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Pig and Rat Get Lost (insert comma?)
July 20, 2009 7:04 AM   Subscribe

"Family Circus" strikes back (sorta) against "Pearls Before Swine"
posted by wendell (131 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Took me a while to figure this out. I guess Pearls Before Swine is a strip that runs in the paper? And often mocks Family Circus? They both seem profoundly unfunny, with Swine being somewhat more tolerable (although with 10x the text and thus easier to skip).

That said, this one is good.
posted by DU at 7:15 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sure, he talks about how he considers suing, but you just know that if it goes to court Jeff Keane will pawn it all off on Not Me, that scamp.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:15 AM on July 20, 2009 [21 favorites]


The only way to properly use "Pearls Before Swine" and "profoundly unfunny" in the same sentence is like so: "He doesn't like Pearls Before Swine, so he must be a profoundly unfunny person."
posted by stevis23 at 7:19 AM on July 20, 2009 [28 favorites]


I love Pearls Before Swine. I have this one tacked up at my desk.
posted by elfgirl at 7:20 AM on July 20, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'm calling the "Pig and Rat" thing a coincidence. The alternative would require the Family Circus staff to actually notice something in the outside world.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:21 AM on July 20, 2009 [12 favorites]


I thought all the characters in Pearls Before Swine would have gotten fat off of all that low-hanging fruit.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:22 AM on July 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


this something I have to be in a KOA campground to enjoy?
posted by furtive at 7:24 AM on July 20, 2009 [11 favorites]


I liked it. I liked this, too. I even liked this, though I had to look up the reference.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 7:25 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I assume the talk of suing is a joke, Pt, since he's made a living riffing off Family Circus characters.
posted by rokusan at 7:25 AM on July 20, 2009


Pearls Before Swine is highly satirical, which I'm guessing this blog post is also highly satirical. My favorite PBS strips involve the crocs. and "zeeba neighbas," though.
posted by litterateur at 7:25 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wait, I'm unclear: So Pearls Before Swine has mocked Family Circus for a long time, including using its characters in its strip, but the author is now considering contacting a lawyer when Family Circus mocks back? And is expecting some kind of sympathy?

Can that possibly be right?
posted by mediareport at 7:29 AM on July 20, 2009


On non-preview: oh, ok.
posted by mediareport at 7:30 AM on July 20, 2009


What a pussy. He consistently references FC often negatively (as well deserved as that may be) and Keane actually does something funny for once and Pastis' first inclination is to sue? I mean, I like Pearls and all, but "I may be contacting a lawyer"? Perhaps Stephan should contact his Mommy as well.
posted by horsemuth at 7:30 AM on July 20, 2009


Sorry, should have included "This is something you have to have read the newspaper comics in the last ten years to understand" disclaimer.
posted by wendell at 7:31 AM on July 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Anyone else need to find their reading glasses to read the strips? If you're gonna mock something, at least do it in a readable size.
posted by fijiwriter at 7:31 AM on July 20, 2009 [12 favorites]


hmm. I guess I didn't get that it was a joke either. This is an example of where a post could have used some, you know, context.
posted by horsemuth at 7:32 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd say something snarky about family circus but any time I get the urge, it's quickly replaced with pity. What must life be like for the masses that find humor in the marmadukes or ziggys of the world? It must be horrible to go through your day so starved for entertainment that the simplest, stalest jokes mean something to you.

I imagine that it's like a starving man that will eat nothing but celery. They'll swear on their very souls that it's delicious and wonderful and never understand how people can turn their nose up at it or eat other things. "It's good enough for my grandma, so ti's good enough for me." they'd say. They'd probably even hang a picture of celery at their desk, next to the Cathy strips and the "FW:FW:FW:RE:FW:FW:OFFICE RULES (TOO FUNNY!!!!!!)" lists.
posted by anti social order at 7:34 AM on July 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


Pearls Before Swine is no Calvin and Hobbes, but it's definitely one of the best comic strips out there. And yes, it is published in newspapers--but you can also read it online.

And no, he's not considering contacting a lawyer.
posted by yoink at 7:35 AM on July 20, 2009


It must be horrible to go through your day so starved for entertainment that the simplest, stalest jokes mean something to you.

...or HARDLY WORKING?!
posted by DU at 7:36 AM on July 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


And anyone thinking Patsis is SERIOUSLY threatening to sue would be very interested in a Real Estate MLM Investment Plan I have to offer. The simple fact that he included umpteen examples of his FC-mocking (which saved me having to make this more than a SLP) should have made it clear.
posted by wendell at 7:36 AM on July 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


Anyone else need to find their reading glasses to read the strips?

