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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!

June 17, 2014

Ice Cream, Gingerbread & Comics



As the inimitable Wallace Stevens once wrote, "The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream." Lio came close to attaining this majestic title in a strip from earlier in the month. I like that instead of just devouring the sundae, he decided to enjoy it a little bit with a Winter Olympics-worthy slalom.

Equally amusing was today's WuMo (below) in which an anthropomorphized Gingerbread Man shares his secrets to success.




You really have to love the delicious (sur)reality of the comics page, especially in the summer time.


As a scrumptious bonus, here are links to a couple of amazing ice cream recipes from Germany which I've been working tirelessly to perfect and introduce to the domestic market: The "Eiskaffee" (ice cream coffee float) and the even more exotic "Spaghettieis." Guaranteed to make your summer 73% cooler. 

May 30, 2014

Todd Clark's "Ice Cream Kid" hits shelves next week



The San Francisco Gate ran a cool feature on Lola creator Todd Clark last week, including some interesting backstory of the strip and the process of creating it. Also discussed in the article is the AMP for Kids title The Ice Cream Kid: Brain Freeze!which comes out next week.


From the article:


"Years and years ago, I had this thought 'Well, what if something happened when you got a brain freeze?' So I thought about like temporary powers or something. So the Ice Cream Kid is a fourth-grade boy whose name is Irwin Snackcracker. And he finds one day, when he bites into an ice cream, that he gets these temporary superpowers. Each ice cream gets him a different one, a different little power."


Some of Irwin's powers include super speed and the ability to talk to animals, which come in handy when he has to battle a villainous lunch lady.


"I'm very excited about it," Clark said. "And hopefully there'll be more. We've already had talks about the next book and the next."

May 13, 2014

Oscar and Arthur, circa 1882

Here in Kansas City, home of GoComics HQ, everyone knows that barbecue is a big deal. So big, in fact, that there are an estimated 715 accepted spellings of the word (barbecue, bar-b-q, barbeque, etc). One fact that isn't widely known about Kansas City, however, is that author Oscar Wilde visited on a speaking tour back in 1882.


Illustrator Peter Gordon Mann (whose new feature, The Quixote Syndrome, is a recent addition to GoComics) playfully combines these two facts in an imaginative work of speculation about what that visit to Kansas City might have been like for Mr. Wilde. Check out part I here and follow the link below to reach the second installment.




Read part II of "The Wilde Days of Kansas City" here.

May 07, 2014

WuMo retraction



Although I generally don't apologize for our comics, once in a great while we'll spot something that we wish we could do over (or, in this case, not do at all). Such was the case with Wednesday's WuMo. While on the surface an innocuous joke about how people with fair skin might be camofluaged in the snow, several people have pointed out that this visual gag essentially picks on people for their skin color — "no different than calling someone a derogatory racial term," as one caller told me.


As the editor of this feature, I should have been more sensitive to the fact that albinism is a condition that affects 1 in every 17,000 people worldwide. I'm sure most of them don't appreciate anyone cracking wise at their expense, and I apologize for not better taking their feelings into account. Good humor tends to walk a fine line between tasteful and insensitive, and we don't always get it right.


To those of you who reached out, thanks for sharing your perspective and know that we'll be doing our best to make sure our features don't unfairly single people out for how they look.




your friendly comics editor, Lucas Wetzel

Hog Heaven



I've seen this Brevity panel racing around the funny webs, and I've just got to say — well done. Sure, it's one of the dumbest jokes I've seen in a while. But what a glorious image.

I'm also curious how other readers interpreted the woman's reaction. To me, she seems taken aback but not necessarily displeased that she's seated on a bounding magic swine rather than half a ton of chrome and steel.

One thing I know is the next time I get cut off by a cavalcade of large leather-clad men on "hogs" — whether here in Kansas City, in the Black Hills or on some small-town stretch of Arkansas — I'll only have to think of this panel to adopt a more sympathetic, slightly humorous view of bikers.

April 16, 2014

Armed, dangerous, helpless

In recent years, the Tyrant Lizard has met its comeuppance — at least in the comics pages. I'm not sure exactly when the "look at the dangerous dinosaur with the funny little arms!" meme started, but I've seen some doozies. Most of them have been on the Web, with the T-Rex facing difficulty with everything from push-ups to self-gratification. GoComics has seen some winners as well, like this Brevity from 2011




Mark Parisi of "Off The Mark" had a pretty good one here back in 2010. More recently, the opening week of WuMo (in syndicated form — the strip itself has been thriving for a decade online) saw T-Rex in one of his most pathetic poses yet. 




To me, this was really the gold standard of "T-Rex with tiny arms" gags, far surpassing any of the indie-t-shirt offerings that sprout like weeds on the sidebars of the junk news sites I visit each day. It requires no words, and the expression on his face and the motion blur of his little left arm make us feel sorry for him even as we laugh at his plight. It could have easily been the last word in the conversation, but for good measure, Comics Sherpa standout "Rogue Symmetry" recently dealt the meme another blow (while simultaneously scoring laughs) in this now-viral panel




Good stuff. And a good point. But I somehow doubt we've seen the last of the simultaneously fearsome and helpless tiny-armed dino. Why? Not just because it's funny, but because of what the fearsome T-Rex with the pitiful arms symbolizes: 




Humans can erect huge cities, fly all over the earth and into space, harness the power of the atom and instantaneously connect to people all over the globe. But when it comes to halting or reversing the effects of climate change, removing harmful chemicals from our food supply, or achieving peace between nations (or on our own streets), human beings are as helpless as a T-Rex reaching for a roll of toilet paper. 

Does that sound a little overly cynical? Perhaps. Surely there is plenty of laugh at about humanity that will eventually be parodied in hilarious detail by whatever life forms inherit the planet after it's done with us. But since that might take another 65 million years, I'll just keep on enjoying these T-Rex comics while we have them. 

