My picks for the 10 funniest comic strips published/put on the Web in 2015.
#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: Brewster Rockit
Tim Rickard's supremely silly sci-fi comic strip ranges all over the map -- literally and metaphorically! Here he touches on a philosophical theme that all of this year's honorable mentions will share.
Honorable Mention: Dilbert
Scott Adams wastes no time getting straight to the core problem.
Honorable Mention: Lio
Mark Tatulli's wordless weird boy wonder wonders wordlessly.
Honorable Mention: One Big Happy
There's bleak, and there's bleak, and there's really bleak, and there's cute, and there's hilarious. And then there's this strip by Rick Detorie that manages to combine all five into one.
Runner Up: WUMO
Mikael Wulff and Anders Morgenthaler repeatedly demonstrate innovative cartoon / gag chops with their self-named strip, and in this case bruise if not actually break the 4th wall...which will be our runner ups' linking factor.
Runner Up: Pearls Before Swine
Stephen Pastis is never one to shy away from his own shortcomings be they personal, professional, or artistic. Here he embraces the reality that there are certain things he just can't draw...
Runner Up: 9 Chickweed Lane
It wouldn't be unfair to say that over the last half decade, 9 Chickweed Lane has devolved from a wonderfully sassy / sexy strip into a meandering mixture of melodrama and non sequiturs. Here Brooke McEldowney proves he still has some creative chops with his version of a rim-shot.
Third Place: Zits
"The line it is drawn / The curse it is cast." Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman call it as they see it.
Second Place: Phoebe And Her Unicorn
Despite the title Phoebe And Her Unicorn (nee Heavenly Nostrils, so named after the unicorn herself, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils), Dana Simpson never shies away from pointing out that humans are guests in the world of magical unicorns, not the other way around. Here she shows that status all depends on one's personal point of view.
Grand Prize Winner: Retail
Norm Feuti's workplace strip had an exceptionally fine run this year with many contenders for the top ten, but this Sunday confrontation between management and labor is simultaneously one of the simplest yet most complex gags ever pulled off on the funny pages.