Jerry Beck crowns Worst comic strip ever made

Uncle Funny Bunny and Chumpy

Jerry Beck of Cartoon Brew has crowned Uncle Funny Bunny and Chumpy by Jack Pierce the worst comic strip ever.

When I seek out films for my Worst Cartoons Ever! screenings or Cartoon Dump I look for animation so bad it’s unintentionally funny. So when I came across a batch of old issues of My Weekly Reader I had in stashed my archives and found this comic strip – Uncle Funny Bunny and Chumpy – I felt I’d found a comics equivalent to Paddy The Pelican and Bucky and Pepito: the lamest comic strip ever created! Mesmerizingly so. I just had to share. Click on thumbnails below to read some samples.

Admittedly it’s aimed at children, and produced in the more innocent era of the early 50s. But the consistently corny gags, the awful stiff artwork… surely this takes the prize. Unless one considers the Weekly Reader’s back up strip: Loki, Your Fuzzy Forest Friend.

I think cartoon art is so subjective that anyone thinking they can unilaterally declare a comic great or worst, is a bit delusional of their own status (whatever it might be). At least he acknowledges that the strip was geared toward children and ran in the Weekly Reader and not to an adult like himself.

31 thoughts on “Jerry Beck crowns Worst comic strip ever made


  2. ok Alan, here goes
    firstly the art in Bloom County, just like Doonesbury, I can’t even think sometimes which strip I’m reading.
    Most of the dialogue is overstated, overwritten and way too wordy. It all goes against what a true comic strip should be an excercise in – brevity.
    You just can’t get involved in these characters, they don’t act true to life, things are overblown. Shouting normal phrases in the comic is a very common substitute for a punchline which doesn’t go over very well and leaves the general reader feeling he doesn’t get it because he isn’t hip enough.I know most of the general comic strip reading public worship this strip and that I’m treading on hallowed ground here but a big part of me makes me think this strip is like the comic strip version of the Emperor’s new clothes. It came around in the very early eighties when there was no competition and so gained a very lucky foothold when today if it were starting out it would have a very hard time. I think of a lot of these troubles with this comic harks back to Breathed’s own admission that he never grew up wanting to be a cartoonist. It’s preciseley this kind of attitude which pervades the whole strip and demeans itself as well. Surely someone out there agrees with me on this?

    BTW Badlands was a comic in the UK newspaper the Sun and hopefully many of never read it.

  3. Just as there’s no such thing as “the best comic strip”, there is no such thing as “the worst comic strip”. Both are entirely subjective and needs to be taken in context of the era it was done.

  4. Badlands was only awful because Steve McGarry drew it. But you have to give credit where credit is due. Given the fact he had a lifelong battle with crotch rot, which forces him to purchase a new office chair every six weeks due to the overwhelming fetid seat cushion found unbearable by his wife and small twin sons (by NCS edict he’s forced to wear double thick Depends at all times when attending the Reuben weekends or any official NCS function) a club hand (due to an industrial weaving accident when he worked in the carpet mills in his native Manchester as a small child having been forced to leave school at the age of six. ) and a chronic case of piles, I think given the circumstances, I’d venture he did a fairly decent job of it for a semi literate, genitally impaired gimp.

  5. I agree with Wiley. And not that it’s the worst comic strip, but I keep a copy of Todd the Dinosaur on the wall next to my drawing table to serve as a reminder, never try to second-guess the syndicates when preparing a submission. It’s a waste of time and energy.

  6. Rick, what about the writing? Who wrote it? That was the main esscence I was getting at.

  7. What’s wrong with Bloom County? C’mon Frank , next you’ll be saying you don’t like Calvin and Hobbes or Peanuts or something.

  8. Uncle Funny Bunny can’t possibly be the worst strip ever, it’s competently drawn at least.

    There are plenty of presently published strips who deserve consideration for Worst Ever. They’re not drawn as well as Funny Bunny and the writing is borderline cretinous

  9. Offering opinions as to what strip is “best” or what strip is “worst” is entirely subjective, and I think somewhat futile.

    Jerry’s proclamation of Uncle Funny Bunny as the worst strip ever has merit as a form of kitschy observance, but nothing more.

  10. My nominations:

    1. Todd the Dinosaur– Lame jokes, lame concept, not very good art and characters that aren’t very interesting. Barney without the annoying song that stcks in your head.

