Gafield Gets Old
June 19, 2003 9:13 PM   Subscribe

Garfield turns 25 this week. 25 years of comic strips, none of which were even remotely funny. Why do the great comics, like this or this or even this, disappear from our newspapers, while drivel like Garfield thrives? Some people even love Garfield. The rest of us just want to see him burn.
posted by hipnerd (88 comments total)

 
Could the scientists mention in this post genetically engineer Garfield to be funny?
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:14 PM on June 19, 2003


There are some things that even science does not have an answer for...
posted by hipnerd at 9:17 PM on June 19, 2003


And if the comic is bad, the movie will be pure evil.

But as bad as Garfield is, Fred Basset is far, far, far worse.
posted by jazon at 9:19 PM on June 19, 2003


Bill Murray was cast as the voice of Garfield. That is enough to make me go see it. Then again, I actually like the comic, I can not explain why but I always have.

Davis was on a morning news show today talking about the movie, said it would be live action like Scooby Doo and that the animals would be more realistic looking and also they would walk on all fours like real animals rather than on two legs like in the comic strips.

*shrugs*
posted by bargle at 9:26 PM on June 19, 2003


Those other guys didn't disappear, they all quit. Big difference.

And at least one of them quit while he was ahead.
posted by padraigin at 9:29 PM on June 19, 2003


but nothing tickles the old funnybone like nancy, sluggo and aunt fritzi, eh?
posted by quonsar at 9:31 PM on June 19, 2003


Oh please. If you want to prove your hipness by hating a mainstream comic that "everyone" loves, try despising Cathy. That's truly worthy of the spite.

ACK!!!
posted by jammer at 9:32 PM on June 19, 2003


Because Jim Davis learned his "craft" by working on "Tumbleweeds" as an assistant for several years while the named author went off and played golf all day. He got pretty good at what he was doing, and came up with "Garfield".

Then, he promptly went off and played golf all day while his assistants did the strip.
posted by yhbc at 9:33 PM on June 19, 2003


I hate Cathy plenty. However, her comic didn't just turn 25 this week.
posted by hipnerd at 9:34 PM on June 19, 2003


I don't know in the first 2-3 books it was original and funny, then he killed off all the side characters, the cat got thin, and the jokes got unfunny.
posted by geist at 9:39 PM on June 19, 2003


Garfield provided me with many chuckles during the 80s, and Jim Davis' linework style and typography has been influential to a whole generation of visual types, including myself.

Save your bile for strips like Fred Basset and Cathy!
posted by elphTeq at 9:40 PM on June 19, 2003


I never "got" Calvin and Hobbes either.
posted by timeistight at 9:40 PM on June 19, 2003


I loved Garfield when I was in 4th and 5th grade. I had a few of the first books (look how different the drawing was back then) and I read them over and over.

It's odd to look back now after hardly having seen that strip in 20 years or so, because you're right, it's not even mildly amusing, let alone funny, except maybe to 4th graders (and probably not even to them anymore). What was up with my brain back then?

Then again, setting Garfield dolls on fire and blowing them up is pretty goddamn un-clever, too. Maybe I would have found that funny back in 4th grade as well?
posted by boredomjockey at 9:40 PM on June 19, 2003


But as bad as Garfield is, Fred Basset is far, far, far worse.

Fred Basset is much, much funnier if you just imagine an extra fourth panel at the end, in which Fred's owner kicks the living shit out of Fred.
posted by 40 Watt at 9:40 PM on June 19, 2003


The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes are revered for their brilliance because they didn't turn 25. The artists made the decision to quit while they were ahead, instead of realizing that their work was no longer about the art form but rather the merchandising. Jim Davis doubtfully cares that much about Garfield seeing as how for over two decades he hasn't even owned the goddamn cat- Davis' syndicate does.

I wrote a post about this around a year ago on my site, I can't find it now so I'll paraphrase it here: as a cartoonist, or rather as an aspiring one in the professional sense, the idea that comic strips have to run forever- literally, as the rerunning of Peanuts now shows- is not just boring, but hindering to the prospects of future cartoonists. Every paper that chooses to use space to rerun cartoons that exist in collections available at any bookstore is a paper that limits the abilty for new geniuses, for example Aaron MacGruder or Reuben Bolling, from being seen in that area.

As for creative genius, the only mainstream cartoonist I've ever read who's managed to stay both funny and relevant past the fifteen-year mark has been Gary Trudeau... and he was smart enough to take a year off when he was learning to hate his own cartoon.