No, but some people should grab their irony monocles.
posted by palliser at 7:36 AM on July 20, 2009 [14 favorites]


This is an example of where a post could have used some, you know, context.

Considering how frequently I am guilty of OVERexplaining a joke, I take that as a compliment.
posted by wendell at 7:38 AM on July 20, 2009


The FC parody selections were kinda funny, but I couldn't handle the tiny print for more than a few strips.
posted by brain_drain at 7:38 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it could be the tiny print that made these seem unfunny. Or perhaps one should think hard about what it means to be the "funniest comic strip in the paper".
posted by DU at 7:40 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sorry, should have included "This is something you have to have read the newspaper comics in the last ten years to understand" disclaimer.

Well, it is only in 150 papers.

(including mine but guess it never caught my eye this one's great though)
posted by mediareport at 7:41 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think this is may be the funniest thing Keane has ever done.
posted by Mister_A at 7:58 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not that that particular bar was set particularly high in this particular instance, mind.
posted by Mister_A at 7:58 AM on July 20, 2009


Well, it is only in 150 papers.

If I were Sarah Palin I'd have heard of it.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:06 AM on July 20, 2009 [9 favorites]


I've never heard of Pearls Before Swine before but it was clear after reading the link that he's not considering a lawyer. He's pretty fuckin' funny, too.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:08 AM on July 20, 2009


Thx Elfgirl for spreading the wealth. It is now pinned up on my desk as well!
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:14 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Family Circus vs. Pearls Before Swine could be our generation's version of 2Pac vs. The Notorious B.I.G. This will not end well.
posted by iviken at 8:16 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm considering suing several of you people for bean-plating a joke to death.
posted by empath at 8:16 AM on July 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Btw, they have comics in newspapers still?
posted by empath at 8:16 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I assumed he was joking about the lawsuit. I don't follow him or his strip; is that a plausible reading?
posted by lodurr at 8:17 AM on July 20, 2009


Pastis constantly makes these kinds of deadpans in his strip (sometimes they work pretty well, more often they don't) and would probably be chuckling heartily at people "failing" to get the joke, such as it is.
posted by blucevalo at 8:34 AM on July 20, 2009


Pastis seems to riff back and forth with other comic strips a good bit; for example this recent Frazz strip.
posted by TedW at 8:38 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


And that Frazz strip is in response to this Pearls Before Swine. I seem to remember this sort of thing going on with Get Fuzzy, too.
posted by TedW at 8:39 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see more of that with major strips, instead of just these smaller ones.
posted by lodurr at 8:41 AM on July 20, 2009


Even taking into consideration that humor is in the eye of the beholder, reading through a few of these PBS strips--and I could only make it through a few--was like watching a twenty-minute YouTube video of a man with a gun who keeps restocking his barrel with fish. As if Family Circus parodies didn't constitute a well-worn subgenre of their own, he went to the long-dry and filled-in well of comic characters aging in real time (previously on the blue).
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:44 AM on July 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


... except that if you do take into consideration that humor is in the eye of the beholder, you quickly realize that to most readers of comics, that's not old material.

KRUSTY: If this is anybody but Steve Allen: YOU'RE STEALIN' MY BIT!
posted by lodurr at 8:50 AM on July 20, 2009


PBS is one of the only really funny comics still running today.

Let's be honest, there has been a huge fucking void since Calvin and Hobbes and the Far Side vanished. Foxtrot going weekends only has really hurt the comics page too. Breathed tried again, but the magic of Bloom County was lost a long time ago.

So, I cling to PBS, Pooch Cafe and Get Fuzzy to show me the way, with Sherman's Lagoon and Monty kind of hanging on for the ride. We seriously need another Larson or Watterson soon though. Pastis, Gilligan and Conley are great but are just short of that level of brilliance.

Don't get me wrong, I like my webcomics, but nothing is quite as enjoyable as flipping to the big page of black and white funnies in the morning with a hot cup of coffee in my hand. It's practically the definition of 'morning routine' in my house.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:50 AM on July 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


reading through a few of these PBS strips--and I could only make it through a few--was like watching a twenty-minute YouTube video of a man with a gun who keeps restocking his barrel with fish.

Yes, that's the whole point (unfortunately). He thinks if you like that humor you'll like tons of that humor. In (very) limited doses, it's kinda cute. Every day, not so much. I'm glad my new local paper doesn't run that strip.
posted by blucevalo at 8:50 AM on July 20, 2009


i need a few more hipster know-it-alls to tell me whether its alright to laugh at these
posted by pyramid termite at 8:51 AM on July 20, 2009 [16 favorites]


Even taking into consideration that humor is in the eye of the beholder, reading through a few of these PBS strips--and I could only make it through a few--was like watching a twenty-minute YouTube video of a man with a gun who keeps restocking his barrel with fish. As if Family Circus parodies didn't constitute a well-worn subgenre of their own, he went to the long-dry and filled-in well of comic characters aging in real time (previously on the blue).
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:44 AM on July 20 [+] [!]


