First Thoughts Blog has some commentary on one of the things near and dear to my heart: comic strips.
The lowly comic strip is one of the most critically neglected of pop art forms. The reason for this becomes apparent to anyone who has read the “funny pages” over the past four decades: Most comic strips are utterly worthless.
Although there are hundreds to choose from, there are few worthy candidates for a list of “best” comic strips from the past forty years. The dailiness of producing a strip makes it an extremely demanding medium; consistency of output rather than quality and creativity are traits prized by the newspaper syndicators. That is why many of the best comic strip artists (Bill Watterson, Gary Larson) retire relatively early while the hacks dominate the format for decades.
Well, I think he’s being a bit harsh with the “utterly worthless” remark, but I get the point. Here’s his list of the Top Eight Strips of all time, and I’ll leave you to click through to the link to read the whys and wherefores:
1. Calvin and Hobbes (Bill Watterson)
2. Dilbert (Scott Adams)
3. The Far Side (Gary Larson)
4. Peanuts (Charles M. Schulz)
5. Bloom County (Berkeley Breathed)
6. Doonesbury (Garry Trudeau)
7. Blondie (Chic Young, Dean Young, and John Marshall)
8. B.C. (Johnny Hart)
I added in the Comments section that Pogo (Walt Kelly) ought to be in there. It just fits in the 40 year window, and arguably one of the most influential comic strips of its time. Who hasn’t ever heard the phrase “We have met the enemy, and he is us”? Plus inspired it’s own Christmas special, pegged on nothing better than mis-sung lyrics to ‘Deck the Halls”?
And just drop-dead funny, too.
If you want to make it an even ten, then consider L’l Abner, which inspired not only comics and politics, but spun off a Broadway stage play, a movie of the same, and a imitator TV series (The Beverly Hillbillies.) Al Capp’s political skewering took no enemies, and and his cartoon women were just . . . lusciously real.
Oh, my, my,my. Were they ever!
Another well-worth-reading blog to cleanse your palate after a week of “Chicago-style” politics.