Newspaper Comics! – Laser Time #316

This has to be the most anyone has discussed newspaper comics in at least 25 years.


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16 thoughts on “Newspaper Comics! – Laser Time #316

  1. Great episode everyone! I hate the comic strip Zippy the Pinhead because I never understood it once. I think having a little brother has put me more in tune with this stuff but comics are still very popular with kids ( 13 and under specifically.) Big Nate comics are probably the biggest selling series for kids as far as I can tell as they seem to be putting out more every time I pass by the book section of the store I work at. Also, while the Diary of a Wimpy kid books aren’t a Sunday strip they are written as 90% of a comic. Did you know that Garfield once had a deal with an entire chain of supermarkets? It’s true! In the early 2000’s Meijer brand stores made a deal, and so any in-store Meijer brand product also featured Garfield often with Odie in some sort of fashion.

    Not my picture but I’ve seen it every day on the shelf at my local antique shop, a Beetle Bailey rubber band gun about to have some ‘good old fashioned workplace horseplay” with Miss Buxley (sexism in the military? Never! )–beetle-bailey-rubber-band-gun.jpg
    Also shout out to one of my favorite stand alone comics from last year Spencer and Locke. A hilarious melodramatic Sin City style take on Calvin and Hobbes.

  2. My biggest experience with comic strips came from my elementary school library having tons and tons of Garfield collections, and I consumed all there was to read. Unfortunately, I haven’t read as much Calvin & Hobbes as I’d like, but every bit I have is awesome.

  3. There was a Blondie and Dagwood special from around the same time as Family Circus got one. This would have been 1987 per IMDB and it had Loni Anderson as Blondie and Weller as Dagwood. as I was in the 6th grade. (There were also live action movies way back in the 30s and 40s).

    There was also this really surreal special I couldn’t find anything on, which was short live action sketches based on Hagar, Cathy and other stuff. This might have been 83 or 84.

  4. Did they ever say where Toon Lagoon actually is? They mention it over and over, but I still don’t know what or where it is.

    I remember US Acres starting, and I had the first few books. I remember Mother Goose and Grimm starting, and I liked it as a kid, but every time I see one now, it feels like current Simpsons, or Big Bang Theory, just jokes you see coming from miles away and aren’t funny anyway. I don’t know how many of the comics I liked as a kid are still any good, there was a time when about half of our comics page seemed worth reading, and half were just pointless, so it wasn’t just being a kid with no taste liking everything because it was a comic.

    I saw Tales from the Far Side when it aired on Halloween in whatever year that was, and I ordered the VHS tape of it, and acquired a digital version of it a few years ago, so I watched it for Halloween last year. It’s still good, some cartoonized versions of old strips, but a lot of new stuff.

    1. Toon Lagoon is an area in the Universal Studios: Islands of Adventure theme park. Toon Lagoon is one of the themed areas along with places like Suess Landing, Marvel Super Hero Island, Jurassic Park, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The art for this ep includes a photo from it.

  5. I grew up on Sunday funnies as well, but here’s how you really know times have changed: I’ve had a subscription to the Sunday New York Times (yes, the actual paper version) since December, and it wasn’t until I listened to this episode that I noticed it didn’t come with a comics section.

    Anyway, just wanted to mention a few more comic-strip-to-cartoon adaptations you left out. Both Cathy and Blondie & Dagwood both had one-episode specials, and Dilbert had an animated series on UPN, back when that was a thing.

  6. I have vivid mammories of bringing my Boondocks trades to middle school circa 2004 and reading them during lunch. I became somewhat popular despite us being New Hampshire Jews & WASP that comic was one of my favorite things as a preteen and teen. Between that and David Cross’ stand up among others the Bush Admin was a comedic gold mine.

  7. If you do a follow up episode (aside; please do a follow up episode) you should mention Foxtrot. That strip was candy for pop culture nerds. I’ve always wanted to go back through them and track the progression of gaming tech and popular nerd culture via the strips.

    On the note of For Better or For Worse, that comic lands close to home for me also because it, well, takes place close to home. Instead of the ambiguous locations of most strips, FBOFW takes place in Ontario Canada. The town itself is fictional but it’s been shown to be at the northern tip of Durham region, which is the region where me (and apparently half your listeners) grew up. While most Canadian creators that reach across the border scrub their work of Canadian references, Lynn Johnson made no such concessions. That’s why Elizabeth went to a grade 13, and why they watch Peter Mansbridge.

    It also led to one strange incident where she ran a Sunday comic that featured the kids fighting over the scissors while one of them wanted to open milk. The syndicate received piles of mail from readers confused as to why one would need scissors to open milk! It was then that Lynn Johnson discovered that milk in plastic bags isn’t really a thing outside of the province of Ontario for reasons none of us can figure out. As much as Lynn liked to commit to the Canadian culture, it was a case where she had to admit that the gag just plain made no sense outside of Ontario.

