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Since Soon-ok’s retirement, there have been a lot of changes in our lives, almost all for the good.
First off, she’s happier, more relaxed, and more energized than I’ve seen her in ages. She never wanted a job, much less a career, but took one to keep the family stabilized as my own career started careening wildly. Without her we would not have squeezed by; without her my own career would have floundered completely.
So we owe her a big one, and she is more than entitled to her retirement.
Second, as she rightly deserves, she’s getting to do a lot of things she wanted to do, such as travel and renovate the house. I’m glad for this, and more than happy to go with her and help her in the various projects.
But it plays havoc with my own productive schedule, and I find myself falling further and further behind.
To get caught up, I’m jettisoning a lot of things I used to do. One of those things was keeping up with numerous comic strips. I’ve been a fan of the art form since I was a little kid and first entranced with Dick Tracey and Little Orphan Annie and Buck Rogers and Pogo and Li’l Abner and Mr. Mum. Each December I post my list of the ten funniest strips of the year; I want to keep doing that, but in recent years I’ve had to forgo the yearly overview of all the strips I track.
I’ve already dropped several strips that I felt had exhausted themselves and become repetitive. Here are six I’m dropping simply because of time constraints; they’re still good and I still enjoy them but I have to
jump through too many hoops make too many clicks to read them.
That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but every productive minute is precious now, and I’ve got to ration them like a stranded traveler in the desert rations his water. If you read my previous post on the topic, you know what it feels like when I can’t write, so to squeeze out a few extra minutes, I’m giving up a lot of things I used to enjoy.
Feh, enough mawkish self-pity. If you like comic strips / web comics and haven’t tried the following, give ‘em a look. They’re all good. (Descriptions courtesy JSOline)
Baby Blues by Rick Kirkman & Jerry Scott is an entertaining and poignant view of parenthood and childhood. Wanda and Darryl MacPherson spend the majority of their time chasing, refereeing and pleading with their three children.
Edge City by Terry & Patty Laban is a groundbreaking comic strip about a hip, Jewish-American family juggling relationships, careers, and tradition at the fast pace of modern life.
Mutts by Patrick McDonnell explores the special bond between animals and their guardians, and the endearing friendship of Earl, the dog, and Mooch the cat.
Safe Havens by Bill Holbrook is a comic strip that focuses mainly on Samantha and her group of friends, who met as toddlers at Safe Havens Day Care and are now young adults enrolled at Havens University.
Sally Forth by Francesco Marciuliano, Jim Keefe is a timely comic strip about a working mother, who juggles her mid-management job and finding enough quality time for her husband and daughter. Somehow, Sally manages to keep her sanity and sense of humor.
Zippy the Pinhead by Bill Griffith creates a reality all on its own with a unique cast of characters, including Griffy, Zippy’s foil; Zerbina, Zippy’s wife and their children, Fuelrod and Meltdown.
Over at In The Balcony on Facebook, the question was raised:
Who are your favorite lead
and supporting characters in
feature-length animated films?
And my answers are:
and these guys
…and I thot, geeze, put ‘em together and you’re half way to a great sci-fi novel.
These guys ordering breakfast would be epic.
Someone asked me what was so difficult about being called away from one’s muse. To them — and they weren’t being mean-spirited — writing a story or drawing a picture or composing music was the same as baking a cake or hanging wall paper: You can always start any time you feel like it.
Well, yeah…if by “any time” you mean “whenever the muse calls”. As Charles Bukowski famously observed, ”…it comes out of / your soul like a rocket / …being still would / drive you to madness or / suicide or murder”.
Every creator I know is nodding at this (and, yes, there are creators who manage to harness themselves to a steady work schedule; I contend for them the faucet is always on and they don’t know how #%@&ing lucky they are to be able to fill their buckets on their own timetable).
For the rest of you, I’ve made a little simulation after the jump that will give you the barest inkling of what it feels like to be a creator denied access to pen / paper / pixels when inspiration hits.
Hold your breath, follow the jump, and don’t inhale again until you scroll down to “10“.
I was only able to attend Saturday this year, but what I saw makes me look forward to future WonderCons in Anaheim (the show had previously been held in San Francisco). It had the feel of San Diego Comic Con back in the 1990s (i.e., after it moved from the old convention center but just before it started becoming the media monster it is today).
Many more photos after jump…
My picks for the 10 funniest comic strips published/put on the Web in 2012.
#1 – Must be funny. (There were a lot of touching/poignant/inspiring/awesome strips this year but only the funny ones made the cut.)
#2 – Must be fresh. (Otherwise this list would consist of Peanuts re-runs.)
#3 – Must be family friendly. (Anything over the edge got cut even if it made me laugh.)
#4 – Must be fathomable. (i.e., punchlines that were the pay off of lengthy continuities, long-running gags, or required esoteric knowledge of the strip in question also got cut.)
Honorable Mention: Dilbert
We have all been there, the question is on which side of the desk.
Honorable Mention: Maria’s Day
It would be unfair to call this new strip by John Zakour and Scott Roberts a female version of Calvin And Hobbes; Maria’s pedigree goes back to Nancy and Little Lulu.
Honorable Mention: Cats With Hands
Honorable Mention: Baby Blues
Typically not among the most visually inventive strips on the market, this year Baby Blues delivers the groceries with a delightful sight gag.
Runner Up: Willy ‘n’ Ethel
It was hard to pick the best of a fine crop of Willy ‘n’ Ethel strips this year, but this one edged out several contenders.
Runner Up: Retail
Norm Feuti makes two entries on the finalists’ roster this year, in this case for keen insight into the world of retail sales.
Runner Up: Mr. Boffo
Joe Martin typically finishes well in the year end tally, but this year his three strips — despite sharp writing and clever set-ups — fell just shy of the winner’s circle.
Third Place: Gil
A relatively new strip on the funny pages, Gil started life a couple of years ago as a web comic by Norm Feuti. The original version of Gil was funny but also somewhat bleak; what started out as a fun kid strip took a surprisingly somber turn when Gil’s divorced dad ended up in jail on assault charges (!). Feuti retired the web comic at that point but successfully retooled it into a more light hearted print version keeping the same characters and basic situation. Here Gil turns the tables on the strip’s bully by turning the other cheek.
Second Place: Coffee With Jesus
Another fairly new strip, Coffee With Jesus is astonishing because (a) it’s written from a surprisingly perceptive Christian POV (b) it turns Christ into a remarkably accessible character instead of a stick figure mouthing platitudes as is the case in most other comic strip appearances by the Messiah and (c) it’s really, really funny. A clip strip with a regular cast of characters, it works best when you get familiar with the personalities involved, but this one is a stand alone jem.
Grand Prize Winner: Heavenly Nostrils
Dana Simpson won an Amazon / GoComics new talent contest several years ago with her strip Girl, but it’s taken all this time to refine it and hone it into something truly magical. Heavenly Nostrils could be referred to as the other new female Calvin And Hobbes strip but that would be grossly unfair; these are their own characters and the unicorn herself, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, is that rarest of creatures, the vain self-obsessed know-it-all smart-alec whom everybody loves. (Another key difference is that unlike Hobbes, Marigold occupies the real world and interacts with the other human characters in the strip, including Phoebe‘s parents and classmates.)
“Christmas In An Outlaw Town”
“…And All Through The House”
“A Christmas For Shacktown”