Posts from Lucas Wetzel

Main | About Lucas

May 21, 2015

Top 10 David Letterman cartoons on

The night has finally arrived when incomparable late-night television host David Letterman is no longer on the air. Let's take a look at some GoComics classics mentioning Dave and his show, as well as a few recent tributes. Here they are, in no particular order. (Drumroll, please...)


10: Grand Avenue, 6/30/2004



Roughly a decade ago, Gabby applied to be an intern on "Letterman," but it didn't pan out. Check out this highly entertaining Grantland feature about what interning for Dave was actually like.


9. Ziggy, 4/7/1994




Among the many names floated in the last year for Dave's replacement, Ziggy's parrot, Josh, was not mentioned. I guess there are comics, and then there are comics.


8. Frazz, 7/7/2003




Growing up is hard. First you aren't old enough to stay up for late-night shows, and then when you do, the hosts retire. Fortunately, Stephen Colbert starts his "Late Show" run this September.


7. Stupid human/pet tricks medley


The Doozies, 5/13/2015



Drabble, 7/17/2000




Kit 'n' Carlyle, 3/17/2001




6. Reality Check, 10/18/2000




It may be a little rude, but the gap in Dave's teeth is part of his iconic figure. (Check out this "Off The Mark" for another view)


5. The Flying McCoys, 9/20/2006




The GoComics archives from the '90s and 2000s are full of these "Leno vs. Letterman" debates. The Flying McCoys get right to the heart of the matter in this classic strip.


4. The Doozies, 5/20/2015




Nobody does a tribute like Tom Gammill and "The Doozies."


3. Jeff Stahler, 5/19/2015




At first, things seem OK without Dave on TV...


2. Drabble, 5/15/2015



...then reality sets in.


1. Gary Varvel, 5/19/2015




Great strip from Gary to bring it all back home. Hope you enjoyed these strips, and congrats to Letterman and his team for an excellent run. #ThanksDave!


(Honorable mention goes to Big Top, for the sequence in which Wink went on Letterman to challenge Courtney Love to a cage-fighting contest)

May 05, 2015

Happy National Cartoonists Day!

I woke up this morning to find a bunch of confetti, sketch pads and empty champagne bottles littering my front yard. This is not an unusual site for a weekend night, but was a little odd for a Tuesday morning.

"Must be some kind of holiday," I said.

"Cinco de Mayo?" my wife asked.

"I don't think so," I said, scrolling through my social media feeds to find out what was up. Oh yeah! It's National Cartoonists Day. People around here take it pretty seriously.



Like so many others, I grew up wanting to be a cartoonist (or a doctor/NBA player as a backup). I sketched cartoons about a mad scientist named Sotdoly and also drew Simpsons characters on index cards which I would trade for either small change or Triscuits. It was an auspicious start. However, I wound up doing more writing/editing and less writing/cartooning, and after college I landed an internship writing marketing copy for Universal Press Syndicate, which eventually became a full-time editing job here at Universal Uclick. So if I wasn't going to be a cartoonist, I could at least work on their behalf.

Friends and family members will ask me what cartoonists are like, and I tell them it's impossible to make any sweeping generalizations. Every one of them has his/her own style, and that variety of talent and approach is what makes the comics page (and so interesting.

Some cartoonists work months in advance, and others can hardly bring themselves to write until the deadline is staring them in the face. Some sketch out roughs and send them in for feedback, while others use only tablets and computer screens. Some work early in the morning and others stay up all night. The thing these individuals have in common is that they all followed their dreams and worked incredibly hard to get where they are.



(read the full cartoon above over at Richard's blog)

Cartoonists can be strange individuals, or they can blend in seamlessly with the rest of society, but they're usually hyper-attentive to the world around them, always storing up material and generating ideas that could bring life to their characters and the worlds those characters inhabit. Being a cartoonist is often less a childhood fancy than a lifelong compulsion. Many of them will tell you that they never considered being anything else, even if they did have to work a variety of jobs to get where they are now. As Savage Chickens creator Doug Savage writes:

If you’re a creative person, you need a creative outlet only slightly less than you need food and water. Spend time doing something you love, every day, even if you can only spare a few minutes. You never know where it will lead!

