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Eric: And while I'm dreaming, I'd like to win the lottery.

So, I'm pointed over to B.C. earlier today. Which isn't a stop I usually make. Once upon a time, B.C. was a cheerfully surreal (and even somewhat countercultural) addition to the comic strip ranks. That time passed. These days, B.C. is... not so good.

But, B.C. is contributing to a pretty special event -- a three month storyline that is celebrating Blondie's seventy-fifth anniversary on the comics page.

I'd link to the strip in question, but the Comics.com version is being... unkind. And Mycomicpage's version is by subscription. So I'll spoil it.

See, the cameos are starting in other strips. Blondie characters have been showing up in strips ranging from Rose is Rose to Garfield delivering invitations to the festivities. (It's worth noting these invitations are being delivered across syndicate lines -- I've identified participants from both United Features and King Features, and I suspect there are others involved too.)

Now, it's one thing for Dagwood to show up at Jon Arbuckle's house. I mean, they're both pretty cartoony strips. It's another to have someone show up in For Better or For Worse, which is a much more serious and 'lifelike' strip. But we'll see how that goes. But how in God's name (no pun intended) do you have a Blondie character show up in B.C.? I mean, it's supposedly in the time before Christ (not that the cavemen remember that). Either Dagwood has to show up in an animal skin, or else he's got to show up in civilian clothes and it's The Village all over again.

(Actually, I'd pay good money for the cavemen of B.C. to be living in a sheltered and isolated community cut off from the rest of the world, only to have a helicopter crash land or something. But then, someone might think that was another backhanded knock on Johnny Hart's zealous religious convictions, and hey -- would I do that?)

But they pulled it off. In it, the turtle and bird combination are delivering mail. And struggling to get on schedule. They just barely manage it when POW! They're bowled over, letters everywhere. Chaos reigns. And we pull back and hey -- the Mailbox they're next to reads Bumstead. A subtle joke. From Johnny Hart. I suspect space aliens.

In any case, that's cool. And it's cool that a strip that launched with Blondie a wild Flapper chick in 1930 (yes, there was an era when Blondie was considered edgy) is ready to celebrate seventy-five years of mailman collisions, gigantic sandwiches, sleepings on the couch, interrupted baths, pesky neighbors, tool borrowings and guilty fourteen year old readers trying not to stare at Blondie's admittedly impressive rack.

But if I have a hope for this three month arc, it's not for good sight gags with Hagar the Horrible or the Pattersons. Or for some explanation why Daisy the dog can't speak but Grimm can. That's nothing. A flash in the pan. It's CRAZYLAND and that's just cool.

No, my hope for this three month arc is to have the one great dangling plot arc of Blondie's existence to be resolved. I'm hoping... for reconciliation between Dagwood, Blondie... and the Bumstead family.

Flash back to the 1930's. Blondie is a poor but wild flapper. Dagwood Bumstead, on the other hand, is a lazy, gluttonous, mind bogglingly rich playboy heir to the Bumstead Family name and fortune. The Bumsteads hated Blondie -- she was, after all, poor white trash, and probably loose to boot. And tried very hard to keep Dagwood from seeing her. Finally, they were engaged to be married, and Dagwood's family put their foot down. They forbade him from seeing her. They practically put him under arrest. In desperation, Dagwood played the ultimate trump card: he went on a hunger strike.

That's right. Dagwood Bumstead loved Blondie Boopadoop (I swear I didn't make that up) so much, he gave up food.

His family relented, but presented him with an ultimatum. Either he break off the engagement... or they would disown him for marrying beneath his class.

He went through with the marriage. His family threw him out. To survive, he went to work for Julius Caeser Dithers at the J.C. Dithers Construction Company, and the rest is history. (In fact, many of the most common tropes of Dagwood's behavior are holdovers from his days of wealth. His archaic business suit. His falling asleep at the job -- he wasn't used to working when he began, so he just took naps when he got tired. His odd closeness with Mr. Dithers's wealthy wife.

The actual change of strip happened because of the change of tastes on the comics page. Blondie premiered during the Depression, after all, and there was just so long a strip about a very 1920's flapper would remain popular. (Blondie had multiple boyfriends at the time. Dagwood was just one of them.) The storyline let them transition to strip about a poor family trying to make ends meet with a tyrannical boss browbeating Dagwood at a time when he wouldn't dare quit and look for other work.

But you know what? It's been thirteen presidential administrations since the Bumsteads threw Dagwood out. And Dagwood and Blondie have had two healthy children, plus Dagwood fathered that weirdass love child with a neighbor (come on. You can't tell me Elmo doesn't carry Bumstead genes. And Blondie wouldn't care, what with all the threesomes she goes in for with Herb and Tootsie Woodley). It's time for the aristocratic Bumstead family to swallow their pride, accept that their black sheep has done well for himself, and mend fences. And in the process create a whole new rush of issues. Suddenly, Dagwood could become a majority stockholder over at the Dithers Construction Company. Suddenly, Blondie's catering business could become an international concern. Suddenly, Daisy could have her pick of stud.

