You are currently browsing the comic strips category

Boop me boop me on the line, boop me boop me any time.

§ May 1st, 2023 § Filed under comic strips § 4 Comments

The planned post for today requires a little more cooking, so here’s a link to a deep dive on the mystery of Blondie’s last name.


§ March 6th, 2023 § Filed under comic strips § 24 Comments

So it was in the early ’90s, not long after Dilbert‘s debut and my discovery of the strip, that I did a circuit through all the local bookstores attempting to track down the handful of reprint books that existed at that point. Dilbert hadn’t quite become the huge sensation it was about to be, or at least word that it was a sensation hadn’t got around to those bookstores, as it took some doing to find those particular volumes.

I believe there were only four of these books at the time, and technically one of them (Dogbert’s Clues for the Clueless, pictured here) didn’t contain reprints but rather was all-new material. I continued to buy these as they were released over the years, a few dozen publications that, as I just checked in my home library, occupy a good portion of a shelf. Along the way I had a Dilbert desk calendar, and somewhere I still have a squeezable Dilbert stress doll. I subscribed to the email newsletter. I watched the TV show adaptation (which surprised me by featuring an opening theme reworked from the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo’s, and Danny Elfman’s, theme for the movie Forbidden Zone).

In other words, I was pretty much all in on the strip. It wasn’t unusual for me to want to track down all the reprint books for a strip I suddenly became enamored of. I came across a copy of a Foxtrot book completely by accident a decade or two ago, and I’m still buying those even now. I scraped together whatever money I had for each Bloom County reprint. I walked out of a mall bookstore with the then-latest Calvin and Hobbes I’d just purchased, only to run into a classmate who mockingly asked “why’d you get that?” “Because it’s awesome,” I told her. …And up until I kinda burnt out on the strip, I had every Doonesbury collection.

And that’s just a few. That doesn’t even bring up Peanuts (of which I had plenty, but the complete reprinting by Fantagraphics was a godsend), and my scattershot paperbacks of series that haven’t had the complete treatment yet (like B.C., the early strips of which remain wildly uproarious).

Like I mentioned regarding Doonesbury, sometimes I would say “okay, I’ve read enough” and just fall off buying the books. In Doonesbury‘s case, it wasn’t anything specific that turned me off. I still liked the strip just fine. It may been as simple as “I didn’t have the budget to keep going.” But for whatever reason, I stopped, though I do occasionally wonder what those characters are up to now, and kind of miss getting the year’s worth of continuity (or however long it was) in a new volume to plow through.

Dilbert had what one could charitably say was a “utilitarian” art style, just barely as good as it needed to be to deliver the jokes. As the strip continued and evolved, that art’s early quirks and inconsistencies eventually coalesced and smoothed out into a consistent style, one that maybe perhaps wouldn’t be lauded with the grand masters of the form, but at least had a level of professionalism that made it look less slapdash.

And the jokes were usually pretty good, and the characters were amusing (the put-upon title character, the hapless boss, the cunning Dogbert, and my favorite, the perpetually industriously-lazy Wally), and the strip kept my interest for many, many years.

Perhaps more years than I really should have.

There was…something the strip’s creator did, or said…I forgot what, exactly, that made me feel a twinge of guilt the next time I ordered a copy of the newest reprint volume. I think there may have even been a strip or two in that book that addressed whatever it was, in a way that of course put the cartoonist and his point of view into the right. I lack the specifics only because I’ve never gone back to reread this book and more solidly affix this event in my memory.

I may have brushed this off as an example of “well, pobody’s nerfect!” and bought the following volume as well. But I stopped very shortly after that, I believe either in response to yet another thing he said/did, or simply because of my increased awareness of some of his opinions, as noted in this article about “The Metafilter Incident”, in which he pretended to be an online fan of himself to…do something, I guess.

So I was already off the Dilbert train when his latest hoohar, and apparently last straw for just about everyone, was unleashed. I know he’s saying nobody’s giving the full context of his comments (I mean, here’s the full context, but probably not what he was hoping for), but it’s his usual strategy: say something that gets him called out, claim nobody understands his genius and that his fourth-dimensional chess successfully baffled his opponents, repeat. It is, sadly, nothing new. And equally sadly, it’s something that took me a long time to realize.