    2. Unfit– My personal vote for worst strip ever, horrendously bad art, average writing and a pet chicken. A.Pet.Chicken. And it was syndicated due to a connection to one of the biggest moneymakers the syndicate had. Talk about political favors…

    3. Any strip created off the success of an animated series and/or a toyMr. Potatoehead and Rugrats come to mind. I like the art-style of any Jim Davis comic, but Mr. Potatoehead was just shameful!

    Amazing what Jim Meddick was able to do with Robotman, which thankfully, bombed in the merchandising/toy world.

    4. Rhymes with Orange– Clever title, but after that it’s bad art and not funny writing.

    5. Sylvia– Ugly art and it’s not funny.

    And I think that Uncle Funny Bunny looks like the rabbit from Inkpen. Not the worst I’ve seen…

  11. I would love to come up with a comic strip as bad as Frank White says Bloom County is, because I aim high. It reminds me of comment I think either Neil Young or Bob Dylan made about critics of McCartney’s band Wings. -That there were a ton of bands that would have loved to had the kind of carrer that band had.-That the guy turned around and created a whole new band with it’s own sound. All Breathed did is create three hit bands..when most cartoonist have trouble creating one.

  12. Jeff, if you are trying to say that Breathed is equivalent to McCartney that I’d prefer to see the comic strip that Lennon would have created any day. koo koo ke choo.

  13. Also Peanuts circa 1972 to the early nineties ranks as one of the worst comic strips . Now don’t get me wrong I think Schulz was a genius in his earlier workbut in this later period he really coasted on lame jokes, characters, set-up and kept repeating gags day after day after day with only minor changes (for examples just check out most of his output from this period in comic collections). I understand that maybe a lot of this was due to having to please the toy companies and dumb down what was originally quite an intelligent strip. It’s a shame really as he had a lot of potential to make the strip even greater than it was than even the glorious fifties and sixties.Now I know that even speaking this way about the great man and his work is tantamount to blasphemy to most but you must understand that I live in the UK. We got the comic strip every day in the newspapers and the books and stuff but that’s about it. We never had the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving or Christmas specials endlessly repeated on the television year after year. It simply hasn’t had the chance to permerate into my subconcious like most of you. I don’t feel I’m rudely criticising an eldery relative likw most would and I feel I can look at this more objectively.
    Now the last five years of Peanuts was excellent. Innovative once again, new characters, involving storylines and actual punchlines once again. Perhaps he threw off his commercial entity shackles with relief.

    To Kev Lloyd : I love Calvin and Hobbes , although I think he should not have concentrated on his giant Sundays towards the second half of the strip’s run. More could have been done to revitalise the dailies. A lot of the Sundays were big gratutious close ups of a dinosaur/ spaceman spiff planet scenery or some other similar thing. By the sixth to seventh year we all knew it would involve Calvin’s fantasy world juxtaposed in the last panel to his reality. He had some great characters really developed by then and should have concentrated on them more.

    To Eric Burke: Stuart Sutcliffe was the real artistic one from the Beatles, him drawing and Lennon writing would have made for an excellent comic

  14. That’s pretty much a piss-poor analysis of Peanuts Frank. Matched only by your lack of insight into Watterson’s work. Cartoonist are you?

    I suggest you try to get a hold of Fantagraphic’s Peanuts Collections, covers by Seth, and now published in the UK by Cannongate, and actually have a read at the thing in a more concentrated form.

    I was chatting about Peanuts to a bunch of UK cartoonists recently and I think the general consensus was that it is the best comic strip of all time. When I described Charlie Brown’s belief that one day Lucy will hold the football in place as the greatest example of ‘hope over experience’ in any literature, Roger Kettle agreed, and he knows a thing or two about comic strips.

    The worst comic strip of all time was probably British. Bristow, by Frank Dickins was bad, but Hamish by Fred Rali, which was syndicated in the British regionals really stank. The worst national strip in the UK, by a country-mile, is ‘AS IF’, from The Independent. It is awful. The thing was created by the last Editor’s wife (the new editor has been in the job for a few months)and that has to be the only explanation why it ever got into the paper. It has no redeeming qualities. None, nada, not one.