Now that would be an anniversary celebration.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at August 21, 2005 6:10 PM

Comments

Comment from: Nentuaby posted at August 21, 2005 7:32 PM

Eric... I think this is the geekiest Websnark post I've ever read, and that says something. :-D

Still, very interesting stuff. I had no idea Blondie had such an edgy past... Sadly, I fear there's litttle hope for any kind of return to that in modern print strips.

Hail to the alpha!

Comment from: Dave Van Domelen posted at August 21, 2005 7:50 PM

BC shifted to a post-apocalyptic world a while back. Every so often they're shown reading old (modern) books found in a cache a few years ago. They also added the Italian caveman Anno Domini to the cast about the same time.

Comment from: Wistful Dreamer posted at August 21, 2005 7:52 PM

How is it geeky?

I think Eric is right. That is the kind of thing that ought to happen, at least for those who love drama.

Of course, Blondie is not a drama strip. As Eric pointed out on his explanation of why syndicates are making a logical economic decision to hold onto dinosaurs like Blondie and Garfield instead of edgier strips (Eric feel free to link this into my post, I don't know how), Blondie brings in money by being predictable, not dramatic. It could last another 75 years because it is funny enough to justify its cost, and will never blow up like Bloom County etc.

I think the likelihood of the Bumstead clan (or any other characters the modern reader doesn't remember) showing up is about as likely as Odie's owner, Lyman, returning to Garfield or Berk Breathed's Opus cartoon featuring the return of Bobbi Harlow.

Comment from: Montykins posted at August 21, 2005 7:55 PM

That's a great idea! If a plot thread that old got tied up, the repercussions would be amazing. Suddenly, Blondie would be the Queen of Continuity!

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at August 21, 2005 7:57 PM

Dave -- ...really?

Naw. You're pulling my leg, right? You're....

...naaaaaah. You're pulling my leg. I mean....

...what about the dinosaurs?

Comment from: NevermoreRaven posted at August 21, 2005 8:04 PM

Okay, just came across this site recently and started reading your articles. Having done so I find myself confused and I have a couple of questions:

1) Are you trying to review comics and how funny they are or something? You only seem to be going on about the comedy in the comics and nothing of the actual quality of how they are written or how they are fine examples of their genre. It just seems to be a lot of complaining for either complaining's sake or because you didn't like the fact that some of your favorite comic creators wanted to branch out of more than just cheap humor to actually having intelligent literature that deserves recognition and respect.

2) What was your reasoning for deciding to start reviewing comics? The reason I ask this is you seem to think that all comics have to be funny (which, by the way, they don't) or that they are boring, annoying or innane. Eric Burns, you claim to be an english major but tear down It's Walky and trash Megatokyo? You criticize some of the greatest popular examples of how comics can be a form of high literature and simultaneously raise up crude comics (Like Penny Arcade, which is mildly amuzing, but overly crude and full of hack forumal jokes) that exist merely for stupidity, making money and gaining publicity.

I understand that it is your freedom of speech, your "right to say what you want", but you seem to have a misunderstanding of webcomics: they aren't created to ammuse you or to provdie you with entertainment. Comic creators, for the most part, don't get any monetary reward out of this. We create our comics beacuse it is a way to express ourselves that can both be expression through art AND literature. We aren't paid to do this by our viewers, so why should we create something that goes against our nature or cheapens us? I'd appreciate if you really read this post and listen to what I'm saying. Please understand that I'm not angry or "pissed" at you as you so eloquently put it, but I am a tad bit miffed. I'm not claiming I have any more right to judge anything than you: your opinion is your opinion and I respect that. I just don't understand it and don't identify with it. I recently started a comic, (on a small free host) which I would appreciate your review of, even if you decide I'm just wasting my time with it. I've pretty much said all I'm going to for now, but I'd appreciate a response even if you don't allow the comment to appear. I hope to hear from you and maybe we could talk sometime, you know, discuss different aspects of comics or something. You sound like an intelligent person that I'd like to know, I just don't agree with you on somethings.

~~Micah R. Maloney

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at August 21, 2005 8:14 PM

Hi Micah!

In order:

1. No.

2. I don't review comics.

For the record, there is a very strong distinction between comics of Story and comics of Funny on this site. We bring different expectations to the table based on those things.

And for the record, we have a reputation for being much more positive about comics than negative. All fun being poked at Blondie and B.C. aside, we only read the webcomics we like, so the vast majority of comic snarks are positive ones -- we see something a creator has done, we get excited, and we should cool! and want the world to see.

(And if you think Megatokyo's story is good -- and I'm not debating that, I'd add (the essay is called "You Had Me, and You Lost Me." Not "You Had Me And You Suck.") -- you should read College Roomies from Hell. You'll like it. A lot.)

Oh, and as for disagreeing with me on some things -- pretty much everyone who comes here disagrees with Wednesday and me on one thing or another. We're pretty cool with that.

I'd suggest going back and reading a few months of archives and getting a real sense of what the site's become. In either case -- have fun!

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at August 21, 2005 8:20 PM

Oh, for the record, I'm not an English Major. I sometimes say I am, but that's a misnomer.

I have a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. Cum Laude, if I want to be pretentious. And I so often do. ;)

So, technically, I was an English Major. Now, technically speaking, I'm a Bachelor.

Comment from: Wednesday posted at August 21, 2005 8:22 PM

It's true about the bachelor thing. I've seen his place. Paper plates and everything.