It’s perhaps a little strange in this circumstance to mourn the loss of characters with whom you’ve spent a large chunk of your life. I’ll miss the more innocent times with them, and regret that wherever they go from here, it’ll likely be on a journey too distasteful to follow.

(NOTE: I’m leaving comments open, but I’ll likely have to delete abusive remarks by drive-by commentators. If you happen across any here, don’t bother responding…I’ll take care of them eventually.)

Titillating the Tumbleweedsmania since 1968.

§ August 11th, 2021 § Filed under comic strips, tumbleweeds § 2 Comments

So my internet pal Adam was going through some of his stuff the other day when he came across a particular set of vintage items. Seeing this, he thought “why, there’s only ONE MAN in the world surely brave enough to have these in his own collection,” and that’s how I ended up with the Tumbleweeds fan club kit from 1968.

Sent away for by his father when he himself was only 16, he received in the mail (and given to me in the original envelope!) the following items:

The membership card, natch:

An official fan club certificate, suitable for framing and hanging up there next to your college diplomas and pictures of your family (click on image to eenlarge):

I like how cartoonist Tom K. Ryan is titled “Official Historian.”

And a newsletter (also clickable for resizing), welcoming you to the club, hawking some wares…

…and just generally making you feel inadequate when you find out the fella in charge here was only 17 years old:

All in all, a pretty neat find, and in shockingly good shape! Somehow Adam’s dad resisted scribbling his moniker into the spaces provided on these pieces of paper, and just left them folded in their delivery envelope, awaiting the day when some weirdo would scan ’em and put them on his site.

The seal has been broken…

§ April 28th, 2021 § Filed under comic strips, nancy, sluggo § 8 Comments

…your pal Mike has bought original comic art.

Oh, I do own a few original pieces from hither and/or yon, either drawings made specifically for, and gifted to, me, and I own at least one original page from an Archie comic published in the 1990s (which comic…who can say?) that was also given to me. I have purchased original drawings, like this Fred Hembeck rendition of Sluggo, but I’ve never laid out money for a piece of artwork that was used to mass reproduction.


So remember when pal Brook came by the shop with his copy of the obscure “Nobody Loves the Hulk” record, which of course immediately spurred me on to get one of my own?

Well, that darn Brook did it to me again, by showing me his recently-obtained Ernie Bushmiller original Nancy daily strip from 1974, which he graciously allowed to be featured on this site.

Brook said “you should check out this seller, he’s got a few Bushmiller originals, and I thought “maybe I’ll look, but I’m not gonna buy anything.” And then I looked, and then I bought something, and what I bought was this original daily from June 26th, 1975 (click the pic for a larger view):

Now I’m aware Bushmiller frequently used assistants (which you can read about here), so I am not 100% sure how much of this is pure Bushmiller and how much is, say, Al Plastino (which would still be a good get) but that doesn’t make this any less of an original Nancy strip produced under the purview of their creator.

Plus, look at all that great Sluggo content. A SLUGGO IN EVERY PANEL. Bonus: “HAW HAW HAW” dialogue!

For those of you who are interested, the original measures about 20 inches wide and 7 inches high.

Not leaving well enough alone, I thought I’d take a peek to see what other original Nancy (esp. with Sluggo) art may be out there for sale. There was a particular strip that caught my eye, mostly for just how weird it was, for the peculiar cultural crossover artifact it represented. I saved a scan of it to my computer, thinking that would be enough…but it preyed on my mind. Nagging me, tormenting me, reminding me of that time I could’ve bought this Bob Marley/Yoda painting off eBay and forever regretting that I didn’t.

Plus, it was pretty cheap. Which is how I now own the Guy Gilchrist original for the September 18th, 2014 daily strip (again, click to enlarge):

Your eyes do not deceive you, that is indeed Sluggo dressed as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Or, dare I say:

Okay, he’s not a teenager yet, but you get the idea. But what a bizarre thing this is. Just look at it. LOOK AT IT. Plus, there’s a bonus extra signature from Mr. Gilchrist at the top right there, dated 2016, where presumably he re-autographed it at a convention or something.