Doug's quote above came from his "Meet Your Creator" blog post, which is an ongoing series we've been running for a couple years now. The series offers a fascinating, first-person glimpse into our cartoonists' studios and working methods. If you have any interest in getting a closer look at what being a cartoonist is like, I highly recommend checking it out.

So today we'd like to raise an extra large glass to cartoonists everywhere, and especially those we work with here at GoComics, whether they are Pulitzer-Prize winning veterans whose strips have been appearing in print for decades, or cartoonists who have other jobs but enjoy sharing their work and finding an audience online. It takes an incredible amount of work and focus to do this every day, and whether you're in 600 newspapers or have 16 followers online, the ability to use your artwork and writing to entertain others is a special, special thing.


March 23, 2015

Mad Dogs, Comics and Englishmen



British soul singer extraordinaire Joe Cocker died last December at the age of 70. I've been meaning to do a tribute post ever since he passed, but to borrow a phrase from Legolas, the grief was still too near.


A couple of GoComics cartoonists, however, didn't hesitate to pay homage to Joe. First came the Nancy strip above, lovingly rendered by Guy Gilchrist, a musician himself and an avowed Cocker fan. After that, Joe Cocker's Grammy-winning duet with Jennifer Warnes made a cameo in a pivotal school dance scene in Big Nate.



Let me just interrupt for a moment to say how strongly I agree with the DJ's selection here. This is a powerful song, a Platinum-certified carpe diem / love-conquers-all musical moment. With this song playing, there's no way Nate can lose...




Oh. Well, I guess it's not for everyone. And in retrospect, the Tall Girl's headband suggests she probably would have been more impressed by one of Cocker's famous Woodstock covers. Oh well. Or better yet, the Chipmunks cover of the song. Who knows what tomorrow brings...



March 08, 2015

The puddin's in the proofin'



Have you hugged your copy editor lately? Well maybe you should, because it's National Proofreading Day, an occasion dedicated to promoting mistake-free writing, and also one of the most festive holidays of the year after Arbor Day and International Tuba Day. But before you brake out the beer funnels, kazoos, and Wite-Out, lets all take a moment too apperciate hte impotence of proof-readers every were because, with out them we all all wood look like fools. (You see what I did there? Excellent. You're hired!)


When it comes to keeping errors and typos out of the funny pages, comics editors like me owe a lot to the people around us — our co-editors, production specialists, paginators and the newspaper editors who run our features — any of whom might point out a mistake before it makes it into print. And, of course, there's the readers themselves, who often aren't shy about pointing out our editorial shortcomings. One old guy in Tucson used to send us his own marked-up copies of the crossword puzzles. In one case, the published clue was "Mariachi wear" and the answer was "Serapes." He wrote: "Mariachis seldom — if ever — wear serapes!" Now I'm not one for tattoos, but that phrase seems as worthy of ink as any I've ever heard.


All jokes aside, proofreading can be a serious business. At best, errors are a distraction for the reader, and at worst they can create a skewed or false understanding of the news. Typos also make the writer, cartoonist or editor feel bad about themselves. To lighten things up, here's a series of classic GoComics features honoring the art and science of proofreading. Click on each image to view more from each strip. And have a fantabulous National Proofreading Day.   — Lucas



















February 13, 2015

13 frightful features for Friday the 13th

I don't really buy into the whole "Friday the 13th" thing. To me it's just a bunch of silly superstition. I don't think a single bad thing has happened to me on a Friday the 13th. Except for August 13, 2009, when I came home from work to find that my toolshed had been struck by lightning and had caught on fire. Or Dec. 13, 2013, when I got chased through a parking lot by a headless horseman on a Segway. Or April 13, 2012, when my pet basset hound, Snifflez, got her vanity collar caught in the sliding doors at Aldi. Or Feb. 13, 2009, when my (former) friends convinced me to see the Michael Bay-produced reboot of the "Friday the 13th" series. 