Comment from: NevermoreRaven posted at August 21, 2005 8:25 PM

Yeah, I read the article and I understand the funny part that you're talking about, but I still think the story is good. Any way, thanks for listening and I'll look at the archives when I can. Classes and all that you know. (Freshman in the English writing and literature major if you want to know.)

Comment from: TheNintenGenius posted at August 21, 2005 8:28 PM

Eric: Dave definitely isn't kidding about the post-apocalyptic thing. I remember reading somewhere (though I can't remember where so I can't actively cite sources) that Johnny Hart did indeed shift the setting into some sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland that somehow includes dinosaurs. Why he did this, I'm not sure, although I highly suspect it was because Hart was becoming increasingly irritated at people pointing out just how anachronisitic it is to have cavemen living Before Christ talking about Jesus all the time.

Of course, in my opinion, B.C. peaked ages ago (some of the compilations of really early B.C. comics are genuinely funny) and Hart's devolved into a stark raving loony using his comic as a bully's pulpit, but you know, whatever.

Comment from: Montykins posted at August 21, 2005 8:31 PM

Eric, Dave's right. When B.C. (or possibly Peter) took a walk around the world, he met Anno Domini and Conahonty, and then a few months later they found an old archive of lost books, including the Bible and a yellow pages. It happened in January 2002 according to Funny Paper: http://www.citypaper.com/comics/story.asp?id=5241

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at August 21, 2005 8:43 PM

This essay is cut-and-pasted from a newspost on my site. An attempt to edit for length failed utterly. The accompanying cartoon related to the subject.

Some observers felt that Charles M. Schulz' work deteriorated after about the midpoint of his career. I wasn't the only one, but I was one of them. In the mid 80s sometime I made myself a promise that, if I ever sold a strip to a syndicate, I'd retire after twenty-five years rather than risk what I perceived had happened with Schulz after his twenty-five year mark. I mean, if this happened to him what hope had I?

(Nowadays of course I'm doing Arthur, King of Time and Space on the web, because the only reason I specified syndication in articulating my youthful aspirations was because, then, that was the only way to get a daily cartoon distributed to the world. And, as the AKOTAS reader will recall, I've pledged to do AKOTAS for twenty-five years. It's because in the mid 80s sometime I was rereading The Once and Future King, and taking notes, and concluded that according to T.H. White twenty-five years is how long King Arthur's reign lasted. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. I dunno.)

Webcartoonist Greg Holkan commented here on Websnark once that that's a pretty crappy thing to do to one's memory of the man who is (at least according to Eric, who's probably right) the most cited influence among webcartoonists, even webcartoonists half my age, which seem to be almost all of them. "I ... feel it's ridiculous to propose that [Schulz] had a 'golden age' when his work was 'better'," Greg (inkbrush) wrote. "Like anyone dedicated to their craft, he always got better. It's just that past a certain point, most people can't tell the difference between the work of a master potter and a clay jug made on an assembly line. There's an inability to appreciate the knowledge and expertise that go into the creation of something great and complicated, and there's a great deal of arrogance that goes along with it when one presumes that they know more about a subject than someone who's been dealing with it their whole life." Greg persuaded me, particularly because I'd already been gifted with a collection of the last year of Peanuts which was pretty damn good.

Second only to Peanuts as influence and inspiration to me in my formative years was B.C. from Johnny Hart. His art was clean and his puns were art. But in the two decades between when I stopped buying every paperback collection as it hit the shelves and when I started reading B.C. on the web, Johnny Hart seems to have alienated the cartooning world - or at least the online cartooning world - by getting religion. Complaints when the subject comes up consist generally of evangelism bashing, occasionally broken up with concessions that "the strip used to be funny but isn't any more because" ... and then more evangelism bashing.

Well, B.C. still makes me laugh.

I think Hart is due some slack. I suspect he's being judged not on his work but his message, in an era when Christianity-bashing has become a socially acceptable prejudice among liberals (We gotta be spotted one, right? Right?). I note that if he keeps going just three or four more years he'll reach the fifty-year mark for drawing his strip every day all by himself. Fifty years even would beat Schulz out by eight months (the flesh was weak). If that's not a record, and if there's any other cartoonist besides Hart who's within a decade of it, I don't know it, even after consulting Shaenon Garrity.

Record-breaking or not, it's still nearly fifty years. And we online cartoonists are patting ourselves on the back because the best of us has never missed a day since ... well, 1999. Jesus Christ.

Comment from: thelemurgod posted at August 21, 2005 8:51 PM

Post-Apocalyptic?!


I never realized. That's kinda cool... but very confusing.


So, if it is Post-Apocalypse, then what exactly is BC supposed to stand for? Has anyone ever read what explaination Mr. Hart had for the use of BC?


As mentioned already, I'll also assume there is no explaination (or no good one) since the whole (B)efore (C)hrist wasn't as meaningful to Hart (B)efore (C)onversion.

Comment from: thelemurgod posted at August 21, 2005 8:53 PM

Sorry about the extra line breaks...