And again, if you’d like to know, the paper the strip is drawn upon is about 7 by 17 inches, though the strip itself is only about 13 inches wide.

There you have it…my first foray into buying original comics art. Not something I’m likely to do too often, though my mostly-working eyes are always on the lookout for that one Swamp Thing page that 1) I like and 2) can afford. But, you know, I bet Tumbleweeds originals are cheap. I could have all the Tumbleweeds! LET ME AT THOSE TUMBLEWEEDS

Yes, I know about the song from Avenue Q.

§ April 12th, 2021 § Filed under comic strips § 4 Comments

So a long time ago, your pal Mike was a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he eventually graduated with a B.A. in English, thus essentially ensuring his eventual fate as a comic book store owner.

Now UCSB was gifted with a fine (and free — it was for college students, after all) daily newspaper, the Daily Nexus, which I would habitually grab out of one of the many on-campus racks when I arrived for the day. It was always informative and interesting and…well, fun.

One of the fun bits about it that appealed to me were, of course, the comic strips. Both the standard nationally-syndicated strips (like Bloom County, Doonsebury, and (as part of ad campaigns by local eateries) Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side), as well as homegrown material.

A strip I regularly followed was Fresh-Man, for which I was lucky enough to pick up a collection from the school bookstore at the time. I wrote about that collection a decade back.

Fresh-Man ran in the Nexus during, appropriately enough, my freshman year. And there was another strip original to the paper that I followed and enjoyed that same year, but, lacking a reprint book that I’ve had for decades like the Fresh-Man one, I could not for the life of me recall the name. Even more aggravating was that a character or two from this strip have cameos in a Fresh-Man strip in that collection, but no indication of the name of the comic from which they were visiting.

A number of years ago it dawned on me that perhaps I could delve into the online archives of the Daily Nexus, which they must surely have, and I could finally resolve this admittedly minor issue in short order. At the time this first occurred to me, however, the archives that did exist only extended back, I don’t know, a decade or maybe two, and not nearly far enough to cover the middish-late-ish 1980s that I required.

Then a few weeks ago, I decided to check again, and lo, full archives for the Nexus (and its preceding publications) are now available for virtual perusal in PDF format, dating back to 1923! HOKEY SMOKES. And it’s text-searchable, even! (Yes, I looked up my own name…only hit was a police officer by the same name quoted in an article. I didn’t make much of an impression while I attended, I’m afraid.)


Yes, it’s a little Bloom County/Doonesbury-esque in presentation, as were, um, many amateur strips that ran in, I’m sure, every college paper. But the personalities and situations that occupied this strip entertained me, dealing with college life and commenting on real world happenings, some light political satire, and so on. It was fun, and I’m glad to revisit it again. Maybe some of the gags, um, haven’t aged well (Jessica Hahn, anyone?) and perhaps aren’t the most politically correct from a modern perspective, but whaddaya want from a decades-old college strip? That’s, like, par for the course. (By the way, that’s the titular Miller who’s in bed in the first panel.)

I didn’t mention the cartoonist’s name in the text of this post because I didn’t want it Google-able, in case that would cause a problem for him (and I’m about 99% positive I did find him online). I failed to do the same for the artist of the Fresh-man strip way back when in my post about that, but I think the only result was that his wife found my post and commented on it. Anyway, don’t bother the fella on my behalf if you track him down…it’s enough that I can go through the Nexus archives and enjoy his strips again after all these years.

After Miller’s Tale and Fresh-Man left the pages of the Nexus, other strips came along to fill the void. I’m sure I enjoyed them well enough, and I poked my digital nose into some later editions of the paper to sample some. Nothing sticks out as being quite as memorable as these two strips, however…most are fine, a couple look like they’re gag strips but [JOKE NOT AVAILABLE], and none of them stuck in my brain for decades.

