See All Topics

Home / Section: Comic strips

Dave Astor: all other comics suck swamp water compared to For Better or For Worse (UPDATED)

Okay, the title got you, but Dave Astor does make a pretty bold declaration in a recent column over at Editor and Publisher stating that Lynn Johnston’s For Better or For Worse is the best comic strip. Ever. Better than Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, and other early features such as Little Nemo and Krazy Kat.

His criteria appears to be based on humor, appeal to mainstream readers, and artistic ability. He even postulates why some of the other comics now considered “great” don’t quite stack up.

Here’s a summary of FBOFW vs. Peanuts, Calvin, Doonesbury, Far Side, Terry and the Pirates, and Nemo:

  • “Peanuts” was a masterpiece. But I give “For Better” an edge on the art
  • Bill Watterson ended “C&H” after only a decade in syndication, while “For Better” is still going strong
  • But “For Better” has more accomplished art (though the “Doonesbury” drawing has improved greatly since the 1970s).
  • Gary Larson’s creation didn’t have the emotional resonance of Johnston’s
  • “Terry and the Pirates”…shared some of its era’s sexism and ethnic stereotyping.
  • (T)he writing in Winsor McCay’s early 1900s strip left something to be desired

Dave is soliciting feedback and I know he frequents this blog, so tell him if you think he’s a loon or has great comic taste!
UPDATE: Letters are trickling into E&P regarding Dave’s column.  Today’s (08/24/06) response (and the only one I can find) is from Dixon Galvez-Searle, editor of Screen Magazine.

A snippet from Dixon’s letter:

I’ll admit, I never thought I’d hear anyone claim that “For Better of For Worse” is the best comic strip of all time. While I admire some things about the strip, I think there are at least a half-dozen more interesting comics being syndicated today, never mind going back to “Little Nemo.”

He goes on to articulate why FBOFW is a good strip, not good.

Technorati Tags: ,

Community Comments

#1 Norm Feuti
August/21/2006
@ 12:12 pm

10 million FBOFW fans can’t be wrong, but why try to qualify any strip as THE best one ever? Specifically, why would you stack it up against every other “best strip ever”?

Sounds like he’s just looking for a fight.

#2 Norm Feuti
August/21/2006
@ 6:12 am

10 million FBOFW fans can’t be wrong, but why try to qualify any strip as THE best one ever? Specifically, why would you stack it up against every other “best strip ever”?

Sounds like he’s just looking for a fight.

#3 Rick Stromoski
August/21/2006
@ 1:04 pm

Published opinions such as this are just that, opinions. It matters little and is pure subjectivity. An exercise in silliness.

#4 Rick Stromoski
August/21/2006
@ 7:04 am

Published opinions such as this are just that, opinions. It matters little and is pure subjectivity. An exercise in silliness.

#5 Neamo Lotski
August/21/2006
@ 8:52 pm

Balderdash!!

FBOFW is a soap opera strip that can ONLY be compared with Gasoline Alley, Ally Oop, and any other strip that willfully tries to mix character drama and pathos with comedy.

Pathos occasionally flowed out of Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes because in both cases the writing and characterization was exceptionally well rounded.

FBOFW purposefully (self-conscienciously) cooks drama into every recipe, usually in a heavy-handed fashion that, yes, appeals to the millions of older, red-state readers who still read comics and haven’t yet discovered email.

It’s a good strip that has drawn a huge audience for many years and for that, it deserves praise. It does not, in my opinion, approach the high literary standards of any of the strips mentioned in your article. It is the comics equivalent of Saved By the Bell… not All In the Family.

#6 Neamo Lotski
August/21/2006
@ 2:52 pm

Balderdash!!

FBOFW is a soap opera strip that can ONLY be compared with Gasoline Alley, Ally Oop, and any other strip that willfully tries to mix character drama and pathos with comedy.

Pathos occasionally flowed out of Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes because in both cases the writing and characterization was exceptionally well rounded.

FBOFW purposefully (self-conscienciously) cooks drama into every recipe, usually in a heavy-handed fashion that, yes, appeals to the millions of older, red-state readers who still read comics and haven’t yet discovered email.

It’s a good strip that has drawn a huge audience for many years and for that, it deserves praise. It does not, in my opinion, approach the high literary standards of any of the strips mentioned in your article. It is the comics equivalent of Saved By the Bell… not All In the Family.

#7 Cass Rhea
August/22/2006
@ 1:43 pm

I never thought that the artwork of FBOFW was that outstanding in the first place . I mean , its good, but Not as pleasing to my eye as one of Calvin’s imagination adventures.

#8 Cass Rhea
August/22/2006
@ 7:43 am

I never thought that the artwork of FBOFW was that outstanding in the first place . I mean , its good, but Not as pleasing to my eye as one of Calvin’s imagination adventures.

#9 Garey Mckee
August/27/2006
@ 7:52 pm

One cannot deny the artistic skill of Lynn Johnston. Not only as an illustrator, where her background in medical illustration lends an accomplished edge to her style, but also her artistic skill as a story teller and her choice to weave her strip through real time. However, I don’t know if I would ever claim any ONE comic strip better than another. Like all art, comics speak to their readers on a very personal and individual basis. Readers take from comics what they will based on their own personal experiences and backgrounds. As a result, what I may think of as exceptional and focused, someone else may think of more negatively. To be honest, sweeping general public statements like “the best ever” is bad form when it comes to writing about any type of art.

#10 Garey Mckee
August/27/2006
@ 1:52 pm

One cannot deny the artistic skill of Lynn Johnston. Not only as an illustrator, where her background in medical illustration lends an accomplished edge to her style, but also her artistic skill as a story teller and her choice to weave her strip through real time. However, I don’t know if I would ever claim any ONE comic strip better than another. Like all art, comics speak to their readers on a very personal and individual basis. Readers take from comics what they will based on their own personal experiences and backgrounds. As a result, what I may think of as exceptional and focused, someone else may think of more negatively. To be honest, sweeping general public statements like “the best ever” is bad form when it comes to writing about any type of art.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.