Come to think of it, Friday the 13th hasn't been especially kind to me (or Snifflez). But this year, I've developed an antidote to supplement my regular Santeria sessions:  A list of 13 GoComics features perfect for enjoying on a superstitious occasion like today. Enjoy! (And watch your back). 


13: Non Sequitur




It doesn't take much to spark Danae's active imagination, especially to the spooky side of things (she does sleep beside a skull lamp, after all). Read more Non Sequitur here



12: Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson




Speaking of overactive imaginations, the "haunted cubby" sequence back in September of 2011 still stands out as one of the most frightening mysteries ever to occur at Blisshaven Preschool. 



11: Pooch Cafe by Paul Gilligan




And there are few canines out there more fun to watch freak out than Poncho of Pooch Cafe fame. (though this Overboard is a pretty great example as well). 



10. Adam@Home by Rob Harrell 




Adam@Home is not known for being an especially scary strip. But if you ask me, there aren't many more terrifying subjects than family members who can't take a hint. 



9. Political Cartoons (by various)




If you want to really freak yourself out while reading cartoons, look no further than GoComics' roster of editorial cartoons. This Tom Toles strip is a particularly vivid example of the role fear plays in the news/infotainment sector, though I'm sure there's probably a similar strip out there mocking MSNBC for the same thing. I'm not taking any sides, but I have definitely witnessed how riled up Fox News makes my grandparents. The Great Depression, World War II and McCarthyism didn't scare them, but a couple hours of cable news sends them into hysterics. 



8. Skin Horse by Shaenon K. Garrity and Jeffrey C. Wells




Now we're really getting into creepy territory... Skin Horse is a strip based on the premise that "Somewhere in this great nation is a top-secret government agency in charge of providing aid to America's nonhuman citizenry." To paraphrase a recent Skin Horse strip, "there's no cure for mad genius." Thank goodness for that. 



7: The Worst Thing I've Ever Done by Ted Rall



This serialized edition of Ted Rall's classic crowd-sourced confessions provides a window into the darkness of the human heart and the unconscionable things we are capable of doing when we think no one is paying attention. Most of these stories should have been taken to the grave, but fortunately for us, they've instead been made into cartoons by Ted. The book has since run on GoComics all the way through, so head back to the beginning here



6. Buni by Ryan Pagelow




Buni is many things — whimsical, spooky, dark, weird, delightful, charming and sad, just to name a few. But my favorite thing about it is that it almost always leaves you with a smile on your face, even (or especially) when something terrible is happening. (Read our "Meet Your Creator" post with Buni artist/writer Ryan Pagelow here). 



5. The Conjurers by Brian Anderson



When it comes to GoComics features, it doesn't get much more spine-tingling than The Conjurers. The eerie adventure strip updates each week on Mondays, and also includes behind the scenes notes and character sketches from artist Brian Anderson. Well worth exploring -- if you dare! (cue groans/evil laughter). 



4. Lost Side of Suburbia by Kory Merritt


Another large-format feature with frighteningly good artwork and writing is Lost Side of Suburbia, "a land of strange stories and weirdly-spun yarn, where oddities and unmentionables lurk behind every tale." The color and linework in this strip is phenomenal, and once you get pulled in reading it you're likely to stay a while. Don't say we didn't warn you... 



3. Scary Gary by Mark Buford



Scary Gary and his friends are the some of the most likable monsters and misfits I've ever seen on the funny pages. Where else can you read about the adventures of a zombie baby and a severed head in a jar? (in the thick of suburbia, no less). In addition to its dead characters and often deadpan humor, Scary Gary has a classic look to it, with colors and composition that would be right at home in the broadsheet funny pages of the past. Fortunately a new Scary Gary strip is online every day at GoComics. 