In addition to feeding my comics nostalgia, I also want to dig through the archives trying to find names of various local bands of the time and seeing if I can find any of their recordings now. If you follow my Twitter, you know, I’ve been digitizing some of the music I purchased during my college days from the music stores near the school, including nigh-forgotten bands like “Alice Fell” — the one reference for which I found online was someone who was a huge fan of theirs, and in fact one of their roommates, who claimed they never actually recorded anything! I emailed the fella and sent him a photo of my Alice Fell cassette (with the hand-painted J-card!) but never heard back.

Also looking up articles about my girlfriend and her twin sister from their time on the UCSB women’s volleyball team…least ’til my girlfriend transferred to Pepperdine to play for their team. …Hmm, wonder if Pepperdine has extensive archives for their school paper? That’s all I need, another rabbit hole to fall into.

Okay, one more thing…while poking through the various Nexii, I found this notice the paper had put in place of that day’s Bloom County:

Anyway, thought that was amusing.

whynotboth dot jpeg

§ October 9th, 2020 § Filed under comic strips, publishing, question time, Uncategorized § 10 Comments

So this got brought up in a discussion I happened to witness between Twitter pal Ben and another person, and decided it was something I needed to acquire for my own self. May I present to you, from the co-creator of Twin Peaks, the creator of Eraserhead, and the guy what did that one Dune movie…a collection of David Lynch’s comic strip The Angriest Dog in the World:

For those of you unfamiliar with the strip, each installment is a series of the same panels (an introductory caption box, three panels of the Angriest Dog growling and straining at the chain in a yard, and a final panel of the same scene at night. Only the dialogue balloons of someone speaking off-panel change. A look at the Wikipedia page will give you a sample strip.

Anyway, this book is not in any way a comprehensive collection of the strip, which had run for about ten years. This is a short book, presenting only a very few strips, each one separated by a page that’s black on one side and white on the other. It’s more of an art piece than anything else, purposefully strange in the way you’d probably expect from anything that would come from David Lynch. It’s a handsome looking item, measuring 11 inches wide by 5 inches tall, 36 pages plus covers. A neat curiosity, but if you’re waiting for the Definitive Compleat Angriest Dog Hardcover Set, I’m afraid that’s not yet a thing. There was a previous collection, now out of print, but I don’t really know anything about it. Strips were also reprinted in Dark Horse Comics’ Cheval Noir a couple of decades back.

You can find this new book at Rotland Press.

• • •


“What is your reaction to Gerry Conway’s recent screed?”

What Paul is referencing is this message [WARNING: pop-up ads my blocker didn’t block, which locked up my machine for a minute] from longtime comic writer/editor Conway in regards to improving the comics industry. His idea is basically for Marvel/DC to cancel everything, repurpose properties into books aimed at a younger market and get ’em into bookstores/grocery stores/movie theaters/anywhere that’s not a comic shop, and cater to the older fans with occasional trade paperbacks with new material.

I mean, this isn’t a new idea, and the fact that the best-selling comics in the U.S. are in fact books aimed at kids. I mean, DC and Marvel both had their eyes pop out of their heads shaped like giant dollar signs when they saw how well Raina’s books were doing and immediately started their own line of reasonably successful young reader graphic novels.

Now my response is a bit biased, as I’d see this drastic of a plan as being the end of comic shops, or at least comic shops as we generally know them. Eventually DC/Marvel/etc. will have to come up with some kind of format for their regular titles that’s more cost effective in regards to size and cost and so on. Probably a shift away from the periodicals to a regular trade paperback format, but I don’t think the market is quite ready for that yet.

That doesn’t mean that Conway’s idea of getting comics into other retail spaces isn’t a good idea. Of course, you’d have to convince these other retail spaces to consider even carrying comics, assuming whatever format these will be in will be at a price point that’s profitable enough for these other venues to be worth the hassle. And frankly, I can’t see movie theaters wanting to deal with them…I’m picturing a few months of theater employees having to clean up The Book Corner because folks are just standing around reading grpahic novels while waiting for the movie to start, and tossing them back on the shelf haphazardly, if at all, when showtime starts.

But whatever they do I don’t see any real reason to “kill all the comics” in order to do this. Can’t see why there can’t be a parallel to get graphic novels into new places and getting the regular monthlies, or whatever they eventually become, into comic shops. Or everything just goes to digital, leaving print for eventual collections of that material, or throwback releases for a niche collectors market, which the comic book industry already kind of is but you get my meaning.