I owe Jim Davis eternal gratitude for showing a six-year-old kid how to draw cartoon strips back in 1986. But in 2003 I'm sad to admit that I haven't laughed at his work in years. Call it self-serving, but I'm fine with Davis calling it quits, opening up a space for me in the funny pages, and spending the rest of his days bathing in more money that we'll even goddamn dream of courtesy of Garfield school supplies I bought in third grade.

And since a gratuitous plug actually works in this thread, I'd let anyone in the New York City area know that the annual Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art Festival is this Sunday, where you can go and meet lots of really, really good cartoonists.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:44 PM on June 19, 2003


wow, Cathy. definitely digging into the dregs of the comic wastelands

how about Peanuts, while we're at it. granted, that's probably sacrilege to some people, but I never once got that cartoon, even in it's manifold movie incarnations. bored me to sleep, even as a kid, but millions of people the world over since the 60s love the thing.

go figure.

god, I miss Bloom County. still relevant today...

and what about Bob the Angry Flower ? very hit or miss, but when he's on, he's on. Check out my favorite, Talibantastic

that last line cracks me up every time...
posted by badzen at 9:44 PM on June 19, 2003


Hmmm...

Observe:
  1. Bill Murray - Played Peter Venkman in Ghost Busters (the movie).
  2. Lorenzo Music - Played the voice of Peter Venkman in "The Real Ghost Busters" (cartoon).
AND:
  1. Bill Murray - Will play the voice of Garfield in the upcoming movie.
  2. Lorenzo Music - Played the voice of Garfield in "Garfield and Friends" (cartoon).
Coincidence?
posted by Watsonne at 9:46 PM on June 19, 2003


live action like Scooby Doo and that the animals would be more realistic looking and also they would walk on all fours like real animals rather than on two legs like in the comic strips

Oh. Oh dear.

And "Funky Winkerbean." You know, as far as hate and why, God, why. Actually, science has an answer for that one. Have Dan Clowes author it instead. Charles Burns can get "Crankshaft."
posted by furiousthought at 9:47 PM on June 19, 2003


Can I get a little hate for 'Marvin'?
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:56 PM on June 19, 2003


And at least one of them quit while he was ahead.

You mean Larson? Watterson quit because he wouldn't merchandise Calvin and Hobbes and tired of being hassled by his syndicate. You have to respect him for that. When I found out he was a Krazy Kat aficionado, his stock rose even higher with me.

The short answer to why Garfield, Cathy and The Family Circus survive is they promise very little and consistently deliver. I remember reading an interview with Chic Young about how that was the secret of Blondie--set a low standard and deliver.

I was just reading that Matt Groening was getting some comics award for the Simpsons and thought cool in a low key way and then read on that Cathy Guisewhite had received one already.

But then awards are always a bad sign. It's the industry's way of saying you've completely lost all spark and individuality and are delivering product consistently.

The sad thing is to see people you admired when you were young who scorned such crap back then become so craven about them when they get old. Dylan's 25 in Don't Look Back and there's a scene where Albert Grossman's following him around in a hotel room, trying to hand him some award he's gotten from somewhere and Dylan can't be bothered, he won't even look at it and keeps waving Grossman off and telling him to send it back.

I remember seeing him give a speech on the Oscars when he received one for some song he wrote for Wonder Boys and he started out with some boilerplate I'd like to thank the Academy... blah blah woof woof and it was so depressing. When you have nothing left to give, then you crave recognition, I guess.

Bill Keane was all over that Reuben's award ceremony, for example.
posted by y2karl at 10:01 PM on June 19, 2003


But as bad as Garfield is, Fred Basset is far, far, far worse.

And that motherfuckingpieceofshit Phoenix "news"paper, The Republic, goes and *keeps* Fred Asshat while dropping Big Nate.

Scumbags.


Lucky there's the Internet
posted by Ayn Marx at 10:23 PM on June 19, 2003


Dan Clowes & Charles Burns are brilliant, but they are about as far from science as you can get.

I love Clowes, but never warmed up to Burns in the same fashion. I haven'tread as much as I should, though.

But neither would be successful in a mainstream paper. I'm okay with that.

Great strips of all time: Little Nemo In Slumberland, Pogo, The Spirit, Peanuts (old school), Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side.

We need more like these.
posted by hipnerd at 10:23 PM on June 19, 2003


Mutts Rules.
posted by Ayn Marx at 10:25 PM on June 19, 2003


If Garfield is going to be set on fire, use this shitwagon of a cartoon as fuel.