2. Lio by Mark Tatulli



You knew this was coming. The kid for whom every day is Halloween and/or Friday the 13th. Lio exists in a world unlike any other, or rather he delights in trafficking in a world of monsters and spirits that most of us would be terrified by. Heart of the City, also written and illustrated by Mark Tatulli, is also chock full of spooky adventures, such as the Halloween sequence from last year



1. Deep Dark Fears by Fran Krause




The Deep Dark Fears in Fran Krause's watercolored feature come from readers all over the world, lending it a universal sense of dread built up from many specific moments of real, imagined and anticipated terror. Whether it's fear of a mysterious creature lurking on the power lines or just the dread of accidentally cutting off your fingers with a kitchen knife, Deep Dark Fears has a spooky way of getting into your head. 


Now what about you, dear reader? What comics give you the creeps? 

January 26, 2015

Comics and kids

Those of us who work at GoComics feel pretty comfortable with the idea of being grown-ups who read, edit and promote comic strips for a living. I always wanted to work in the humor/art/entertainment industry on some level, so it's a natural fit. But lately I've felt an extra level of appreciation for the craft, having watched my 2.5-year-old daughter encounter some of the GoComics characters and features for the first time.


It started, as it often does, with Snoopy. We found some animated shorts on Netflix (produced by Peanuts and with editorial input from folks like Stephan Pastis) and introduced her to the Charlie Brown Halloween and Christmas specials last year, which she loved (who wouldn't?). She likes to point to the characters, say their name out loud and laugh, occasionally looking over to us for affirmation. It's a fun way to watch TV. 


Next, I brought home a coloring book I found at the office which includes characters like Ziggy, Heart of the City, Fox Trot and others. She did an especially amazing job coloring Baldo, even if the purple skin and green hair she gave him didn't quite match our official color guide. I sent Mark Tatulli a picture of her coloring of Heart of the City and told him that if he ever needed a back-up colorist, I knew someone who would work for cheap.



At the Joslyn art museum in Omaha (a pretty fantastic place if you're in that part of the world) we saw a graphic novel exhibit in the children's wing that prominently features Big Nate creator Lincoln Peirce. 


Photo 2[1]


The framed, original Big Nate artwork looked right at home on the wall of the fine arts museum, and seeing it on display reminded me how detailed, expressive and balanced his artwork is, especially in the graphic novels.


Photo 3[1]


Not that our daughter was paying much attention, since she was busy drawing pictures in the kids' craft area. It was a different story the following week when we got her her first ever McDonald's Happy Meal, which made us feel like generous and also terribly irresponsible parents at the same time. The Happy Meal toy was a cool little Big Nate book that came with stickers. I pointed out Nate, Teddy, Francis, Gina, Jenny and Artur to her, but I didn't see Chad. If you ask me, that's a pretty big missed opportunity. Chad would be an excellent spokesperson for just about any kid-friendly eating establishment.




Then again, I can see why he might not be an ideal fit for a company trying to promote healthy eating options in spite of themselves.


Either way, kids love Chad, Big Nate, Heart, Charlie Brown and so many other GoComics characters I haven't mentioned here. As adults, it's easy to understand and explain what about the artwork and writing makes a certain feature successful. But kids appreciate this stuff on an intuitive level, experiencing a genuine delight when they see these characters. It also makes me feel proud to work where I do. In the words of UU president John Glynn, our cartoonists bring joy to people's lives. It's a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of that process, especially when you see it first hand.


January 10, 2015

A Tribute To Charlie Hebdo, pt. II: "Stay safe, and be not afraid"

Heavy week in the world of editorial cartooning. As mentioned in previous posts on the subject, all of us have been watching the events in Paris closely and with great sympathy. We've received several media queries wanting to get our take, and even though we do represent many editorial cartoonists, this story is less about businesses like ours than it is about larger issues of free expression, confronting terrorism, and what it means to live in a free society.


Still, given that the title "Charlie Hebdo" refers back to Charlie Brown (an important figure here at GoComics HQ), it's hard not to take things a little personally. While my own inclination is to internalize and reflect on these events rather than share my opinions and interpretations, our cartoonists don't have that luxury. Within hours they were sending in work relating to the attack, and it's not by accident that the fountain pen has emerged as the most iconic symbol in these cartoons as a whole. Today I'd like to share a few images and links that have helped me process this week's events.