Comment from: Dave Van Domelen posted at August 21, 2005 8:53 PM

Micah: I review comics. :) (http://www.eyrie.org/~dvandom/Rants)

Eric: As far as I know (I don't read BC regularly anymore, got tired of the religio-political screeding), Hart has at least never made the mistake of trying to EXPLAIN the shift to post-apocalyptic setting. I mean, when Holbrook did that big arc explaining how his setting is in the far future after humanity destroyed Earth and evolved birds took animals...ah, to heck with it. I nearly dropped Kevin & Kell at that point. No explanation Hart could put forth in a 3 panel strip could possibly be worth the time and bother. Just accept that the Rapture or something akin to it happened, the world was blasted to sand and mountains, and a lot of prehistoric beasties came back.

Edit: Denied for questionable content?

Comment from: Egarwaen posted at August 21, 2005 8:58 PM

I suspect he's being judged not on his work but his message, in an era when Christianity-bashing has become a socially acceptable prejudice among liberals

Um, no. That's a Conservative Talking Point. Sorry. Nice try, though.

Christianity-bashing is no more "socially acceptable" among liberals than any other prejudice. In fact, you'll almost always find those that uniformly bash Christianity asked by other liberals to qualify or explain their remarks. Most - every one I've seen or met, at least - are actually talking about fundamentalist "Christian" extremists, those who loudly profess their adherence to a faith whose actual teachings they do not follow at all. Any modern Republican Christian falls into this category by default, or they would not be Republican. And guess what Mr. Hart is?

Got it in one.

It's not prejudice if you make an informed judgement about an individual or well-defined, self-selective group.

Comment from: Polychrome posted at August 21, 2005 8:59 PM

Maybe B.C. is set in the Xenozoic Age.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at August 21, 2005 8:59 PM

Typekey hates us all, Dave. The "Questionable Content" denial is what it regurgitates if you happen to post a comment at the exact moment someone else does.

We're highly hopeful moving to a system where the database, the hostname and the hosting account are all on the same machine, and in the same domain, plus we move to MT 3.2, will combine to make a vastly better Typekey relationship for everyone.

Comment from: thelemurgod posted at August 21, 2005 9:09 PM

are actually talking about fundamentalist "Christian" extremists, those who loudly profess their adherence to a faith whose actual teachings they do not follow at all.

Exactly!

It's the ignorance and hypocrisy of the individuals being criticized, not the entire faith.

Comment from: Dave Van Domelen posted at August 21, 2005 9:10 PM

Ah. I thought it was because I initially had "screw it" instead of "to heck with it". :)

Fsck Typekey.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at August 21, 2005 9:11 PM

Paul -- I'm very much not a Christian basher.

However, I think B.C.'s evangelism is typically ham handed and sometimes very ugly. (Menorahs turning into crosses, with the miracle of the oil being implicitly snuffed out, one light by one, struck me as downright offensive to Jews, for example.) I think it's a disservice to bash Christians based on that. I reserve my snideness for Hart himself.

Comment from: TheNintenGenius posted at August 21, 2005 9:16 PM

I don't have anything against most Christians: my girlfriend is very religious, as is most of my immediate family, and I obivously love all of them and find them all to be very reasonable, caring, loving people.

I do, however, have quite a few problems with Johnny Hart's latter-day persona. What comics I've seen that don't actively bring up his religion are still good, I will admit. The ones that do, however, usually come across as being not all that tolerant of other people's religious ideas or opinions, and at least a couple of instances where his religious zeal seems to have come across as being anti-semetic or anti-Islam have been pretty well publicized.

I might not really have much justification for my opinions, I will admit. Hart just strikes me as being a lesser Jack Chick in many ways, both very assured of his opinion and using the opportunities he's been given to try to spread it, no matter how hateful or wrong-headed it may be.

Comment from: TheNintenGenius posted at August 21, 2005 9:20 PM

And Eric makes my point in a much better fashion. I really need to learn how to express myself more clearly.

Comment from: kirabug posted at August 21, 2005 9:22 PM

BC was one of the first comics that I read as a kid - there's still a BC book from at least 15 years ago in my parents' bathroom. (Comic collections almost always make it in there as a permanent home.) In the past few years, I've found that BC makes me uncomfortable because it's too religious too often -- but it's because I'm not personally comfortable with my relationship with said deity, not because the Hart is.

I have the same problem with Nonsequiteur, which I found funny for years, but I'm no longer comfortable with Wiley's constant beating of the political drum. And yes, that's at least in part because I'm not comfortable with the government.

As for Blondie, I wonder if "marrying out of one's class" would still be viewed as something one could still justify as a reason for a family breakup like that. Dagwood and Blondie would certainly have public support, what with the "yay for the underdog" view that most of us have.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at August 21, 2005 9:41 PM

Maybe Hart crossed a line a couple of times before I started reading again. And, yeah, I indulged in a bit of hyperbole. I haven't any quarrel with opinions judging B.C. lacking on its own merits. But too many of them sound alike for me to have faith that they're all genuine.

Comment from: Egarwaen posted at August 21, 2005 9:45 PM

How does sounding alike make them any less genuine? How is it not judging BC on its own merits to read, say, Eric's analysis and go "Hey, that sound right on the money to me."

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at August 21, 2005 10:10 PM

How does sounding alike make them any less genuine? How is it not judging BC on its own merits to read, say, Eric's analysis and go "Hey, that sound right on the money to me."

Well, I'm not talking about the ones that sound like that. I'm talking about the ones that sound like, "B.C. sucks because Hart got religion." (And I think that that was obvious in context.) I'd be surprised if anyone here sounds like that, but there are people who do. It's not a genuine opinion, it's a prejudice.

Comment from: miyaa posted at August 21, 2005 10:11 PM

First of all, about the whole Blondie thing. It would be interesting to see a shift in the whole Blondie world. However, Chip Young et. al. don't make changes that easily (the whole Blondie starts a catering company was pretty much Drama in and outside the comic strip) so I'm not expecting much in the way of changes. In some respects Dagwood's business jokes with his boss are the precursor to the whole Dilbert phenomena.

I also would like to add that I find Cookie to be hot (the Bumstead's daughter).

As for B.C., I've never found B.C. to be that good, even among the Hart comics he writes. (Wizard of Id is slightly better.) So having Dagwood enter into BC's area isn't so bad. I'd probably be more curious if Dagwood or Blondie entered into serious comic strips like Rex Morgan M.D., Dick Tracy, Judge Parker or even Mary "Excuse my smugness" Worth.

Then again, how many comic strips do you know have a golf tournament on the PGA tour?

Comment from: UrsulaV posted at August 21, 2005 10:15 PM

Heh. I believe that modern B.C. should be treated much like Highlander 2, in that we should all just stick our fingers in our ears and pretend like hell that it didn't happen and not part of accepted canon (assuming anybody was out there writing B.C. fan fiction which, internet being what it is, would not surprise me.)

My father had many B.C. collections on the back of the toilet. As a child with a fairly low-capacity bladder, I thrilled to clams what gots legs, and the anteater and the ants, and water balls, etc. The modern day ones, though--well, the heavy-handed religion is off putting in the same way that I find all smug religious messages off putting, in that it seems like perfectly good characters are suddenly being handed a public service announcement and are reading it woodenly on stage, but more than that, the jokes have gone from amusing to basically flat, the attempt at topical humor is generally running about six months behind, and more and more frequently, I don't get the joke. And neither does anybody else I know. It may be hysterical in Hart's head, but he's losin' his ability to get the rest of us laughing. And I find it sad, 'cos B.C. really WAS funny at one point, so it really is a "You Had Me and You Lost Me" for me, unlike a lot of strips which were never particularly amusing in the first place.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at August 21, 2005 10:17 PM

I'd probably be more curious if Dagwood or Blondie entered into serious comic strips like Rex Morgan M.D., Dick Tracy, Judge Parker or even Mary "Excuse my smugness" Worth.

Dick Tracy is scheduled to participate. And is scheduled to get an invitation.

Comment from: thelemurgod posted at August 21, 2005 10:19 PM

(the whole Blondie starts a catering company was pretty much Drama in and outside the comic strip)

Yeah, I remember several years ago when everyone was talking about how Dagwood might quit his job. I was shocked to hear something about Blondie in mainstream news (besides the obligatory, "Blondie turns n!")

Does anyone else remember that bit of Blondie history... or am I entirely delusional?

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at August 21, 2005 10:30 PM

[M]ore and more frequently, I don't get the joke. And neither does anybody else I know. It may be hysterical in Hart's head, but he's losin' his ability to get the rest of us laughing.

I do. I see he's still got it. And I hate to think I'm the only one.

Comment from: vark posted at August 21, 2005 11:37 PM

I've enjoyed reading early blondie, in dusty tomes in the library. Any idea what the copyright deal is, or what kinda money it would take to get authorization to run the old strips? I think the strip could find a whole new readership, in college/alternative papers, or online.

I think the bumsteads lost their money awhile back.

I'm just extrapolating, no inside knowledge. Liberal (arts majors) sometimes assume that the rich keep getting richer and the poor poorer, but more typically after 3 generations it's mostly randomized.

Comment from: Snowspinner posted at August 21, 2005 11:45 PM

Wow. I knew Blondie was an old strip, but I assumed it was like Garfield or Peanuts or all those other strips whose premise was essentially unchanged in the last gazillion years.

I need to find some early Blondie now.

Comment from: TheNintenGenius posted at August 22, 2005 12:07 AM

I've seen (very) few early Blondie strips, and mostly what gets me about them is how amazingly different art-wise the comic was. It wasn't a visually arresting strip by any means, granted (I still grant that distinction to Little Nemo, which I seriously need to find some book collections of, damn it), but when you get so used to what Blondie just LOOKS like your whole life on the comics page, it knocks you for a loop.

I really should read early Blondie. It always sounds like it'd interest me.

Comment from: quiller posted at August 22, 2005 4:10 AM

Perhaps it is a post apocalypse where they have re-created dinosaurs? It's more plausible than dinosaurs in the age of early man anyways.

Comment from: JRyanBeattie posted at August 22, 2005 5:32 AM

Just a note, Mort Walker will have been doing Beetle Bailey for fifty-five years this September. Admittedly, his kids help, but that still has to count for something.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at August 22, 2005 7:20 AM

Just a note, Mort Walker will have been doing Beetle Bailey for fifty-five years this September. Admittedly, his kids help, but that still has to count for something.

