Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Calvin and Hobbes, where are you?

As a child, many of the books that helped me take an interest in reading just happened to be books from the 'funny pages'. We had many 'Peanuts' books as well as 'Doonsbury' and others littering the coffee table in the family room. The original installments of 'Bloom County' were hilarious and helped give me insights into social life and politics and satire to some extent. They were not only funny but well-drawn. Although I was never 'drawn' to single panel comics, none were better than 'The Far Side'.

Sometime after the decade of the eighties, something happened to the funny papers and it hasn't been good. I dabbled in creation of a strip; 'Angel's Haven'. I thought it was good as did others. Unfortunately it is difficult to break into the world of publishing whether you are writing books or comics. Other than just having an opinion, I therefore know what of I speak.

Today's comics, at least in the newspapers, are as a group not funny and poorly drawn. Many have simply outlived their usefulness and creativity. Berkeley Breathed's attempts after 'Bloom County' were nothing more than pushing a penguin and a dead cat for commercial gain. Neither attempt was insightful or entertaining. 'Peanuts' has not evolved since well before the death of Charles Schultz but this one may at least help usher other children forward into the world as it did my family. 'Funky Winkerbean' has evolved but has turned into a serial version of soap strips that seem more at home on the editorial pages about a group of teens who grew up and have nothing but dour experiences in their present day lives with fond remembrances of better times past.

The art in most have suffered as well. Gone are crisply drawn characters having been replaced with pencil smudges and stick figures. If it weren't for two or three strips that hold my interest, the funny papers would be funny no more and that part of my world would be ended. The funny pages need to return to the day of being funny and entertaining with less reliance on social commentary, although it's always been there to some extent.

Alas, I guess I'm living in my own past hoping for a return to better times that will never happen. If current material was a good as people think the comics wouldn't be 'reruns' of several offerings. If I can find a 'Calvin' book I'll read that to my grandson as he pulls a stuffed tiger around the room. He seems to have more imagination than the current group of 'artists'.


  1. Calvin and Hobbes will always be a classic.

    I still read the funny pages in the paper daily, and peruse a number of comics online, but it is hard to find good new strips.

    My current favorite is Red and Rover, about a boy and his dog, which has a simplicity missing in most strips since Peanuts. I had several that were mainly online although they did appear in a few papers, but they have died off, even online.

    I agree about Funky Winkerbean, once an hilarious strip. A year or so ago he went into a storyline about a character with breast cancer (whether to raise awareness or as a tribute to a loved one, I do not know), and mentioned how long the storyline would run. I made it a point to avoid that strip in the paper for several months, until after the character had passed away. If I want to be depressed I can read the news, not the funny pages.

  2. I happen to owe two or three 'Calvin' books that you are welcome to borrow anytime.