Friday, October 27, 2006

Comics and Cartoons

I wanted to try out Google's Documents and Spreadsheets service (formerly Writely which Google bought recently), so wrote the following essay with it both at work on my lunch hour and at home. I copied it here because supposedly you can't publish from it to beta Blogger.


My love for comics started with the daily strips in the newspapers, as well as comic books in doctors' offices and the kiddie ones my parents bought for me. The Long Island Press, a full-size broadsheet like the NY Times, had 2 full pages of comic strips. We had that delivered every day and my father brought home the NY Daily Mirror, which had lots of old time comic strips. When it folded, the NY Daily News took on many of those strips and that became our second newspaper, until the LI Press folded. By then, we'd moved to Long Island from Queens, NY, and added Newsday to our newspaper subs and it had comics, too.

Growing up, I read Little Orphan Annie (the Leonard Starr era was my favorite), Dale Messick's Brenda Starr (Ramona Fradon did a good job when she took it over), Leonard Starr's wonderful On Stage, L'il Abner, Mark Trail, Dick Tracy, Steve Roper (later Steve Roper and Mike Nomad), Terry and the Pirates, Gasoline Alley (back when it was good), and a host of others. I recall The Born Loser, Fred Bassett, Andy Capp, BC, Beetle Bailey, The Wizard of Id, Blondie, Dennis the Menace, Peanuts (of course), Joe Palooka, Mandrake the Magician, The Phantom, Mickey Finn, Rex Morgan MD (another one that went downhill), Pogo, Smilin' Jack, Apartment 3G, and Steve Canyon. There were many others, some that I thought were okay and some I didn't like but read simply because they were comics and they were there.

Thanks to Comics Curmudgeon, I can see that many comics I loved that are still around, like Mark Trail, Apartment 3G, Rex Morgan MD, and Mary Worth pretty much stink these days. Comics were dropped from the papers and others took their place. There was Funky Winkerbean because there always seems to be a strip focusing on teens. Cathy, the single woman, came along. I love Cathy, related to her, but now, even with marriage, we are far apart. Her obsession over clothes turns me off. Sure, the fashion industry seems to have it in for women (must every skirt or sweater I like be wool which I can't wear? Why can't skirts have good-sized pockets?), but as is sometimes the case, exaggeration isn't always funny and in the case of Cathy, it's almost embarrassing.

Over the years, I came to love Doonesbury, Bloom County (I'm still lamenting its end, but it's been fun reading Opus, a Sunday bit of satire and nonsense that shows us a grown-up Steve Dallas and he's everything we would've thought and not), Larsen's Far Side (which I miss terribly), Calvin and Hobbes (another one I miss). There were cartoonists I know just from published collections or postcards. My father also had collections of cartoons from the 1930s and 1940s and I became a big fan of Chas. Addams, Roy Doty, and many others. I discovered more cartoonists through MAD and National Lampoon, talents that include Chas. Rodriguez, Sergio Aragones, Don Martin, Mort Drucker, and Sam Gross. And there is also, Modesty Blaise, a strip and series of books I discovered through a comic strip anthology zine I found in a comics shop back in the '70s.

Nowadays, I read Doonesbury, Blondie, Jump Start, Sherman's Lagoon, Pooch Cafe, Mother Goose & Grimm, Mutts, Close to Home, The Flying McCoys, Shoe (have to read this online now), Opus, Zits, Tina's Groove (new to me, but I'm enjoying it), Get Fuzzy, F Minus (another new one), Rose is Rose, For Better or Worse, Agnes, Hagar the Horrible, Flight Deck, Non Sequitor, Girls and Sports (which shows single guys is a bad light for a change), Stone Soup, and Baby Blues. A few others, I still look at out of habit: Garfield, Marmaduke, The Lockhorns, Ziggy, Heathcliff, Cathy, Beetle Bailey, Wizard of Id, BC (which appears in our Sunday papers only).

Ones I miss because we don't get them now: The Neighborhood, Herman, Tank McNamara (is that still around?). When I take the time to think about them all, I realize the list is amazingly long and likely to continue to grow.

Edited to add other favs: Broom Hilda (another I don't see except online), and Shoe (which I now get on my Yahoo! page). It's frustrating that while there are many online comics sites, they allow on 1-3 free emails. And it's hard to find rss feeds for the ones I can't find in my newspapers. If you want more than a couple, you have to pay.

Comics I get via feeds or in email are: Savage Chickens, Foxtrot, Unshelved, Shoe.


  1. Anonymous10:23 PM EDT

    I'm not sure if "Tank McNamara" is still around, but the last time I spotted it, it had moved to the Sports section. Which I was given to understand happened in quite a few papers. Same as "Dilbert" moving to the Business section...

  2. Yes, I'd forgotten about that. I once saw Tank on the sports pages when I was on vacation. I was used to Doonesbury showing up on the editorial pages, but Tank McNamara in the sports section seemed a bit odder to me.

  3. You can see Tank McNamara online here:

    I get all my daily comics online these days. Much better than dealing with the shrinking space the papers are willing to give them.

    I loved the Phantom when I was a kid but I could only see it when we went to visit friends of my parents in Alabama. I can't recall whether I saw the Gold Key comics before the Sunday strip in Alabama but I must have.

  4. Ooo, thanks, Paul. I'll check that out. I get feeds for a few comics, but the site allows only 3 freebies, so I get Foxtrot (which I forgot to mention in my post), Get Fuzzy (so I won't miss it if I can't get a paper), and another that's escaping my mind. I also get Savage Chickens, which has become an addiction.

  5. Anonymous10:57 AM EST

    I'll also recommend on that site:
    Ink Pen, Lio, Tom the Dancing Bug, Big Top, Lucky Cow, Elderberries. peace!

  6. Thanks, Anon. I'll check them out. :)