10 Pages of Comics = Three Laughs. This is fuzzy math indead.

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.
G’Night Y’all

IT’s 5am here in Portland, I’ve got to go to work, and I’m feeling too damn lazy to move this to MPSIMS.
Let’s change the format slightly!

O.k. everybody-rate your local Sunday Funnies here.

In my opinion, the comics are, for the most part, not meant to make you laugh anymore. They are now about something else. What that something else is, is kind of fuzzy.

(1). Familiarity: You see these characters everyday doing their usual things, just like your friends and co-workers. There is something re-assuring about that. Dagwood always runs into the postman while trying to catch his ride, Mr. Wilson is once again cranky, Hagar and company man the battering ram, Marmaduke is still large but friendly…

(2). Contrast: The paper itself is a world of chaos full of terrible things happening, mostly to people you do not know. But here, on the comics page( where we know the characters), everything is light and the same. We all lament that the comics are uninteresting and unchallenging–but the newspapers would not carry them if they were not what the people wanted. At my job, the comics page always disappears from the breakroom first. Is it different at your job? If they’re so bad, why does everyone read them? Despite the horrors going on around us, and in print around the comics page, these mundane mildly amusing and mostly innocuous events transpire daily. We hold on to that.

(3). Co-hesiveness: Most news in the paper is terrible–full of crime and horrors and unhappiness–it is that way every day. There’s no surpise when you read the paper and discover dreadful things going on just out of reach. If one picked up the paper and found it full of good news and hopes–well that would be even odder than finding the “funnies” page as actually funny. No, the newspaper presents this awful news–and we are pretty much numbed by it because we’ve seen it all before. We are also numbed, in a different way, by the sameness of the comics. The comics act as an opposite to the news and together create a whole. Yin-Yang Lite?

(4). The comics are not challenging: Humor challenges. The news is usually presented in a way that confirms what we know to be true. Isn’t it amazing how “liberals” and “conservatives” can view the same news story and both have it confirm their beliefs? I surmise that this confirmation is exactly what many people want from their newspaper. And they get it. From every section they get it.


As to rating the Sunday funnies: Give me **Slylock Fox **every time. The “how to draw” section is very strange, the “spot the differences” fairly amusing, and the villains are great. Shady Shrew is eventually going to jail if he can’t learn to lie better, but in the meantime he is cool.

One of the better holiday gifts we recieved last year was a subscription to The Funny Times. Lotsa comics in there. Of course, they tend to be black and cynical, but the laugh/comic ratio is high. Well, more like snorts, not laughs.

I earnestly direct your attention to Sluggy Freelance at http://www.sluggy.com . Intelligent, funny, weird, touching. A nerd, a mad inventor, a homicidal laser-sighted Glock Wielding bunny, an adorable hyperactive ferret and Chicks!
**Caveats: **
a)- the comic has been going for over 3 years now and if you like it then POOF go the next few hours of your life while you catch up.
b)This strip involves continuity and character development. The plots can be very long-running and intricate. It can be confusing. Check out the ‘new viewers guide’ and try a couple of plot arcs from there first. I particularly recommend the Mecha Easter Bunny one.
I have no financial interest in this site. I just love this guy to death. This strip justifies the existence of the internet. (IMO).

I got 4 laughs out of that issue.
But I’m always considered a “good audience”.
In fact, the comedy clubs give me free drinks just to sit in the front row and start the ball rolling for each new guy.

I’ve never liked Sluggy Freelance. I have encountered any number of Sluggy fans over the years, and each one recommends it to me (because I draw cartoons sometimes too, so it’s some common thread they can perceive), and each time I give it another try. And, as you might guess, each time I do not laugh. I do not even admire the art, which is questionable in quality. I especially do not admire how much of the strip is speech bubble, and how much is characters trying to fit around the speech bubbles.

My somewhat dead strip PigeonMan at http://www.guanolad.com has a very bizarre sense of humour - maybe that’s why I don’t go for Sluggy, it’s just ‘not my thang.’

Man–you didn’t laugh at Tom the Dancing Bug? Okay, so today was an off day, but normally I find it hysterical.

I love Tom the Dancing Bug, especially the Super Fun pack comix.

To the OP: For good comics, one must start with a good newspaper, which the Post is not. The Post is a rag, the likes of which I would not use to line a birdcage (out of respect for the bird, of course).

For some reason my browser doesn’t want to get your pages right now, but I glimpsed a couple of Pigeonman strips earlier and they definitely have that edge.

Fox Trot usually elicits a chuckle at the very least. Sometimes it has me rolling :D. I can always count on Jason to provide some abusrdist humor.

From Sunday’s strip: “My wizard approaches the castle door with his +23 Staff of Godly Flame…”

From a strip many years ago: “We’re playing Trumpopoly®. The idea is to acquire so much wealth and property that your opponent bows down to worship you.”

Dilbert’s Sunday strips are hit-and-miss, but yesterday’s was a hoot! Especially that grin on Catbert’s face! hee hee hee

The Family Circus hasn’t been funny in years. Twice in the last year it scored an “almost funny” on my laugh-o-meter, but it hasn’t actually gotten there since the 70’s.

Sorry to be the one to break this to you all, but since we’re talking about completely non-funny comics, Fred Laswell, creator of funny pages power house “Snuffy Smith” died of a heart attack. My brother sent me an e-mail from the AP wire, but I can’t find an online source for it. You’ll just have to believe me.

I make sure to read the newspaper comics every day (Los Angeles Times, FWIW), but I agree with the OP that the comics just aren’t that funny any more. Fortunately, there are more and more quality web-comics to fill the bill.