*puts cap back on bottle of Haterade*
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:14 PM on June 19, 2003



How can you not like garfield? Silly people.
posted by fvw at 11:22 PM on June 19, 2003


On the Comic Strips that Don't Suck side:
We still have Far Side's non-mutant spawn, Don Piraro's Bizarro, which is head and shoulders above the rest just by being half as good as Larson...
And I have been thoroughly entertained lately by Wiley Miller's Non-Sequitur which has been getting away with some good stuff like: The Book of Rationalizing Values and How to Get Kids to Try It at Home, and his ongoing Sunday story with a band of "fundamentalist vikings" called the "Dyørks", a bogus church leader named "Bishop Bahloney" and a strangely familiar-looking King Deuf.
Then again, two words: Fox. Trot.
And MHO is that 9 Chickweed Lane has some the most intelligent (and aside from Grandma the sexiest) female characters in the comics (and that's quite a combination).
Mutts is a delightful throwback to another era (something about the drawing style and the characters that lishp), but for anthropologic animal fun, I always go Over the Hedge (which is currently doing a disturbingly good series on WMD?!?) I am both hopeful and fearful of the coming of the Over the Hedge movie.

On the Total Suck side (NO LINKS):
Who thought "Drabble" was EVER funny?
And "Dilbert"'s decline has been so long, and so gradual, the only thing to remind me of it was the reruns of the Dilbert TV show on Comedy Central at 2AM (which were funnier than I expected at the time and still are).
"One Big Happy" has become "Family Circus" with better-looking heads.
Nothing is more pathetic than "Beetle Bailey" adding a 'computer nerd' character.
Except maybe "Mallard Fillmore"'s attempt to be the "Doonesbury" of the right wing.

See you in the funny papers. (Links to specific strips will probably expire in the next 15 minutes)
posted by wendell at 12:10 AM on June 20, 2003


Watsonne, I was also struck by the weird symmetry of the Bill Murray/Lorenzo Music situation.

I have mixed feelings about Garfield. The strip's best days probably are behind it (though occasionally there's one that's pretty entertaining), but I was an absolute Garfield FIEND when I was about 9 years old, so I can't maintain the same level of antipathy toward it that I have for, say, Marmaduke or B.C.

These days, I'm all about Get Fuzzy.
posted by MrBadExample at 12:27 AM on June 20, 2003


in the early years he was quality. I proudly displayed my 'Nap Attack!' poster above my bed.
posted by Frasermoo at 1:28 AM on June 20, 2003


I like the drawing in Get Fuzzy, but it seems to be completely devoid of humour.

Plus the situation (cranky cat, dumb dog, doofus) is exactly the same as Garfield.
posted by timeistight at 1:40 AM on June 20, 2003


Garfield wasn't funny back in '78.
I hated Cathy when it was indie to hate Cathy.
So on and so forth.
Gems like Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County, old-skool Doonesbury (the modern stuff seems just reflexive, although it has aged better than everything else in syndication), old-skool Dilbert (when he was still an engineer and filled with HATE!!! for the industry) etc... These seem to come along, one by one, every five years or so. You'll get three in a decade, if you're lucky. There was one in the local paper when I was in HS that I remember liking, but I've forgotten the name. It was about a crew of lazy pirates and their rather dim captain.
There're actually a fair number of mid-level comics that were never brilliant, but weren't fucking awful like Garfield, Family Circus, et. al. The intra-familial sarcasm of Hillary was always pretty hip (and hey, the guy that first did Hillary was on my block for a while when I was a youngling).

Whoo. I guess I didn't really have a point but felt the need to say something, as it's nearly 4am and I (heart) me some comics.
posted by kavasa at 1:42 AM on June 20, 2003


Except for the Boondocks and Doonesbury, the good stuff is online:
MacHall
Real Life
MegaTokyo
Sluggy Freelance
... and ucomics.com are re-running the ENTIRE BLOOM COUNTY (if you pay their subscription)

... but then as most of those aren't the traditional three/four-panel strip format, they won't get syndicated. Pity. I'd love to see MacHall appear in a few national newspapers...
posted by humuhumu at 3:28 AM on June 20, 2003


Hating Marmaduke, Garfiled, and Cathy.
posted by Uncle Ira at 3:40 AM on June 20, 2003


I hated Cathy when it was indie to hate Cathy.

Now wait a sec. By the time there was a concept about being "indie" in the first place, hating Cathy was totally played out. Thus, by definition, it could not have been "indie" to hate Cathy because by the time you would have had a chance to be indie at all, hating Cathy was mainstream.
posted by deanc at 3:57 AM on June 20, 2003


I loved Garfield as a young'un. But, then, I always found bitter deadpan humor very refreshing.

