Seriously Off-Topic

Somehow I happened across a blog called The Comics Curmudgeon today. Its premise is that the author (I can’t even find his name) picks out the worst three or five comic strips in the newspaper every day and makes savage fun of how pathetic they are.

This. Is. The. Funniest. Thing. I’ve. Ever. Read.

Before this, I thought The Simpsons was the funniest long-running bit of humor on earth. But this guy’s running dissections of Mary Worth, Mark Trail, For Better or Worse, Cathy, Hagar the Horrible, and so on, have made tears of laughter, joy, vindication, malice, and restored sanity run down my cheeks more than a dozen times today.

The question is, of course, why are the large majority of comic strips, which supposedly exist to create humor, so miserably unfunny? When I was a kid I devoured them, and I read them avidly into my 40s. But now when I run across a comics page, it takes awhile to search out one that seems like its creator intended it to be funny, and as Comics Curmudgeon says repeatedly, they all look, even the newer ones, as though written by crusty nonagenarians steeped in Eisenhower-era morality who refuse to consider computers anything more than a nuisance. How can almost an entire industry continue decade after decade in such pathetic straits?

The personal angle is that, before I started composing music (at age 13), I wanted to be a cartoonist. In junior high I filled many a notebook with comic strips, and even took a cartooning course from a guy whose name, I seem to remember, was Charles Hamm – NOT the musicologist. I had no talent for it whatsoever. I still have the comic books, but I will make sure they are safely consigned to the flames before I die. Later, in high school, I ran into Charles Hamm at an amusement park. I told him that I had given up cartooning, and was now a classical musician. He thought a moment, rubbed his chin, and responded, “Well, that’s sort of an art too.” The bitter truth that The Comics Curmudgeon drives home is that I could have found something to do with my life infinitely more fun than defending music no one’s ever heard of.

[AFTERTHOUGHT: Say, what if I started a new blog called “New Orchestral Pieces Curmudgeon,” to make savage fun of… no, no, it’s too cruel to contemplate.]


  1. David Cavlovic says

    And how many comic strips enlighten you about music these days? Nothing since Peanuts. As for book-length comics, The Adventures of Tintin is choc-a-bloc full of musical references. Alas, the glory days of cartooning are over.

  2. says

    Yes, I don’t know who the hell reads the comic sections. A waste of paper. I think the ultimate worst one is Family Circus where the kid runs and the dotted black lines follow his path. Oh, that’s some “funny” stuff!

  3. says

    My understanding about why the comics pages are so crappy is that many of its devotees (among whom I number myself, though only selectively) are about the most conservative, habit-bound people on the planet. Also vocal. Newspaper editors will tell you that there is nothing they can do that will raise a bigger shitstorm than mess with the funnies.

    People who have been reading their favorite strips their whole lives don’t want to stop even in the face of things like, y’know, the death of Charles Schulz. Hence, “Peanuts Classics,” which runs (to our shame) in The Chronicle and elsewhere.

    That at least is preferable to what happened to some of the classic strips from the ’60s and ’70s (i.e., the ones I grew up with), which were taken over by the witless children of skilled cartoonists like Mort Walker. Plus of course “Blondie” which (hard to believe) was funny once, about 60 years ago, but then couldn’t be dislodged.
    KG replies: If it all becomes mulch for sites as funny as Comics Curmudgeon, I’m all for it.
    Hell, I still miss “Pogo.”

  4. eric Lin says

    Please, please, please! The “New Orchestral Pieces Curmudgeon” would make my day. Or year for that matter.