Friday, May 28, 2010

Newspaper Comics #5

There are two terms you hear when people talk about newspaper comics:  Legacy comics and zombie comics.  Don't let anyone fool you, these terms mean almost exactly the same thing.  They refer to comics that have gone on long past their prime and whose original creators are dead, yet new strips continue to be made.

The difference is how people perceive them. Legacy comics are viewed with respect for their years of entertaining people while zombie comics are declared "not funny" or worse "never funny."  And what is funny for one person is not for someone else.  I, for example, think of Blondie as a legacy comic, while BC is a zombie.

And then there's Family Circus.

It's not a legacy comic, I don't enjoy it.  It's not a zombie comic, it's not not funny.  No, it's worse.  Let me get back to that.

Family Circus started in 1960, on a leap day.  Does that hold any significance?  No, it just means the comic just SEEMS to have lasted forever.  Really, the comic is about one joke:  Kids say the darnedest things.  Well, that was the joke, now it's "kids say the cutest things."  There is a difference.

It's possibly the largest circulating comic on Earth.  Why?  Well, I think it's because it aims at a very specific and vocal audience:  Grandmothers.  They read the paper (because they can't get the computer to work) and they write letters to newspapers.  And finally, they get this tickle from reading kids saying the cutest things.

They'd never accept the darnedest things, though, because those imply real human things, like the fact that raising kids is really hard, that parents struggle to make ends meet, and that they have ways to "get away" from it all via *gasp* drugs and sex!  How horrible.  Grandmothers can't stand that stuff because, well, they never had sex until they were married, and only to have children, and they certainly never used drugs.

Grandmothers are also horrible liars.  Meaning they don't lie very well at all.

Family Circus was once a better comic, but as the years went by it was molded to the grandmother demographic, which stripped it of what little edge it had and whitewashed the rest.  The result is a comic so soft and unoffensive that it actually turned the corner and became a horrible comic.  It's not not funny, that would imply that the jokes merely missed their marks.  No, the comic is what is referred to as "unfunny."  A funny black hole in newspapers that sucks humor out of nearby comics.

The comic is the COMPLETE opposite of every webcomic I've read, even the bad ones!  It's static in a way that can not be easily set into words.  When the biggest change to your comic in 40 years is one of the characters getting a slightly different haircut, you're in trouble.  It plays to a demographic that is CONSTANTLY dying (but never quite gets there) and has all but rejected anything that could be called modern.

No comic should EVER be like Family Circus.  If it is, then it and the artist should be put out of our misery.  While dozens of really GOOD comics come and go, Family Circus not only stays, but is everywhere.  An ever present icon of blandness and terribleness that the world can not get rid of because grandmothers can't get enough of it for some bloody reason.

The only good thing to ever come out of Family Circus is a web parody that you'll have to search for on your own.  Find the "Dysfunctional Family Circus."  The archives I'm sure are still floating around the web somewhere, and read them.  It's very satisfying and pallet cleaning, but you'll never, EVER be able to read Family Circus again, mostly because you'll know how horrible it truly is.

Next time, I think I'll do a comic I love, if only to wash this taste from my mouth.  Later kiddies.

No comments:

Post a Comment