Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cul de Sac

When the local paper started running this comic strip, "Cul de Sac," I wasn't quite sure I liked it. I do now. While the strip doesn't quite take the puckish approach to childhood that "Peanuts" took, but the strip still does explore the odd little ins and outs of childhood through the eyes of the children. As with Charles Shulz' characters, these kids participate in the world adults have created without really understanding the whys of what they're doing, as in this sample strip here. I also appreciate that, like Schulz, Richard Thompson, the artist and author, allows his characters to be intelligent. They use big vocabularies. They think things through, logically, almost getting away from the life of adulthood towards which they're racing at light speed. Thompson has hit a good vibe with me here.

In reading Chuck Jones' autobiography Chuck Amuck, I've had a peek into what he considers comedy, and Richard Thompson certainly picks up on what he says. Comedy, Jones says, starts with sympathy with a character in any kind of situation. Since there are times even as an adult I don't understand the whys and wherefores of this adult world I'm supposed to be a part of, I can easily sympathize with a character who is obsessed with learning how to wink and whistle just for the fact of being able to do so, not because she understands why it's important. (And adults, watching her struggles, may not understand that in the kid's point of view that being able to whistle and wink are important as steps toward adulthood. This sentence is getting way convoluted.)

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