  8. Another awesome episode, guys! Episodes like these are why I love listening to the show. You guys get me!

    Absolutely, Family Circus SUUUUCKS, but I have very vivid memories of watching the specials on The Disney Channel waaaay back in the early to mid 90s. I remember they were usually paired with the For Better or For Worse specials (which are available to order directly from Lynn Johnston in Canada, by the way; I know, because my mom picked ’em up). Twenty-five plus years on, and I still can hear Dolly singing to the Easter Bunny. But, all is not horribly crappy in the world of Family Circus. Bil Keane is not just the father of Jeff, who runs the strip now, but is also the father of legendary Disney animator Glen Keane, who worked on “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty & the Beast,” “Aladdin,” and more. So, you can figure out where all the talent in the family went to! *laughs*

    I also wanted to recommend a few other strips for you guys, and the fellow listeners. There is a dearth of funny in the funny papers, what with Garfield being a strip that has long outlived it’s welcome and usefulness, “Frank & Ernest” just being lame as hell, and don’t even get me started on “Marmaduke.”

    But, there is salvation.

    First up is Mark Tatulli’s “Lio,” a delightfully macabre strip hearkening back to the days of Charles Addams and Gary Larson. I cannot recommend it enough, especially if you’re tired of the same old pap and pablum from the usual glut of unfunny “family” strips. Lio’s a kid who loves monsters, insects, horror movies, aliens, Halloween, and all kinds of creepy stuff, and the strip follows his adventures and misadventures with bringing Shoggoths to Show & Tell, life with Lio’s dad, and unrequited love with the girl Lio has a crush on. It’s a mostly silent strip, and a perfect palate cleanser.

    I also cannot talk about newspaper comic strips without giving some much-deserved love to Frank Cho’s hilarious “Liberty Meadows.” One day, this strip showed up in my local Pittsburgh Post-Gazette out of the blue, looking wildly different from any of the other strips. Instead of juvenile-looking art, here was something absolutely incredible. The art was solid, gorgeous, looking as if a Disney animator started crafting these magnificent strips of a dorky vet tech, a drop-dead beautiful brunette (looking like a hybrid of Jennifer Connelly and Lynda Carter), and a cast of outrageous cartoon animals. And if the art was amazing, the writing was extraordinary, as Cho was very much a modern day Tex Avery, throwing the craziest gags and the bawdiest women together into a comic that was this absolutely glorious melange of comedy perfection! Many strips weren’t allowed in the papers, as they were “too racy,” featuring buxom women or a trio of a bullfrog, bear, and pig chugging beer, but Cho collected the strips in comic book form at Insight Studios Group and Image, allowing the uncensored art to be seen as intended. Sadly, the strip was left on a cliffhanger, and Cho hasn’t been able to return to the story, due to “Liberty Meadows” being optioned and tied up in red tape by Sony, and Cho scoring gigs with Marvel and DC (he was the artist for Bendis’ “Avengers” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” for a while, and is doing alternate covers for DC’s “Harley Quinn”). The strip is being re-run via, but if you can find the collected editions or the single-issue comics, please, by all means, snap those up. It’s worth it!!

  9. Great episode! I love hearing that other people actually enjoyed newspaper strips. I still read Flash Gordon and comic strip Spider-Man. Yes, Spider-Man is still credited as being written by Stan Lee despite that clearly not being true. But, the strip is kinda wonderful because the ghostwriter is trying to mimic Silver Age Stan Lee dialogue and plots, but with more modern Marvel stuff like the Guardians of the Galaxy showing up in the story. And, for some reason, this version of Spidey is perpetually bad at everything. It has to be seen to be believed.

    I wanted to share one bit of newspaper comic strip trivia: there are TWENTY EIGHT Blondie movies. There are twenty eight full length, theatrically released, live action movies about the exploits of Blondie and Dagwood. And, they have co-stars like Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, Shemp Howard, etc.
    There are more Blondie movies than James Bond movies.

    The Marvel Cinematic Universe is smaller than the Blondie Cinematic Universe!

    Anyway, they’re all on YouTube because this has been completely forgotten. The first one came out in 1938 on Nov 30, so hopefully this could be a helpful tip for a future Classic Corner on Thirty Twenty Ten.

  10. That fucking Dennis the Menace cartoon has been on in Canada since it began. I’ve seen every episode at least 6 times each. It’s STILL RUNNING. It’s still AIRED!

  11. My parents owned several compilations of Peanuts, and I read those a bunch around 4th grade.

    My biggest memory comes from when I was working at Albertson’s from 2005-2007. Someone (maybe even me) would buy our local newspaper The Gazette, and I would read Beetle Bailey, Hagar the Horrible, Peanuts, Garfield, and for a time, BC.

  12. This isn’t quite the same thing, but the web comic Get Your War On got a brief animated series on Huffington Post for the 2008 and 1012 elections. If you’re not familiar, Get Your War On was an absolutely vicious satire of the Bush administration and the wars. The comic was brutal and savage, but often hilarious. It was made up of generic clip art and featured a bunch of office drones having conversations about the war and politics and mixing in mundane office culture bullshit.

    The animated series featured the “main” characters of the comic: a white guy republican who was dumb as a bag of hammers, and his exasperated black coworker who was a democrat. The final episode of the 2008 series showed the white guy losing his mind and pretty much predicted the dumb, white, Republican male for the next decade:

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