Comic relief

Recently, the Lafayette Journal and Courier’s Reader Panel discussed the Sunday comics.  The comics section is a part of our cultural heritage, and any changes are the quickest way for an editor to get complaints.  It’s no surprise that the Managing Editor never gave us an explicit reason for the discussion, but I’m sure it has something to do with figuring out which comics can be cut to add new ones.  Comics are expensive, and if the readers aren’t reading them, then it’s time for fresh blood.  I read all of the comics, but that’s not the case for everyone on the panel.  In fact, the least funny comics tend to be the most read in the group.  Probably because the group tends to be old enough to enjoy “The Family Circus”.

I did find some things interesting.  For example, “Mallard Fillmore” had more regular readers than “Doonesbury”.  They’re both very political, but I understand that the political leanings of the duck fit better with the older, Midwestern demographic.  What I don’t understand is how it’s entertaining.  “Doonesbury” has a story arc and character development.  “Mallard Fillmore” strips are standalone and have all the subtlety of a brick to the face.

“Peanuts” is still widely read, even though it’s been nearly 11 years since Charles Schulz died.  I rarely find it funny, but it still manages to amuse me in a way few comics can.  It’s timeless.  The same can’t be said for other old timers like “Blondie”, “Beetle Bailey”, and “Garfield”.  Holy crap, is anything less funny than “Garfield”?  The only way to make “Garfield” funny is to take Garfield out.  See

So what could the Journal and Courier get rid of?  I wouldn’t shed a tear if “Garfield”, “The Lockhorns”, “Crankshaft”. “Mallard Fillmore”, or “The Family Circus”went away.  But like I told the editor, “if you cut ‘Pearls Before Swine’, I’ll cut you!”

The Internet is for…

…comics. Avenue Q fans may have a different way to end that sentence, but I try to keep this a family-friendly blog. Part of my daily routine is the reading of several comics, both traditional and web. I thought it might be fun to share the comics that I read and see what else my ones of readers enjoy. Also, it is good filler so that it looks like I’m actually writing content for my blog. 🙂

On the bus ride to work each morning, I read the comics in the newspaper. My favorite is definitely “Pearls Before Swine”, although “Sally Forth” is my guilty pleasure of late. “Close to Home” and “Rhymes with Orange” have a bit of a Larson-esque taste for the random and absurd, but they are both very hit-or-miss. “Crankshaft”, “Family Circus”, and “Garfield” are all too un-funny to be on a page called “Comics”, and “Mallard Fillmore” could provide some nice political humor, except the writer clearly doesn’t feel it is worth the effort.

But this post is in the “The Internet” category, so I should really talk but the web comics I read…

  • Real Life Comics – Real Life is a comic that my wife got me reading several years ago. It stars the author, Greg Dean, and his friends. Mostly, they’re in daily real-life situations (hence the name), but there are occasional forays into a sci-fi fantasy world, generally revolving around some nefarious plot by his friend Tony. In my opinion, this comic is a mere shadow of its former self, but it is still good for a laugh. Admittedly, I don’t get a lot of the video game jokes, but those seem to be fewer these days.
  • Piled Higher and Deeper – I came across this comic when it was plastered all over several doors in the Physics Building on campus. I stopped to read them (better than going to class, right) and thought it was funny enough to find on the Internet. PhD was started several years ago by Stanford grad student Jorge Cham. He still writes the comic, but the updates seem rather sporadic. Despite having never been a grad student, I feel like I get most of the jokes, but if you pick up reading this, it behooves you to start from the beginning, so that you get a true feel for each of the characters.
  • XKCD – No, the letters don’t mean anything, but XKCD may be the most celebrated comic in all of nerd-dom. The math is sometimes a bit over my head, but by-and-large the jokes are just nerdy enough. Several of Randall Munroe’s efforts grace my office door, and just about every admin I know secretly longs to use sudo make me a sandwich (funny story: one of my student workers tried that on his girlfriend, and it worked…but only once). Although it is generally only updated on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I still check every day, just to be on the safe side. A piece of advice for those of you who may not be regular readers: hover your mouse over the image, the tool tip is often the most humorous part.
  • Questionable Content – This is another comic that I’ve begun reading thanks to my Dearest. Despite the name, the content of this comic is generally safe for work. Still, if you have children, you might want to wait until they’re old enough to go behind your back before you allow them to read it. Jeph Jacques produces a fairly artistic comic about the daily lives of a group of friends. I really hope all of the characters are invented, because if they aren’t, that guy needs to move. I think I like this comic because I feel like it could be about me, if I was a little cooler and way more indie.
  • Dinosaur Comics – This is a comic that seems to have a rather narrow appeal. I enjoy it, but it seems that no one else I know does. Maybe it’s because T-Rex reminds me of my friend Tom, or maybe it’s because the art never changes. No matter what the reason, only Dinosaur Comics can sexualize literary techniques. My only complaint is that it seems to update rather late in the morning, so I either have to go back and re-check it, or I have to be a day behind. That could be because Ryan North is allegedly a Canadian.
  • Cyanide and Happiness – The most recent addition to my daily routine is this not-safe-for-your-kids-or-grandmother masterpiece. No joke is too offensive, too crude, or too funny. I blame Reddit for this one, although my friend Andy would probably have clued me in eventually. This is another comic that you either get or don’t, and I’m fairly sure I’m going straight to hell for laughing at it.