Sunday, May 2, 2010

Capturing the Essence of Childhood

Richard Thompson speaks the truth.

And his kids -- the kids in his Cul de Sac comic strip -- speak the truth as well. (There's a permanent link to his comic strip website to the left. Please visit. His comic strip is wonderful. Demand that your local paper run it. Ours does.

They are children who speak and act and perform and worry and fret and prattle like children. Behold today's installment:

I have to admit that I, too, when I got to visit a furniture store -- we rarely did that as kids; we were always at home when Dad came back with the truck loaded with new furniture -- I also thought it would be pretty neat if the whole outdoors was like that, with furniture stretching as far as the eye can see. I was also convinced that when angels had to go to the bathroom, they did so over the forests where we went to get firewood because if they did it over the city, that would be gross.

I'm a big fan of comic book kids, and those who can be true to the life of kids in general are my favorites. Cul de Sac, this week I realized, has tipped Peanuts out of that lofty position. It's because in Cul de Sac, the angst and worry and tension and pathos and fear and joy and happiness and excitement and disappointment is all borne from children, not from an adult pushing adult worries onto his kiddie creations, like Charles Schulz did, or pushing manufactured childhood fantasy through the eye of an adult onto a pseudokid, as in Calvin and Hobbes.

I still like Charlie Brown and the gang, mind you. When Charlie Brown's lying on that hillside looking at the clouds with Linus and Lucy and is getting more and more freaked out as Linus describes the elaborate fantasies he sees in the clouds when all he sees is a ducky, I'm there with Chuck, feeling inadequate. I'm also a pretty big fan of Charlie's unrequitted love with the Little Red-Haired Girl, as the few friends I had in elementary school at his age were the girls that liked me for some reason, I don't know why.

Then there's this: I know this angst is pretty real for a kid. I experienced it myself.

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