The Sunday funnies

I haven’t read the Sunday comics in, I dunno, 10 or 20 years. On a lark I decided to read every strip in this morning’s newspaper (you remember newspapers?) to see if, by chance, I was missing out on some funny.

My verdict: After reading every one of the 25 strips my paper offers I have concluded that the amount of funny contained therein is zero.

Some were cringey (The Lockhorns, Beetle Baily), others disappointing (Get Fuzzy, Dilbert), and at least one was completely baffling (Scary Gary). The only one that even remotely approached amusing was Rhymes with Orange (note I said ‘approached’, not ‘was’).

I remember reading and enjoying them as a kid. I’m not sure what has changed, me or the comics. I do have fond memories of Peanuts, Doonsbury, The Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes, and a few others.

For the record, these are the strips I endured today:
Arlo and Janis
Barney and Clyde
Beetle Bailey
Dogs of C-Kennel
Get Fuzzy
Heart of the City
Jump Start
Pajama Diaries
Pearls Before Swine
Prince Valiant
Rhymes with Orange
Sally Forth
Scary Gary
Stone Soup
The Lockhorns

It would depend on what comics are run. You list does have a few good ones – Rhymes with Orange, Get Fuzzy (though I think they’re doing reruns these days), Crankshaft (you need to read is regularly, though), Pearls Before Swine, and Dilbert (not as good as it once was, but OK).

At least you haven’t had to go through that steaming pile of poo that’s “Thatababy.”

But the problem is that newspapers have had to stick with “family friendly” comics, at a time when most comedy is edgier material.

Plus, Sunday section only show one strip at a time. If I’m browsing through, say, an online archive and one in five strips make me laugh, I can keep clicking and see something funny every few seconds. And I’ll say, “This strip is funny.” If it’s in the paper, odds are it will be one of the four strips that makes me go “meh”.

I am an avid comics reader (in fact, I pay to have comics E-mailed to me every day), so let me see if I can find reasons for lack of humor in some of these.

In a number of cases, the strip has been around so long that it is self-referencing things more than trying to be outright funny. Case in point: Sally Forth - last week’s strip dealt with why, yet again, Sally and Ted weren’t invited to any parties (it turns out that all of the people they invited to their summer BBQ had accepted invitations to a party being held by somebody Sally and Ted didn’t invite to the BBQ - no further explanation needed to the strip’s diehard fans).

Crankshaft - the consensus is, the author is less interested in humor and more interested in morality (and trying to win a Pulitzer) now. This is especially apparent with his other strip, Funky Winkerbean.

Get Fuzzy - as already stated, these are reruns from 2006. Every now and then, there’s a good one, but it’s pretty much “Bucky (the cat) and one of his friends get into some shenanigans that drive Rob (his owner) and Satchel (the dog) crazy,” or, “Bucky gets involved with the neighbor’s ferret.”

Luann - another victim of being around for decades, and relatively recently, the characters have started aging, so the strip now concentrates on the characters’ lives rather than necessarily going for the punchline.

Non Sequitur - you were in luck today; for the past few months, the Sunday strips have been dealing with a storyline about some monk with mysterious powers, and the attempts of a woman to protect him from his superiors, who want to use him for their own gains. Still, if you don’t already know the characters involved in today’s strip, the joke might not make sense.

Pearls Before Swine - hey, at least it wasn’t one of those strips that ends in a bad pun.

Prince Valiant - this has never meant to be funny (and “never” is the word for it; it has been around for something like 80 years).

Stone Soup - another “been around for decades” strip that takes an occasional break from humor to deal with the characters’ lives, and throw in the occasional message.

I read the following seven comics in The Washington Post each day:

Classic Doonesbury (and new Doonesbury on Sundays)
Barney and Clyde

The Washington Post runs 41 comics, and I slowly cut down until I read just these seven.

Josh Fruhlinger reads the comics so I don’t have to.

I read this blog every day. It makes the funny papers funny.

It’s been several years since I got a newspaper, but when I did, I always read the comics, and I recognize slightly less than half of the OP’s list. I remember enjoying (on a good day) Pearls Before Swine, Zits, Foxtrot, Baby Blues, and maybe a couple of others.

My newspaper had a fairly decent comics section, but it apparently leaned heavier than yours on the “legacy strips” (aka “zombie comics”) that have been around for decades and have outlived their original creators: The Family Circus, Dennis the Menace, Beetle Bailey, Hi and Lois, Blondie. As I understand it, newspaper readership skews old, and strips like these are familiar “comfort reading” for the people who’ve been reading them all their lives. They’re mostly pretty lame and dated (although I did sometimes genuinely enjoy Blondie), but they’re at least professionally done, and I’d be madder at them for taking up space if there actually were more really high-quality strips nowadays that they were crowding out.

Of the OP’s list, I regularly read (online)(the local paper doesn’t have a comics section and I read the LA Times online):

Arlo and Janis
Get Fuzzy
Pearls Before Swine
Rhymes with Orange
Stone Soup (Sundays)

Plus the following that aren’t online only, but through

Baby Blues
Sherman’s Lagoon
Ballard Street
The Duplex
9 Chickweed Lane
Brewster Rockit
Calvin and Hobbes
In the Bleachers
Strange Brew
Argyle Sweater
The Knight Life
Over the Hedge
Are they always funny? Not even close. Is it still worth my time for the occasional chuckle, certainly.

silenus:. If you have a GoComics subscription, try In Security.

It’s only two years old, has GREAT art and amusing attractive characters and a weird sense of humor; I’ve been following it for about six months, did the archive binge thing, and have already bought the first dead tree book collection.

I often enjoy Foxtrot (which is now Sunday only). I follow that (and some daily strips) from Washington Post ( plus a few web comics (most of which are weakdays only)


Because they would never survive on the strongdays, I guess.

Huh, I only just now noticed that the Plain Dealer doesn’t carry Beetle Bailey any more. Eh, no great loss, there.

Of the OP’s list intersected with the ones I know, Frazz, Non Sequitur, Pearls Before Swine, and Zits are usually good. Sally Forth is, too, but you have to be familiar with the characters. Pickles is seldom laugh-out-loud, but is often good for a chuckle, and I enjoy Pajama Diaries as well.

Just throwing in that Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County has returned. It is solely published on his Facebook page and is closer to the old days rather than his less interesting spinoff strips.

Read the first 15 or so, decided it was written by someone watching my life. Added. Thanks!

Wait, you’re married to Sedine?

(Positively drooling with jealousy)

Bizarro and Rhymes With Orange are about the only two that are consistently amusing. Pearls has become repetitive (Rat’s an asshole, Pig’s an idiot, yes we get it).

As someone who occasionally identifies with Pig, I prefer to think of him as “innocent”, thank you.

My apologies, sir. Didn’t mean to ruffle your bacon.

Phantom-Between the twins, I’m hoping we get our first female Phantom.
Judge Parker-The stories are like the wild and wooly plots from 80’s soaps.
Safe Havens-Never grows stale, and never fails to surprise.
Pearls Before Swine-Loving the bad puns.
Dick Tracy-The writers are doing it a world of good.