    Private Eye also has a really awful strip. It is called Celeb. They made a TV version of the strip and it was so bad that the show aired, I think, twice and was pulled. Dreadful, dreadful, dreadful.

  15. Rod , I never said UK strips are better than US strips and I don’t believe that either. It’s a totally different animal over here. But I do tend to notice one anomaly : there is a huge disparity between the number of UK strips being picked up by US syndicates for distribution over there. I count about a handful including Andy Capp Fred Bassett. According to our population ratios we have about a quarter of your population so one fifth of all the strips in US newspapers should be of British origin. This holds true for popular comedy in the world, Monty Python, The Office, etc( which also shows by the way that we do understand each others humour and share a common sense of it)and Pop Music and even Hollywood so why is it in comic strips that we appear to be so unrepresented?
    By th way, I’m not a cartoonist of any sort but a self taught comics historian.

  16. I’m with Frank in thinking that Peanuts was in an awful creative slump from the early 70s into the mid-90s, though I wouldn’t say it qualified as the worst — still, it was disappointing in the same sense as the last few years of FBOFW have been, simply by comparison to what it once was. I’d also agree that Calvin and Hobbes declined and that the Sundays in which the last panel was a surprise in which we find out it’s all in Calvin’s mind stopped being much of a surprise. Again, that didn’t make it worst, but it did make it disappointing — I think Watterson made the right choice to quit while he was still way ahead of everyone else.

    Sad thing about Peanuts was that Schulz had turned the ship around and was starting to make Rerun into the kind of wonderful, deep, touching, thoughful character he had worked with in the strip’s best years. I wish he’d have had five more years to develop that renaissance.

  17. Schulz wrote, drew and lettered 365 strips a year all by himself for 50 years. Of course he went through slumps. It is a joke and sheer hyperbole to say the periods in which he slumped are “the worst comic of all time”.

    Even at his worst, Schulz was still better than half of the comics in the funny pages. There have been countless comics with terrible art, bad jokes, etc, that have been canceled after 6 months. And to be honest there are still a ton of comics with terrible art, bad jokes, etc that are syndicated in every newspaper right now and are way past their prime. Surely one of them would qualify higher in the worst comic of all time list.

  18. “Even at his worst, Schulz was still better than half of the comics in the funny pages.”


    This is what drives me crazy about self-proclaimed experts who permeate the internet. Rather than comparing later Peanuts to earlier Peanuts, the comparison should be made of the current Peanuts (at that time) to other features on the comics page in that same time period. That’s the measure of greatness, how Schulz was able to maintain a high level of quality consistently over such a long period of time, especially when you consider how many distractions he had from so many other sources. I don’t know how he was able to do it, including working ahead at one point in the 80’s so he could cover the time away to undergo and recover from heart surgery.

    Everybody on the internet is a “self taught historian”. That doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about. Nice euphemism, though.

  19. Schulz had the final veto on what strips of his were published in newspapers and which ones weren’t. According to Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s biography of him he said “Do it my way or I quit!”
    This would allowed for him technically to produce a comic strip on any given day which could have been the worst of the comics in all the newspapers of that day and it would have been printed. Because of the strip pasing the 2,000 paper mark people are afraid to speak up, editors frightened of losing readers, syndicate editors afraid to reject a particular strip of his lest they upset their huge major player. It’s the equivalent of surrounding yourself with yes men.
    Wiley : Just because a feature may be good enough to be better than half the features out there on any given day is that a justification for it not being really better than it could have been, according to it’s cartoonist’s own personal standards.
    If that were the yardstick Watterson used his feature would never have risen from the very cartoony earliest 50 or so strips(found in his first collection) to the great and wonderful storylines and characters he went on to develop(found in his second book to his seventh)

  20. Having read Peanuts from the early sixties on, no other comic strip affected me on an emotional level like that strip did. From Charlie Brown’s eternal struggle to win, to Linus, (though philosophical and wise) still clinging to a “Security Blanket”. Mixed together with Lucy’s ill temper, Schroeder’s artistic brilliance and Snoopy’s free wheeling spirit was nothing short of an artist opening up his life to his audience. Charles Schulz once said (paraphrased), “If you want to know who I am just read the strip.”

