Andy's Art and Whatever

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Newspaper Comic Strip Drama

I like reading the newspaper comics, even though I hate most of the comics in there. Just for the heck of it, I’m gonna review all the ones that appear in our Milwaukee Journal. This is going to be a LONG journal, so if you see a strip you don’t care about, just ignore it and skip to the bottom of the page (unless you like reading long journals like this. lol.)

Baby Blues:
It’s ok, sometimes it’s funny and it’s interesting that the cartoon characters are growing up, but the addition of a “baby” to keep the title “baby blues” kinda annoys me. If that keeps up, soon the family will have like 5 or 6 babies in the strips lifetime.

Crankshaft:
It’s alright. It’s not always hilarious, but occasionally the “grumpy old man” humor is worth it. Plus they have more interesting plots such as bank robberies, comic book selling, and race discrimination in baseball.

Mutts:
I hate mutts. It’s never funny, and the drawings look like rip-offs of Krazy Kat. It’s also one of the only animal rights comics I’ve ever seen.

Garfield:
Garfield is getting to the point where it’s been around so long, the jokes are falling flat and are repetitive. You all know what I mean. But the spot-on hilarious drawings, occasionally funny jokes, and the fact that Jon is now dating Liz and is getting more screen time is keeping this strip around. I like the joke about the suicidal giant cookie dream.

Hi and Lois:
I’ve never seen anyone laugh at Hi and Lois. This is one of those 50's/60's comics that have been around FOREVER and are never going to change. They’re more or less there because people EXPECT it to be there.

Luann:
I flip-flop on liking Luann and being annoyed with Luann. There are some stories that I am very interested in (such as their house burning down), but then there are ones which annoy me (such as when Luann was considering getting a tattoo). More often than not it seems the jokes rely on the “hot” factor of Brad’s girlfriend and Luann’s naive innocence rather than any real character development.

Marvin:
Another sarcastic baby strip... ugh... I sometimes get Marvin mixed up with Garfield because the characters look like they’re from Garfield’s world.

Frank & Ernest
I like bad puns. This strip has TONS of bad puns. I like this strip.

Pickles:
Another old people comic. It’s alright, but it doesn’t have the sharp wit of Crankshaft (if you can call Crankshaft sharp). It’s more mellow innocence than anything else, which is probably why it’s stayed around for so long.

Zits:
Hit or Miss. Most of the time it’s just stereotypical teenager garbage. Sometimes it can be very funny, and it’s occasionally one of the more surreal comics in the newspaper (as is evident by a recent talking foot comic).

Beetle Bailey:
Drawn by the same guy who does Hi and Lois, this is another series that I honestly don’t understand why it’s still going. World War II ended over 50 years ago, yet it continues to go on and on in Beetle Bailey. Not to mention it’s one of the more blatantly racist and sexist comics in newspapers today. The only comic I know of in which the artist was forced to put his characters through “sensitivity training” to keep going.

Pearls Before Swine:
Hit or miss. I want to like Pearls before swine, but for some reason it doesn’t really connect with me. It’s also one of the more “chatty” comics, relying more on dialogue than actual art. In fact, many times I’ve noticed that all the panels are just photocopied and the text is the only thing changed. I hate “talking heads” comics like that. Yet I feel sympathy for the pig, and I like the Crocodile’s attempts to eat the Zebra.

Get Fuzzy:
You know, it’s weird. I LOVE Get Fuzzy, but I hate reading it in the Newspaper. As a stand alone comic in the paper it’s very wordy and uninteresting. But as a comic book compilation I get more milage because I can read each strip from page to page. Many times there seems to be no “joke” at the end, which makes the comic book compilations feel more like comic BOOKS than anything else. Either way, it’s still one of the most edgy comics in Newspapers right now, and Bucky is just hilarious to read.

Grand Avenue:
I hate the art. It’s just sarcastic kids living with the grandmother. Never very funny and did I mention I hate the art?

Mother Goose & Grimm
Occasionally funny to me. It’s another one of those bad pun series. Sometimes they are really good, and every now and then they go into a Far Side mode and tell jokes with one panel (which is refreshing).

Baldo:
I like baldo. The art is very well done, it teaches kids about Spanish words and phrases, and the jokes tend to be spot on. My only regret about this comic is that like Pearls Before Swine, many of the time the panels are just copy and pasted.

Sally Forth:
I started by hating Sally Forth. In every god damn comic, no matter what situation was going on, no matter what tragedy was unfolding, none of the characters ever lost their sarcastic smile from their faces. There was a whole series (i think it lasted a year) in which the husband lost his job, was destitute, started going a little insane, didn’t shave, was depressed and sad.... and yet... he never stopped smiling. NEVER!!!!!!
I started reading Sally Forth because I hated it so much and I was always poking fun at it. But now it’s starting to grow on me, which disturbs me greatly. Also, I think Hil’s best friend is a lesbian.

Jumpstart:
Innocent humor comic. I have nothing against it, and nothing to say either. It’s alright, but it’s never really caught my attention.

Between Friends:
Aside from Sally Forth, this is the only other comic that I try to follow religiously. The story going on now about an abusive husband and her friend trying to help her has taken a turn for the worse and it’s pretty darn rare to see anything of the sort in a newspaper comic. I can’t think of any other strip besides “For Better or Worse” that would attempt to addresses such issues in a tasteful manner. The only thing that bothers me is that many of the women are drawn similar and sometimes I get confused about who I am reading about. Also, the main protagonist’s nose is point when seen at a 3/4th angle, but has a sharp ledge when seen from the side. Strange inconsistencies like that throw me off.

Daddy’s Home:
I never knew that it was possible to draw all men like lesbians. Kudos for this strip in showing me that I was wrong.

Arlo & Janis:
Part of making a successful comic strip is putting all the right pieces together. Whenever I read Arlo and Janis I always fee like I’m missing something. I don’t know what it is, but many of the strips just fall flat and I either can’t figure out what the **** they’re talking about, or the panel transitions from one to the next make no sense to me.

Curtis:
I like Curtis. I like the style it’s drawn in. I like the stories that they’ve told so far. I like the characterization of them all. My only fear is that it’s going to fall into a rut like Garfield and start becoming repetitive. The idea that Curtis had to go back to school for the summer because of bad grades was also something I don’t see in comic strips either, so that was refreshing, AND it led to some interesting side stories.

I refuse to review “Bizarro,” “Family Circus,” and “Ziggy” because those are not comic strips. Comic strips are sequential art. These are just single panel cartoons, which by the definition of sequential art, are not comics. They are cartoons. Also... I hate Family Circus and it infuriates me to no end that the greatest Disney Animator alive today (glen Keane) is related to the writer of the strip (Bil Keane).

So now that I have totally wasted your time with this pointless review of my local newspapers comics, what do YOU all read? What comics in the newspaper do you actually look forward to reading, or read without the gag reflex? Do you disagree or agree with some of my reviews?

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