And I'm pretty sure I've spotted a couple of 70s reruns among Hart's output in the time since I first composed my essay, so it evens out.

Comment from: TeleriB posted at August 22, 2005 9:18 AM

Egarwaen:

Most - every one I've seen or met, at least - are actually talking about fundamentalist "Christian" extremists, those who loudly profess their adherence to a faith whose actual teachings they do not follow at all. Any modern Republican Christian falls into this category by default, or they would not be Republican.

You are incorrect. That is a sweeping, unwarranted generalization.

It is entirely possible to adhere, in the main, to Christ's teachings (or at least, more than is implied than "not follow at all") and at the same time accept at least some of the planks of the Republican party - or reject some of the planks of the Democratic party.

Politics, like religion, is not an all-or-nothing proposition.

It is especially baffling to me that you'd say all moderate Republican Christians are, by default, extremist fundamentalists. They're moderates. Rather by definition, they're not extremists.

Comment from: gothfru posted at August 22, 2005 9:23 AM

wow. I never knew so much about Blondie! now I too feel the need to go back and read the old ones.

re BC: I have been reading the archives of something positive, and I came across this:

http://www.somethingpositive.net/sp06222003.shtml

odd little synchronicity that it's the same day I read this post...

Comment from: Egarwaen posted at August 22, 2005 10:21 AM

It is entirely possible to adhere, in the main, to Christ's teachings (or at least, more than is implied than "not follow at all") and at the same time accept at least some of the planks of the Republican party - or reject some of the planks of the Democratic party.

So which planks of the Republican party can they accept? That it's okay to kill people if you really want their stuff? That it's fine to oppress and abuse women? That people who aren't like you are less than human? That the poor should be made poorer and the rich richer?

Also, where did the Democratic party come from? I don't recall mentioning that. Why do you assume that I'm saying that any "real" Christian would have to be a Democrat? It does make my position easier to argue against, but it has nothing to do with what I actually said.

It is especially baffling to me that you'd say all moderate Republican Christians are, by default, extremist fundamentalists. They're moderates. Rather by definition, they're not extremists.

1) Read my post.

2) Read my post.

3) Could you please, maybe, read my post?

I don't use the word moderate once. It might make my position easier to argue against if I had, but I didn't.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at August 22, 2005 10:30 AM

Be careful with tone, folks. Be careful with tone.

Speaking of which, I have a high pitched whistle in my ears today. I do most mornings now.

I've talked to the doctor. Our current theory is demons.

Comment from: Egarwaen posted at August 22, 2005 10:45 AM

I've talked to the doctor. Our current theory is demons.

Have you tried holy water?

Comment from: Chris Anthony posted at August 22, 2005 11:57 AM

Also, where did the Democratic party come from? I don't recall mentioning that. Why do you assume that I'm saying that any "real" Christian would have to be a Democrat? It does make my position easier to argue against, but it has nothing to do with what I actually said.

The Democratic party came from your assertion that any modern Republican Christian must be a fundamentalist extremist, or they wouldn't be a Republican. Teleri was perhaps overly-specific in mentioning the Democrats as the alternative; would it have been more palatable to you for her to have said:

"It is entirely possible to adhere, in the main, to Christ's teachings (or at least, more than is implied than "not follow at all") and at the same time accept at least some of the planks of the Republican party - or reject some of the planks of the other parties."

...?

I don't use the word moderate once. It might make my position easier to argue against if I had, but I didn't.

No, you didn't. What you said was, and I quote (as did Teleri):

Most - every one I've seen or met, at least - are actually talking about fundamentalist "Christian" extremists, those who loudly profess their adherence to a faith whose actual teachings they do not follow at all. Any modern Republican Christian falls into this category by default, or they would not be Republican.

Emphasis mine.

"Any modern Republican Christian" tends to include, well, all of them. Which means including the moderates, too.

Please either actually defend your position or retract it, because frankly, you are offending some of the people who read this weblog.

Comment from: Egarwaen posted at August 22, 2005 12:32 PM

"It is entirely possible to adhere, in the main, to Christ's teachings (or at least, more than is implied than "not follow at all") and at the same time accept at least some of the planks of the Republican party - or reject some of the planks of the other parties."

Nope, still not more palatable. "the other parties" are irrelevant to the discussion. And I would be honestly curious to know what planks of the Republican party you would consider to be compatible with the teachings of said religion? I honestly can't think of a single one. (For the record - wars of aggression, no. Capital punishment, no. Gays, no. Choice, no. Helping the rich, no. Eliminating separation of Church and State, no. Got any others?)

"Any modern Republican Christian" tends to include, well, all of them. Which means including the moderates, too.

Ah, see, there you get into an interesting trap of definition. A moderate would not self-identify as a member of a far-right-wing party unless they had been deceived. Thus, any "moderate Christian" (IE, one that actually believes in peace, tolerance, and forgiveness) is, by definition, not a Republican.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at August 22, 2005 12:42 PM

Thus, any "moderate Christian" (IE, one that actually believes in peace, tolerance, and forgiveness) is, by definition, not a Republican.

And statements like that are precisely why the Republican party is in control of all three branches of government now. As a corollary, statements like that are why a generally highly moderate, thoughtful and in some cases educated Evangelical christian community support candidates who espouse a far more conservative agenda than they believe.

