I know, I know, I should be writing about the crisis at the border, Iran, Trump’s racism, or the exciting array of Democratic presidential candidates, but I need a break from all of this.
For years there has been a crisis on the Daily News’ comics page, and I definitely need more chuckles to get through these politically stressful times.
I wish we could have the Sunday comics every day, although I certainly could wait for the weekly installment of Prince Valiant. The daily fare is, for the most part, god awful, and coloring the losers doesn’t make them any better.
Maybe others see redeeming value in The Barn, Reply All, Daddy’s Home, and Breaking Cat News, but I certainly do not. I have a suspicion that our local Benjamin Bad Kitten is the only reason why the latter was chosen. I bet he would really like to have his own microphone.
Peanuts, Wizard of Id, Zits, Non-Sequitur are consistently humorous, but Argyle Sweater, Real-Life Adventures, Overboard, Dilbert, Pearls Before Swine, and F Minus are less so.
One of my favorites from Argyle Sweater is when the electrical socket asks the desirous plug if he has “brought protection.” The next frame shows the socket expressing appreciation for the surge protector that the plug has brought. I thought that this one would be censured for a family newspaper.
A recent Real-Life Adventure was the rare funny one. The daughter asks her mom if she has had a shot for “weasels.” The mom replies that she must mean “measles,” but the daughter insists that she needs protection from those scary little animals.
The pig in Pearls before Swine introduces us to Great Magic Bunny, represented by an upturned magician’s hat. The pig asks the Great Bunny for a sign, and out pops a beer tap. The rat exclaims: “I believe, I believe!”
The self-depreciating title of F Minus reminds me of a troll at Pocatello’s Idaho State Journal, who was always criticizing my columns there. His pseudonym was “Disgusted Reader,” and I kept asking him if he was also disgusted at the conservative pieces with which his views aligned.
F Minus rarely has a hit, but the one depicting a “Grand Accordion” was sort of humorous: a huge accordion with its bellows spread out across the room. A recent one about people in heaven being surprised that they still had to work was also funny, especially with their wings sticking out over their cubicles.
I’ve finally concluded that Dilbert is simply too cynical, and there is no single redeeming character, except for perhaps poor Asok, the Indian intern. A recent one proves my point. When an employee asks Dogbert if she can take bereavement leave, he says: “Well, it depends who dies.” “Can you be more specific”? “It has to be you.” Humor, yes, but of the gallows kind.
Garfield is thoroughly cynical, but he is surrounded by charming characters. One of them is his steady girlfriend, Arla. One night she asks him: “Is it legal for cats to marry?” (Pause) “Garfield, are you OK?” Garfield to himself: “I can’t feel my brain!” I know the feeling, Dude.
One of Non-Sequitur’s greatest hits is entitled “Ms. Sisyphus.” Sisyphus was a petty thief who was punished by Zeus to roll a rock up a hill and then forced to do it again and again for eternity. Ms. Sisyphus has installed a block and tackle for her rock, but one man (no doubt a Hillary hater) watching her says: “OK, sure. She figured it out and got the job done, but is she likable?”
After a long dissertation on this myth, Albert Camus concludes that, presumably because of his Stoic determination, “we must think Sisyphus happy.” Wiley Miller’s depiction of him clueless and dejected belies that assessment.
Nick Gier taught philosophy at the University of Idaho for 31 years. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.