I should probably be exploiting this time for school work . . .
I have always loved comics. This isn’t exactly a shocking revelation to anyone to whom I am so much as a tangential acquaintance. It started sometime around second or third grade. I remember we were going on a trip and before we left my mom let me pick out a few books from the spinner rack at the Cumberland Farms that I used to have to ride my bike to on milk and newspaper runs for my parents. That first stack included Detective Comics, Batman, Fantastic Four, and a Solo Avengers featuring a Hawkeye story and a Black Panther story. But right around that same time I was beginning a daily ritual that has as much to do with my love for comics as those four-color newsprint adventures that covered my fingers in ink smudges. I was reading the comics page in the paper. Every strip, every day. There were a few boring ones that fell off early who’s names I can’t be burdened with remembering. Then there were the ones that made a serious impact; my fast favorites that made that pre-dinner hour one of the most anticipated parts of my day (I had to wait for Dad to get home from work and read the paper himself before I was allowed to have the section). The proverbial five-hundred pound gorilla of these was Gary Larson’s The Far Side. To a nerdy kid in the late Eighties nothing could have been funnier. In fact, to a nerdy twenty-something in 2005, there are still few things that even match it. It regularly bugs me that in the last two years since it became available, I have never quite mustered the economic wherewithal to purchase the beautiful, two-volume slipcase edition that collects every damn Far Side that Larson ever did. There were others, too. There was Bloom County, there was Calvin & Hobbes, there was Robotman, and there was Peanuts, even though now as a more “mature” comics snob Schultz’s work by the period I started reading seems a pale imitation of his earlier genius. God help me, I loved Garfield, but what kid in the Eighties didn’t? It’s funny to think how quickly Doonesbury was filed under boring and was thus among the small few left unread each day, only to skyrocket to the top of the list when I hit junior high and started to actually get it.
I don’t read the paper nowadays; I rely on internet sources for my news. Which brings me to what got me thinking about all of this in the first place — I have really only just started reading web comics. Despite my nerdiness and generation, I always seem to be a little behind the curve when it comes to anything that involves technology in any way. Maybe not behind the curve when compared to the populace at large, but certainly when compared to my geek brethren. I’ve been reading Goats for awhile, because it’s funny and it gets e-mailed to me for free. It was really my entrance into the cubicle world that got me regularly reading the two other web comics that I already knew I liked, namely PvP and Penny Arcade. In the past week or so, I have expanded my horizons, regularly looking at the links lists on news sites dedicated to the form, reading a few days worth of almost everyone I come across, deciding if it’s worth my time or not. I’ve got about fourteen different comics in their own little favorites folder now. I think that qualifies as a growing interest. There is some real entertaining stuff out there and if you don’t already you owe it to yourself to check some out.
Another great thing about this whole new-fangled internet thingy is that I’ve gotten back to reading the strips from the paper again, thanks to Yahoo news. Doonesbury has never been as important in my life as it is right now. Reprints of Bloom County are being run every day. Foxtrot is a favorite that debuted a few years into my newspaper reading and is a sort of syndicated uncle to the geek-friendly web comics. Boondocks had just started to hook me when I fell out of my regular reading habits and I am glad to be back on board with it. Cartooning is important, even when it’s silly. It’s a form of art with old roots that really developed and came into its own in the twentieth century. It’s certainly one that I have very deep and sincere love for, and for once I have technology to thank for giving me back something good for my spirit.