You have to remember that Pastis has only done this a few times over the run of the strip. 95%+ of his material doesn't reference other strips. Besides, the time he had Osama hiding out in FC was just brilliant.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:52 AM on July 20, 2009


Pastis is lucky he didn't try to take on the guy who draws Broom Hilda. Grelber, indeed...
posted by A Long and Troublesome Lameness at 8:53 AM on July 20, 2009


Yes, that's the whole point (unfortunately). He thinks if you like that humor you'll like tons of that humor. In (very) limited doses, it's kinda cute. Every day, not so much. I'm glad my new local paper doesn't run that strip.

Again, those strips were spread out over the entire course of the strip's run. Something like six years or so now, he just reprinted them to make a point which a bunch of people apparently missed.

Read the PBS archives, it's a fantastic strip.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:54 AM on July 20, 2009


So, I cling to PBS, Pooch Cafe and Get Fuzzy to show me the way

That's a very thin raft to cling to. Even "Fuzzy" has gotten a little too fuzzy and anemic of late.
posted by blucevalo at 8:54 AM on July 20, 2009


I seem to remember this sort of thing going on with Get Fuzzy, too.

There was an entire week's worth of Get Fuzzy whose premise was that Fedex had accidently sent the week's worth of Pearls Before Swine proofs to Darby Conley (the artist who draws Get Fuzzy). For an entire week, exactly the same strips ran in both Get Fuzzy and Pearls Before Swine, except that the PBS characters in the Get Fuzzy strips had the heads of the Get Fuzzy characters crudely pasted over them.
posted by yoink at 8:54 AM on July 20, 2009 [10 favorites]


It's alright to laugh at these, pyramid termite.
posted by crataegus at 8:54 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


... also, sometimes there's nothing funnier than pulling an old bit back in after a long hiatus. Putting it all in that big lump kind of creates a new context for it that might not be ideal. (And there is way more analysis going on in this thread than even really hot comedy would stand up to very well...)
posted by lodurr at 8:54 AM on July 20, 2009


Read the PBS archives, it's a fantastic strip.

I have read the strip, and I know the strips in the post weren't published all together. I'm talking about his whole shtick, not just those particular strips. I used to read the strip every day when I was in the Bay Area. I just don't think it's so fantastic.
posted by blucevalo at 8:56 AM on July 20, 2009


yoink, cool as I think that is, I suspect it might be funier the way you describe it than actually reading it five days in a row.
posted by lodurr at 8:56 AM on July 20, 2009


What's a newspaper?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:57 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


it's a fantastic strip

Forget it, Jake; it's MeFiTown.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:00 AM on July 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


What's a newspaper?

It's something you'd have to own a newspaper to know about.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:02 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


yoink, cool as I think that is, I suspect it might be funier the way you describe it than actually reading it five days in a row.

Well, it's true that once you realized what was going on (and it took a couple of days before you realized "holy crap, he's really going to do the whole damn week this way!") there wasn't much more to the joke. But there was something gloriously surreal in seeing exactly the same strip in the two slots for a whole week, with just the crude cut-n-paste heads added in to one.

I always wondered what people made of it in papers that carried Get Fuzzy but didn't carry Pearls Before Swine.

Pastis had some kind of come-back series that referenced what Conley had done, too, but I can't remember exactly what it was, now.
posted by yoink at 9:03 AM on July 20, 2009


nothing is quite as enjoyable as flipping to the big page of black and white funnies in the morning

Actually, I find nothing to be FAR more enjoyable than reading newspaper comics.
posted by DU at 9:05 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's a very thin raft to cling to. Even "Fuzzy" has gotten a little too fuzzy and anemic of late.

Maybe, but if there is something better out there, I haven't found it yet.

This is exactly why Pastis does what he does. He's tired of seeing the syndicates keep these 75+ year old strips that aren't even drawn by their original artist/writer stay in the papers, while newer strips that might actually attract younger readers are kept out because the Sunday Church Lady Muffin Club might be offended by the words 'dork' or 'screwed'.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:07 AM on July 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


Actually, I find nothing to be FAR more enjoyable than reading newspaper comics.

