Thursday, September 6, 2007

Comic Opera

A writer for the alternative weekly out here, Westword, recently began reading the funnies in the daily paper and came to an unsurprising conclusion: They stink. I have been in a similar position, having lived in the New York City area for 14 years and reading the comics-less New York Times, then switching to the Denver Post three years ago, and I heartily concur. Newspaper comics aren't funny.

There are a couple of exceptions: Dilbert remains worth reading, after all this time, and let me add as an aside that Scott Adams is one fascinating dude. He caught some brain disorder a couple years ago that left him unable to speak, although all his other faculties were intact, and somehow managed, after years of effort, to regain the power of speech, even though doctors said that basically never happens to people with this particular disease. I was privileged enough to interview Adams for a magazine about a decade ago, and I wanted to talk to him about how Dilbert is one of the few outlets in our popular culture where people can actually see what they do all day every day, i.e., go to work, which as I've written before is largely ignored by the artists in America, but we ended up talking a lot about the notion, as he had expressed in an afterword to his recent paperback Dilbert collection, that he expected at some time over the next century for people to come to a radical rethinking over the nature and structure of time. It was pretty cool.

I also like Brewster Rockit, Space Guy, a deadpan satire of a Buck Rogers-type strip, which you think would get old quick, but it hasn't for me yet. On the other hand, most of the comics in the Post are so soul-killingly dull that I usually don't even bother to turn to that section of the paper unless I'm really bored.

A lot of this is probably the wisdom that comes with age: When I was eight, I used to read and enjoy Lolly, which probably wasn't all that much better than the current Adam @ Home, but then again, it could hardly be worse. And nothing could be worse that Sally Forth, a dreadfully unfunny strip whose artist knows how to draw only two kinds of facial expressions: smirking and expressionless. ou would think that before someone got into the comic strip business, one of the first questions they'd ask themselves is: Can I draw?

No comments: