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Eric: The Daily Comics Trawl: Mycomicspage.com

Time for another ambling walk down my daily comics reading. You know from earlier trawls that usually I set a block of comics up as a series of tabs in Safari, so they download more or less at once and let me breeze through them. Well, thanks to the the combined power of the Internet and money, I have a different option for many of the newspaper strips I follow.

My Comics Page is connected to uComics, which is one of several sites the newspaper comics syndicates 'syndicate' their comics through. Like most of these sites, about a month's worth of comics are available for many of their offerings. However, for twelve bucks a year, you can also aggregate all the strips you want to read on a single page, plus get access to a number of special strips -- including some people are usually willing to kill their pets to get access to, like Bloom County. And, what makes it all exciting for a continuity nut like me, massive access to archives.

Here's what I'm currently reading through the site. Note that Garfield and Cathy are both also available, should you choose to want to read them. I elected not to, after checking to see if Garfield did in fact still like lasagna that Cathy feels makes her fat. Clearly, they should get a room and be done with it.

  • Annie, by Jay Maeder and Alan Kupperberg. The little orphan keeps on chugging along. I don't read this strip for nostalgia, though. Not even for the musical, which like pretty much anyone else whose family visited New York City in the late Seventies I had to see. I also saw A Chorus Line, the Pirates of Penzance, Non Pasquale (sic -- it was a Shakespeare in the Park thing only without the Shakespeare), Ariadne Auf Naxos, The Marriage of Figaro, Der Rosenkavilier and Regis Philban wandering the streets, on various other trips. Most of those don't have a comic strip, though. I read Annie because it's totally batshit crazy. Seriously. Often right wing to the point where the Minnesota Militia thinks its overdone, with a paranoid streak a mile wide and a willingness to let an eight year old be kidnapped twenty-seven times a year. Also, a small inventor boy named Tom had an airship, which led to his being thrown into a North Korean Prison for months, while Daddy Warbucks went undercover with the C.I.A. so he could punch Arabs in Ratznestistan after 9/11, leaving an exact body double to run his billionaire's empire from the city they built as a tax shelter on the Yucatan Peninsula. I didn't make any of that up. I will read this comic strip for the rest of my natural life, damn it. Oh, and recently Annie got amnesia in an airplane crash and was taken in by a clear satire of The Phantom, who is running around Canada shooting at innocent people because he thinks they're terrorists. He's systematically broken her already confused mind, so now she wears the uniform of the Junior Commando shouting "Death to spies! Death to spies!" in a brainwashed stupor. And they wonder if Sinfest is safe for kids to read.
  • Andy Capp, by 'Reg Smythe.' I put Reg Smythe in quotes because the original Reg Smythe, who wrote and drew Andy Capp from 1957 until the day of his death in 1998, obviously isn't doing the strip any longer. His signature is still put on the strip, however, which implies there's a Cartoonist Lich out there. Or that the creator of Andy Capp managed to put off actually leaving this mortal coil, which is a particularly Andy Cappish thought. Ahhh, Andy Capp. As Homer Simpson once said, "oh you wife beating drunk!"
  • Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson. The depth of archives they're making available for this strip is incredible, and each day we get the next strip in the sequence. We live in the finest of all possible worlds. Except, you know, we don't. If I have to explain why I read Calvin and Hobbes to you, give up webcomics. You don't get it.
  • Dick Tracy, by Dick Locher and Michael Killian. Like Annie, this has been in continuous production since the forties. Also like Annie, this strip makes those people who think the newspaper syndicates only produce bland, inoffensive fair out to be complete liars. Filled with grotesque criminals and hideous crimes, generally solved by someone dying in a horrible, yet ironic way. Not too long ago, one of Dick's friends left the bad guy to be eaten alive by starving pigs. God, I love the American Newspaper.
  • Doonesbury, by Garry Trudeau. This links to the Slate home of Doonesbury, but My Comics Page is better, because... well, it's got it all. All. Over thirty years of Doonesbury. And it's searchable. Want to see the series of strips Trudeau wrote about John Kerry during Vietnam? It's in there....