Fair enough. Perhaps I should have phrased it 'nothing used to be quite as enjoyable'.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:08 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Here's a pretty good Pearls Before Swine reference to Get Fuzzy (those who don't know Get Fuzzy need to know that one of it's main characters is an obnoxious cat called Bucky).
posted by yoink at 9:12 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm just glad little Jeffy didn't pick up a knife and go settle this like a man. Maybe he tried, but got a little distracted following the dotted line on the way to Pastis' house.
posted by Nelson at 9:19 AM on July 20, 2009


Maybe, but if there is something better out there, I haven't found it yet.

Non sequitur is occasionally pretty good, as is Brewster Rockit: Space Guy; Mutts is often beautifully drawn, though it's pretty sloppily sentimental most of the time; Lio is an interesting newcomer which is worth keeping an eye on; 9 Chickweed Lane is always beautifully drawn and occasionally flies into some pretty weird surrealistic/satiric spaces that are actually pretty daring for newspaper comics--though much of the time it's just a soap. Again, they're none of them Wattersons or Kellys, but they're worth reading.
posted by yoink at 9:23 AM on July 20, 2009


Metafilter: On non-preview: oh, ok.

And "Bicky"? A real parody would have said "A case of tuna and I'll just look the other way. Oh, and you need a new sofa. Your old one was awfully fragile."

And "Satchmo" would come along and say something profound.
posted by lysdexic at 9:34 AM on July 20, 2009


This is by far the best parody of The Family Circus: The Nietzsche Family Circus.
posted by Fizz at 9:35 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Bah, parody. I think that word doesn't mean what I think it means. I should go back to bed.
posted by lysdexic at 9:36 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


because the Sunday Church Lady Muffin Club might be offended by the words 'dork' or 'screwed'.

Speaking as the husband of a former newspaper journalist, I can tell you that the comics page never changes precisely because of the papers' pants-shitting fear of doing so. Most people who buy newspapers are older. Those who subscribe daily? The average age is pretty old. And they take their comics, their puzzles and their Hints from Heloise columns VERY seriously. I mean life-or-death seriously.

And it's not so much "dork" or "screwed" as it is taking their comfort food away. They've been reading those old, musty, irrelevant comics for decades, and if you take them away, woe be unto you.

My wife has seen more outrage at paper's she's worked for over the possibility of Marmaduke being pulled than she has over noticeable journalistic screwups. Error in the crossword? Dozens of phone calls claiming those responsible are worse than Hitler. The people responsible for running the comics pages are poor beleaguered bastards who have little incentive to do what they do, as far as their readership is concerned.

So in a nutshell, "The Family Circus" will only go away when its readership is all dead, which won't be for several years. And there will continue to be bad puns and sexy secretary jokes and Mallard Filmore doing his confused grumpy old man thing and Beetle Bailey taking his billionth nap under a tree, because if they take that away they will at best be flooded with calls and hate mail and will at worst lose a significant chunk of their readership. Because as hard as it may be to believe, for a lot of those people, this shit is serious business.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:39 AM on July 20, 2009 [17 favorites]


Maybe, but if there is something better out there, I haven't found it yet.

Yep, I agree 100%. Though yoink's list is a very good one.

I'm just glad that no paper in any town I've lived in recently has run "Cathy."
posted by blucevalo at 9:42 AM on July 20, 2009


Todd Gaines: There you are, enjoying your comics, when all of a sudden there's the Family Circus just waiting to suck, and ruin your whole experience.
Claire: Then why don't you just not read it?
Todd Gaines: I hate it, but I'm compelled to read it.

— Dialogue from the movie Go

I only read the US funnies, surprisingly, when I'm over in the US but I loathe the Family Circus. Even now from 3,000 miles away.
posted by i_cola at 9:50 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


They've been reading those old, musty, irrelevant comics for decades, and if you take them away, woe be unto you.

Absolutely! And it's not just small town PTA ladies or Rotarians that are that way either. Whenever the San Francisco Chronicle rotates a zombie comic out, there is an uproar to end all uproars, and the jeers for whatever hapless new comic replaces it are not to be believed.
posted by blucevalo at 9:50 AM on July 20, 2009


I'm just glad that no paper in any town I've lived in recently has run "Cathy."

You lucky, lucky bastard.

Man, I'll take Family Circus any day over Cathy.
posted by yoink at 9:58 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whenever the San Francisco Chronicle rotates a zombie comic out, there is an uproar to end all uproars

OTOH the Chron is free to rotate out working journalists and editorial content all it wants, with no uproar at all. Come to think of it, here's a business model to save newspapers: hold the comics hostage. "Look at the ads in our papers or Little Jeffy gets the axe".
posted by Nelson at 9:58 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


OTOH the Chron is free to rotate out working journalists and editorial content all it wants, with no uproar at all.