First, a few words from our friends in the Eurozone, Wulff & Morgenthaler, creators of the hit strip WuMo:




Today's Bad Reporter portrays our own national media in a withering light — a bold, but (I believe) necessary statement from someone who isn't afraid to make it.


Screen shot 2015-01-09 at 10.39.32 AM


(I also just adore the image of the angry old journalist in front of his computer.)


Cartoonist Ted Rall shared his thoughts yesterday in an article for the Los Angeles Times. It's a good read from a cartoonist who isn't afraid to ruffle feathers in service of making a statement, in which he recounts his own connection to the Charlie Hebdo staff and acknowledges the innate power of cartooning and the courage it takes to carry it out.


Some of the most interesting analysis and comparisons I've seen of European and American editorial cartoon responses to the tragedy comes from the excellent Weekly Storybook Comic Strip of the Day blog. It includes detailed discussion of different cartoons, links to other galleries and some good perspective on the cartooning business and the importance of free speech.


One of the most constructive things I read was a profile about the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists themselves, which a friend of mine wrote for the German magazine Der Spiegel. The article pointed out that Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Bernard Verlhac, whose pen name was Tignous, was a member of the organization "Cartooning For Peace." While his drawings were often controversial, skewering former president Sarkozy as well as those in clerical positions, Tignous clearly wanted his cartooning to be a positive social force. "If I knew that each of my drawings could prevent a kidnapping or murder, or remove a landmine, then I would not sleep anymore and would only draw," he said (my translation).


Cartooning, as Ted pointed out, takes courage. Not just to tackle difficult subjects using artwork, words and symbols, but also to share those cartoons with the public. I'd like to thank our cartoonists (and others across the world) for their efforts, and remind them that we deeply believe in what they are doing. Keep up the good work. In the words of Lio/Heart of the City cartoonist Mark Tatulli, who I corresponded with this morning, "It's a weird world, my friend. Stay safe and be not afraid! 



December 18, 2014

It's funny cause it's "truth"

When Jack Nicholson shouted "You can't handle the truth!" to Tom Cruise in the 1992 film "A Few Good Men," moviegoers were greatly moved by the intensity of the scene. If the same line was delivered today, however, Tom Cruise might instead say: "Actually, I've found a very concise and hilarious vehicle for delivering me the truth, one panel at a time. It's called Truth Facts and you can read it every day on!"




Truth Facts is brought to you by the same Danish masterminds that created WuMo. It turns the fabric of our social decorum into swiss cheese-cloth, not just reading between the lines but translating what's written there into witty, irreverent observations that fit perfectly into stylish graphs, charts and pictograms. People who have already been reading Truth Facts might have noticed that the strip hadn't updated in a few weeks, but after working out a couple of kinks in the production pipeline, it's been restored to its once-a-day glory.




Below (and above) are a few highlights from the past month. But I highly recommend starting with today's strip and working your way all the way to its launch earlier in the year.







November 26, 2014

Comical Appetizers



When this WuMo ran a couple of weeks ago, we had a couple of client papers pull it in advance. They didn't like the idea of a baby getting hit by a truck. Neither do we, of course. But I personally thought the WuMo guys did a great job of making a wry point about people's obsession with their cell phones. When I take my kids to a park there's always one or two parents who don't look up from their phones the whole time. The beauty of the comics is that even when depicting — or hinting at — a gruesome situation, you can still make a point and no one gets hurt. As one commenter put it, "it's funny because it's true."



The Doonesbury Sunday series of Zipper's legal pot growing business continues to be outstanding. It's a topic you won't see anyone tackle on the printed funny pages, or probably anywhere else, at least not at this level of quality. With more states expected to put legalization measures on the ballots in 2016, this pioneering saga will only have more and more relevance.




There are a lot of remarkable things about this two-part sequence from The Quixote Syndrome. For one, this has got to be the most prominent featuring of male anatomy anywhere on GoComics, much less in a dismembered state. For another, the story is all true. Read part 2 / The Prequel here.





My favorite line of the entire month (in addition to the afore-linked "You stole my penis!") has to be "I know you've heard of history's greatest master. His name was Mister Pringles." Read more Basic Instructions here.




