My picks for the 10 funniest comic strips published/put on the Web in 2014.
#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: Pooch Cafe
What can I say? Paul Gilligan's alcoholic Easter bunny cracks me up...
Honorable Mention: WUMO
WUMO is a European strip that is slowly finding its audience on this side of the Atlantic. The gags tend to be basic, but writer Mikael Wulff and cartoonist Anders Morgenthaler always manage to find a fresh twist.
Honorable Mention: One Big Happy
Well, that got grim in a hurry. Rick Detorie always skates his family comic strip right up to the edge, usually winning his audience with charming familiarity but on occasion plunging them straight into the Twilight Zone by way of Edgar Allen Poe.
Honorable Mention: Dinette Set
Julie Larson gets nowhere near the mad love she richly deserves. Dinette Set on the surface looks like an insufferable send up of the nouveau lower middle class, but despite their flaws, foolishness, and foibles, her heart is with her characters.
Runner Up: Retail
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the counter, Norm Feuti presents the workaday world of Retail in a combination of keen insight, expert knowledge of the field, sharp writing, and some of the best cartooning skills around.
Runner Up: Dilbert
Scott Adams strikes at the heart of the matter...
Runner Up: Cats With Hands
....while Joe Martin calls it like it is.
Third Place: Zits
A seasonal gag, but Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman manage to make it timeless.
Second Place: Willy 'n' Ethel
I think we can all relate to this...
Grand Prize Winner: Heavenly Nostrils
This will be the last time Heavenly Nostrils will make it into the finals: Starting next year Dana Simpson's delightful comic strip is leaping from the Web to the printed news page as Phoebe And Her Unicorn, a title change brought about by editorial fiat.* In this Sunday strip, Marigold demonstrates magic, imagination, and reality are no so different after all.
* It was feared that the original title -- which referred to the unicorn's full name: Marigold Heavenly Nostrils -- would be too confusing to new readers, and so the more explicit leave-nothing-to-the-imagination title of Phoebe And Her Unicorn is going to be slapped on. Ignore the fact that Heavenly Nostrils is unique and attention grabbing in much the same was as Donkey Kong was; people's reaction would be one of puzzlement leading to curiosity leading to sampling the strip, not one of dismissing it purely on the title. It's that kind of forward, innovative thinking that makes the publishing industry what it's rapidly becoming.