CSotD: Classic Comedy, if you can keep it

After the way cartoons have gotten punched around this week — one in particular — First Dog on the Moon‘s take on AI and the art form is particularly solid. I often feel a little guilty featuring the whole thing, and you should realize that he does others I don’t show here and that you should go support his work.

But every panel here is an absolute gem and the final panel put me on the floor because it really does explain a large part of why cartoons are fading.

If there is hope for the art form, it will come in an on-line world where readers are free to select — and support, dammit — the strips they like, rather than relying on the whims of editors who fret over an ironic folk-idiom like “irregardless” and are deaf to odd concepts like sarcasm and humor.

Relevant Juxtaposition of the Day

(Pearls Before Swine — AMS)

(Super Fun Pak Comix — AMS)

A double dose of coincidental commentary from two solid cartoonists who couldn’t have seen how their pieces would interact either with each other or with the news of the week.

Are comic strips a creative art form, or are they simply commercial art?

It varies from strip to strip, particularly since, in the past couple of decades, more cartoonists have retained the rights to their work, such that, as Stephan Pastis warns his characters, when he’s gone, they’re gone, too.

But, as Ruben Bolling observes, the traditional arrangement allows a strip to go on and on and on and on, long after the original creator has died or been fired.

It’s largely in your hands. If you’re into comics as an art form, you should have subscriptions to GoComics and Comics Kingdom, where you can choose and support your own strips, and you should also be supporting a couple of Patreons and other funding mechanisms.

As Loretta notes in this Lockhorns (KFS), a “classic” falls along the lines of Mark Twain’s definition, that a classic is “something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.”

Though, as I wrote in one of my very favorite rants, it’s more something that everyone pretends to have read but hasn’t.

By the way, Boris turns out to be a total dork, but the book is worth reading anyway.

Now, having gone on at far too much length this past week about not tampering with an author’s work, let me praise someone for doing just that:

I didn’t realize on Monday that Pooch Cafe (AMS) was going to extend this storyline beyond a gag or two.

But by Saturday, I realized the parody was not only going to continue but would do so with some fun. At this pace, it looks like a sizeable commitment to carry things out. You can go back and catch the start here.

And, just as there is a difference between a fun parody and a genuine (misguided) attempt to improve on the original creator’s work, there is also a difference between a classic and a bit of nostalgia. For example:

I have been sent back to childhood with the current King of the Royal Mounted (KFS Vintage), to a different King who was on my regular viewing schedule when I was five years old.

The crossover here may not be entirely coincidental: The comics storyline ran in 1950, and, while Sky King didn’t start on TV for another year, it had been a radio series since 1946.

Sky King, and his niece Penny, were part of my Saturday morning, but even at a tender age, I had questions about why, when the bad guy demanded to be flown somewhere, Sky didn’t just start stunt-flying with the Skybird and dare the baddie to do anything about it.

King of the Royal Mounted has those bases covered, since Pinchface has a parachute and actually wants the plane to crash, killing King and Merrie, though he didn’t realize King would get out of the handcuffs.

Tune in next week!

By the way, Sky King used cookies, which I was pleased to accept.

Speaking of classic rants

If you’ve been here often, you already know how I feel about holding kids in perpetual adolescence, and this Zits (KFS) predictably put my teeth on edge.

I couldn’t wait to be an adult, my kids were equally eager to grasp the reins and take control of their lives and I’ve now got several grandkids happily out the door and on their own.

Maybe we’re not normal. I see beer commercials about 20-somethings who have apparently never grown up, and I see young adults on the street who mirror that. Still, I can’t help but think that, if you haven’t given your children, as the saying goes, roots and wings, that’s on you, not them.

It’s not a plan. It comes in the natural flow of things.

For instance, my kids learned to cook the way I did: By standing around the kitchen talking while dinner was being made. And they learned about things like property tax more or less the same way: By being around when the topic came up, and by being in the habit of having conversations with adults.

And by going to museums as well as to amusement parks. By taking walks together, starting when they had to be carried.

There is plenty of humor in the process, and this Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee (KFS) coincides with a conversation I had with eldest son the other day. When he was Edison’s age, I had to order him out to shovel at gunpoint, but — miracle of miracles! — once he was old enough to have a driver’s license and a car, he’d be out there while I was putting on the morning coffee.

Self-interest is a good motivator, and we laughed about it, but funny thing: Somehow the lawn also got mowed better, faster and with less grumbling as he began to act like someone on the verge of becoming a grownup.

I don’t think you can raise your kids in the kind of bubble Hartley Lin depicts here, and I’m not sure I’d want to. It does, indeed, seem like a fairy tale, unlikely to provide a happy ending in the real world.

But as a classic novel ended, “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”