Friday, February 10, 2012

Newspaper Comics #8

Okay, so it's been over a year since the last time I dealt with newspaper comics, but I need an article and I haven't read enough comics for another batch of reviews.

Now I've covered a lot of old newspaper comics, like Blondie (82 years) and Peanuts (50+ not counting reruns), so let's cover a relative newcomer at a mere 12 years, Get Fuzzy.

Get Fuzzy appeared in the funny pages right as Garfield was hitting it's low point, and provided a nice breath of fresh air.  In a sense, it's Garfield 2.0, with the same basic 3 characters, an owner, a cat and a dog.  Bucky and Satchel are similar in personality to Garfield and Odie, but are also quite different.  It also makes the owner role (Rob here) far less of an dope than Jon.  It felt fresh and new, and I liked it.

The comic is far more political than one might think.  Bucky is often portrayed as a right wingnut, with Rob being very left, and poor Satchel caught in between.  This often leads to the comic being very, VERY wordy, typically when Bucky goes on some rather insane rant.  These are not the best the comic has to offer, and often seem to drag out and make Bucky seem far more insane than he was ever intended to be.

Outside of the political slant, the comic has some genuinely funny moments, often built around Bucky trying and failing to do something that is, well, kind of crazy.  From attempting to buy a monkey (so he can eat it) to his completely one sided war against the ferret neighbor (he lost, just hasn't admitted yet), the various jokes at his expense are quite funny.  At the same time, he often gets the short end of the stick far too often for my taste and it does get a little old after a while.

When it isn't focusing on Bucky, it does dip into a massive cast of secondary and one note characters.  Like Beetle Baily, most of these characters have little beyond their name and base personality, but are switched up often enough as to not get stale, at least for now.  The fact that the main cast is strong enough without these extras around helps, and gives the comic less of a repetitive feel.

The average joke, though, is hard to pin down.  Usually it's about Bucky saying something quite mad, but perfectly logical to him.  This requires a LOT of reading to get the joke, and often enough the joke utterly falls flat and misses.  I think Darby Conley (artist) invests too much in his jokes, not given them room to breath, and tries to fill the panels with far too many words for the joke.  Of course, if it cuts down too much, it'll end up little better than the strips it's running against, so there's something to be said for wordiness.

Compared to a lot of comics, Get Fuzzy feels more like a webcomic than the older strips.  Perhaps it's because it is so much younger, but it has a lot more edge to it than other comics.  That edge, though, seems wasted on jokes that are quasi-poltical in nature and over wordy.  I would say it represents a kind of middle ground between the funny pages and the internet, and I suspect that a comic like Sinfest might have ended up very similar if it had ended up in newspapers.

I do still read Get Fuzzy, but often find myself scanning through the longer diatribes to hopefully get to the joke.  There are much worse comics out there, so I'll tolerate it once in a while.

Next time, probably a Touching Base as I do some cleaning up of links and such.  Got a comic I have to pull from the read list and put in the "probably dead" one.  Makes me sad.  Later kiddies.

No comments:

Post a Comment