The Philosophy of the Comic

I must take this opportunity to apologize for not having a Review Crew comic strip up today.  I have been sick recently and have been unable to work one out.  I know I promised one each Wednesday and I think I can still make my deadline by midnight tonight, so be sure and look for it either early this morning or tomorrow as I will begin work as soon as I get home from work tonight around five o’ clock.

But for my sin, I give you an offering: a column.  This will probably be the least read column on CRdaily, but as I am the resident cartoonist for the Carolina Review, I thought I might give my thoughts on the state of the cartoon as an art form and somehow tie it into modern-day politics (somehow?).  If Buckley could write a column about words, I can write one about cartoons (obviously you see the sense of that comparison).

Cartooning in the form of a comic strip that appeared in a newspaper regularly began to flower a little over one-hundred years ago.  It evolved for the better for fifty years and has, since the 1950s de-evolved for the worse.  The only exception I find is in the comic strip Peanuts, the greatest comic strip of all time.

Many of you disagree with that short history because you sincerely find enjoyment in the miniature comic strips of today.  I do too.  But, I look at the development of the comic strip much like I do that of film.  Today people find entertainment and excitement and romance in the movies just as people did when film was invented, but the stories are less involved, the story lines cheap, and even the stars of today seem to be made of cardboard.  The art of today’s comic strip lacks in luster, the story lines are pathetically pedantic and cheap, and the characters are boring and predictable.

Dilbert is funny and so is Pearls Before Swine or Darby’s cat and dog saga, but only in a way that is tawdry.  There will never be another Milton Canniff, or a Segar, or an Al Capp, or a Schulz.  They were artists, they could draw and they came up with timeless characters because they were geniuses.  Somehow I don’t see the Family Guy characters, or Scary Gary (what in tarnation?) or Frazz, or that horrible little Calvin and Hobbes wannabe (I can’t think of its name right now, but you know what I’m talking about) as timeless.  All of what I have said applies to my own cartoons too, by the way.  I am only proud of a few.

I suppose the application to politics is simply this: where are the Reagans?  Oh, that’s right, “there will never be another Reagan.”  Got it.  All I ask for are the statesmen to step up.  Politicians today seem make decisions based upon cheap, tawdry reasons, not for love of country.  I can’t help but think that at one time love of country factored in at least a little bit.

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