April 08, 2014

All The Nothing


Comic strips are like little windows outside of time in which events, conversations and jokes unfold in a rhythm untroubled by the pressures of our daily lives. Whether we're reading them at breakfast just before school or work, on our phones while hunched on the bus, or while sitting lazily on the couch, comics momentarily alter the way we experience time. An action sequence or dialogue that might take just a few minutes in real life feels natural stretched out over 6 or 7 days in the funny pages. We enjoy existing in that world a little bit at a time, as if we are distant yet nosy friends of the characters themselves.

So it's especially fun to read comics on a mellow Saturday morning, when there really isn't much else that needs to be done.  I especially liked the above "Heart of the City," which pays tribute to weekend inertia. My activities this past Saturday a.m.  — drinking coffee, playing with our daughter and basically doing a whole lot of nothing — matched up almost perfectly with the strip itself. (Though I did succeed in watching the entire 1987 classic "Can't Buy Me Love" on ABC Family, a film I imagine Heart would enjoy as well).

Even aside from those similarities, I thought Heart's words in the last panel contained an important message to make the most of the moments when the ordinary pressures of life aren't weighing you down. Do-nothing Saturday mornings are a special time, and we can often make the most of them by (somewhat parodoxically) doing nothing.

And when it comes to finding a little bit of escape during the rest of the week, we can always read the comics.


April 02, 2014

"Stripped," pre-visited

I'm excited to see the new documentary, "Stripped," and will probably purchase it on iTunes unless I can wait until the showing at the Kansas City Film Festival next week. I can tell just by looking at the trailer that the film is going to prompt some interesting discussion.

Take, for example, the remark by Chris Hastings that "it's actually about independent artists vs. artists working for a corporation."

(Hastings draws the enormously popular and original Dr. McNinja, which combines the visual impact of a classic action comic book with the offbeat humor and quirky sensibility of a webcomic. I have a signed copy of "The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Vol. 1" and am a big fan.)

Chris's statement places cartoonists into two camps, print/syndication vs. web/self-syndication, and hints at a struggle between old and new; aka the little guy vs. the "big corporation." A rousing and familiar narrative, to be sure, but is it really that cut and dry? Do all newspaper cartoonists sit in an office building and slave away at their comics while smug guys in suits siphen away the proceeds, while on the other side of town hip, young dudes and ladies kick back in a loft space, draw their strip whenever they please, upload to the web and watch the money roll in?

Not exactly...

In both cases, the artists operate as individuals, working from home, a studio, or on the road, and keeping their own schedule. The difference between a syndicated cartoonist and a web cartoonist is that the syndicated cartoonist makes a business arrangement with the syndicate, hiring them to create sales kits and marketing materials, personally present it to newspaper editors and publishers with whom they have relationships, bill clients for their costs, promote the strip, negotiate book and calendar deals, identify licensing possibilities, handle permissions queries, introduce the strip to international clients/partners, handle processing and distribution of the files themselves, and answer client questions, sales queries, media requests, etc.


The cartoonist, meanwhile, is (ideally) able to focus on writing and drawing the strip itself, though of course they do have input and awareness of the other aspects as well.

Web cartoonists, on the other hand, are responsible for all aspects of their property, including writing/illustrating/publishing the strip, marketing and promoting it, and creating products such as books, prints, t-shirts or other merch to create revenue. While it sounds like a wonderfully simple and direct model of doing business, any successful web cartoonist will tell you that it's not as easy as it looks. You have to invent a unique, entertaining, successful feature to attract an audience, create a system for creating, selling and shipping merchandise, be your own communications rep / brand ambassador / director of marketing, and probably lots of other important things that I'm leaving out.

People like Chris Hastings, the creators of PvP, Questionable Content, Penny Arcade, Hark! A Vagrant and other successful webcomics demonstrate a crazy amount of discipline and hard-work, wearing many different hats in order to run what amount to successful, multi-faceted businesses. But not every cartoonist is interested in or capable of running that kind of an operation, especially when they've got daily deadlines to meet.

When I talked with former Universal Uclick president Lee Salem, editor of Doonesbury, Calvin & Hobbes and others, about how cartooning has changed in his career, he said he believed gatekeepers still have a role to play. The Web is wide open to anyone with a unique voice and a specific concept, but when it comes to identifying the kinds of features that might resonate with a wide audience, syndicates are in an extraordinarily good position to help the cartoonist reach those audiences. If Calvin was just starting out today, Salem said, he believes Bill Watterson would still work with a syndicate.

As for what the future holds for cartooning, I certainly don't have any more answers than the next guy. Newspapers look like they'll be around for a while yet, yet it's undeniable that most of the new, interesting, fun stuff to read is found exclusively on the web — free of the language, content and space restrictions of traditional newspaper strips.

Our flagship site, GoComics, manages to merge the best of both worlds, with syndicated strips running alongside independent creators who benefit from GoComics' visiblity and reach in order to develop their own voices, audiences and brands. It's a great starting point (and daily destination) for someone who wants to get started exploring comics on the web. But of course there's an abundance of comics worth exploring all over the web.

So, that's a bit of initial rhapsodizing heading into my first viewing of "Stripped" ... The only thing I know for sure is that syndicates wouldn't be here if it weren't for the incredible gifts and talents of our cartoonists. I also believe that truly unique writing paired with original art will always manage to find an audience, whether online or in print. Beyond that, it's anybody's guess what the future of cartooning holds.


I commend the directors of "Stripped" for their efforts in presenting such a well-researched conversation about the comics biz, and I look forward to hearing others' experiences and ideas as well.


 — Lucas

(More an informative preview of the film and its content, check out this write-up on boingboing)



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