Poncho has an amazing imagination. And so does Pooch Cafe creator Paul Gilligan.


Have a great Thanksgiving, folks, and stay tuned for more blog goodness all weekend long.

November 04, 2014

Election Day funnies

Here at GoComics, we have a strong social conscience. And today that conscience is telling us to remind everyone to get out and vote. While you're waiting in line to pull the ballot, check out all of these Election Day comics right here in this handy, dandy compendium. Happy voting!



Fritzi and Nancy voted!



A touch of cynicism from Momma



The polls are on fire in Brewster Rockit



The strange afterlife of "Congressguys" discussed on Real Life Adventures



Goober, Block and Tonto: honest fools running for office in today's Baldo


Here are some more Election Day offerings from GoComics political cartoonists:


Stuart Carlson



Bob Gorrell



Jeff Stahler



Jerry Holbert



A good note to end on, from Chris Britt

October 30, 2014

Baseball hangover



We don't exactly have giddy grins on our faces this morning in Kansas City (far from it, in fact), but we can all agree that this MLB postseason was an exciting one. Now, if I could only stop replaying the last inning in my head...


Read more Win, Lose or Drew toons right here on GoComics.

October 09, 2014

Drabble drama: Home Run Blues + Exile from Pumpkinland



Drabble is often described as a family strip, a safe and pleasant feature that readers of all ages rely on for its relatable humor and consistent chuckles. But in reality, Drabble is often a vehicle for some pretty intense moments of drama and conflict. Last month, for example, Norm found himself in a pretty rough pickle while seated at the outfield of a Major League Baseball game (click here to jump to the beginning of that storyline). I thought of this while walking around the outfield at a recent Royal's playoff game vs. the Angels.




Albert Pujols, who had been mostly quiet in the first 2.5 games of the series, drove a deep ball back to left center that you could tell pretty quickly was gone. The home run cut the Royals' lead to 5-2, and the crowd quieted as Phat Al rounded the bases. Moments later, though, a chorus of cheers rang out from the home crowd. Someone had thrown the home run ball back onto the field — a hilariously defiant gesture that pretty much says "take your home run and stuff it." Once again, life had imitated Drabble.


The Royals went on to win that game and are now facing Baltimore in the American League Championship Series. If you read on to the conclusion of the Drabble story, you'll find a pretty satisfying conclusion as well. But the Drabble drama is far from over, as you'll see from today's strip (below).




Banned from Pumpkinland!?! You're going to have to stay tooned to see how this one plays out. Until then, enjoy the playoffs, and don't forget to read your daily Drabble.

September 23, 2014

I likea Ikea

When I hear the word Sweden, three things come to mind: Swedish Chef, Swedish Fish, and the films of Ingmar Bergman. But recently, I have learned there is a fourth thing: Ikea! That's right -- the Swedish furniture superstore opened up a location here in the Kansas provinces last week, and since then my family has purchased a couple of classy diaper bins and several hundred meatballs.


As anyone who has purchased larger items at Ikea knows, however, the company cuts back on costs by leaving much of the assembly to the buyer. I experienced this with a baby crib a couple of years ago, but it was fairly intuitive. Some of these other products, however, are not so easy, as illustrated by WuMo:





Argyle Sweater has a great take on this as well:



If only it were so easy. I don't have a third comic today, but to keep in accordance with the rule of threes, here's a nice parting shot of this guy:





Happy shopping, Kansas City! And if you make a date with Ikea, don't forget to follow the arrows.

September 10, 2014


Since being introduced to American newspapers in fall 2013, WuMo has been picked up by over 350 publications and media outlets. A longtime favorite in Europe, WuMo's sharp humor, social irreverence and general hilarity have made it a fan favorite here as well. Writer Mikael Wulff and illustrator Anders Morgenthaler are willing to skewer just about any topic, and though not all of their gags make it into print, WuMo never loses its edgy spirit. Below are a dozen of my recent favorites. You'd be hard-pressed to find anything on the funny pages with this level of artistic detail and startled, bug-eyed expressions, to say nothing of the offbeat humor and subtle — or stinging —  social commentary. Enjoy!



































