Thursday, May 5, 2011

National Cartoonists Day

It's to surprise to my readers that I like my comic strips. And while it's true that my tastes have evolved over the years, two things have remained constant: I've always liked Peanuts, and I've always disliked Alley Oop. Not that I didn't try awfully hard as a kid to like Alley Oop. It just never caught my fancy.

It's the same with Pearls Before Swine. Really trying to like it. I come close several times, but most of the time, no, it's just Alley Oop all over again. And I can't really put my finger to why I don't much care for either of those two strips, either, though Swine's awful puns and plays on words are a big turnoff for me. Never much liked puns as a kid. Except for those that appeared in Wiley's Dictionary. Something about that disembodied, authoritative voice just made the awfulness come to life for me.

Absurdity, like this, I do like:

[He tries in vain to find a comic to fit the absurdity bill here. No luck. Almost all of my comic books are in storage because there's not enough room on the shelves for them. Next house will have lots of bookshelves. And a garage.]

There are better ones than this. Just don't have the time to find one tonight.

Two things started my love affair with comic strips: First, the Forbidden Books -- BC and Wizard of Id collections -- my brother Jeff had hidden on his bookshelf, but not well enough that his younger brothers couldn't find them. Second, "Barnaby," which my sixth grade teacher Mr. Loertscher read to us using what I recognize now as the voice of W.C. Fields as Mr. O'Malley. (It doesn't matter what any of my other elementary school teachers did or any of the stuff they tried to make us learn. My most lasting memories of school will always be of "Barnaby.") My dream one of these days is to find some "Barnaby" comic books in a thrift store. I love to dream that dream. I know they've been reprinted. But to find an original . . .

So who are my favorites today?

Well, Cul de Sac, for one. And Dilbert, for another. And the Dogs of C Kennel I rather enjoy. Overboard. Baby Blues. Yes, I'm a traditional newspaper comic strip fan. None of this magna or DC Comics or anything like that. No. They all appeal to the desire I have to feed the absurdist within.

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