Creator Dave Coverly’s one-panel comic strip is the most brilliant ever at portraying life’s absurdity: 1) One wolf with cell phone to another: “You can save a lot of huffing and puffing if you hack into the pig’s security system.” 2) Chipmunk to birds and bees conversing in next diner booth: “Hey, we got kids here. Do you mind talking about something a little more appropriate?” 3) Two bewigged gentlemen in 18th century coffee house studying scrolls: “Sure, WE hold these truths to be self-evident, but we’re, like, really smart.” That’s how Speed Bump makes me feel, too.
Monday, July 6, 2020
Sunday, July 5, 2020
100 Words: Garfield’s creator knew what he was up to
Perhaps cat lovers enjoy Garfield because the strip mirrors their own cats’ aloofness and misbehavior. But portraying social awkwardness, gluttony, and cat-worship does not seem like cutting-edge commentary. Maybe it is, though. Garfield is a cat who craves lasagna all the time and develops a rebellious streak against societal rules. Sound like anyone familiar? In 1982, Garfield’s creator Jim Davis admitted that the strip was a conscious effort to create a good, marketable character. “Snoopy is very popular in licensing. Charlie Brown is not.” Davis, now 75, has a net worth of $800 million. I’d argue that was no accident.
Saturday, July 4, 2020
100 Words: Analyzing Garfield’s Appeal
I asked readers to analyze the enduring popularity of cartoonist Jim Davis’ Garfield. If you did, thanks. I appreciate it. I know why I read Pearls, Dilbert, Speed Bump, and Peanuts. But Garfield? “We live in a time when we feel guilty about not exercising and over-sleeping and over-eating, but Garfield’s cool with that. I think that is what people really appreciate about him,” Davis told the Washington Post. A Thai researcher who analyzed 624 “Garfield” strips found that the two most frequently occurring themes were 1) Jon’s silly ideas or actions when dealing with women and 2) Garfield’s gluttony.
Friday, July 3, 2020
100 Words: Here’s what happens when you have too much time on your hands
I analyzed “Garfield,” Jim Davis’ comic strip created in 1978. Why analyze it? See headline. Also, curiosity. For that matter, why read comics at all? Maybe because I crave narrative. And a picture truly is worth a thousand words. Comics provide easy entertainment value and sometimes insight. But Garfield? In my research, I discovered the strip, which is syndicated in over 2500 newspapers, makes an estimated $750 million to $1 billion annually on merchandise. What do you think makes Garfield so popular after all these years? Tell me and then I’ll give you the right answer. (Just getting into character.)
Thursday, July 2, 2020
100 Words: Comic commiseration for rejected writers
I love re-reading Peanuts, a comic strip that I liked as a child but got away from as I “matured.” Now I see its wisdom more clearly. A favorite is the one where Snoopy, who fancies himself an author, gets a rejection slip in his mailbox: “Dear Contributor, We are returning your stupid story. You are a terrible writer. Why do you bother us? We wouldn’t buy one of your stories if you paid us. Leave us alone. Drop dead. Get lost.” Lying on his doghouse, Snoopy thinks, “Probably a form rejection slip.” A real writer most certainly wrote that.
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
100 Words: Two reasons for hope
One-The only way to return to normalcy is by providing a vaccine to protect against the coronavirus. We are about a third of the way there, according to a USA Today vaccine panel designed to offer readers an objective, nonpartisan understanding. ‘The brightest minds in the world are in this fight, and they are moving with an incredible sense of urgency.” Two: a recent newspaper poll finds that most Americans support reforming law enforcement to reduce police brutality against African Americans. Favored reforms include weeding out bad cops, focus policing on serious and violent crimes, and stop buying military gear.
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