    Calvin and Hobbes is a great strip but it tells me nothing about the artist on a personal level. Far Side, again, brilliant, but I can only imagine what goes on in Gary Larson’s head. But Schulz, in a very simple way, laid it all out to bare. He took that risk and make no mistake it was a risk. His reward came when he learned that people were indeed able to relate to his work, whether consciously or unconsciously, on a much more intimate level. For who among us haven’t found ourselves at times hopelessly optimistic, believing in our own brilliance, staring at an empty supper dish, or wishing to be loved but finding ourselves in the end, hopelessly and humanly flawed?

    This is the genius of Sparky and his work.

  21. Bill, that’s a very moving synopsis of Schulz and his work. But I do take issue with some of what you posted.

    You stated Calvin and Hobbes was great, but tells you nothing about the artist on a personal level. I would argue if it is even the role of a comic strip to tell you about the author.

    A cartoonist and writer does not think of his or her readers as puppets, pulling strings and making them see and believe what the artist wants them too. Ultimately, the reader sees what they want to see in the work. I believe the more people see the same themes, the more evident it is that the author has struck chords on a universal human level. But I don’t think a cartoonist really thinks along those lines, and certainly no GOOD cartoonist things along those lines. If any do I would argue that they are so full of themselves it’s highly unlikely that they are producing good work.

  22. Bill, the phrases you use to describe Schulz’s work …….

    “From Charlie Brownâ??s eternal struggle to win, to Linus, (though philosophical and wise) still clinging to a â??Security Blanketâ?. Mixed together with Lucyâ??s ill temper, Schroederâ??s artistic brilliance and Snoopyâ??s free wheeling spirit ”

    ……higlight my arguements exactly. What do I mean by that? Just look at the elements you describe. They are all , or mainly originate from the early 1950’s to the
    early 1970’s of the strip. When people talk about Peanuts they almost always mention security blanket, kite-eating tree, Schroeder playing the piano etc.. almost nobody ever mentions Peppermint Patty, Marcie, Molly Volly and the awful “cookies with tennis” episodes, Captain Tutor, the school falling down and thinking it’s own thoughts( come on , justify four panels of a stone wall just talking!)by golly, even Woodstock never gets a mention. If this later period of Schulz’s work is deemed by most just as great as his earlier stuff why is it constantly overlooked by his most ardent supporters when asked to describe the strip?

    To be fair to Schulz as his writing on the strip went down , his artwork actually improved and got more minimalist, exactly the right number of lines and very expressive. Funnily enough in a simaler way that Watterson’s artwork did as he thought less about his storylines. I’ve heard it said that real cartoonists (those that actually wanted to be cartoonists when growing up and therefore have it their blood) start off as artists who learn to write so they can cartoon for a living. Perhaps they tire of this in later years and go back to concerntrate on their art.Wiley O love your great artwork and writing especially in your sunday episodes so please don’t fall in this trap as well.

  23. Thanks. Gary. I apologize if I wasnâ??t clear on the point I was trying to make. Sometimes the exact words escape me as I express an belief Iâ??m trying to convey. Which might be the case once again. Iâ??m not suggesting that a cartoonist is trying to manipulate his audience or as you described, make them see or believe what the artist wants him to.

    I just feel that Schulz (his body of work) struck that universal chord of which you wrote, more resoundly than any cartoonist before or since. Its resonance comes from a very personal place in the authorâ??s psyche and his ability to express himself in this commercial art form. Certainly Watterson and Larson, in fact most cartoonists put as much into their work as well but Charles Schulz knowingly or unknowingly tapped into the everyman in a much deeper level, in my opinion. The strip continues to run after his death for a reason.

  24. I have to say I laughed a little when Chris Ware admitted that when he was growing up he’d sent Charlie Brown a valentine card so he would get at least one – but then Charlie Brown got a lot of valentine cards.

    Peanuts endures because it is one of the very few comic strips that has achieved iconic status. When you see a darwing of Calvin, or most any comic strip character you will describe it as jusr that, ‘a drawing of Calvin’ or ‘a drawing of Nancy’. A drawing of Charlie Brown or of Snoopy on the other hand will almost always be described as ‘that’s Charlie Brown’ or ‘that’s Snoopy’ – that is when you know a character has acheived iconic status. It is bestowed on very few creations.

  25. I find it interesting that most of the slams on different strips are written by “wannabe” cartoonists who have failed to gain syndication.

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