I can't argue with that. They don't just rotate 'em out. Hearst just gives 'em the old bums-rush heave-ho out onto Market Street, and of course all the comments on SFGate are about how crappy the paper and the website have become.
posted by blucevalo at 10:03 AM on July 20, 2009


So in a nutshell, "The Family Circus" will only go away when its readership is all dead, which won't be for several years ever, because they are reborn eternally in Christ.
posted by DU at 10:05 AM on July 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


The Nietzsche Family Circus

Dammit, every time this comes up I have to spend the afternoon fighting the urge to splat-tab and reload on The Nietzsche Family Circus.
posted by lodurr at 10:07 AM on July 20, 2009


Liō is indeed an interesting newcomer.
posted by Jubal Kessler at 10:10 AM on July 20, 2009


Man, I'll take Family Circus any day over Cathy.

Yeah. At least FC has a basic level of artistic competence. Cathy is just a mess.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:20 AM on July 20, 2009


I'd say something snarky about family circus but any time I get the urge, it's quickly replaced with pity. What must life be like for the masses that find humor in the marmadukes or ziggys of the world? It must be horrible to go through your day so starved for entertainment that the simplest, stalest jokes mean something to you.

That's nothin'. I've mentioned this before here in the blue, but it's again apropos:

As a kid, I had a big Family Circus anthology, which included little backstories, photos of the real-life Keanes, letters from readers and suchlike. In the handful of pages devoted to Thel-centred cartoons, Bil Keane shared some letters from readers who'd taken the time to write to Bil to voice their appreciation for Thel as an object of sexual desire. Bil helpfully noted she was even more desirable in real life. I can't remember whether the word "hot" or "sexy" was employed, but either way it was a tiny little window on the deepest of existential abysses.

I mean, imagine the kinda deprived psychosocial chamber of horrors you'd have to find yourself in to find the mom from Family Circus a real turn-on. Then imagine the exponential expansion of said chamber's dimensions that it'd require for you to find the wherewithal to write to the cartoon's creator to basically say, "Hubba, hubba!" Expand by one more factor, and you've reached the kind of outsized madhouse where Bil Keane's giving himself a self-congratulatory alpha-male backslap on the pages of a bestseller that's at least partially intended to be read by ten-year-olds like I was at the time.

There, I submit, is the karmic void from which the Family Circus' nonhumour is drawn, and it is a place beyond pity's reach. It should probably be sealed off like a toxic waste site to keep it from further contaminating the rest of the world.
posted by gompa at 10:25 AM on July 20, 2009 [17 favorites]


There, I submit, is the karmic void from which the Family Circus' nonhumour is drawn, and it is a place beyond pity's reach.

This is my new favorite sentence.
posted by item at 10:28 AM on July 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


What must life be like for the masses that find humor in the marmadukes or ziggys of the world?

They're probably happier people than you and I.
posted by Nelson at 10:32 AM on July 20, 2009


> They're probably happier people than you and I.

Ignorance is blecch.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:47 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I mean, imagine the kinda deprived psychosocial chamber of horrors you'd have to find yourself in to find the mom from Family Circus a real turn-on.

She's drawn like an old-school pinup, and she didn't use to dress so frumpily (now that the son does the drawing, she's a lot less sexy, which makes me breathe a Freudian sigh of relief).

If you go to FamilyCircus.com and go to the "Files" section and look at 1960s cartoons, Mom looks just like the racy cartoons from Esquire of that era: giant boobs, teensy waist, curvy hips and butt.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:52 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah. At least FC has a basic level of artistic competence. Cathy is just a mess.

Don't blame her, she's just drawn that way.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:52 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wait, I'm unclear: So Pearls Before Swine has mocked Family Circus for a long time, including using its characters in its strip, but the author is now considering contacting a lawyer when Family Circus mocks back?

Perhaps it would help to know that Pastis *was* a lawyer for some time before Pearls Before Swine got picked up.

(I worked with him back in the day. He was constantly drawing and talking about how he wanted to do it full-time, but I always figured he didn't have much chance of getting a syndication deal, just because the odds of *anyone* getting a deal were astronomical. Glad to see I was wrong.)
posted by asterix at 10:52 AM on July 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


FamilyCircus.com has a "takeoffs" section showing other comics' take on FC. Pearls Before Swine isn't on there, which isn't surprising until you see stuff that is.
posted by DU at 11:03 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Mom looks just like the racy cartoons from Esquire of that era: giant boobs, teensy waist, curvy hips and butt.