Even if the humor is just the fact that he's bitter and deadpan.

(Can I get a little love for Achewood, my current favorite daily strip?)
posted by skryche at 4:00 AM on June 20, 2003


can somebody link to this cathy your'e talking about ?

other totally unfunny cartoons - mickey mouse and the 'rinky dink' pink panther.
he had a good tune at the end and a nice car though, i watched every flippin episode of that programme waitin for a joke to show up at some stage......I FEEL SO BETRAYED !
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:52 AM on June 20, 2003


Skryche, there's actually an Achewood that's very pertinent to this heah situation: Laying into Garfield.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 4:53 AM on June 20, 2003


These "comic strips"...would one have to read a newspaper to see them?

Seriously, I know some are available online, but unless you have one of the few remaining portal sites as your startpage (does anyone?), is there any good way to read these on a daily basis as in the pre-Web morning newspaper-reading ritual? I mean, always, there were very few strips good enough to actively seek out (I seem to agree with the majority here: BAD - Garfield, Marmaduke, Peanuts, Cathy, B.C., Beetle Bailey, Blondie, Mary Worth, etc.; GOOD - The Far Side, Bloom County, Calvin and Hobbes, early Mother Goose & Grimm); now there seem to be fewer than ever (if any). Will there ever be a time again when we are all familiar with all the BAD strips, that we read just because they were there?
posted by rushmc at 5:10 AM on June 20, 2003


kavasa: In terms of the comic about the pirates, do you perhaps mean Overboard?
posted by skynxnex at 5:16 AM on June 20, 2003


intra-familial sarcasm was not something I looked for in a comic when I was seven.

now, a cat who would do anything to put one over his owner for a plate of lasagne (which he always ate in one go!) made me smile.

yeah, maybe the Teletubbis stink, but a few million pre-schooloers can't all be wrong.
posted by Frasermoo at 5:18 AM on June 20, 2003


You guys just don't go far enough back. I liked Cathy when it was indie to like Cathy.

Cathy, in its early years, was witty, edgy, penetrating, deconstructive. But over the last twenty years, it has gone formulaic, and become a parody of what it once was. Garfield was bizarre, unexpected, and funny once upon a time. Hell, so was B.C. Yes, B.C. Try to find the first paperback compilation of B.C. It's strange and surreal. And amusing. Peanuts, back in the 60's and 70's, was excellent. kavasa, that's Overboard you're thinking about. It, too, was darkly funny and edgy for its first year or so, but is now only formula.

The problem, it seems, is that almost every cartoonist runs of new ideas pretty quickly. Some take longer than others, but it always seems to happen eventually. Then the strip becomes formula. If you don't have many ideas to begin with, the strip goes formula faster. 'Overboard', for example, doesn't seem to have any ideas except that the captain is dumb and the pirates are amoral and manipulative. There are only so many changes you can ring on those bells, and Chip Dunham has done them all, and is now running on empty. Watterson had more ideas, and kept going strong to the end. Trudeau had more ideas, but used them up a while ago. I still read Doonesbury, but it, too, has become formula.

Maybe the syndicates ought to pair writers with artists, and switch them around every five years or so.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 5:23 AM on June 20, 2003


I never "got" Calvin and Hobbes either.

wha...?

humor is weird; it can be really difficult to see why people do or don't find something amusing. But I think the tiredness factor is major. Doonesbury has a slight advantage because it's (often) political humor, so the gov keeps providing new material. If it's just about some kids or some animals, it can be hard to keep things interesting. Breathed & Watterson both explicitly chose to get out before they dried up, and I think they made the right choice.

I remember laughing at Garfield as a kid, too - and I remember my dad laughing at Garfield back then! But then, he has a somewhat silly sense of humor. My mom never thought it was funny. But 25 years later, who cares? It's not like there are any new jokes, right? I haven't seen it for ages (because I'd have to buy the post for funnies, and they're never funny, so why would I do that?) but I imagine it's just more of the same. And the culture's changed too, so that the kind of "deadpan bitter" thing is not fresh at all. Even people seeing it for the first time now will have a totally different reaction than being part of a culture that saw it for the first time. Likewise, I always thought peanuts was just boring and crappy, and was surprised to discover how much charles schultz was revered etc - I think it's one of those "you had to be there" things, somehow.
posted by mdn at 5:56 AM on June 20, 2003


