No question about it. The world and everybody in it would be a whole lot better off if everyone thought highly of newspapers' comic sections. There isn't anything better in this world than to be able to laugh out loud at a favorite cartoon strip.
Currently, my favorite is a toss-up between “Garfield” and “Close to Home.” Coming in second are – once again a toss-up – “Blondie” and “Beetle Bailey,” but I'm leaning heavily in favor of “Blondie” due to the fact that I can identify completely with Dagwood, so much so that my heart's desire is to one day own a shirt with only one huge button on the front.
Before the “Close to Home” strip started, though, my hands-down and absolute favorite was Gary Larson's “The Far Side.” Many mornings in years past, I could be found in my yard at 5 o'clock, waiting for the carrier to throw the newspaper so I could see if Larson would be able to outdo the comic that ran the day before.
Few are the days he failed to do that. The man was a genius when it came to understanding current events, the oddities of life and the humor therein.
One of the gifts I'll treaure for the rest of my life is from one of my daughters who truly understands just how much of a Larson fan I am. “The Complete Far Side, Volume 1 covering 1980-1986, and volume two, covering 1987-1994” catalogues each and every wonderful masterpiece he ever created. Were the volumes not so huge, I'd have them both nestled safely inside our safety deposit box.
When I'm feeling low, I find a great deal of solace in taking one of the volumes and reviewing some of Larson's greatest. I always go away in much better spirits after laughing myself into a better mood, and feeling mighty bulked up after doing a few deep knee bends as I try to get off the floor while holding the incredibly heavy volumes.
Can you believe it? There are people who would rather stick their arms into a rubbish chipper than be seen reading the comic section.
“I never read the comics!” they boast with a haughtiness that would gag a dead man.
They revel in the fact that laughter is something in which they seldom participate.
“Laughter is,” they say, “an activity in which ne'er-do-wells and silly hearts engage...and while we're at it, don't you dare end a sentence with 'at' as in 'Where is the teacher AT?'”
Poor devils! How sad it is that they can't appreciate the benefits of humor.
The only way a cartoonist can spoil the moment is when he intentionally tries to insert political correctness into his strip. Such was the case with the May 22 edition of “Garfield.”
The strip begins with Garfield walking into the house as he stares at his cell phone and follows Siri's directions. (Hopefully, you know who Siri is.)The next four frames continue presenting Siri's directions as Garfield follows. Upon arriving at his destination, Garfield exclaims that Siri's directions are right on and adds, “I asked for directions to nirvana.”
What a disappointment that was for me.
“And who or what exactly is 'nirvana'?” I shouted in protest. “It oughta' be against the law for a cartoonist to use terms that folks don't understand. Would someone please tell me what a 'nirvana” is.”
After doing some research, I learned that the word is of Buddhist origin and refers to a state of perfect happiness and peace, and indicates release from all forms of suffering.
In Garfield's case, his “nirvana” was the refrigerator which, by the time I was able to figure out the terminology, the only emotion I felt was disappointment and no small amount of anger for the cartoonist's pushing his political agenda into my home.
I'm not absolutely sure, but I think the creator of “Arlo and Janis” did the same thing with a recent strip.
Subtle but noticeable.
Janis and Arlo are sitting at the table drinking coffee. Janis says to Arlo, “I've met someone. We've fallen in love (She and the other female party). We're very happy. So I guess I'll be moving out. She's a circus acrobat.” Arlo finally responds, “I'm sorry! What?”
Hopefully, she said all that to see if he was really paying attention to what she was saying, but you can't be too careful these days.
The bad seed has been sown in the readers' minds regardless of the interpretation.