Mom looks more like Laura Petrie in "The Dick Van Dyke Show" to me.
posted by blucevalo at 11:05 AM on July 20, 2009


... who looked a little harrassed, but was really kind of --

what the hell am I saying?!
posted by lodurr at 11:06 AM on July 20, 2009



I'd say something snarky about family circus arrogant people on MetaFilter judging other people's opinions but any time I get the urge, it's quickly replaced with pity. What must life be like for the masses that find humor in the marmadukes or ziggys of the world have contempt for people who like things they don't like? It must be horrible to go through your day so starved for entertainment a sense of superiority that the simplest, stalest jokes judgments and scorn mean something to you.
posted by ambient2 at 11:10 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can't belive some of you people didn't get the joke immediately. Although to be fair, it wasn't a very funny joke.

And neither is the rest of the strip. And the guy shrinks down the images way to much when he posts them online. What is he, using an 800x600 monitor or something? They're barely legible.
posted by delmoi at 11:17 AM on July 20, 2009


Oh, come on, ambient2, reading newspaper funnies these days is kind of like sniffing glue or gasoline - it's not very fun, really, and it still gives you brain damage.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:24 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: the karmic void from which nonhumour is drawn.
posted by jonp72 at 11:26 AM on July 20, 2009


Mom looks just like the racy cartoons from Esquire of that era: giant boobs, teensy waist, curvy hips and butt.

Duly noted.

Also her nose is the symbol for less than/greater than, depending on which way she's facing. Given the simplicity of the drawings, I'm guessing the letter writers also sometimes found themselves just a little hot under the collar at a particularly smoothly drawn capital S, and I stand by my original comment.
posted by gompa at 11:28 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I remember reading somewhere that Bil Keane doesn't like Family Circus himself, but keeps drawing it because it pays the bills.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:29 AM on July 20, 2009


What th- ?!?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:31 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The sandbox is empty because it's in their shoes. That one's easy. Far more...subtle, is the polite term...is the leaves one. He's pounding the table to make more raking work for her.

Old FC dad is a real jerk.
posted by DU at 11:34 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I get the gags, DU, but thanks.

I was unaware that FC had a different dad (Whom Wikipedia identifies as Steve). Given the drawn from life nature of the strip, I want to know where Steve went - did his ol' cartoonist pal Bill secretly covet his family and eventually usurp his position?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:39 AM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wish some of the strips in Super Fun Pak Comix would get syndicated.
posted by benzenedream at 11:41 AM on July 20, 2009


seconding yoink's newspaper comics list...

Pearls Before Swine is a reliable ha-ha, but if you've been following it for a long time, it has gotten repetitive and predictable... doubly, if not triply so for Get Fuzzy

Non Sequitur flip-flops between astute observations and crowd-pleasing stereotypes, but enough of the former to be worth checking out regularly

Brewster Rockit: Space Guy is just plain silly, but the sci fi concept and execution is refereshing

Mutts has the look of an old-old-old-school classic, but yes, very cutesy-sentimental

Lio captures a Charles Addams/Edward Gorey black humor sensitivity like nothing before in the newspaper

9 Chickweed Lane is trying very hard for (relative) controversy; currently its version of The Supreme Being (a short fat guy named Monty) is in conflict with an ex-priest and ex-nun who got married and are expecting...

don't forget the previously mentioned Frazz, sharp, character-based humor with the best smart-ass kids in the funnies and title character who DOES look like Calvin grown up

Cul de Sac is new, stylish and alternates between wry humor and just cute

Bizarro is the longest-running Far-Side-inspired daily panel and formerly the funniest, but aging a bit, and replaced by The Argyle Sweater (which is a little distracting because its visual style is so close to Larson's), but Rubes and Speed Bump are frequently good too

Speaking of showing-its-age, Over the Hedge is still worth a chuckle (before the movie came out it was a three-chuckler)

Keith Knight has a daily strip "The Knight Life" that delivers the funny better than any other 'ethnic' comic these days (with Candorville a distant second)

and just the fact that the same guy writes both Sally Forth and the online Medium Large makes me want to keep an eye on it to see when he can slip something good past the editors

and dammit, Frank and Ernest still delivers the old jokes better than anybody since Henny Youngman

and that's enough to half-fill a modern newspaper page (more so if they printed them large enough)
posted by wendell at 11:43 AM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm a fan of Rhymes With Orange, too.

Also The Comics Curmudgeon is the place to chat about newspaper comics, especially the horrors of "Mary Worth" and "Gil Thorp" and "Apartment 3-G".
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:50 AM on July 20, 2009


Here's Bloom County's classic take on Family Circus.
posted by New Frontier at 11:54 AM on July 20, 2009


What th- ?!?