Basically, everyone has ideas on how to “save comics,” and Mr. Conway’s isn’t any better or worse or even that much different from what’s been proposed. The big trick is getting other industries to cooperate with any of these schemes.

The follow-up you never expected.

§ February 7th, 2020 § Filed under comic strips, tumbleweeds § 5 Comments

So I acquired a collection of comics the other day that included a number of paperback comic strip reprints, including one copy of this book from 1985:

Now as I stated in this post, I mentioned wanting to buy a copy of a Tumbleweeds paperback to see if the strip was as…not to my taste as I recalled. I never did get around to deliberately purchasing one off Amazon, like I’d planned, but hey, one fell into my lap, basically, so that’ll do. It’s a little later in the run than I was looking for (I was thinking about finding one from about the time I originally had a Tumbleweeds book, which was the late ’70s) but the contents don’t appear significantly different from what I remember.

And what do I think of it? Well, okay, I haven’t had much of a chance to read it all — oh for the days when I could just plow through books like these in short order — but what I’ve read has been, you know, fine. It’s cute, with weirdly detailed characters and some soft chuckles. Not the best thing I’ve ever read, but not nearly as off-putting as I remembered.

I do really like this gag on the back cover:

So perhaps my harsh assessment of Tumbleweeds was a little unfair. Though, come to think of it, perhaps it wasn’t as harsh as all thoat, and more a filtering strategy created by the subjective memories in my brain to keep me from, well, wanted to read every comic-related thing. A mild disregard for a comic strip, evolving over years, decades, into “I DO NOT LIKE THAT STRIP, AVOID IT ENTIRELY” so that I’d be able to focus more on the stuff that appealed more.

Again, not bad, just not up my alley…though I like it a bit, so maybe it’s got a foot or two into my alley anyway.

However, here’s the real test…given the last line in that post I referred to earlier…guess which other comic strip paperback ended up in my possession?

Sigh. Yes, I’ll give it a shot, too. I’m a sucker.

As opposed to the 50-something smart-ass I am now.

§ September 2nd, 2019 § Filed under comic strips, death of superman § 2 Comments

Okay, look, we gotta talk about the biggest comic news of the week — nay, the century — and that news is the B.C. comic strip is finally going to have proper names for their female characters. You know, the ones named “Cute Chick” and “Fat Broad.” I mean, even the ants had names in this strip, but not the two human ladies? Good gravy.

It is so about time. The strip’s only been running since, what, sometime in the 1800s, attitudes about women have changed slightly since then. And don’t get me wrong…I’m glad it’s happening, as I’ve always had a soft spot for B.C. thanks to all the paperback reprints I read in the 1970s. I think a lot of it still holds up, despite…you know, the whole “changing attitudes” thing, with some jokes not aging as well as others. But overall, I think it’s a fun strip. Okay, maybe things got a little dicey during the “Born Again” phase of the strip, but when I last checked in and read a bunch of recent strips in a row, it held up as pleasantly humorous enough. Not quite as bonkers as it was in the early days, but still a respectable strip.

The small catch here is that the names still come across as gendered appearance-driven jokes, with “Cute Chick” now “Grace” (as in “graceful”) and “Fat Broad” is now “Jane” (as in “Plain Jane”). Intentional? Maybe, maybe not, but regardless it’s still some improvement, in that they actually have goldurned names now. I will admit to a good laugh at Jane’s “quote” in the news item linked above.

Said news item also mentions a B.C. movie is being worked on, which I’d bet your yearly salary is the main reason for this renaming happening now.

• • •

Say, remember that one time I wrote about the “Death of Superman?” A couple of you had comments that I wanted to address:

  • JohnJ has this to say:

    “How many people did you have to correct when they asked for ‘the last Superman comic?'”

    I’m sure I wrote about this before on the site, but since coworker Rob and I were unapologetic 20-something smart-asses, we created a window display for the day of its release featuring all the previous “Superman Dies!” stories we could find.

