My picks for the 10 funniest comic strips published/put on the Web in 2016.
#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: Norm Feuti’s Retail has the best consistent string of really hilarious daily strips combined with an astonishing sense of line and composition. Here he goes really meta with a gag many readers may only barely get, but which leaves professional cartoonists rolling on the floor.
Honorable Mention: Super-Fun-Pak Comix is a side project to Reuben Bolling’s Tom The Dancing Bug that is often too arcane for its own good, but this time came up with the greatest time travel story EVER.
Honorable Mention: Scary Gary by Mark Buford is a solid-leaning-brilliant strip in the mode of The Munsters and / or The Addams Family.
Honorable Mention: I almost never read Heathcliff (the other orange cat comic strip) by George Gately. If he featured more oddball flights of fancy like this, I would.
Runner Up: Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman’s Zits is the default best teen comic strip out there now that Greg Evan’s Luann has started attending college. Here they elaborate on the tragicomic lack of communication between parents and teens.
Runner Up: Joe Martin, the hardest working cartoonist on the funny pages, earns not one but two Runner Up nods this year, the first for his laser like focus on character in Willy ‘n’ Ethel…
Runner Up: …the second for introducing us in Mr. Boffo to a phrase we will doubtlessly be hearing a lot more of in 2017.
Second Place: Another consistently brilliant strip, Stephan Pastis’ Pearls Before Swine earns second place for coming up with the best description of the Internet: Not as friendly as a prison riot.
Grand Prize Winner: Two Guys and Guy by Rickard Jonasson starts out in pretty standard whimsical millennial observational humor territory but is shored up by flashes of screwball plotting and dark cynicism. If that sounds like one helluva blend, it is. Here Rickard takes home the (metaphorical) trophy for the single most compressed plot of all time.
…and now the sad news: This is my final Funniest Comic Strip Dailies. I still love the comic strip medium and have my favorites I’ll keep reading, but between increased work load, more difficulty in finding existing strips online, and the number of new web comics that come and go in the blink of an eye, I just don’t have the time to adequately look at a good representative cross selection of comics anymore.
This is a pity, because once upon a time comic strips were cultural touchstones for not just the entire nation but across borders as well. As hard as it is for us to grasp, Blondie actually spoke to people far away from the middle class American background of the strip.
No more. Calvin And Hobbes was perhaps the last comic strip to transcend all barriers and become a universal phenomenon. Today’s new strips are often quite good in terms of art and content, but media is now too fractured and too diverse, and even the most popular strips no longer speak to the planet as a whole.
So be it. Times change, and we must change with them.
There are numerous examples of comic strip finales, some poignant, some wry, some challenging, some uplifting, but none as damn final as Tony Millionaire’s Maakies which ended this year.
Adios. See you in the funny pages.