I miss Moon Mullins. It was in it's last days when I was a tyke. Strips like that were from the days when the funny page was one of the main forms of entertainment, so a lotta care went into it. Garfield was funny when I was a kid, but not so much now, although I had a buddy in high school who kept a stuffed Odie doll strapped to his drum kit when he played in his speed metal band. The reason for this escapes me now. Although at the time we called him Odie and he wrote it on the back of his denim jacket.
posted by jonmc at 6:04 AM on June 20, 2003


I was also the garfield fiend when i was younger.. now it's kind of sad, when i pass over it in the paper. kind of like seeing your strung out friend from high school, lying on the sidewalk across the street at downtown, looking for someone to give him some money for a quick fix. i try to just keep on walking.

i'm starting to like borgman's zits... some good stuff there.
posted by lotsofno at 6:04 AM on June 20, 2003


The early Garfield really bears no resemblance to the utter tripe published under that name now. Why on earth the papers still run it I have no idea...

As far as Family Circus goes, if you have small children it IS amusing,(because truth is funny) but in that sense I would call it a niche cartoon.

Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend...from the artist that brought us Little Nemo...I have always wondered if Bill Watterson was influenced by this one. If you ever find a printed collection of these obscure gems, grab it. I checked one out of the Sarasota library over 20 years ago and never forgot it.
posted by konolia at 6:25 AM on June 20, 2003


From a Geocities site that I don't want to crash-

Here is what Mr. McCay said in 1907 about the origin of the Rarebit comic strips:

"The Dream of the Rarebit Fiend is an evolution of a drawing I made for the New York Telegram two years ago....You know how a cigarette fiend is when he gets up in the morning and can't find a dope stick? Well, I drew a picture once showing a fiend at the north pole without a cigarette and about ready to die. I introduced some other characters who happened to have paper and tobacco and a match, but the only match went out before they got a light. Then I had to frame up a finish and I made it a dream. My employer suggested that I make him a series of pictures and make them as rarebit dreams and you know the result....You will notice that I sign my rarebit pictures "Silas." Well, my contract would not allow me to sign my real name when I started to draw those pictures for the New York papers and I had to make a name. An old fellow who drives a garbage cart by the New York Herald office very day is my namesake. He is a quaint character and known as Silas. I just borrowed his name....As for "Little Nemo," that is an idea I got from the "Rarebit Fiend" to please the little folk."

posted by konolia at 6:30 AM on June 20, 2003


I have only seen one mention of BC above, but it has gotten really bad since creator Johnny Hart was born again.
posted by TedW at 6:32 AM on June 20, 2003


They read the comics so you don't have to! (And it's funny to boot!!)
posted by byort at 6:44 AM on June 20, 2003


Like several others, I was enamored with Garfield as a kid. In elementary school I had way too many of the collections (although I had a vague sense, even at that time, that the newer ones weren't quite as good.. despite the shiny covers). I was around the right age to be in the target audience for the cartoon when it originally came out, and the Halloween special creeped me out.

That said, I think Garfield always fell into the "humor-lite" category. It's something that kids and the uh.... less intellectually inclined.... will like. Of course, its best days are past, etc. I still would like to think that it at least relies on a group of overused cliches (lasgna, Jon being a loser, dogs are supposed to be menacing) rather than crap like Marmaduke, which always seemed to be "big dogs are hard to control and also do crazy dog things, isn't that funny?"

Some comics obviously have niche audiences. People who don't care about politics don't read Doonesbury, those outside the corporate world can't relate to Dilbert, and when I think of Cathy, I think of this woman.
posted by mikeh at 7:10 AM on June 20, 2003


but nothing tickles the old funnybone like nancy, sluggo and aunt fritzi, eh?

[detour]
How To Read Nancy
[/detour]
posted by LinusMines at 7:46 AM on June 20, 2003


The first thing I thought when I saw this thread was that Fred Basset is far, far worse than Garfield. It's just a pain that Jazon beat me to it above.

However, I can tell you the reason why Fred Basset is so dull. It's because the author, even though he knows that the punchline is not funny, attempts to make it so by ending the sentence with an exclamation mark. Like this! This hideous crime becomes even more annoying when you realise that this trick is used in every Fred Basset cartoon, every single day. Still, there's always tomorrow!

This is why I have a completely rational hatred of Fred Basset and every newspaper that carries it.
posted by tapeguy at 8:02 AM on June 20, 2003


Well, I came here to add a link to this strip, but unlike some people, (ahem!) I actually read the thread and noticed it had already been linked by Uncle Ira. However, like them, I'm linking it again, for the simple reason that you can never get too much Achewood.

Anyone who thinks Wiley Miller has anything non-hackneyed, non-obvious, or non-reactionary to say should be reading these folks regularly. Yes, byort beat me to that link, too, but the way they (usually, not always) lay into Wiley gives me a refreshing weekly catharsis after seven days of plowing through his dreck.

