The good news is that Rob Rogers has found a home for “Brewed on Grant,” his local look into Pittsburgh life. The other good news is that he manages to combine the personal with the universal, which is the key to good writing.
The principle is simple but not easy to apply because it falls into that category of “Either you get it or you don’t,” which comes up in all sorts of artistry.
Some paintings jump out, most are just paintings, and it’s the same with music: Even playing someone else’s composition, one pianist will make it come alive while others, though perfectly competent, are simply good workers, not artists.
“Brewed on Grant” should, you would think, require you to be familiar with Picksburg happenings and culture, but even when that is true, you can still get a laugh because … well, I can’t say why.
But you will.
That artistic theme continues in today’s Adam@Home. One of the pillars of the strip is Adam’s mediocrity, but Rob Harrell adds a bit of bite this morning because he has written a successful children’s book and not every cartoonist who has turned his hand to kid’s books has been able to add that je ne sais quoi that makes it matter.
It could be worse: A couple of decades ago, a lot of Hollywood types started cranking out children’s books and I don’t think any of them rose above the Hamster Huey level.
Cartoonists, as a whole, seem to be doing better, but a kids’ book is not a comic strip and some rise while others — including some by brilliant strip creators — don’t hit the mark.
Interesting side note: One of my young writers wrote a very favorable and thoughtful review of Paul “Pooch Cafe” Gilligan’s “King of the Mole People,” and he compared it to “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” which is written by a kids-book specialist, and “Timmy Failure,” a series done by Pearls Before Swine creator “Stephan Pastis.”
Which puts both cartoonists in pretty exalted company.
Speaking of kids, this Damien Glez drawing of Greta Thunberg is a show-stopper, and while it’s often hard to define what makes his work extraordinary, I can speak directly to this one: He honors her intensity in a way that matters.
Thunberg is autistic, perhaps an Aspie but, in any case, has a perpetually “grumpy” face that simply comes from her emotional detachment but has been misinterpreted by a whole lot of people as anger or disapproval of who else is in the picture.
But Glez captures, instead, the intensity that lets kids like Greta Thunberg focus with intensity on the things they want to know about, and to speak up for that singular interest without regard for childlike diplomacy.
I don’t think a neurotypical kid could have amassed her knowledge of the topic or maintained her monomaniacal focus on advocating for it. Glez captures that both in the overall concept of a Joan of Arc warrior and in the intensity of her gaze.
Juxtaposition of the Day
I’m going to agree with critics that Pamela Karlin “should not have gone there” at the impeachment hearings with her relevant but ill-considered wisecrack about the powers of the President.
Kings could do no wrong, because the king’s word was law. And contrary to what President Trump has said, Article II does not give him the power to do anything he wants, and I’ll just give you one example that shows you the difference between him and a king, which is the Constitution says there will be no titles of nobility, so, while the President can name his son ‘Barron,’ he can’t make him a baron.
Good joke. Poor judgment, not because it wasn’t apt but because it gave the rightwingers a chance to ignore the actual point and be scandalized that she mentioned a child.
Who, by the way, was not named for a title of nobility but, instead, for a fictional Trump spokesman who the future president used to trot out as a sock puppet for reporters in telephone interviews.
Hall goes after the childish, prickly nature of the man, while Jones digs deeper to ask why Barron should be treated with kid gloves when other children are in cages.
For my part, I don’t think he wanted to make his son a baron. I think he was repeating the classic story of a naughty liar:
After all, the life of a Marionette has grown very tiresome to me and I want to become a boy, no matter how hard it is.
Go Read The Rest of These
Alex is running for Parliament, and his creators have taken a moment to go back and remember 30-plus years of election humor. You often have to know a lot about British banking regulations to get a laugh from Alex, but this is all very accessible, funny humor.
And Stephen Collins is also British but his strip about man-on-the-street interviews is absolutely universal. Go read the rest.
And to really dig into absurdity, Existential Comics offers a mashup of Lord of the Rings and John Locke’s theory of language, with Roland Barthes joining the fray.
They do explain the philosophical stuff in a footnote, but you’re on your own for knowing Eowyn.
And instead of a musical moment of zen, here’s a link to a podcast in which Lynda Barry talks about her love for Family Circus. The whole podcast is about an hour long, but her part is at the beginning and runs a reasonable 10 minutes.
Funny and touching and worth your time.