That was back before Thel caught William in a passionate affair with Sassy Squiggly who lived outside the circle. Thel knifed him 46 times in revenge, burned down the house to make the whole thing look like an accident, cashed the insurance checks, and then after an appropriate grieving period remarried to William's identical twin brother Bill, a paunchier fellow who requires corrective lenses and likes the Bible.

The Circus wasn't always fun and games.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:01 PM on July 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


If you go to FamilyCircus.com and go to the "Files" section and look at 1960s cartoons...

...you'll find that the darkness was always there.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 12:02 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Chiming in, the other fresh breath of air on my local comic page is Cul De Sac. Yes, it's the ol' children in a neighborhood strip, but the jokes are consistently original and quirky, in a truly weird kid-like way. Paper towel tubes, bug fascination, strange babies, zombies, and mind control.

Although I do read the Comics Curmudgeon with relish, I hesitate to criticize or dismiss syndicated newspaper comics too quickly. I mean, setting up new jokes (or new variations of old jokes) every. single. day. has got to be difficult.
posted by redsparkler at 12:06 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


mean, imagine the kinda deprived psychosocial chamber of horrors you'd have to find yourself in to find the mom from Family Circus a real turn-on.

Ohgodohgodohgodohgod...
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:08 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cul de Sac looks great (kind of reminds me of a more sedate version of Lynda Barry's stuff), but there would be torches and pitchforks outside the local newspaper office if they ran it here.
posted by blucevalo at 12:09 PM on July 20, 2009


Cathy haters should appreciate Kathy. Ack.
posted by jtron at 12:20 PM on July 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wait, I read that as depraved.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:32 PM on July 20, 2009


The mom was pretty hot, as drawn by her husband.

What do you think she was slathering on the children back then? Tanning oil? DDT?
posted by palliser at 12:52 PM on July 20, 2009


I second Alvy. When did Family Circus dad stop being Steve and start being Bil? Was it explained, or just a silent unacknowledged switch?
posted by Nelson at 1:31 PM on July 20, 2009


I'm surprised that old-school Family Circus looks so much looser and cartoony. Now the characters could well all be clipart.
posted by JHarris at 1:47 PM on July 20, 2009


It must be horrible to go through your day so starved for entertainment that the simplest, stalest jokes mean something to you.

Sounds like someone's got a case of the Mondays!
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:35 PM on July 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


So in a nutshell, "The Family Circus" will only go away when its readership is all dead, which won't be for several years.

I know one married couple -- impossibly white teeth, Jesus-fish on the car, the whole deal -- who have a refrigerator plastered with Family Circus strips.

And they're like... 23 or 24 years old.

Scary, I know.
posted by rokusan at 2:41 PM on July 20, 2009


cathy readers should appreciate kathy acker, but often this is not the case.
posted by the aloha at 2:42 PM on July 20, 2009


I'm surprised that old-school Family Circus looks so much looser and cartoony. Now the characters could well all be clipart.

That's pretty common as a cartoonist gets a feel for his characters, and his muscle memory takes over. Simplify, repeat, simplify, repeat.

Early Mickey Mouse.
Early Charlie Brown.
Early Opus (Bloom County).
Early Dilbert.

After years and years of drawing the same characters, they almost always get simpler, bolder, and more 'clip-arty'.
posted by rokusan at 2:51 PM on July 20, 2009


Is it irony when comic strip authors complain for years about shrinking comics pages, then can't figure out how to publish images in a readable size on the web? I can't tell what's ironic anymore.
posted by chairface at 2:59 PM on July 20, 2009


The mom was pretty hot, as drawn by her husband.

WTF? Dude, you could put that face on Scarlett Johannson's body and I would be incapable of calling the result "hot".
It's the mom from Family Circus fer chrissake.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:08 PM on July 20, 2009


Zippy the Pinhead, anyone? Anyone?
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:36 PM on July 20, 2009


and just the fact that the same guy writes both Sally Forth and the online Medium Large makes me want to keep an eye on it to see when he can slip something good past the editors

Man, what the hell happened to Sally Forth? It used to be almost up there with Cathy as one of my least favorite comics--just strip after strip of Sally saying something snarky about her husband or her daughter. It was one of those "murder-suicide is the only possible future" strips, but slowly it started to become actually intriguing. I don't think I've ever seen a strip do that before--radically change its style (both the drawing and the writing) for the better.

But then the LA Times dropped it and replaced it with Far and Away--which seems to be a new strip aimed squarely at Hi and Lois or Blondie or Drabble readers and drawn by a rather untalented six-year-old.
posted by yoink at 3:53 PM on July 20, 2009


No scorn for the horror that is "Close to Home"?