When we of the left typify all of the right as the extreme-right, moderate Republicans -- Republicans who believe the old (admittedly out of date) party line of smaller government and greater personal responsibility -- think "well, I sure as Hell can't go caucus with them. They don't know me. They don't want to know me."

There is indeed a moderate Republican in America today. Just like there are indeed moderate Christians in America today. He actually looks a Hell of a lot like moderate Democrats. And that moderate Republican is increasingly concerned about the fringe agenda that's being put forth in his name. But whenever he tries to express that concern, he has his philosophical or theological belief structure challenged by people who see all Christians as Wolfboro Baptists and all Republicans as Neo-conservatives.

(Here's an extra credit point -- strong, far right conservatives are increasingly concerned about the neo-conservatives currently dominating the national agenda. The neo-conservative agenda flies in the face of traditional conservatism on several points -- most notably smaller central government, reduced government authority over private affairs, and decreased internationalism.)

The way to win back the country from the perils of extremism is to find common ground with others who are concerned. Make the shades of grey into black and white, and you'll find the majority is in the black column and you're increasingly lonely... and George W. Bush wins the popular election the second time around.

Comment from: Chris Anthony posted at August 22, 2005 12:44 PM

Eric, I apologize for fomenting a politics debate on your weblog.

Comment from: Egarwaen posted at August 22, 2005 1:08 PM

Make the shades of grey into black and white, and you'll find the majority is in the black column and you're increasingly lonely... and George W. Bush wins the popular election the second time around.

Not, in fact, true. The vast majority fall into the white column; poll after poll has shown this. The vast majority also do not vote, because so few politicians fall into the white column.

As evidence for my claims, please see Paul Hackett's recent campaign in Ohio. Despite running in a heavily Republican district, he came within a handful of points of beating a strong Republican candidate, one which common wisdom held would win by a wide margin. How'd Hackett manage this? Because he was not afraid to tackle the right-wing rhetoric head-on, and appealed to the moderates of which you speak by decrying the President and his supporters as extremists. He painted things in black and white and said "The good guys are over here. This is what we believe. If you're a moderate and are tired of being deceived, come join us."

Comment from: John Fiala posted at August 22, 2005 1:11 PM

You know where I think the dinosaurs came from? BC is, in actuality, in the same continuity as Jurassic Park. The dinosaurs came back, took over much of the world. Some nations tried using nuclear weapons to beat them back, and things went to heck.

But I had no idea BC is supposed to be in the far future. I kind of like that.

Comment from: thelemurgod posted at August 22, 2005 1:51 PM

The way to win back the country from the perils of extremism is to find common ground with others who are concerned.

Agreed. People in this country have become to hung up on differences to focus on the commonground we all share as Americans AND humans.

The extreme left and extreme right get all the media attention because they are silly and entertaining. However, all this attention fuels paranoia that there are more extremists than there actually are, or that the separation of the country is worse than the reality. Such paranoia seems to push people to the opposite poles and , in an ironic twist, actually does widen the divide between ideologies.

And yes, "Christian" does not equate to "Republican" anymore than "Atheist" equates to "Democrat." This a moronic assumption that has crept into our politics. I've met Christians who are strewn out across the political spectrum.

Comment from: Tangent posted at August 22, 2005 2:58 PM

Do waters foment? :D Rob

Comment from: jpcardier posted at August 22, 2005 3:38 PM

"Not, in fact, true. The vast majority fall into the white column; poll after poll has shown this. The vast majority also do not vote, because so few politicians fall into the white column."

To paraphrase Josh from West Wing, I don't care. I refuse to give much of a damn about a populace that cannot be bothered to vote. I can empathize with them, but not sympathize.

If you are disenfranchised due to drug possession, I fully sympathize with you. If you are under 18 and cannot vote, I sympathize with you.

If you cannot be bothered to register and show up at a polling place, you get nothing from me. If your cynicism feels that you can't change the system, no dice. If you cannot show up between voting hours and don't bother to get an absentee ballot, I just can't be mustered to feel anything about your complaints or opinions about the political process.

If you don't like the candidates, nominate your own. Don't like your choices, join an independent party that supports your views. Is it likely that your candidate will win? No. But if we don't play, by definition we *cannot* win.

I vote for independent candidates. I vote for mainstream party candidates. I vote my conscience, unless I vote tactically, which I reserve the right to do. In any case, I have never, never voted for someone of whom I am ashamed to support. But I voted. If you don't, I cannot be bothered with you.

The system is what you make of it. By definition.

Comment from: Aerin posted at August 22, 2005 4:49 PM

To respond to a few points:

For most of my life, I identified very strongly as a Catholic (I've since broken away from Christianity for philosophical reasons), and I've been just about as liberal as they come since I've been aware of politics. Religion and politics should have nothing to do with one another, and it's disturbing that they've become so closely intertwined.

Eric: It saddens me to see that neo-conservatives have appropriated the Republican party. I had a coworker last year who was a moderate with Republican leanings who was extremely disapproving of Dubya because "he isn't Republican;" that is, his politics aren't at all reflective of traditional Republican ideals. I'm sure my friend wasn't the only one who felt that way.

jpcardier: You get a cookie. Every word of that comment was dead on. I remember seeing a TV show sometime where one of the characters learned that another hadn't voted, and declared that if he ever heard the non-voter complaining about the current administration, he'd kick him out of the house. I hate people who bitch about the system and don't DO anything about it. Also, Josh Lyman is my hero.

