Comic Strips Live: My morning daily online-news routine goes like this: The New York Times (with Wordle and Spelling Bee) followed by The Guardian, Google News and then … the most satisfying …
Comic Strips Live: My morning daily online-news routine goes like this: The New York Times (with Wordle and Spelling Bee) followed by The Guardian, Google News and then … the most satisfying and time-consuming … the comics.
Comics, aka the funnies, have been a big draw for me — and most newspaper readers — long before the internet arrived.
Before PT, we lived near Santa Rosa, California, home of the late Charles Schulz, whose “Peanuts” had such phenomenal readership that a PBS doc once called him “the wealthiest American artist ever.” Probably true.
I used to occasionally play golf with the genial “Sparky” Schulz. But that’s another column. Namedropping concluded.
We’ll try today to pick the best strips (daily cartoonists call themselves “strippers.”)
Here’s a clip ‘n save guide. Sorry, no links, so, have scissors handy? I’ll wait. Ready?
THE BEST STRIPS
Click on GoC’omics to find these:
— “Doonesbury”: The ultra-talented Gary Trudeau’s strip has been in reruns for years, but even the repeats are addictively clever. He now draws only one new strip a week, on Sundays. Still the best strip going.
— “Pearls Before Swine”: From another Santa Rosa cartoonist, Stefan Pastis. A lot of solid, topical material comes from a cynical rat, a dimbulb pig, and a liberal goat. And no one takes more — or better — shots at social media than Pastis.
— “For Better or Worse”: Canadian cartoonist Lynn Johnston’s knowing take on family life (including two teens) rarely disappoints.
— “Frank and Ernest”: The inevitable puns here are groaners, but clever. (E.g., A psychoanalyst reference includes the gag “You’re only Jung once.”)
— “The Argyle Sweater” and “Bizarro” (the latter at Comics Kingdom) are the cleverest single panels going.
— “Clay Bennett”: Following Tom Toles’ Washington Post retirement, Tennessee-based Bennett is now THE best U.S. editorial cartoonist.
— “Cleats”: Cartoonist Bill Hinds’ kids-sports strip, and his pro sports one, “Tank McNamara,” are the best in the sporting world. They both feature good gags daily.
— “Elderberries”: The late Phil Franks’ amusing strip NOW in reruns centers on a group of quirky residents at an assisted-living home.
— “The Far Side”: The once-retired Gary Larson’s panels aren’t quite as funny as they once were.
— “Francis”: A gentle, amusing strip centered around — get this — the Pope!
— “Last Kiss”: A clever, funny idea here, taking old romance comics from the 1950s and giving them bawdy, updated gags.
— “Liberty Meadows”: Frank Cho may be the best pure artist in the comics. This daily strip is about an animal-rescue center. Cho draws the loveliest women, and how he draws their lustrous hair is impressive.
— “Frog Applause”: You want offbeat and weird? Look no further.
— “Sally Forth”: This strip about a working woman and her quirky husband and daughter has long been a favorite here.
— “The Family Circus”: I used to hate this panel about kid behavior. Then we had kids.
— The following are found at Comics Kingdom:
— “Blondie”: This strip has been around longer than me. I’m glad the late Chic Young handed off this strip about a suburban shlub to his son. It’s still amusing.
— “Zits”: Along with “Luann,” the best strip about teens.
— And … THE WORST.
— “Cathy”: Ack!
— “Andy Capp”: A drunk Brit getting 86’d from bars has limited comedic appeal.
— “B.C.”: A character named “The Fat Broad?” Prehistoric.
— “Dilbert” — A banished, once-clever strip is still popular at Klan gatherings.
— “Momma”: The late Mell Lazarus’ strip about a yenta mother seems an odd choice for the P.A. daily in this largely gentile area.
— “Garfield”: Please, someone, dump a pan of the gluttonous cat’s lasagna on creator Jim Davis’ pointy head. This tiresome, repetitive strip isn’t even as “funny” as “Marmaduke.”
Speaking of Strong Comics … Well, the stand-up type anyway:
In 1998, just before he landed “The Daily Show,” I interviewed Jon Stewart, talented but temporarily out of work. We met at a golf-course restaurant in Napa.
Comics tend to be quite bright, but Stewart was even more so than most.
I asked Stewart what he’d been doing between gigs.
Writing a book, he said.
What’s the topic?
“It’s about Hitler’s little-known career selling footwear,” he replied.
OK, I’ll bite. What’s the title?
Stewart: “Mein Kampf-ortable Shoes.”
(Reach Leader humor columnist Bill Mann at Newsmann9@gmail.com)
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