Tuesday, December 05, 2006
I have talked about bad comics like For Better or For Worse before (well several times before), but I prefer to look at the comics that are good. I like comics that are clever and sly, like Sally Forth and Doonesbury and newcomer Watch Your Head. Newer, edgier comics like Pearls Before Swine and Frazz are making waves now. And despite the example of every loser strip in the Crappy Comics Competition, just because a strip is old enough to vote, that doesn’t mean it has lost its funny.
One comic that has stood the test of time is Foxtrot. This is a family comic that is not afraid to let it’s geek flag fly. It inspired my Comics Curmudgeon tagline. It takes chances on jokes that maybe 1% of its readership will get. I’m told that the binary in the cereal bowl reads “YOU NERD”. I’ll take the real nerds' word on it.
But alas, according to a press release, as of 2007, Foxtrot is going to Sundays only. The wear of actually being funny seven days a week as opposed to just phoning it in (we’re looking at you Guisewite and Davis) can be exhausting. It’s what drove Gary Larson and Bill Watterson to retirement.
Rather than quitting cold turkey, Bill Amend is slowing down. The history of success with this strategy is poor. Remember Outland anyone? Even the revived Opus will never touch the glory that was Bloom County. There is something about the pace of a daily humor strip stringing together a week of themed gags that deftly strikes the right balance between lame old school random gag a day strips like Beetle Bailey and B.C. and the interminably slow soap strips. The sequence of jokes makes the whole funnier than the sum of the parts. In a Sunday only strip any running bit would just become tedious.
Foxtrot is a stuck in amber strip where the characters never age, but the cultural references stay fresh. Over the years, Jason has geeked out over every nerd-boy trend.The strip often dared to break the fourth frame and go meta. Amend let us in on the gags and rewarded the reader that paid attention. Even the parody product names are hilarious.
My only hope is that the success of Aaron MacGruder has encouraged Amend to chase after those animated Boondocks Bucks. A Foxtrot themed cartoon could be some cross between The Simpsons and Clerks: The Animated Series. Or it could be Dilbert. Let’s hope for the best. I am going to miss Jason and Andy and even Paige at the breakfast table every morning.
Save the last dance for me.
Blatant Comment Whoring™: Can a Sunday only comic be as funny as a daily strip?