John F.: I rather like that idea, mainly because it's a logical explanation of a concept that otherwise makes no sense.

Tangent: Fantastic link. Panel2Panel is getting moved to the top of my Must Read list because of that. *insert "You win teh intarwebs! image here*

Comment from: Aerin posted at August 22, 2005 4:50 PM

For the record, there should be a closing quotation mark after the exclamation point near the end of my post. Silly inability to edit comments...

Comment from: JediLora posted at August 22, 2005 6:58 PM

Oh Blondie. I had no interest in you until I had to do a paper based off of this site. Blondie through the ages and all that. Really, REALLY fascinating.

Comment from: TeleriB posted at August 22, 2005 8:20 PM

1) Mea culpa. I read "modern" as "moderate."

2) Chris Anthony is right; I mentioned the Democrats because, if one disagrees with them, the typical alternative is to vote Republican. In some smaller, local elections, it may be the only alternative.

3) I know pro-choice Christian Republicans. Pro-gay marriage Christian Republicans. Heck, pro-union Christian Republicans. They treat the people around them with kindness and respect, and believe in the Christian mysteries. They also vote Republican, for reasons which are their own.

Comment from: Thomas Blight posted at August 22, 2005 11:12 PM

Hmm. We seem to have aggroed (What is the proper way to write that?) Drama. Oh look, it's being trailed by Political Debate.

I really don't like American politics. Nothing in particular against them, but they just leave a bad taste in my mouth. Canadian politics do too, although a bit less so. I guess it's because there's more choice.

See, I have this thing about the whole party system - I actually believe that politicians should all be independents. It would make my life so much easier.

You'd think this doesn't actually matter much, but it would solve a few big problems for us. For one thing, people would be voted in on their or their policy's own merit. Secondly, they could have their own policies rather than adhering to two or three central ideas (yes, I know there are more small parties than this. I'm talking major ideas.)

It, however, brings its own problems to the table though. For instance, how would you do the presidential/party leader debates? How would we pick the individual who gets to lead? (Optionally, we could remove that individual and spread his powers to the rest of the caucus.) How do we get the word out? Advertising on a large network just wouldn't work. Radio? It's got some things that need to be worked out.

I have, however, faith that if we could iron out those problems, it would equate to a more diverse selection. Which is what we need, actual representation, not the lesser of two evils.

Also, American politics seems to drag religion much too far into it. Although white christians may still be the dominant group, I don't think we need a president claiming that he speaks directly with God. I mean, God hearing your prayers, I can completely understand, maybe pointing you in the right direction to teach you something, but saying, "Go invade Iraq"? Nu-uh.

Comment from: Prodigal posted at August 23, 2005 2:49 AM

Apologies for interrupting the debate by mentioning comics, but did anybody else see the Blondie/Wizard of Id crossover? Now that was comedy. :)

Comment from: Kirath posted at August 23, 2005 12:11 PM

I haven't actually read print comics in years... this sounds interesting.

I read somewhere (I think it was CNN.com) that Christopher Walken intends to run for president in the next election. I don't know anything about his politics or views, but God help me I want to vote for him. I think I am too scared of him not to.

Comment from: Matt Blackwell posted at August 23, 2005 2:25 PM

Kirath,

I'm pretty sure that the Walken candidacy is a joke. (For one thing, there are no requests for donations anywhere on the site. No real political campaign would neglect that.) From what I've seen, I think the General Mayhem folks are behind this campaign.

Comment from: kirabug posted at August 23, 2005 4:07 PM

TelerB wrote:

I know pro-choice Christian Republicans. Pro-gay marriage Christian Republicans. Heck, pro-union Christian Republicans. They treat the people around them with kindness and respect, and believe in the Christian mysteries. They also vote Republican, for reasons which are their own.

Eric wrote:

The neo-conservative agenda flies in the face of traditional conservatism on several points -- most notably smaller central government, reduced government authority over private affairs, and decreased internationalism.)

Well, except for the "decreased internationalism", the above two paragraphs pretty much describe me. Going back to Egarwaen's post, I guess I'm not a modern Christian Republican.

After all, the continental Congress that built this goverment was primarily made up of traditional Christian Republicans (smaller central government, reduced government authority over private affairs, believe in the power and veracity of science, belief in fundamental human rights), so we can't be all bad.

Comment from: Robert Hutchinson posted at August 24, 2005 6:54 PM

If your cynicism feels that you can't change the system, no dice.

What if my logic and reason feels that way?

(A day late, it's cheap, I know.)

Comment from: larksilver posted at August 25, 2005 9:30 AM

Christopher Walken for President? Oh, wow.

Somehow, he's a lot less scary to me now that I know he can dance. And boy, can that dude DANCE.

Besides.. his wife's clearly enamored with him, she giggles. After all those years together, she giggles in interviews. He can't be all bad. I'd totally vote for him. At least, when he's tapdancing around reporter questions, he'll do so with style.

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