1997, before that R-word – banana – entered our lexicon. You know, this is a job for the trusty Sunday comics! And as a loyal reader of the Washington Post, I picked up my Sunday paper today solely for the massive comics section.
I fly right pass the horror stories: The news that area teachers have to take up moonlighting just to be live here poor; The news that we are heading further into “R” – banana; black kids are more likely to be in special-ed; Britain and Mad-Cow; Israel and terrorism. I glid right past that glossy in the magazine about Virginia’s stand of defiance against school intergration, by just shutting them all down. Surely, one of our finer hours in history. I reached straight for the quad-color patchwork quilt. Two sections actually.
Did you know the Washington Post carries 10 pages of comics? Did you know they had 42 strips on Sundays ( 43 if you care to search the WP Magazine for “Dilbert” ). That I know these statistics is not a good omen. Another bad stat is three! That’s the number of laughs that I can attribute to the comics. I get more chuckles from the guys who are booed off the Apollo stage. (Coincidently enough “It’s Showtime at the Apollo” just came on now. Let’s see if Amateur Night can prove my statement right.)
I can tell you where and when I chuckled – not laughed, not giggled, just chuckled…and that was a little forced.
I chuckled at the “For Better or For Worse” sight gag which had young April (now seven or eight) using her raincoat as a makeshift sled. I thought Huey’s comment, “Life is its own terminal illness,” from “The Boondocks” cute. Maybe because he has seemed to mirror my own sentiments. Finally I liked the punchline to Sunday’s “Zits.” There were some cute almosts, like "Baldo"s lament involving a relativly relistically rendered Jennifer Lopez and the “Mutts” homiage to Rube Goldberg, but I wasn’t laughter inspiring funny.
Or even thought inspiring. You don’t need to think to read the comics anymore. I hate to say this, because there are dozens of hard working people behind their pencils and graphic pens struggling through relentless deadlines, but much of the time I feel I could write these strips in between the time I wake up and I eat breakfast. I suspect the difficult job here is changing the joke just enough so that the readers don’t suspect. There’s no wonder, no amazement left in the pages.
I remember seeing a Sunday “Little Nemo in Slumberland” in a library book. I gather that it took up the whole page of a paper. It had some intricate backgrounds and what appeared to be a story. It’s a shame that this was published so soo many years ago. I got interested in what happened next. Unlike now, where it seems to be a nervous tic; a remnant from when Sunday was “Calvin and Hobbes” day. “Bloom County” day. I remember what was in those two specific strips. I don’t remember anything specific in “Garfield” or “Hagar the Horrible” or “BC.” It’s probably by design. That way they can still use the jokes that appeared 10 years ago without anyone knowing or caring.
By the way, in case you were wondering, I laughed twice during “Apollo”. But that was probably because there was just one comedian and one really bad dancer tonight.
This was meant to be a pit rant, but it lacked the requisite bile and vitriol. I guess I’m more disappointed, really. I want to stay a kid but the world is forcing me to grow up.