See You In the Funny Pages

Well, we’re about as deep into summer as we’re going to get.  In fact, this is my last week of blogging before I go on vacation until Labor Day.  So let me use this opportunity to address a topic of almost no importance whatsoever:  the funny pages.

When I was a mite, my mother used to remark that I was the only person she had ever met who laughed out loud at the funnies.  It’s true:  I do.  I laugh easily anyway and I really do like the comics.  (The one below, for instance, cracked me up big-time.)

Copyright 2010 ZITS Partnership. Distributed by King Features Syndicate.

But leftists ruin everything they touch – and the funnies are no exception.  Though even in the old days, there were political cartoons mixed in with the straight comics (Pogo on the left; Lil Abner on the right) it seems to me it was really Doonesbury that opened the floodgates.  I’m not saying Doonesbury wasn’t funny at its best.  It was – though it’s become a crushing bore recently.  But even when it was funny, it was obnoxious to have someone preach his politics at you while you went in search of a mild chuckle.  Some papers put the strip on the editorial page, which I always thought was exactly right.  That’s where it belonged.

Because, to me, to pollute an innocent pastime with ideas likely to be offensive to half your audience is an act of egotism bordering on narcissism.  To insult the president during an otherwise meaningless network TV mystery, or to put a dig in against some policy you don’t like in the midst of a Broadway musical, or to use some daft film comedy to advertise your opinion on gun control or global warming tells the audience, essentially, “My political point of view is so righteous that anyone who disagrees with it is beyond the pale and should not be partaking of this entertainment for civilized people.”

Since Doonesbury, too many of the comic pages I’ve encountered have been infested with sanctimonious and unnecessary political pronouncements.  In one of the papers I get – one, I confess, that’s about as far left as it’s possible to be without actually sucking your thumb – there’s not only Doonesbury but the Latino-left and wholly unfunny La Cucaracha, the used-to-be-cute-but-increasingly-annoying Get Fuzzy and the feminist Home and Away which, like Sally Forth, features a eunuch husband and his liberated-read-bullying wife.  After I complained about this in print – though probably not because I complained about it in print – they added a couple of right wing comics too:  Mallard Fillmore for a while, now Prickly City.

But here’s a better idea:  Just stop.  Get rid of all of it, left and right.  We don’t need to know the political opinions of our funnies writers anymore than we need to know how our actors vote.  Truly.  Bring on the guys who make all of us laugh.  That’s what the pages are there for.

For instance, even in the same lefty paper, there’s Brewster Rockit:  Space Guy! a hilarious and nonsensical send-up of Buck Rogers;  Lio, a wonderful wordless strip about a monster-loving child; Zits, about raising a teenager; and Baby Blues about a family with young kids.  All of these are cute and funny and appeal to a wide range of people without insulting anyone.  Would it kill left-wingers to shut their faces for one section of the paper and fill the comic pages with more of the same?

And while they’re at it, could they dump the boring drama strips like Rex Morgan M.D. and gimme some of that Batman and Spiderman? I mean, I’ve listened to NPR and I know leftists think that boring equals serious…  but really!  It’s the funnies.  Lighten up.

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  • ECM

    Don’t forget Pearls Before Swine in the good, non-political, comic strip bin.

  • Ed Giese

    I wonder if a good many comic writers inject their politics to give meaning to a very labor-intensive activity. There is a lot of old fashioned drudgery in producing a comic, and maybe for a certain portion of the artists, a chuckle is not enough. If they feel that they are making the world a better place in some ideological way, perhaps that keeps them going.

    Hey Andrew, I love your writing, and have your blog on my rss reader. So take this in the spirit it’s intended: it’s not “past-time,” which implies some activity from long ago, but “pastime,” which is a shortening of “pass-time”.

  • K

    And while they’re at it, how about increasing the size of the comics? In the old days they were huge compared to today.

  • Jeannine

    My local newspaper has Baby Blues, Pearls before Swine, AND Spiderman. And I read the comics every day!

  • LoFlyer

    I gave up on comics years ago, as a child I read them and they were fairly good, but I hated the “Nancy” and Sluggo strip. It was too stupid. The “Family circus” was too corny but I read them all. Through the years the quality of the comics seemed to degrade to where I only read maybe one or two strips. It seemed that my paper stopped publishing anything that was really good and funny. I think quit reading comics when Gary Larsen gave it up with his hilarious “Farside” cartoons. I understand Larsen was burned out and richer than sin from the success of the series. He quit at the top of his game which is smarter than a lot folks are. Personal note to Andrew K. I love your “Klaven on the culture” video’s on you tube, excellent writing and editing. I find it unbelievable that you have not been blackballed as a screen-writer in Hollywood. Keep up the good work, I and many other deeply appreciate your courage to broadcast your views in today’s politically correct environment.