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CSotD: A Warm Thank You, Please, For 10 Years After

The blog’s 10th anniversary is Thursday, but we’ll celebrate it today because cartoonists often use Sunday to mark something in the coming week and also because I have nothing more to say at the moment about impeachment or coronavirus.

So there is the first Comic Strip of the Day entry, back when it truly was one comic strip each day and not a lot of commentary because I hadn’t found my voice yet.

And I stand by what little I said: I really liked Ink Pen and I’m sorry it’s not around anymore, though you can read the classic strips at GoComics and the collection is still available.

The blog began as a guilty response to my getting drawn into an online snarkfest over the ending of “For Better or For Worse.”

I still wish Lynn Johnston had (A) left Liz up north teaching in the native community she loved, and (B) dealt realistically with Mike’s “marry in haste/repent at leisure” marriage and (C) let him struggle a little more with his writing.

But there’s a substantial difference between valid artistic criticism and simply building up your own ego by being a wiseass, and I was embarrassed to have been drawn over that line.

There were — probably still are — a couple of very successful blogs that drew readers by being snarky and mocking comic strips, often the same ones over and over in a feeding frenzy that was a bit too close to middle school bullying.

So I began Comic Strip of the Day, with a mission statement:

The Prime Directive is that we don’t single out comics for snark and abuse. This may change once I’ve won a couple of Pulitzers and a Reuben or two.

A little over a year after I launched it, I went to the opening of John Read’s “One Fine Sunday in the Funny Pages,” a public event tied into that year’s Reubens convention in Boston, which allowed me to meet in three dimensions several people I’d only known online, and, particularly, John and Anne Hambrock of “The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee,” who became firm supporters of CSotD, which at that point was still largely unknown.

 

Though not to Richard Thompson, who was another supporter of the venture and who became a good friend whom I miss.

Early on — much earlier than the above entry on his own blog referencing this particular CSOTD — I had dropped him an email to let him know I had used one of his strips, to which he responded, “I know. I read your blog,” which was gasp-enducing enough to keep this fanboy going.

 

Perhaps he was impressed by my ability to spot a future classic.

I should add that I had some presence in the comics world prior to CSOTD, having commented on the art form in rec.arts.comic.strips and on a personal blog but also having redesigned the comics page at a paper where I worked and interviewed each of the cartoonists there except Trudeau who wasn’t doing interviews in those days.

And let me note also that there are a number of cartoonists whose work I greatly admire and who have become friends over the years and they won’t all be featured in the collection I’m about to unleash upon you, but I didn’t actually go through all 3,646 postings to select my 10 favorites or 10 best or 10 featuring my besties.

Rather, here is a strip from February of each year, with a link to the entry and a warning that, while my first strip was terse, I became extremely verbose until I reined myself in and imposed a 1,000 word limit on my tendency towards logorrhea.

But feel free to read them, and to go to http://comicstripoftheday.com/ to explore the first nine years for yourself, or you may pick out my more recent pieces with a search for CSOTD on this site, where the blog has been housed for the past year and a half (Thanks, John Glynn!).

So, having pissed away two-thirds of my allotted words on this Foreward, here’s some of what I featured over the past decade:

2011

Cory Thomas’s “Watch Your Head” was a favorite and I’m sorry it didn’t get a firmer toehold in newspapers.

In the blog entry for that day, I mentioned a demonstration project Cory and some other African-American cartoonists had staged in February, 2008, in which they all drew basically the same strip to highlight the nonsensical idea among editors that having a “black strip” ticked off that diversity requirement, no matter what the subject matter of the strip might be.

I can’t find a working link to that protest. If you’ve got one, please add it in the comments.

2012

Here’s Richard Thompson now, and, as a bonus, I’ve added the second half of his piece. I generally send readers to the original site for longer pieces, because there’s a point at which I think the creator deserves the clicks as well as the publicity, but you can still go ponder my wisdom.

 

2013

In case you thought climate change denial was something new, Doonesbury suggests otherwise. Trudeau mocks the overthrow of Moynihan’s rule, “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”

And I add other cogitations on the degradation of public discourse.

 

2014

Always fun to feature a lesser-known strip and Crowden Satz got front-page treatment here, though the copyright date suggests he’d floated it around a bit before I found it.

 

2015

I loved Edge City, whose unabashedly Jewish setting was part of the firm foundation of a fine strip, and I’m sorry it ended, except that I have to reconcile that regret — and this also applies for “Pajama Diaries” and “Retail” as well — with my stated policy that strips should end when they run out of energy.

For the record, I think “Far Side” and “Calvin and Hobbes” also pulled the plug at the right moment. I miss them, but only at their height, not in some zombified pointless continuation.

 

2016

Thank god those days have passed, eh?

Fool myself once, shame on me. Fool myself twice and watch as the dog returneth to its vomit.

