Newspaper Comic Strips

One of the interesting things about traveling is looking at other cities’ newspapers, especially the comic strips. Sure, you can do that sort of thing online, I guess, but it’s nothing like opening up another city’s funny pages and actually seeing weird, otherworldly strips sandwiched in between the ones you know from home. The papers in Baton Rouge, Hammond, and Birmingham didn’t carry Apartment 3-G so I had no idea what was going on with Margo, Luann, and poor forgotten Tommie. Fortunately the strip moves at such a glacial pace that catching up is no problem.

It was interesting seeing new strips I’d heard of but not really seen. I’ve heard that Get Fuzzy was high-larious, but none of the samples I saw elicited much of a chuckle out of me. Our local paper doesn’t carry Mallard Fillmore, thank god. Republicans are always saying we on the left don’t have a sense of humor but jeez, that strip blows. Surely there’s some funny right-wingers out there.

Two discoveries I was pleased to make were Pearls Before Swine and Brewster Rockit: Space Guy. I found these genuinely funny and wished my paper carried them. (Both, fortunately, can be found online, which is where those links go.) Here’s an example of Brewster Rockit:

I’ve been thinking a lot about newspaper strips lately because of the novel idea that’s rattling around in my head. One of the main characters is a successful syndicated cartoonist, and that’s a central feature of the story. (He’s not successful in a Cathy or Dilbert way, but in more of a Wizard of Id way.) So I need to find out more about syndicated cartoonists. If you are one or know one, please drop me a line; I’d like to ask you some questions. Otherwise, I’m hitting the library and doing a lot of web research.

It strange doing this research because, although I want to learn the history of syndicated comics, for my purposes I’m really only interested in the last thirty or so years of it. So for each book providing some background, I’m only needing a thin slice.

While at the library (where I found the splendid cache of graphic novels that Shawn Fumo tipped me off about: Hello, Los Bros Hernandez!) looking at books on comic strips, I came across a slim little volume called The Trouble With Dilbert which I plan to talk about a little bit more later. The gist of the book is that Dilbert is seen as a rebellion against the corporate mindset when, in fact, it simply a conditioning tool to accept that mindset. I’m not sure exactly how much I agree with the thesis, but there’s definitely something to it, I think. But I need to process some stuff before I talk about it.

As I said, I’m doing some web research, but if you know of a site you think might help, one with information about syndication deals, creator bios, and such, and not just links to actual strips, please let me know.

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