CSotD: Labor Day Intensive

Mo points out that those who serve and wait rarely get a chance to stand, and there are indeed people working Labor Day and, I hope, still plenty of people who aren’t.

Here’s my rant on the topic, worth saying, worth reading, but not worth repeating as often as it becomes relevant.

When I first lived on the border, we didn’t print a paper on Labor Day, which, first of all, made it a little easier to be within half an hour of Quebec, where they not only have a sane, Canadian attitude towards workers but an insane, delightfully French attitude towards holidays and vacations.

It also meant that we could have a blow-out Corporate Prom the night before Labor Day because there was only a skeleton crew in the newsroom and everyone else was free to come chow down on roast beef and empty the open bar.


Well, we went to a 365-day publishing schedule and scaled back the party bit by bit until it disappeared completely and Phil Hands pretty well sums up Labor Day in the 21st Century, unless, like Mo, you’re in the hospitality racket.

And I hope she and Bartender are not looking for holiday pay because I’m not sure that’s a thing anymore, though, as Hands points out, we’re all in danger of getting plenty of comp time.

(Side Note: Rightwing cartoonists are accusing progressives of wanting a recession. No, we just accept it as inevitable. What we want is for it to hit before Election Day.)

Another thing about living just below the border was that, until the late 80s/early 90s, Montreal was pretty much closed on Sunday.

It was like being back in the laidback 50’s again, but then someone raised a stink and they changed the laws in order to spread the same retail dollars over seven days instead of six, adding labor and utility costs to what used to be the Sabbath.


Big Nate pretty much nails it, because Labor Day today is less about the Haymarket Massacre and poor immigrants rolling cigars in crowded, windowless tenements than it is about school starting up again.

And Francis is right, but that’s why I love Nate: We share a skill for overthinking things and in this case, he’s right on. I saw “Valley Girl” and “Racing With the Moon” and thought, man, this guy is gonna be somebody!

But then I saw “Peggy Sue Got Married” and wondered what in the hell he was doing and it’s pretty well been like that ever since and that was 1986 ferchrissake.

It’s not incurable. At some point, somebody took both Marlon Brando and Bill Murray by the lapels and said, “Stop ruining your movies!” and it seemed to work. It could work again.

Meanwhile, keep him and Glenn Close separated.


Agnes is also headed back to school, and managing to make things just a tad dark, which is her superpower.

There’s something meta in this gag, though it’s not the only strip to occasionally note that the characters are stuck in a time loop.

But what makes the strip work is that Agnes and Trout live in poverty, with Agnes’s custodial grandmother working hard to keep their heads above water and Trout’s mother entertaining a succession of “uncles.”

And yet Agnes is in her own optimistic bubble and, while Trout seems to have a more realistic grasp on things, she’s happy to go along for the ride.

Luann has always grown at a slow but steady pace, Heart has recently transmogrified into a middleschool kid and something’s about to happen over at Sally Forth, but I think Agnes and Trout had better stay right where they are.

That bubble pops about halfway through middle school.


Meanwhile, over in La Cucaracha, Vero is launching a graphic history curriculum, which makes me both happy and a little concerned.

Happy because graphic novels and memoirs and such can get kids engaged whom you might otherwise miss.

Concerned because I’ve seen some good nonfiction presented in graphic format and I’ve seen stuff that wasn’t so good.

A lot of the crap falls into the category of superficial journalism, a sort of graphic version of the parachute-in junk on TV news, where the reporter drops in, interviews a few people and then files a report like one of the six blind men examining the elephant.

It hardly compares with the work of people like Joe Sacco, whose approach is outlined here or this piece that Augusto Paim and MauMau did before the Brazil Olympics.

And Derf Backderf is in the final stretch of his graphic book about the Kent State Shootings, which, if it’s half as well-researched and thought-out as Trashed or My Friend Dahmer, will be more than worth it.

Derf posted this picture on Facebook yesterday of his wife fact-checking the manuscript and he is, indeed, lucky to have someone qualified right there working for free.

I have a friend who writes historical novels and gets calls from the fact-checkers at her publisher asking “I’m on Page 371. Are you sure they had this type of footstool then? What’s your source?”

Meanwhile, I’ve seen historical graphic novels for kids that pass along mythology and bullshit that a reasonably well-educated editor should have caught even without stopping to look things up.

I want to see more graphic novels, memoirs and suchlike used in the schools.

But publishers need to be held to a standard. It shouldn’t be up to author/illustrators to have that kind of pride in their work and that kind of spouse to dig in and help out.

Oh, never mind. It’s a holiday.


Caulfield provides the philosophy. You take care of the rest.


Plus this

Christopher Baldwin offers this lagniappe as a break between the Space Trawler story that just wrapped up and the one about to begin, plus he’s got a Kickstarter for publishing the whole series as a book. (Don’t be scared to click; he’s well over goal.)

I like llamas, but he’s right: Alpacas are cuter.



3 thoughts on “CSotD: Labor Day Intensive

  1. Enjoyed your 2009 piece. Sadly, the village doesn’t even really close for Thanksgiving and Christmas anymore.

  2. One of the things I’ve wanted to do for decades is, to start a publishing company that would publish historically accurate graphic novels that help teach history to kids from elementary to middle school. I’ve met and had friendships with many, many comic illustrators who could have not only drawn accurate clothing, environments, etc.. but who also had the story telling chops to pull it off.

    Even when I was a kid I’d always wondered why History wasn’t the most loved subject in schools. They’re basically stories (albeit true ones) filled with action, adventure, violence, romance and some comedy sprinkled in. History classes should NEVER be boring and I’d though graphic novels would allow that wonderment to come through.

    But alas. I’d never had the funds (and I’m not really a businessman) to pull it off. Besides, I doubt if school districts would ever allow to in classrooms.

  3. I’d love to see better work in that area.

    I did a story about a young voyageur, and asked Dylan Meconis to illustrate it. Not history: Historic fiction.

    We got to a part where the voyageurs were roasting a rabbit on a ramrod over the fire and, when I saw Dylan’s rendering, I questioned it.

    Then I realized how much of her artistic life has been devoted precisely to portraying that period and that level of society and I felt like an idiot.

    There are artists out there who know certain periods completely. It would be smart to know who is the right person for a specific project.

    It would also be interesting to see a knowledgeable historian writer paired with a variety of knowledgeable historian artists. Similar to a Harvey Pekar approach.

    It would work, and it would be worth doing. But unless Scholastic recommends it, schools won’t buy it.

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