My daily must-read web comics list (which will undoubtedly reveal just what flavor of a geek I am):
[ul]
[li]Kevin and Kell[/li][li]Sluggy Freelance[/li][li]General Protection Fault[/li][li]Sinfest[/li][li]PvP[/li][li]Dork Tower[/li][/ul]

And just to touch on GuanoLad’s comment on Sluggy Freelance: don’t worry, Sluggy is not for everyone. I didn’t take to it the first time I read it, either, and couldn’t figure out why everyone seemed so gung-ho for the comic. After reading the entire archives, though, I finally saw the appeal of the characters – but even so, I agree that it’s definitely not for everyone. On the other hand, if Sluggy did appeal to everyone, then it wouldn’t be Sluggy. :slight_smile:

It’s spelled “indeed.”
I can’t remember the last time I laughed at the comics. Occasionally they’ll garner a smirk. I like Sluggy Freelance, though.

posted by SterlingNorth: “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.”

Yes, it did take up an entire newspaper page. That comics
today can’t do that, at least, is not their fault-
it’s cost-prohibitive, so you can’t sell your beautiful
huge art to a syndicate.

On the web, of course, somebody could do that, and, while
some web comics do experiment with the form, realizing they
can get huge, be weird shapes, etc., most don’t. Also,
there’s nothing near a “Little Nemo” out there. (Then again,
nobody’s paying them to make this stuff).

Having said that, there are web comics worth reading, that
for my $$, are a lot better than most print strips:


http://www.soaprope.com/
http://www.superosity.com/
http://www.choppingblock.org/

I hope somebody ends up enjoying those as much as I do.

First off, for I’m sure all of my life I’ve turned to the comic section first, before reading any other part of the newspaper. It’s the only way to make the rest halfway bearable.

Secondly, I agree that it’s familiarity we often seek more than laughs. I don’t expect a belly laugh every day. If I get one (which I do occasionally), it’s a bonus. But I wouldn’t want to live without them…and I read EVERY single comic in our paper – even the really dumb serial ones like Mark Trail (so square it’s funny in itself).

It could also be that my tastes in humor are simple. A good bit of slapstick can still sometimes amuse me – after all, Mr. Dithers still kicking Dagwood violently in the ass after all these years is so absurd that you got to love it.

I’m also very language-oriented, and to give credit where credit is due, in the last year or so “Shoe” has come up with some extremely clever twists on stock phrases or clichés that I’ve enjoyed. Wish I could think of an example, but I can’t, but they’ve been good.

And then, every once in awhile, a gem where you least expect it. Not a belly laugh-inducer by any means, but this one was so perfect I cut it out and put it on the refrigerator…

Dagwood and his son Alexander are sitting on the couch together.

1

Alexander: “Dad, can you explain something to me?”
Dagwood: “I’ll try, son.”
2

Dagwood: “What is it you don’t understand?”
3

Alexander: “Why do women…”
Dagwood: “I don’t know.”

Now, having said this, let’s talk about the prime offender in the “not funny” sweepstakes, “B.C.” Is this guy off his rocker or what? It’s only partially because he seems to be somewhere to the right of Atilla the Hun. I can’t criticize him for injecting his politics into his strip and then give Garry Trudeau a pass for doing the same.

But IT’S JUST NOT FUNNY – almost never. At least Trudeau usually makes you chuckle as he puts the needle in. But the B.C. guy (Hart?) – this is the one strip I would not shed a tear for if it were dropped by my paper.

[incredulous:eek:]You don’t think Johnny Hart is funny?!?!?!?[/incredulous:eek:]

I don’t remember seeing any far-right politics in B.C.–gimme a fr’instance? My major complaint re Hart is that he doesn’t know how to use apostrophe’s.

Fr’instance, usually when that poet in B.C. pens some
verse.

I think he’s recently lamented the separation of church and
state.

And not strictly politically right-wing, but he likes to
point out how ridiculous evolution is whenever he can.

BigStar303, I love Mark Trail, and I don’t apologize
for it. It’s got a simple lack of ironic attitude that I
appreciate, and the storyline actually moves, unlike many
other serial strips. Also, Mark doesn’t sit around thinking
constantly - I don’t remember when I saw a thought balloon
in that strip- Elrod shows instead of tells. He does good,
basic storytelling.

Count me in with BigStar303 – Johnny Hart isn’t just unfunny, but his far-right political bludgeoning leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

The most recent example that comes to mind were several strips during the November election/Florida fiasco – Hart ran several strips about a “Democrat vote counter” doll that “keeps recounting votes until the cows come home,” or something similar. Har har har. And I vaguely recall assorted “Jesus died for our sins” Christmas-themed strips, along with several school-prayer strips.

I can forgive Hart for the above if his strips were at least funny, but they’re not – they’re just stereotypical right-wing opinionation hidden behind a thin veneer of “oh, it’s just a comic strip”.

And sure, Garry Trudeau’s been opinionating in Doonesbury for years, but at least Trudeau skewers everyone regardless of political party or position (witness this week’s run on Clinton’s continued troubles). Hart is politically neutral unless he finds an opportunity to cheer for the GOP, and that kind of blatant political grandstanding is nauseating to me.

You don’t?[/incredulous:eek:] It’s my turn to be “incredulous.” As Bup has pointed out, it often comes out in the wooden-legged poet’s verses, but it’s been elsewhere as well.

I regret I can’t think of any specific instances – though Bup is also right that there have been frequent religious references of a fundamental nature, often tied into expressing what a silly idea Hart must think it is to have separation between church and state. But not to worry; given his rate over the past few years, there’s bound to be another example shortly, which I’ll be sure to cite.

I sure hope you were being intentionally funny (or trying to be) when you wrote this!