Read more WuMo comics every day right here at GoComics!

August 20, 2014

To be young, gifted and opinionated

Though I often think of GoComics as a happy place I can go to read comics and escape the world's insanity, it's also a great destination to get a little perspective and a dry, humorous outlook on many of the big stories and issues currently setting our world aflame. The GoComics Editorial roster includes Pulitzer Prize winners and heavyweights like Pat Oliphant, Tom Toles and Signe Wilkinson, but I often find myself turning to some of the younger voices for both unconventional styles and an extra degree of outrage.


Here's a smattering of recent offerings from three of my favorites, starting with this trio from Darrin Bell.








And from Matt Bors...








and from Jen Sorensen





August 13, 2014

The Saurus is my favorite dinosaur



If this were an actual trap, I would have been caught. Most of my colleagues would have been, too. English majors (and copy editors) like me really can't resist wanting to reach into the screen to grab the erroneous "you're," pluck out the apostrophe like an errant eyebrow hair, hack off the "e" and squish it all back together. We do it every day, less out of pedantry than compulsion.


My only question with this "Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal" is who is hunting English majors, and why? Are these flannel-clad men job hunters? Sensitive chaps who want to corral free ghostwriting and proofreading skills for the autobiographies they've always wanted to write but haven't ever felt confident enough to do so? We'll probably never know. But that little bit of mystery, combined with the epic levels of sugary whimsy found in every SMBC, is what keeps me reading.


As for the whole grammar/spelling stickler thing, I can't promise us English majors are going to tone it down any. Not while Deer Jesus is still out there, anyway...




August 05, 2014

Finny Business

While Danish humorists Anders and Morgenthaler have made a huge splash in papers this past year with WuMo, another Scandinavian comic has been quietly garnering chuckles on GoComics for several years now. Viivi & Wagner, a lovely black and white strip by Finnish cartoonist Jussi "Juba" Tuomola, follows the odd-couple relationship of a human lady (Viivi) and her porcine paramour/roommate (Wagner).




Viivi & Wagner started out as a feature for children in the magazine Kultapossu, with Viivi as a small girl and Wagner a talking piggy bank, but it eventually evolved into the more adult-oriented strip you see today. Wagner is a little bit off-color,  with Viivi offering a sensible, sardonic counter-punch, but it's the pig's utter laziness that I wanted to focus on today.







Lazy-Ass magazine... now that sounds like a publication I'd be qualified to write for. Just ask my colleagues. (Actually, no... don't ask them that. That might not be good.)


One of my favorite things about Viivi & Wagner, in addition to the fantastic line-art and clever, humorous set-ups, is that the comic strip even inspired a brand of beer in Finland.




If I ever make it over to Helsinki, someone better hook me up!

Enjoy more Viivi & Wagner here.

July 23, 2014

stretching the comics canvas

If you've been reading GoComics for a few years, you've likely noticed an explosion in new offerings on our A to Z listing. While single-panel toons and three- or four-panel funnies have long made up the traditional core of our content, some of the more recent additions require some serious scrolling and a bit of in-depth reading. While there will always be lame-o's who type "TLDNR" on anything over 140 characters, many others (like me) are delighted to see artists stretch the form to include literature, inspirational quotes, history and storytelling.


Today I'd like to spotlight three examples of GoComics cartoonists who work on a wide canvas, but I'd welcome any other suggestions in the comments. Let's start with a peek at Zen Pencils, by Australian artist Gavin Aung Than.


There you have it... a scarily honest yet wonderfully poignant sentiment by Sylvia Plath captured in artwork. I love the arrangement of the words beside the falling figs. It's like a bit of concrete poetry in a graphic novel. Zen Pencils is as remarkable for its diversity of artistic styles as it is the wide range of source material. It's consistently inspirational and always fun to read.


If you're headed to San Diego Comic Con this weekend, stop by the Andrews McMeel Publishing/GoComics booth (#1503) on Friday 3.30-4.30pm and on Sunday 12.30-1.30pm to meet Gavin and see some examples of his upcoming book.





