I’m heartbroken that cartoonist Scott Adams recently self-destructed — but hold the presses! This big, beautiful world still has plenty of comic strips to tickle our funny bones.
Don’t believe me? I crunched the numbers and realized that on a good day, I read some 138 comic strips and panels!
(On a GREAT day, I place some 138 comic strips and panels in a folder marked “Tomorrow,” put on my wife’s favorite mood music, go pantsless like Ziggy and…well, this being a family newspaper, never mind. Mary Worth’s ticker couldn’t handle the details.)
My obsession has grown with time and technology, but my interest in the funnies goes way back. I have a photograph of myself at less than two years old, “reading” the Sunday comics. I couldn’t get enough of Donald Duck, Henry, Li’l Abner, Maggie and Jiggs and the rest.
Back then, I never dreamed I would someday have the comics-reading opportunities I enjoy now. (No, I probably dreamed about Henry, Abner, Maggie and Jiggs going duck hunting. Hey, my father could have canceled the subscription if my nightmares messed with his sleep that much.)
Of course, it requires some furious speed reading to achieve my daily goal of slapstick and wry observation; but I don’t think I sacrifice anything in comprehension. Andy Capp did get ordained as a minister, didn’t he? And Prince Valiant is rocking that shaved head, right?
Comic strips have given me a different take on social rejection. I now say, “I don’t have to stay where I’m not wanted…unless it’s at Mr. Wilson’s house.” I’m such a menace.
“The Family Circus” has rewired my brain to the extent that I’m terrified of traffic stops. If asked if I knew that I ran a stop sign, I would probably burst out with “Ida Know” and “Not Me.” I’m glad I don’t drink, because a field sobriety test would doubtless have me leaving little dotted lines all over the neighborhood.
Comic strips and religious observance sometimes clash. When the preacher encourages me to think about Something Bigger Than Myself, my first thought is, “What? My appetite for lasagna?”
A good comics page balances heartwarming “legacy” comic strips with “edgy” new entries. (Ever get the idea that newspaper syndicate salesmen are trapped in Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day”? Every morning they find the same word on their Word of the Day calendar!)
Forgive me if I’ve locked myself into a pattern of quantity over quality. Some of the legacy strips are three generations removed from their creator and stopped being funny in the Harry S Truman administration. (“The punchline stops here.”)
And some of the hipster strips take such a long-winded, meandering, navel-gazing route that you can well imagine the cartoonist begging, “Please, I need to intrude upon the Sudoku puzzle and maybe take just a smidge of the sports page…”
I hope I’m reaching kindred spirits here. We could all use an extra smile or two each day. And while serialized adventure strips are way past their heyday, we can still use heroes to inspire us.
Granted, we can never quite live up to the heroic standards of the stalwart comic strip doctors, judges and super-heroes. Take for instance, The Phantom. “The Ghost Who Walks” has only inspired me to be the Ghostly Pale Guy Who Sits On His Butt Reading 138 Comic Strips and Panels.
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”
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