    Not sure it had much effect, as we still fielded plenty of “he’s really dead!?” comments from the mile-long parade of customers passing through the shop. I tried to reassure some folks that they’ll likely bring him back sooner rather than later, they’re not going to get rid of one of the most recognizable fictional characters in the world, but I’m sure eventually I got worn down to “yeah, he’s totally dead now.”

    But we did try to let everyone know that there were still more Superman comics to come, and as it turned out, lots of folks got hooked on the story, which even carried through to the beginnings of the “Return of Superman” story. That was surprising because there was a two month hiatus in publishing the regular Superman comics after the “Death/Funeral” story was completed, which nowadays would be a huge brick wall in front of any sales momentum.

    And as you all recall, for decades afterward I’d have people pop into the shop, see a Superman comic on the shelf, and ask in a half-confused fashion “…I thought he was dead?” So kudos on that all-too successful publishing event that convinced a large portion of the public that your flagship character was no longer around. In a way, people asking for “The Last Superman Comic” were, from a certain point of view, right.

  • Follow-ups? Adam had ’em:

    “I am here to tell you that the sound effects are indeed props for the dolls.”

    UM, EXCUSE ME ADAM, BUT THEY ARE COLLECTIBLE ACTION FIGURES, NOT “DOLLS,” SIR. …Aside from that most egregious of errors, Adam does helpfully link to this video review of the set where, as God intended, the sound effects are part of the accessories. Oh that I’ve lived to see such sights.

  • Turan, he ran so far away, with this:

    “I am not going to bother counting, but I would not be surprised if there have been more worrying at the death of Gwen Stacy than the death of Superman. The death of Bucky Barnes, also, but that was not actually a “big comic book event” (it occurred in a flashback).”

    You ain’t wrong, my friend…the Death of Gwen Stacy cast a long shadow over Spider-Man, and has been revisited again and again. I’ve been trying to think of other examples…not just redos of old adventures, like when they did the whole Superman Red/Superman Blue story in the ’90s, inspired by the ’60s original. I mean, as Turan put so well, just constant “worrying” as a long-ago event that keeps bring brought up or impacting new stories or being retold or expaned upon over and over. Like, no one’s bringing up Millennium or Secret Invasion any more (I think…I’m way behind on current comics still) but boy we sure do dip into that “Death of Superman” well again and again.

    So…any ideas? Any other Big Events or Plot Occurrences from many years in the past that just keep coming back to haunt us? I mean, aside from Crisis on Infinite Earths…like I said last time, pretty much the Current State of the Superhero Comics Industy is a callback to that one.

  • James dared to say

    “The moment they announce The Death of Swamp Thing, I am leaving the internet for a five month vacation in Very Northern Canada where they have no internet nor (allegedly) swamps.”

    Pretty sure I mentioned this not long ago, but when Alan Moore’s first issue of Swamp Thing came out, where our Swampy hero was shot through the head and felled at the end of the issue (um, SPOILER), teenaged me was all “they…they just blew out Alec Holland’s brain? HOW’RE THEY GETTIN’ OUT OF THIS ONE?” So I had my “Death of Swamp Thing” moment, despite only having to wait a month for my “Return of Swamp Thing” storyline. And not nearly as many replacement Swamp Things. Those would come later.

Sad Sack fans, just send your hate mail to “mikester” at this domain name.

§ March 18th, 2019 § Filed under comic strips, tumbleweeds § 15 Comments

So as a young Mikester, I had a lot of newspaper strip reprint books. You know, the small 4 by 7 inch ones that were, what, 100 or so pages pages with a strip per page (or maybe a Sunday spread across two pages). Yeah, you know the type.

I read them from a pretty young age, and actually still have most of the books I had managed to gather up back then. The strip for which I had the most reprint books was Peanuts, which was probably far and away the most popular of these sorts of things. A distance second was B.C., though I had a pretty good supply of those as well…a weird and great strip in its heyday. And at some point I got into Beetle Bailey and got my mitts on several of those books over the years.

There were other scattered paperback strip reprints that passed through my hands…some I kept, some got passed on or lost over the years. I do still have the couple of Wizard of Id books, and it surprised me that I didn’t try to get more, because I really enjoyed that comic. Not so surprised that I didn’t keep the one book of Crock I had, which I did not care for.

