Family Values:

A while ago, I was reading Drawing on the Funny Side of the Brain, by Christopher Hart, about drawing comic strips. (It actually detailed variations in graphical elements like stance and facial features that were inherently more funny than others. Fascinating, even for the non-artist, which I am.) Hart discussed how the topics in successful comic strips have to remain pretty conservative and run-of-the-mill. The primary readership of the funny pages is in the senior-citizen range, and people don't like to be challenged or shocked at 7 in the morning over their toast and coffee. I remember when many papers dropped For Better or For Worse when Lynn Johnston brought one of her characters out of the closet.

Suddenly today (Microwaves are great for introspection. Ovens give you enough time to go off and do something else; microwaves are fast enough that you might as well stand there and think.), I remember The Lockhorns, the most offensive comic strip—consistently so, too—that I have ever read. It's about a dysfunctional married couple who hate each other. That's the comedic conflict. That's the whole gag. Over and over and over and...

I stopped reading it years ago, when I got old enough to realize that I didn't have to read every strip on the pages and that some were never going to be funny (at least Mark Trail tells a story. Slowly.). And yet The Lockhorns continues to run, while more interesting, more touching, and better scripted strips receive nasty letters and get dropped.

(Simply my opinion, but it seems that all the crappy strips come from King Features, while a lot of gems are syndicated by United Media.)

This is part of why I love on-line comic strips. There is no syndicate. There are no advertisers to appease. The readership can be counted on to be more liberal and more willing to simply not visit a site that irritates them, rather than to feel the need to squash it out of existance.

Plan Nine Publishing carries a bunch of great on-line features. I read regularly:

And I recently picked up Clan of the Cats, about a 20-something were-panther witch (I can relate). Jon regularly reads Sin Fest, which takes regular pot shots at religion and pets.

(Since we're talking about comics) The Best Ever (*sniff*): Calvin and Hobbes.

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