Peter Mann, the artist and writer of The Quixote Syndrome, teaches in the Humanities program at Stanford University, where he occasionally uses these comics as teaching materials. The above illustration from last week presents a Franz Kafka parable in its entirety, with artwork that drives home the disorientation and reminds us how "Kafkaesque" came into the commen lexicon. You'll need to enlarge it to keep from squinting, but its well worth your while. Catch more Quixote Syndrome here.





Eleri Mai Harris, of Eleri Mai Harris Cartoons, has been doing a great series about American history and civic identity, including this strip from earlier in the year depicting the Solidarity Singers of Madison, Wisconsin. I visited Madison over the weekend, and though I didn't make it into the State House in time to hear the 11:00 a.m. singing protest, I did hear a couple of the Solidarity Singers sharing their message outside the State House at the weekly farmer's market. Check out more of her recent large-format cartoons on GoComics.

July 01, 2014

Ripley's: Sometimes you have to see it to believe



Ripley's Believe it Or Not, an illustrated feature that runs daily on GoComics, presents so many interesting facts, historical trivia and fascinating people that you almost have to remind yourself that they're real (although technically the title does give one the option of doubt, the fact-checkers dept. hasn't found any spurious claims yet).


One aspect of the feature that makes the informational tidbits really stand out is the artwork, which are pencil and ink drawings based on a variety of sources including historical photos, news reports, medical and biology textbooks — just about anything you can think of. Many of the images are of ordinary people with extraordinary stories, such as Miss Mena the fire eater. Last week, after North Carolina-based photographer Lisa D. Johnson recognized one of her subjects in the Jan. 4 Ripley's panel above, we asked her to share her original photo of Miss Mena so we could give readers a window into Ripley's rendering process and highlight Lisa's photography work.



To see more of Lisa's images, visit her website. To read more Ripley's, head on over to GoComics and add it to your daily reads.

June 24, 2014

Adam @ 30



Like so many others, I've grown up with Adam@Home. When I first read it in the Kansas City Star in the '80s, I was a kid who enjoyed Clayton and Katy's sense of mischief and Adam's interest in computers (we had a spiffy Apple IIGS at the time). These days, as a sleep-deprived parent with perpetually disheveled hair and an ever-present mug of coffee in front of his MacBook, I can identify much better with Adam himself. Hard-working Laura's skepticism and dry sense of humor keeps the rest of the family in check, while baby Nick makes everyone smile without needing to say a word.



While the artwork and color in Adam@Home has always bounced right off the page, it's really Brian Basset's (and now Rob Harrell's) writing that sets it apart from other family strips. Adam@Home is full of goofy ideas and little details, seamlessly incorporating over-the-top humor into everyday settings. Even better, the characters seem to genuinely like each other, giving the strip a warmth and charm that you won't find on television or even many other places on the funny pages.




Recently I've found myself going back through the archives on GoComics (available from 1995 on) and appreciating how much humor and weirdness Bassett was able to wring from what looks on the surface like a very ordinary suburban life. The settings in Adam@Home were always fairly normative (manicured lawns, stucco houses, streets and drive-thrus lined with minivans), but the characters' wry observations and overactive imaginations made it clear that these neighborhoods were actually made up of quirky, whimsical individuals like the Newtons. It's a strip that promotes individuality by gently lampooning the universal.




While as a younger person I mostly read Adam as a good-natured spoof of the middle-class family life, I now view it as a healthy way of retaining one's sense of humor in the face of growing older. The beauty of this (and other) comics is that they all mean different things to different people, and without a doubt Adam@Home has left — and continues to leave — a lasting impression on many thousands of readers each day.



So before you dive into your favorite Adam@Home book collection or dig into the GoComics archives, please join me in raising a hefty mug of hot coffee in a birthday salute to one of the funny pages' true originals. Happy 30th, Adam!




Subscribe to Adam@Home here!



Visit R.C. Harvey's Blog



Powered by TypePad