Crisis in Comicland

That did it! No more PIBGORN! Just too brutal. Rats! It was such a nice and funny cartoon too, by a great artist who made each panel a work of art! Did you know that Brooke McEldowney, who also does 9 CHICKWEED LANE was the artist? I followed his new work in PIBGORN for a long time, until last night. I guess horror, vampires, murder, bleeding victims, lightning bolt throwing ghosts and stabbed vixens just got to be too much.

PIBGORN is jus the latest one of a bunch of comics I quit reading lately. This has gotten to be a crisis in Comicland! It may even be the end of America as we know it! What caused this crisis? Perhaps it is our current overly politically correct climate, or even our eternal deadlines.

You have a daily list of cartoons and comic strips you read faithfully? Have you noticed the change in many of them?

First it was RUDY PARK, by Darrin Bell and Theron Heir. I followed this excellent cartoon from the very first panel, but after a while, it just was not funny any more, so off it went from my daily list.

The same with GET FUZZY, by Darby Conley. Great art, funny situations, but now it is more trite and abusive than anything else, so it has also lost its appeal.

Then there was the old standby, like CRANKSHAFT, by Tom Batiuk and Chuck Ayers, which I read for the great humor. But now for the last month the artist has been doing an Alzheimer’s episode, which is a real tearjerker, as it would be in reality. I know the subject is a serious one, but I do not read the funnies for its social or moral commentary. I read it for its being something funny, hopefully to lighten my day a bit.

So no more CRANKSHAFT, no more FOR BETTER OR WORSE, by Lynn Johnston, no more POPEYE, by Hy Eisman, and no more NON SEQUITOR, by Wiley Miller either.


If a comic strip covers a social issue in four or five days, I can endure that. It is when the social problem, or the violent theme goes on for a month or more that the artist has quit doing the strip for the reasons he first started with, but instead is now using his strip for a forum to preach his ideas.

When it quits being funny, why read it?

Many strips are never read by me. Mostly because they are poorly drawn. What is worse, they are meant to be poorly drawn, as if that were a virtue. Never read a strip where you could do a better job drawing the strip than the artist does. (I will be nice here and not mention names.)

Others I never read because they have a cause, like BOONDOCKS, by Aaron McGruder. I may even like their cause, but not in my morning comic strips, please.

Most strips however, are never read because they are just not funny. Ask any comic strip artist and writer. Comic strips published in newspapers and on the Web are a brutal business. It takes a lucky break to get into that business. The few who make it are almost geniuses in their art and humor content. Yet even then, not all of these new guys can keep it up.

Daily deadlines can also be brutal. Some of them devolve into social issues, or very dull, unfunny themes in desperation, perhaps, of finding content, any content, to meet their quota. I suspect that those striving artists and writers who have lost my interest with their strips, died because of these deadly daily deadlines they had to meet.

Strips that still remain true to their long running humor are the famous ones. Here is my own list of must reads:

B.C. by Johnny Hart
OVERBOARD, by Chip Dunham
HERMAN, by Jim Unger
BALLARD STREET, by Jerry Van Amerongen
CALVIN AND HOBBES. by Bill Watterson
PEANUTS, by Charles Schulz
BIZZARO, by Dan Piraro
9 CHICKWEED LANE, by Brooke McEldowney
ZITS, by Jerry Scott & Jim Borgman
PIRANA CLUB, by Bud Grace
FOXTROT, by Bill Amend
GARFIELD, by Jim Davis

and a very rare few others.

There is a new venue for comic strips. is hosting a couple of excellent strips with a micro payment setup for the artist. I consider this new Internet format the wave of the future for promising new cartoonists and artists with an ability to write stories and humor.
Of course, the best APPLE MACINTOSH comic strips of all time is GEEK CULTURE, by Nitrozac and Snaggy, and of course, The Green Shirt Chronicles, by our own Chris Seibold here at I think these guys can remain true to their humor because they only print a comic when they come up with a funny one. Being independent like that means that they don’t necessarily have to meet a deadline, which is a real luxury in such a business.

We haven’t even mentioned the current political and social environment that limits and shackles the average cartoonist, preventing him or her from addressing things that are really funny in our country. For that kind of humor, you have to go to the standup comics, who temporarily have license to practice their brand of humor. Just don’t go looking for that kind of funny stuff in the funny papers.

Let me know what you think is funny, or if you agree or disagree with those strips mentioned here that are no longer worth reading.

Links to Strips on the Web

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