Somewhere in the boxes of books I still have the first Doonesbury collection I was ever given (An Especially Tricky People), presented to me by my grandmother shortly after its initial publication in 1977, when I was eight years old and probably had a heck of a time making heads or tails of the thing. I got that parts of it were funny, and that Honey wasn’t getting the attention from Duke that she wanted, but the political content just whizzed over my head. (In later years, I ended up tracking down and buying just about every Doonesbury book, from the one reprinting the college strips up through, say, the 1990s.)

Some of the books I had but didn’t keep around were titles like The Family Circus and Dennis the Menace, which I liked well enough, I suppose, but the one-panel, essentially non-sequential nature of those comics didn’t really provide the…narrative, I guess, that I wanted from these comics as a kid. I mean, sure, I’ve come to appreciate them a bit more now (“oh, Not Me, you’ve done it again!”), but they just weren’t scratching that comical itch.

Another one I didn’t keep around was the one paperback of Tumbleweeds I somehow had on my shelves.

I was thinking about Tumbleweeds a bit over the last day or two, as it had been reported that the cartoonist behidn the strip, Tom K. Ryan, had died. Well, okay, sure, I was thinking about the strip a few weeks ago when I made this gag at the end of the post here (and it was a gag…that’s not what I gave pal Dorian for Christmas…I gave him a gift card to Tower Records). I do remember reading that one book I had…I remember reading it multiple times, because when you’re a kid you do things like that, since you have lots of time to kill and your imminent death from old age isn’t just around the corner.

I seem to recall thinking it was…well, I don’t recollect my exact reaction to it, but it was something along the lines of “it was okay, at least it’s not the Peanuts books I own and have reread a million times.”

However, for some reason, as I got older, I found that Tumbleweeds just wasn’t for me. It just didn’t appeal to me…the art rubbed me the wrong way, I had trouble even parsing the appearances of the characters, the jokes didn’t do much for me…man, at this point, I can’t even remember any of the character names from the strip. Was there someone actually named “Tumbleweeds” in the comic? I couldn’t tell you. And I think the strip changed over to some sort of mechanical lettering versus hand lettering…no, sorry, couldn’t do it.

To be fair, it wasn’t like I was declaring from the rooftops “As God is my witness, I hate Tumbleweeds” or anything…it was more “this is not for me, but for other people” and left it at that. It doesn’t fill me with anything like the revulsion I have for Sad Sack, a comic that just seems so wholly terrible that I can’t understand anyone ever tolerating, much less supporting multiple titles for so many years. Yeah, sure, I realize this all sounds pretty rich from a guy who likes, well, you know, but for the longest time just a partial glimpse of Tumbleweeds on the funny pages made me avert my eyes and move on.

Well, seeing the write-ups of Tumbleweeds of late (and getting a tad bit of pushback from the Christmas gift “joke” I mentioned earlier) has made me decide to give this comic a second chance. I will buy a copy of one of the paperbacks (preferably one reprinting slightly older strips, maybe from the 1970s) and I’ll give it another shot. Could be that I’ll still not like it. Could be I’ll find myself collecting yet another series of strip reprints that I’ll have to find room for. I don’t know.

If anyone has any suggestions as to which book to try, feel free to let me know in between your defenses of Sad Sack. My preference is to try out one of those small paperbacks, like the ones I got as a child. Maybe, if I can figure it out, I’ll try to find a copy of the one I originally had.

I however won’t be revisiting Crock. Sorry, friends, I have my limits.

Yes, I know Tumbleweeds is done.

§ August 10th, 2018 § Filed under all star batman, comic strips, popeye § 9 Comments

So Dave Carter of Earth sez in response to my last post, he sez

“I wonder if kids these days get exposed to Popeye like we did when we were young? I mainly learned the basics of Popeye mythology (Popeye, Olive, Swee’Pea, Bluto/Brutus, Wimpy, spinach, etc.) though the cartoon, which ran on a local UHF station. But I’m not aware of any way a kid these days would encounter Popeye unless it is purposely placed in front of them by an adult-type.”