I will say, since my local paper is on the comic shrinking bandwagon, I was quite jealous when I visited Houston and the paper there (Houston Chronicle?) had 2 full pages of comics everyday, some in color.
posted by madajb at 3:58 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm calling the "Pig and Rat" thing a coincidence. The alternative would require the Family Circus staff to actually notice something in the outside world.

If you notice the TV in the last panel of the FC strip, you'll see that the kids (and dog and cat) are watching some variation of The Simpsons.

"Bart" is jumping in the air, "Lisa"'s head is at the bottom middle, and "Homer" is in the bottom right. An orange-haired "Maggie" sits at the left of the screen.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:18 PM on July 20, 2009


To slight improve the legibility of the comics, try right clicking, selecting view image, and then deleting the post data, ie, instead of going to http://stephanpastis.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/11.gif?w=450&h=139, go to http://stephanpastis.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/11.gif
posted by idiopath at 4:48 PM on July 20, 2009


I used to love The Family Circus, and I still read it most days, because, well, I read all the comics. I mean, they're the comics. I read them and I do the crossword on my break.

I'm a big fan of Pearls. And I love him making fun of FC. And I'm glad to see Bil Keane getting a little dig in for his own sake.
posted by Shohn at 5:07 PM on July 20, 2009


I have to admit, it was actually a pretty good dig. And the Simpsons detail is neat, too. But is it really Bil, or is it his son?
posted by lodurr at 6:48 PM on July 20, 2009


No scorn for the horror that is "Close to Home"?
Oh fuck! That "comic" is eye poison and is slightly less funny than the prospect of contracting a viral hemorrhagic fever.
posted by horsemuth at 7:21 PM on July 20, 2009


This remains my favorite Pastis strip on the current state of the comics page.

For those who are doubting whether Keane is taking a shot at Pastis or think Pastis is serious about suing, the two of them are friends. Pastis actually consulted Keane before taking one or two of his shots at The Family Circus, and Keane thought they were good ideas. Keane's strip may be dated and no longer terribly funny, but I have heaps of adoration for the man's sense of humor regarding his own work.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:12 PM on July 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Please tell me Bil Keane doesn't pull down $750K a year from syndicating Family Circus.
posted by maxwelton at 9:54 PM on July 20, 2009


I know one married couple... who have a refrigerator plastered with Family Circus strips... they're like... 23 or 24 years old.

Not to get all SharingFilter, but we have one (Just one!) on our fridge. Dolly, after being chastised for making noise in church, responds 'I can't help it, my mouth is full of giggles!' a condition which my dear wife is also often afflicted with.

It's bordering on kinda-sort-of-barely-okay-not-really blasphemy is the only thing that alleviates my shame.

I should probably print up a couple pages of Crumb's Joe Blow and tape them up to balance things out, shoudn't I?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:12 PM on July 20, 2009


Man, what the hell happened to Sally Forth?

Sally Forth is often good quality. But, yeah, it's sadly easy to tell that Ces Marciuliano really tones things down (of his own free will or not) - most of his blog is really funny, mostly because of his political humor (he writes for the Onion, too, apparently.) Unlike the other political strips his is actually funny, so naturally we'll have none of that in newspapers.

So it's just like visiting a hilarious friend at their grandma's Sunday dinner... he's absolutely capable of the funny, but I don't expect too much of him in that context.

I do like his commentary on his own strips though.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:56 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


My favorite PBS strips are almost always the ones with snarky or depreciating humor. I like the zebra and croc ones, too, but pig and rat will always be my favorites. (And soon, like a good little consumer, I will have them for MY VERY OWN. Muhahahahaha.)
posted by elfgirl at 4:57 AM on July 21, 2009


middleclasstool, you aren't kidding. I'm responsible for putting together the classified section at our paper, and the one thing that has the most checks on it before we cut the section loose is the puzzles. If anything at all goes wrong with the puzzles, it's not going to be pretty in the morning. Little old ladies will call up cursing like sailors and screaming that they demand people get fired because the same puzzle ran five months ago. The phone in one particular office will ring nonstop all day, and the voicemail box will be full before 6 am. This is why I understand the reason that strips like FC still run, for if they ceased, it'd be pitchforks and torches at newspaper offices.
posted by azpenguin at 9:19 AM on July 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Now Pastis is taking on Mary Worth
posted by TedW at 7:47 AM on July 22, 2009


Could Rat be a Mefi member?
posted by drezdn at 11:41 AM on July 27, 2009


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