The problem, of course, is that Wiley is very good at the artwork of cartooning, so, trusting our eyes, we're predisposed to think the panel will be fun, not noticing that he routinely requires a caption AND a voice balloon AND a sign to get his decade-old point across - sometimes making do with just two of those elements. It's a similar situation with Zits - Borgman is such an incredibly accomplished cartoonist that he can sometimes - but not often enough - make Jerry Scott's weak jokes look ten times more hilarious than they are.

As to Garfield, um... well... up yours, Garfield.
posted by soyjoy at 8:13 AM on June 20, 2003


I used to think new Def Leppard sucked. Then I realized all Def Leppard sucks, but I just stopped being 14.
posted by NortonDC at 8:16 AM on June 20, 2003


Newspapers have comics? Newspapers still exist? Wow.

UComics. Comics.com. My Comics Page. Cagle's Slate Archive.
posted by benjh at 9:23 AM on June 20, 2003


Marmaduke rules!
it's funny because he's a big lazy dog that eats a lot and always gets his way. Ha!
funny 'cause it's true. so true
posted by birdsong at 9:27 AM on June 20, 2003


Well, I came here to add a link to this strip, but unlike some people, (ahem!) I actually read the thread and noticed it had already been linked by Uncle Ira.

*Slaps own dang self on own dang head*

stupid STUPID you ALWAYS mess stuff up

posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:34 AM on June 20, 2003


I can't believe no one's mentioned Liberty Meadows yet--an absolutely brilliant strip that ran nationally for about 5 years and which I believe is now being produced solely as a comic book, instead of in syndication.
posted by eilatan at 9:42 AM on June 20, 2003


Awww, PST, come on now...

...you shouldn't hit yourself when you make a mistake.
posted by soyjoy at 9:50 AM on June 20, 2003


Family Circus was great!... when it was rewritten by very rude people on a website that's since been shut down due to copyright violation. "Spermburping gutterslut" and all that...
posted by five fresh fish at 9:54 AM on June 20, 2003


I um, actually like Cathy. And I'm not going to try and claim that it's indie to do so. It's only the rare strip that makes me actually laugh, but Guisewite still does hit the mark once in awhile. I notice someone above linked her to Jean Teasdale (whom I also really like), and there is a definite connection. The two of them are pure id. There's something therapeutic about a glimpse into the life of a mess, someone who just goes ahead and wallows in shopping or a pan of brownies. It provides a counterpoint to the barrage of airbrushed, perfect models, sitcom sets of spotless, professionally decorated homes, Top 40 under 40 lists, and millionaire teenaged talentless pop stars. Being able to follow along with their stories is also kind of nice - though of course the progression is minimal. But I find it's only good as a taste. One day I read most of Jean's archive at one sitting and it was so damn depressing.
posted by orange swan at 10:26 AM on June 20, 2003


Is there any comic less funny than Henry?

You "Family Circus" nay-sayers have apparently never read the strip with the same open mind as these reviewers.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:43 AM on June 20, 2003


I've always loathed Cathy and The Family Circus, yet I never miss reading either strip. Why? Because I so enjoy the little rush of hate that goes through my body whenever I see them.
For years a friend and I have been exchanging Family Circus Strips with our own creative captions. There used to be a website called Manson Family Circus that did the same. Dead Grandpa, Ida Know, Not Me...........it's so unbelievably bad that it transcends badness and takes it to a whole new level.
In a way, I actually admire the Keanes, Davises, and Guisewhites of the world. Taking a miniscule amount of talent and parlaying into a comfortable career. I wish I could do it with my miniscule amount of talent too.
posted by reidfleming at 10:45 AM on June 20, 2003


So we have a Henry-hater with us? But Henry is not supposed to be funny; that's what's funny about it. Also, Henry eats hamburgers, despite the fact he has no mouth. Now, that's cool.
posted by kozad at 10:51 AM on June 20, 2003


The artists made the decision to quit while they were ahead

It is my contention that at least Calvin and Hobbes did last longer than it should have. It started out as a charming, slightly edgy strip, but it didn't have legs. It quickly started recycling ideas; I distinctly remember the spaceship-flying Calvin (Spaceman Spiff?) boldly fighting monsters that turned out to be his teacher several times. I have this gut feeling that if Watterson had kept doing the strip, today it would be more stale than anything in Garfield.
posted by deadcowdan at 10:52 AM on June 20, 2003


humuhumu -boondocks is indeed online. yay!
posted by john m at 11:55 AM on June 20, 2003


It is my contention that at least Calvin and Hobbes did last longer than it should have.

