Friday, November 23, 2012

See You in the Funny Papers

Popcorn by The Colonel #18

Thumbnail comments on half of the Hartford Courant’s daily funnies:

■ “Peanuts” was Schultz’s second choice for the strip’s name. His first, “L’il Folks,” was already taken. "Peanuts" was meant to mean something like “small potatoes,” but everyone asked, “Which character is Peanuts?” The strip was great for a long time, then went flat. The reruns are still in the good period, which was long, so yay.

■ “Doonesbury” has been great since day one, either because of, in spite of, or regardless of, its political slant.

■ “Garfield” was supposedly funny at some period, but not within The Colonel’s memory.

■ “Shoe” is a stain on the memory of Jeff MacNelly, who was a great editorial cartoonist.

■ “Dustin” is stupid.

■ “Pearls Before Swine” is a thrilling hit-or-miss affair that often spoofs its medium. The three-panel strip on Friday 23 November was a hit. 

~~Panel one shows Goat and Rat by a kitchen window in which a pie sits. Rat says to Goat, “Check it out, Goat. It’s a pie, cooling on that windowsill. We’re supposed to steal it. It’s a comic strip gag dating back to the Great Depression.” 

~~Panel two: Goat says, “I’m gluten-intolerant, and there’s no way that’s gluten-free.” 

~~Last panel: Rat says, “Well, that made for a good comic strip.”

■ “Mutts” has a retro drawing style, but treacly content.

■ “Arctic Circle” is beneath notice, and it’s hard to believe that it was chosen to replace the abysmal “Cathy” after extensive polling.

■ “Jump Start” is a joy, artistically and thematically. The more than occasional surreality shows Robb Armstrong’s daft imagination and deft touch.

■ “Get Fuzzy” is even better than it seems, because Darby Conley sucks you in to these human-animal interactions so slickly that you don’t even think, “What universe is this?” (Answer: Canada)

■ “Blondie”: it is a miracle that a strip this old and limited continues to be enjoyable. “The pups” became just Daisy.

■ “Gil Thorp,” “Mary Worth,” “Rex Morgan,” and “Judge Parker”: never read ’em; grateful that the Courant clumps them together for convenience of skipping.

■ “Baldo”: tiresome.

■ “Soup to Nutz”: low-level amusing. Gay, gullible little Andrew is lovable. Reminds one of the joke: “I used to practice dancing in the mirror until my father caught me and took away my tutu.”

■ “Funky Winkerbean”: an amazing strip, went through big changes, had daring plot lines, not now in its best years, sad to say.

■ “Lio”: good-quality puerile humor -- comparable to “Far Side”?

■ “Wizard of Id”: no words. Loved Johnny Hart.

■ “Rhymes with Orange”: sub-meh. BTW, a word that rhymes with orange is “sporange,” a very rare alternative form of “sporangium” (a botanical term for a part of a fern or similar plant). You’re welcome.

■ “Monty” (formerly “Robotman”): Odd strip; no sympathetic characters. Jim Meddick clearly has issues. Best part: humiliation humor.

Comments on more strips perhaps another time.

■ Strips that went away when The Colonel wasn’t looking: “Mutt and Jeff,” "The Katzenjammer Kids," "Barney Google and Snuffy Smith," "Andy Capp," “The Phantom,” “Mandrake the Magician,” “Flash Gordon,” “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” “The Jackson Twins,” “Thimble Theater starring Popeye,” “They’ll Do It Every Time” by Jimmy Hatlo. The Colonel misses them all except for The Jackson Twins.

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