  • For Better or For Worse, by Lynn Johnston. Another strip that makes people who point at Garfield and Blondie and swear that newspapers are hollow mockeries and that they keep the real talents down look downright delusional. A strip that brings the Story to an admittedly obsessive degree, For Better and For Worse is gentle, but not unflinching. Pets die, kids grow up, trusted employees turn out to be petty crooks, and one of the major characters flies off to the Northwest Territories to teach. Lynn Johnston has much to teach you, young one. She has knowledge to impart, of the dark arts of layout and pacing, of linework and shading, of denouement that she sets up twenty years in advance. Respect her power, and learn her lessons well.
  • FoxTrot, by Bill Amend. This, on the other hand, is the closest to a straight webcomic as you find on the newspaper's page. Gag a day, but generally pretty good, and not afraid to embrace Geek-fu.
  • Helen, Sweetheart of the Internet, by Peter Zale. Ballyhooed for years as the success story of webcomics, back from the days when everyone thought success meant graduating from the website to the syndicate. I read it because I feel like I should, though it's weaker than many other strips on my Mycomicspage. It lost some edge in the translation, but it tries, and if it suffers from not quite emerging from the late nineties geek strip, it also holds to its course.
  • Liberty Meadows, by Frank Cho. The rockstar of the last few years, but like so many before it, Cho decided he'd be better off going wholly for comic books. In the meantime, the archives are filling out and will eventually have the complete Liberty Meadows, and that's a perfectly good thing.
  • Non Sequitur, by Wiley Miller. I have no freaking idea why I read this, but I chuckle sometimes.
  • Overboard, by Chip Dunham. I freaking love Overboard. While it's not as strong as its early days, it retains its charms -- the charms of a pack of pirates who genuinely don't like each other and are unafraid to show it. Not unlike Dilbert in its choice of workplace humor, save that the workplace has swords and cannons and Overboard is actually funny. Which you see, makes it not like Dilbert, which is not.
  • The Boondocks, by Aaron McGruder. Yeah. Keep telling yourself Sinfest didn't get picked up by the syndicates because it was too real, man. Keep telling yourself the syndicates just want The Wizard of Id. Keep telling yourself that, man. But whatever you do, don't read the Boondocks, because it's going to kick your ass. Hard.
  • Shoe, by Chris Cassatt and Gary Brookins. When Doonesbury went on hiatus back at the end of the seventies, beginning of the eighties, two things happened in The Bangor Daily News which was the paper my family got every day. First, Shoe moved to Doonesbury's spot on the Editorial Page for the duration. Then, Bloom County got Shoe's spot on the Comics Page. As a result, I have always felt Shoe is special. So, I keep reading it now. I don't ask you to understand. Just accept.
  • Tom the Dancing Bug, by Ruben Bolling. An independent strip of considerable skill. Willing to tear into its subjects with all the verve of Tom Tomorrow's This Modern World, but always -- always -- bringing the Funny.
  • Bloom County, by Berkeley Breathed. They do six strips one day, then a Sunday strip the next. They're building the complete archives, which will then sit there. Twelve bucks a year, people, and you get all of Bloom County, eventually. And pick up all that's there now. Including early strips that frankly I've never seen in any compilation. (They did a lot more with the major than I remembered. What do I have to say -- it's Bloom Fucking County!
  • Too Much Coffee Man, by Shannon Wheeler. I'm still new to this strip. It's weird, but fun. I'm groking it slowly.
  • The Academia Waltz, by Berkeley Breathed. Another one they did one strip a day of until the whole archives got loaded into the machine. They're there now. These are the strips Berke Breathed did in the seventies, while a college student. They're a very different style than Bloom County, and much rougher (in many ways). It's a very different take on Steve Dallas, who is the star, and his friends. One of whom, Saigon John, turns into Bloom County's Cutter John after getting a haircut and clear mediciation. Respect the power of the Izod.
  • Waylay, by Carol Lay. I've adored Carol Lay's work since first reading Story Minute. She doesn't update that often these days (or at least it doesn't get put onto My Comics Page), but it makes me happy whenever it does show up. Carol Lay is one of the best of the independent newspaper cartoonists. Drink deep of her work.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at August 27, 2004 7:14 PM

Comments

Comment from: mckenzee posted at October 14, 2004 5:37 PM

hey, not sure if you know, but Shannon Wheeler has an LJ, username tmcm. He sometimes tests strips there before syndication.

Comment from: theliel posted at September 26, 2005 5:05 PM

Just a short note, boondocks got picked up by Cartoon Network for Adult Swim.

Look for the premiere sometime in Octobre, but I think he's hit the big time if he can pull it off.

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