Well, yes, and so did The Far Side - but I think the key is they didn't last much longer than they should have. Once Watterson and Larson realized the quality was going down, they quit. Bless their souls.
posted by widdershins at 12:10 PM on June 20, 2003


In terms of mainstream Sunday paper comics, I have to admit that I sometimes chuckle (a rare feat) at Sherman's Lagoon. It's not particularly well-drawn or anything like that, but it's a pretty consistently funny comic, and sometimes downright hilarious. I was surprised that nobody mentioned it above, but perhaps I'm just weird...
posted by almostcool at 12:21 PM on June 20, 2003


Heathcliff could kick Garfield's butt any day of the week. What is it with single-pane comics and animals? And what about Ziggy?
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 12:47 PM on June 20, 2003


Damn it. . .we need Bloom County today, more than ever. What Breathed did to GHW Bush . . .well his son is so much more richly deserving of that treatment.

(I have wasted some company time in looking for the old Bloom County strip that combines President Garfield with Garfield the Cat. If anyone finds a link to this, hilarity would ensue, I'm almost certain.)
posted by Danf at 12:49 PM on June 20, 2003


Nothing beats classic Zippy the Pinhead. Back in the days before Windows, I used to be greeted with a random quote from this database on every bootup.
posted by Zurishaddai at 12:58 PM on June 20, 2003


Whatever happened to the male roommate that used to live with Jon and Garfield? You know, the one that showed up, moved in, and brought Opie with him? He just kinda vanished after a year or so, but Opie stayed.

Hmmmmmmm.........
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:37 PM on June 20, 2003


Gah. Odie. ODIE.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:38 PM on June 20, 2003


aaack!!!thtpthpthpthpt
posted by shadow45 at 1:54 PM on June 20, 2003


I spent much time and effort training myself not to read Cathy, making sure that I skipped straight to Doonesbury before my eyes latched onto even one revolting panel. I hate Cathy with a pure, venom filled hate. I want to shake her and tell her to get to therapy, go for a walk, dump the boyfriend, anything but continue endlessly whining, whining, whining. *cough* But I hate Sally Forth, that prim, smug, know it all corporate minion, even more.

No offense intended to corporate minions, of course.

And it's not as if all comics about family life are all bad--For Better or For Worse is consistently engaging, the characters believable, and Lynn Johnson caused a few waves by introducing and championing a gay character a few years back.

Reality? What is this reality that one speaks of? Do you have to have a life to know about it?
posted by jokeefe at 3:45 PM on June 20, 2003


Calvin and Hobbes is, of course, still being drawn daily.
It's just has another name now.
posted by bonehead at 4:24 PM on June 20, 2003


hear hear on both joe keefe. For Better Or Worse is terrific and
Sally Forth suck suck sucks
posted by y2karl at 5:02 PM on June 20, 2003


[from byort's link]
CATHY: Monday, Cathy has a rare burst of healthy ego, denouncing the swimwear department for preying on her insecurities. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, Cathy lets the swimwear industry prey on her insecurities.

THE LOCKHORNS: Monday, the Lockhorns can't handle money. Tuesday, Leroy despises Loretta's cooking. Wednesday, Loretta despises Leroy's laziness. Thursday, Leroy dreads coming home to Loretta. Friday, Loretta has contempt for Leroy's philandering urges. Saturday, Loretta complains that she and Leroy ignore each other.


Did they actually have to read the comics in question to know these things? (Reminiscent of a game I saw once, long ago, in an interview in some punk zine: "Hey, remember that Gilligan's Island where they almost got off the island, but Gilligan screwed it up in the end?")
posted by arto at 5:29 PM on June 20, 2003


And what about Ziggy?

Well, Ziggy Played guitar...jamming good with weird and gilly..and the spiders from mars...
posted by jonmc at 7:47 PM on June 20, 2003


jonmc is the man...

I'm struck by the number of people who have felt the way I do about Garfield -- it's been a loathsome irritant for so long that I have almost forgotten laughing myself breathless over strips in the first collection (I think "Garfield at Large").

Now, on the one hand, what this points out is how mutable sense of humor is from youth to age -- I think in a sense as an adult I'm more "sophisticated"; but I'm also of course "ruined" by years of adopting attitudes which separate (for example) mainstream/uncool from Cathy-hatin'-indie-rawk/cool. That particular dichotomy, as we all know (and the above conversation shows) gets stale pretty quickly.