Interesting reflection on identity politics in this posting, noting that Thurgood Marshall was replaced with Clarence Thomas and Bush attempted to replace Sandra Day O’Connor with Harriet Miers.

Well, it seemed outrageous at the time.

 

2017

As noted in this entry, there was a time when I pretty much knew how cars worked.

So they changed them.

Plus some reflections on old Harvey comix characters, including one who turned up as a buddy’s tat well before people who had not been in the Navy or jail had tats.

 

2018

Remember when Dear Leader was going to race into schools to confront shooters? I think it was the height of his Cliff Claven period and it didn’t go unnoticed.

I still don’t understand why people vote for a guy they would mock in a barroom, but, though the poster boy for phony blowhard heroism had a strong role in it all, this day’s entry was more about violence in general.

 

2019

Last year, the Vatican held a four-day conference to address the issue of clerical sexual abuse.

That’s why there isn’t any any more.

I only provided a sample of Ann Telnaes’ furious, cynical response then but here’s the whole thing.

That blog entry is worth visiting for other reasons, because I managed to address a bunch of stuff, including books by friends-of-the-blog Brian Fies and Terri Libenson.

And I’ve now gone well over my 1,000 word limit and if you come back in 10 years, I’ll do it again. So there.

And Alvin Lee went well over his allotted 2:30, too. These things happen.

 

Community Comments

#1 Sean Martin
February/2/2020
@ 8:25 am

Congrats on the anniversary!

#2 Harv Thorn
February/2/2020
@ 9:34 am

Ink Pen was a brilliant and should have been an enormous hit. More proof newspaper editors don’t know their own business.

#3 Harv Thorn
February/2/2020
@ 9:34 am

Ink Pen was brilliant and should have been an enormous hit. More proof newspaper editors don’t know their own business.

#4 Bill Williamson
February/2/2020
@ 10:11 am

Happy Anniversary, Mike. Many thanks for years of witty intelligence that helps me face the day with humour. You do a great service to many old guys like me who find their voices in your commentary. Many happy returns. Your friend Bill up here in Uhmuricuh’s attic.

#5 Brian Fies
February/2/2020
@ 10:50 am

Ah, I was there from the beginning and even before, Deacon, and especially for a couple of weeks in the middle. It’s not an easy gig, writing 1000 words a day about basically the same thing without (much) repetition, or boring your readers or yourself. You’re the Cal Ripken of bloggers and I think your batting average is remarkably high. Great anecdote about Richard Thompson. Long may you run.

#6 Donna A Lewis
February/2/2020
@ 1:18 pm

Happy Anniversary, my friend. Thanks for including me in the fun. Looking forward to the next ten. (heart) xoxo, d

#7 Wiley Miller
February/2/2020
@ 2:15 pm

Breaking my internet radio silence to include my congratulations for a decade of the best blog on the internet. Like Brian, I’ve been here from the beginning, predating it starting with R.A.C.S. where I met both Mike and Brian.

#8 John Read
February/2/2020
@ 2:57 pm

Thanks for the mention, and congratulations on your anniversary.

#9 Mary McNeil
February/2/2020
@ 3:05 pm

Congratulations on 10 years, and thanks for all your work !

Alice Otterloop and Alice Roosevelt ??? I would never have realized the connection, but it does make perfect sense !

#10 George Corbett
February/2/2020
@ 5:02 pm

Adding to the general acclaim: Thanks for many years of thoughtful comment, and may you continue for many more!

#11 Wayno Illustration
February/2/2020
@ 6:15 pm

Congrats on the ten-year milestone, Mike.

Thanks for your insightful comments, and for leading readers to comics they might have missed.

Wishing you as many more years of CSotD as you care to have.

Thanks also for including a musical selection as a closer to your posts. I copped that from you.

#12 Mark B
February/3/2020
@ 6:37 am

I agree with you 100% on “For Better.” UGH.

#13 PAUL PINDERSKI
February/3/2020
@ 10:15 am

Thanks for your hard work on your blog.

#14 P.J. Terryberry
February/3/2020
@ 12:09 pm

Congrats on 10 years! Not involved in the industry and not even sure how I found this site, but it’s become a daily read.

#15 Paul Berge
February/3/2020
@ 12:45 pm

A belated early happy decennial! Here’s hoping to many more.

#16 Kip Williams
February/3/2020
@ 4:17 pm

Well done! Always a good read. Your work ethic is a stern admonishment to us all.

#17 Mark Jackson
February/3/2020
@ 5:47 pm

Happy anniversary from another old RACSer, Mike!

#18 Virendra
February/5/2020
@ 7:31 am

Nice to read some old comics.

#19 Hank Gillette
February/6/2020
@ 11:33 pm

Congratulation on your anniversary. I did know about your blog until Brian mentioned it on his blog (during the time that he filled in for you). I have been a regular reader ever since.

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