Saturday, July 14, 2007

More information on comics can be found on the Internet

During my time in college, the dining halls started providing copies of real-world newspapers alongside the towering, usually neglected stacks of campus publications. You had to get to breakfast early if you wanted to land a copy of The New York Times -- I usually did, because that's just the sort of go-getting, early-rising, I-paid-for-three-meals-and-I'm-gonna-eat-them student I was. The New Haven Register, on the other hand, tended to last throughout the day. This was partly because there were more copies to begin with, and partly because the majority of Yalies had very little interest in what went on in the city where we lived for most of the year, but it was mostly because the New Haven Register was a terrible newspaper, from almost every angle. There was one thing I loved about it, though: it had a daily comics page, and it ran lots of comics. It packed them in so tightly that you needed a magnifying glass to read Peanuts. I was an early riser in high school too, and I read the comics every day, even after Bill Watterson quit doing Calvin and Hobbes (my mom and I used to chat about the goings-on in For Better or for Worse). So having access to the comic strips again was a comforting reminder of home.

The Register, with its ugly layout and typographical error-prone content, was a natural home for my favorite high-school-sports-focused serial, Gil Thorp. I'd never heard of Gil Thorp before I noticed it in the Register, but I fell in love with its awkward art and stilted storytelling immediately. At lunchtime, I could often be found trying to convince my friends that they, too, should be reading Gil Thorp. "Guys, you don't understand!" I would tell them. "It's crazy today! This cheerleader thinks she's pregnant! And they just played an entire basketball game in three panels!" But no one else grew up reading Marvin; no one was interested in listening to me explain why Fred Bassett is superior to Marmaduke; no one wanted to gossip with me about the latest lame development in the world of For Better or for Worse. (I think they were all getting the same so-bad-it's-good thrill out of reruns of Saved by the Bell.)

Imagine my joy, then, when I discovered The Comics Curmudgeon just a few weeks ago! Essentially a Television Without Pity for the funny pages (right down to the devoted readership and surprisingly active discussion forum), The Comics Curmudgeon picks out a few of the day's standout strips and analyzes them for the edification of all. Which means I can once again keep up with the action in Gil Thorp and the irritating dialogue tics in For Better or for Worse, and make fun of them at the same time! I have found my people! Do check it out: this analysis of Popeye and (especially) Mark Trail has had me giggling for days.

If that floats your boat, there are lots of other making-fun-of-the-"funnies" web destinations you might want to check out. Joe Mathlete Explains Today's Marmaduke is a must-bookmark, if you've ever been consumed with rage over the low quality and incredible lifespan of most of the comics now in syndication (and Marmaduke in particular). And Comics I Don't Understand is a clearinghouse for incomprehensible strips and poorly-executed punch lines.

Finally, not really related but still very worth visiting: Spamusement! Poorly drawn cartoons inspired by actual spam subject lines! is all that it promises and more. Actually, most of the cartoons are reasonably well drawn (compared to crap like Marmaduke, anyway). But the point is, they're funny. My favorite so far is HELLO ME NOT DEAD. Now go enjoy yourself, kids, and don't say I never gave you anything.


John said...

Not in college, but in high school, I read the comics religiously too. The Columbus Dispatch was my New Haven Register. I think you might my long-list sister. :-) It's all about the Luann drama.

Thank you for Gil Thorp. Wouldn't it be great if the whole series just ended with "BOB! WATCH OUT!"

I miss Funny Paper.


Ed said...

This was the most amazing site, dissecting Garfield (alas, it is no longer being updated):

And have you seen these superbly stilted/faithful 'Mary Worth' reenactments?

Mollie said...

Ed: those "Mary Worth" films are AMAZING. Simultaneously funny and nightmarish. I had seen them before, possibly via a link from your blog? And now whenever I read a soap strip (which was never, until I found The Comics Curmudgeon) I picture it that way.

John: I wish you'd been around to read the "Register" comics with me! "Luann" gets mentioned a lot in lymphoma-patient circles, because a classmate of Luann's was treated for Hodgkin's in the late 90s. I read through the series and always aspired to be as good-humored (and as cute bald) as Delta. On the other hand, I am avoiding the current slow-death-from-cancer storyline in "Funky Winkerbean." (I wish that were a joke!)