See All Topics

Home / Section: Comic strips

CSotD XI

I realize it’s Super Bowl Eve and we’ll get into that later, but it’s also the 11th anniversary of the start of this blog, which, as you see, began with a favorite strip and a single sentence inviting people to enjoy it.

Comic Strip of the Day has evolved quite a bit since then, but the mission of pointing out good work remains, and I’d add that it’s also a lesson in how to write: Just start, and keep it up, and you’ll find your voice.

Waiting for it to come together before you start is like sitting on the couch waiting to become an Olympic athlete.

In fact, the blog is like an athlete’s morning run: It starts my brain for the day. I  think it helps that I start the morning around 3 a.m., because, while the practical goal is to have a critique of the day’s comics on line by 8:30 Eastern, it also allows a sort of free association that might be harder if I were fully awake.

Over the years, I’ve become more verbose, obviously, and at one point capped things at 1,000 words because I was prattling. Most newspaper columns are about 750 words, so I’m generous to myself, but another writing tip: Setting a limit forces focus, which is not only good discipline but a gift to readers.

Last year, I summed up how things work around here and shared some favorite pieces from the first 10 years. Have a look if you’d like.

Evolution continues, and I’ve begun more formal criticism which sometimes includes taking cartoonists to task, though the prime directive to avoid snark remains.

Honest criticism, after all, is a compliment that assumes the artist is capable of better work.

So I guess this is the 4,018th entry, though I have to give a nod to Friend of the Blog Brian Fies, who took over for about two weeks in 2016 while I was busy not dying of cancer.

His entries remain worth reading, and I hope mine will, too.

And now, on with the show!

Speaking of the positive aspects of honest criticism, Wallace the Brave (AMS) demonstrates the two schools, and I must admit that, at least in political discourse, Amelia’s furious approach is preferable to Rose’s more contemplative one.

I use the word “fury” a lot, and that’s what I mean: You can’t simply disagree. You have to be pissed off by their attitude. That doesn’t mean you hate them; Bear in mind that Wallace is one of Amelia’s dearest friends.

But that’s why she won’t let him get away with such blatant nonsense.

There are cartoonists motivated by partisan hostility, but they produce hack work that isn’t worth criticizing, because it makes no real point beyond “I hate you.”

Still, you need fury, or you’re just producing graphic thumbsuckers.

The dictionary defines a “thumbsucker” as

A serious piece of journalism that concentrates on the background and interpretation of events rather than on the news or action; a think piece.

I define it as a boring piece of self-promoting blather that nobody but your mother thinks is wonderful.

Which brings us to this

Furious Juxtaposition of the Day

(Matt Davies – AMS)

 

(Rick McKee – Counterpoint)

I’ve said before that I don’t like using the faux-shaman to symbolize the Jan 6 rioters, because making them look ridiculous diminishes both the violence they perpetrated and the threat they pose in the future.

But it’s a fair tool in ridiculing the radical wing of the Republican Party, because it focuses on both the emptiness of their rhetoric and the absurdity of allowing them to direct the party’s policies and positions.

Constant readers will know that, like Davies, I mourn the loss of a thoughtful, reasonable Republican Party. Fact is, I favored George Romney’s presidential bid in 1968 and I voted for Gerald Ford in 1976.

That adds a touch of fury to my more intellectual feeling that we need responsible, thoughtful opposition in government, but that the GOP has become a collection of crazies.

Funny on Monty Python, not at all in real life.

And McKee makes that point, noting the hypocrisy of the GOP’s knee-jerk accusations of extremism among the Democrats when they not only allow Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F’tang-F’tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel into the party but let him and his allies become leaders.

My criticism of editors who focus on absurd characters like the faux-shaman at demonstrations applies in this case, because it appears the Republicans, in the wake of making a reality-TV con artist president, now favor anyone who can grab headlines regardless of how they do it.

Hey, if the biscuit barrel fits, wear it.

 

Mike Luckovich (AJC) makes the same point in a different but related way: He’s not the first to suggest the Frankenstein metaphor of a monster who has escaped his creator’s control, but he extends it well in a critique of the GOP’s failure to discipline their new monster.

Acceptance of her non-apology-apology shows not simply tolerance but an appalling level of affection for the beast.

But let’s switch to a lighter note with this

Juxtaposition of the Day #2

(The New 60)

(Jeff Stahler – AMS)

Both Jeff Stahler and the New 60 team of Andy Landorf and John Colquhoun tend towards a gentle, realistic look at family life, and this is a place where I don’t mind a lack of fury.

The New 60 assumes that fathers love their kids and want to include them in things. This one makes me think of Drew Brees holding his small son on the field in the wake of a Super Bowl win, the baby wearing gigantic sound-canceling headphones amid the chaotic celebration.

But it also reminds me of watching games with my sons, as toddlers and, later, in a college apartment and then in their homes as adults.

Distance and pandemic cancel that this year, but I disagree with the wife in Stahler’s cartoon, because big Super Bowl parties too often end up with a small group that wants to watch the game and a larger group whose incessant, irrelevant chatter makes it impossible.

Cardboard cutouts seem a significant improvement.

Now here’s a treat for our readers in Croatia:

 

Community Comments

#1 Christine Lehman
February/6/2021
@ 9:33 am

Congratulations on your 11th anniversary! I wish I had discovered your thought-provoking blog sooner, but just in the last few months it’s gone from a “check it out once in a while” bookmark to a “can’t start the day without it” favorite, especially during – what should we call it? — perhaps the “late unpleasantness”? Thanks for articulating the craziness so well!

#2 Brian Fies
February/6/2021
@ 11:54 am

Well done, Mike, and thanks for the nod! You’re always one of my very first stops of the day. Having filled in for a handful of CSOTDs, I’m more impressed than most by how smartly and gracefully you’ve handled ALL the CSOTDs. Please keep ’em coming.

Coincidentally, our friend Mike Lynch says that today is the 15th anniversary of his “Mike Lynch Cartoons” blog. Between Peterson and Lynch, I think all of our “Comics Commentary by Mike” needs are in great hands.

#3 WVFran Allen
February/6/2021
@ 12:07 pm

Happy Anniversary, Mike!

#4 David M Spitko
February/6/2021
@ 3:37 pm

Happy Anniversary Mike and thank you for all you have done! You make a difference. From your favorite Philadelphia lawyer.

#5 Mary McNeil
February/6/2021
@ 4:43 pm

Happy Anniversary – and many thanks !

#6 Bill Williamson
February/6/2021
@ 5:43 pm

Hey Mike, Happy Eleventh! I’m not sure how many years ago I found your daily musings on humour, politics and graphic commentary but it is now part of my early morning routine with my first coffee. It sparks me up and gives me a lot to think about and also frequently laugh about. Thanks for all the years. I remember how much I worried about you and missed you when you were ill in 2016, just like the old friend I think of you as. Cheers from up here in the attic of ‘Uhmuricuh’. Keep ’em comin’.

#7 Sharon Tuttle
February/6/2021
@ 9:02 pm

Happy Anniversary! Thanks again for the excellent commentary, and for getting me hooked on even MORE comics…! 8 – )

(Your writing has been excellent since the olden golden days of rec.arts.comics.strips…!)

#8 Kip Williams
February/6/2021
@ 10:50 pm

Great job, Mike! I come here most days for my own selfish pleasure and am rarely disappointed.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.