But on the other hand, it's possible that Davis's early strips were funnier in some way beyond the evolution of my personal taste -- I do remember that the cat was fatter and was less aggressively "cute" and more catlike in general (he was pictured sitting or walking on all fours, not strolling along swinging his arms). In my twelve-year-old mind, his voice was deep and sardonic, matching his heft, and thus his moderately sneering retorts carried a certain weight.

In other words, the question Did It Always Suck (and Were We Too Young To Realize It?) is an unanswerable question, like "Why Was 'The Born Loser' Ever Published in Any Newspaper?"
posted by BT at 8:46 PM on June 20, 2003


Like everyone else, it seems, I liked garfield as a kid and haven't read it since. But this is hilarious.
posted by Tlogmer at 9:56 PM on June 20, 2003


…if you're thirteen.
posted by timeistight at 10:01 PM on June 20, 2003


Here, I'll post the only one without profanity:


posted by Tlogmer at 10:01 PM on June 20, 2003


timeistight -- you may be missing the point. Try skipping over that first one and reading the rest. (And, yeah, PWOT humor is kind of an aquired taste. Still, it's funny. Horrific, but funny.)
posted by Tlogmer at 10:07 PM on June 20, 2003


I believe it was the love of the Garfield prime time animated specials that Garfield mania developed. Really, it's difficult not to like anything voiced by the late Lorenzo Music.

While I think it's grown beyond stale and homogenized, I don't *hate* Garfield. It has a developed style, and while is may not be solid gold entertainment, its form is original. It really doesn't try to be a clone or a poor man's version of another greater comic strip. (Well, except for the fact the original Garfield is a complete rip-off of B. Kliban's cats. ...But I digress.) It's just about a fat lazy cat and his exploits.

What I feel the large draw of Garfield has been is its very basic humor which most people can relate — eating, sleeping, annoying people, daily peeves — anyone from 6 to 106 can identify with any of those things. Translate a Garfield strip for someone in any country in the world, and they'll understand it enough to see the humor in it, if not laugh. Try doing that with Doonesbury or Boondocks.

Sure Garfield is easy to hate, especially the shameless merchandising and low-brow humor of the strip. But I don't think there is a comic strip published today that is as consistant to its own format and base level of humor as this one.
posted by Down10 at 10:27 PM on June 20, 2003


Look, I was an ADULT in Garfield's early years. The strip used to be FUNNY. (By the way, does anyone remember the B. Kliban cat drawings? I always wondered if there was some slight early influence there-at least in the drawing.)

The Garfield we have seen in the last few years is a total disgrace to the medium. No way in Hades would it have been chosen for syndication as is. But my pet theory is that as long as Garfield paraphernalia sells, we will be inflicted with the waste of space in our comics section.
posted by konolia at 12:17 AM on June 21, 2003


For Better or For Worse is consistently engaging, the characters believable, and Lynn Johnson caused a few waves by introducing and championing a gay character a few years back.


OK, I'll admit it...I cried when Farley died after rescuing April.
posted by Oriole Adams at 7:01 AM on June 21, 2003


I don't read hard copy newspapers regularly, and looking for anything but Dilbert online is too much work. (Speaking of going downhill - has the tales of the PHB and Evil HR Director done so?) But to comment on some strips mentioned here:

The Cathy creator is from my hometown area, so that made me follow the strip for awhile. It was occasionally amusing.

I remember thinking years ago that Trudeau had stopped being funny - has he been revitalized recently?

I did like Garfield. Hey, its schtick is basically the same as Morris the Cat and a million other pet satires. "Cranky, independent feline." Crazy Old Cat Ladies like me go for that stuff.

Look, I was an ADULT in Garfield's early years. The strip used to be FUNNY.

Oh good, another MeFi Elder. Let's leave these younguns alone and go talk about really cool comic stuff like the Batman TV show.
posted by NorthernLite at 9:36 AM on June 21, 2003


my funny pictures, they move
posted by dgt at 12:45 AM on June 22, 2003


Right on, jokeefe! I read the comics every day, and my default is to read every strip even when I know it's gonna suck. Even Family Circus, for all its awfulness, gives me some modicum of entertainment for the couple seconds it takes to read. I've had to train myself out of reading Cathy and Sally Forth, as their lameness is so intense that they would just make me angry for the wasted time. Now these are the only ones that I skip every day.

arto, as to Funny Paper, you need to read it a few weeks in a row to separate the running gags from the spontaneous silliness of that column. Trust me, it's definitely worth the time.
posted by soyjoy at 7:20 AM on June 23, 2003


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