…And yeah, that was something I was wondering about myself the other day. Well, in sort of a roundabout way, I suppose. I was wondering if we would ever see, arising from the newspaper funny pages, a strip that would achieve the near-universal recognition and/or influence of, like, Garfield, or Peanuts, or Dilbert, or even Popeye.

I mean, sure, it’s not like the strips can’t be found, and even if people don’t have newspaper subscriptions, which nowadays is more and more likely, the comics can always be found online at the various syndication websites. But there that requires readers to go and seek the strips out, versus the strips coming into your home every day with the latest copy of the Oxnard Press-Courier (or your local equivalent). Near effortless daily access for readers of all ages compared to a readership comprised of at least slightly tech-savvy folks (or at least with tech-savvy relatives to show ’em how to get the new Marvin)…there’s going to be some attrition.

And not to mention selection…the latter group won’t be getting the full page or two of every strip in the paper, where they’ll at least be aware of Tumbleweeds, probably spending the couple of seconds to read it even if they don’t like it. Instead they’d likely pick and choose which strips they want to follow…no inadvertently scanning over strips they didn’t want to read, no basic knowledge of the strips they don’t see.

I’m making a lot of assumptions here. My thesis here essentially boils down to “comic strips aren’t the universal experience they used to be,” which I don’t think can be too heavily argued against, even if the reasons for this are up for debate. Is there going to be another licensing juggernaut like Garfield that spawns out of the traditional newspaper strip format? Or even from web-only strips? Surely there will be some marketing success with other strips, but only if they make it into other media, and not nearly on the scale of a slothful orange cat or a neighborhood filled with neurotic children.

Anyway, we were talking about Popeye. Popeye, of course, was immensely popular nearly from the get-go, with his introduction in the comic strip in 1929, and the famous cartoons, and, inexplicably, the chicken restaurant (RIP that tie-in license, by the way). But now, in 2018, like Dave said above, it seems like the number of opportunties for kids to learn about Popeye are drastically reduced.

The comic strip runs reruns of old Bud Sagendorf dailies, while still producing new Sunday strips by Hy Eisman. I don’t know how many subscribing papers Popeye has, but it can’t be too many, possibly only a fraction of the number it held in its heyday. You know, like almost every other strip.

The cartoons, which seemed ubiquitous on TV in my youth, have been relegated to the specialty channels. Not sure how often they’re shown, or what the viewership is, but certainly the numbers are lower there too.

And I don’t know how many kids are stumbling across the Official YouTube Popeye Channel…maybe some, I’m sure. Oh, and don’t forget the popular attraction in Malta built around the still-standing sets for the 1980 Popeye movie that starred Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall.

I admit some bias…I don’t see Popeye on TV or in the paper or just by happenstance over the course of my day (well, yes, except at the store), so I’m assuming nobody does. When I see anything Popeye-related, it’s when I seek it out…like renting the archival DVDs of the original cartoons from Netflix, or watching, like I did very recently, that 1980 live action adaptation (short review: beautifully designed, wondefully cast, stupefyingly presented), or buying a specific issue off the eBay.

As it turns out, when I received that very Popeye comic in the mail at the shop, my niece (who used to be the 10-year-old niece I’d occasionally mention on this site and who is now my 21-year-old niece, in case you needed another shove towards the grave) happened to stop by to say hello. I said “hey, look what I got in the mail!” and she replied “hey, Popeye!” so she definitely knew who the character was. A while later, thinking about what Dave said, I asked her about how she knew about Popeye. Her reply was that, when she was younger, her dad’s parents would sometimes let her read her dad’s comics from when he was a kid, which included the adventures of our favorite gazookus which hates all palookas. And she would see Popeye cartoons on the very same cable network I’d linked above while pooh-poohing its viewership.

So, you know, it’s Popeye. He’s too tough to be forgotten, and he’ll find a way to connect with kids somehow. Maybe the audiences aren’t are huge and widespread as they once were, and it’s not as easy to just happen across any of his material, but he and Olive and Wimpy and Bluto (and Brutus) are all still hanging in there, waiting for that next child eventually to discover what E.C. Segar created for all of us so long ago.

« Older Entries