Sunday, March 18, 2007

NCCCC: Most Precocious Kid In The Comics


The second division of the 2007 National Coolest Comic Character Competition aims its sights at a younger age group than the teenagers. Ever since The Yellow Kid, comic strips have been full of kid characters. Some are defanged menaces, but others are just fodder for dirty diaper jokes (I’m looking at you, Marvin). Some of the most amusing kids in the comics are the wise beyond their years cynics that speak truth to power. It often becomes clear that these pint-sized pundits are really artistic alter egos for their authors.

Normally, this category would be Jason Fox’s to lose, but I’m still bitter about Foxtrot going to Sunday-only. Besides, there are a lot of other worthy moppets out there. Let’s pick the cream of the crop.

Breed Standards:
Realism is not a requirement. The kid should be more sophisticated and worldly than real children. A strong familiarity with current events or pop culture is necessary. There should be a mild dark streak, but an underlying sympathy.

Faults: Extreme preachiness. Complete disassociation with childhood experiences. Kids that only talk to straw-man animals are disqualified.

Danae
Non Sequitor
Pro: When it comes to cynical smart mouthed kids, none come more iconoclastic that the pint-sized mouthpiece of Wiley. What started life as a oddly shaped Far Side imitator has morphed into the continuing saga of budding bomb-thrower Danae and her odd assortment of family members that includes a talking horse foil. Con: At times the strip veers real close to becoming a liberal Prickly City. And Lucy the Horse is a pretty pale Hobbes rip-off. The strip also has long digressions unrelated to the main characters.
Nate
Big Nate
Pro: At first glance, this is just another Peanuts-sized strip about a bunch of grade school kids with existential angst. Nate always has a scam going that inevitably backfires. Beneath the silly gags there is a surreal sensibility that takes some rather oblique punches at pop culture.Con: I have a hard time telling the supporting the characters apart and Nate’s character is a little amorphous. Is he the world’s biggest dunderhead or an under appreciated genius?
Agnes
Agnes
Pro: The newest addition to the Washington Post comics page is another smart talking half pint with a gaggle of foils. She is a trailer park grifter in training. Another schemer, her oddball scams show a little more competence than Nate.Con: The artwork is pretty minimal. Not Stantis scribbly bad, but fairly murky. The cast of supporting characters is pretty thin.
Heart
Heart Of The City
Pro: Heart is a feisty little girl that is independent without losing her girliness. While this strip is more gentle than some, Heart is just bratty and self-centered enough to always get straight to the heart (pun intended) of the matter. Con: Knowing that Mark Tatulli also draws Lio creeps me out a little bit about the true nature of some of Heart’s friends. I keep looking for a giant squid in the background.
Ruthie
One Big Happy
Pro: Six-year old Ruthie treads a fine line between quirky and complete bat guano insanity. Her frequent malapropisms often sneak past the censors. Con: She is destined to grow up to be a serial killer.


Cast your vote and leave reasons in the comments. This voting software requires that you vote to see results and they sometimes take awhile to post, but your votes are being counted.


41 comments:

yellojkt said...

Go ahead and vote.

Mooselet said...

Oh, if only Calvin and Hobbes was still current then Calvin would be a shoe-in.

Gotta go Danae with this one, although Ruthie comes a close second.

DemetriosX said...

OK, I admit I'm a little confused about the category. Originally you said this was precocious and cynical kids, now it's just precocious?

Keeping the cynical in mind, I had to go with Danae. Without it, Heart has a chance, but while she sometimes comes off older than her age, she is still very much a kid. She also lacks that dark streak.

I'm not familiar with Big Nate at all, and I could never get into Agnes. She looks too much like a really badly drawn Marcy. Ruthie is in a class by herself. She is very much her age, if not a little backward. And she gets on my nerves so much, I can't even read OBH.

My official vote goes to Danae, but I would again like to offer an honorable mention for Gabby from Gran Avenue. Greedy, scheming, materialistic, admires Trump and Martha Stewart. Not in Danae's class, but more precocious and cynical than any of the other competitors here.

Claude said...

Ruthie's got the precocity but not necessarily the cynicism. A lot of times she's just trying to deconstruct her world, with what few tools she has, in an attempt to understand it.

I like Nate a lot but you're right in that (most of) his friends aren't especially distinct from one another. He's got talent in chess and basketball but he's not necessarily "smart" as such.

Agnes and Heart I admit I don't pay enough attention to that I can form an informed opinion.

I'm going with Danae from Non Sequitur on this one.

Interesting how the teens are in color and the little kids are black & white.

yellojkt said...

I took "cyncical" out of the description to keep from giving Danae too much edge. Grand Avenue looks like a great strip and I will have to add it to my ucomics subsription. Gabby is pretty much the type of character I'm looking for as a write-in.

yellojkt said...

The pictures of the teens came from official webpages for the most part. The kids are clips from actual strips. I was trying to find images that represented their personalities. It's just what I can can find on the interubes.

Thumper said...

Hmmm...I'm only familiar with 2 of those strips, and I didn't realize One Big Happy was even still being drawn...

125records said...

I don't believe One Big Happy is still in production -- on the syndicate's web site, the strips are labeled "One Big Happy Classic" or something like that (a rather dubious use of "classic" if you ask me). Danae all the way!

Pantsman said...

I nominate Caulfield from Frazz...He has a likeable charm not found in the other (rather bratty) candidates.

Stranger said...

Ruthie is the best kid comic since Calvin. Though she is less cynical/mean.

And it is in production. I think the 'classic' simply means that the comics on that site are 2 weeks behind or something similar.

Aynthem said...

Sorry, but I've got to go with Tatulli's other creation, Lio. The kid is communicating with space aliens, yet has to put up with going to school and a dad who hangs out in his underwear all day long. And you can tell he truly loves his gruesome creations!

green said...

Caulfield from Frazz!

Doug Puthoff said...

I have to go with Barry from Curtis. He's so precocious, it's annoying.

Doug Puthoff

The Matt Who Is said...

I ended up going with Heart. I was tempted to write-in Lio, who is definitely precocious. Lio's such a dark character, though, so I decided leaving him off the list of options was appropriate.

Besides, splitting the vote between Tatulli and Tatulli seemed counter-productive.

Jim said...

My choice would be Jason Fox of Foxtrot. Admittedly, he sometimes gets caught up in the world of sci-fi and fantasy, but his intelligence and outlook on life's issues are very entertaining.

Marion Delgado said...

Edison Lee - he gets up at 5 reads all the editorials then repeats the contents all day.

Soujin said...

I agree with the Caulfield nom. Frazz is one of the best comics evar.

MoroccoMole said...

What about young brainiac Jason Fox? (I'm not this much of a Fox Trot obsessive, I swear, I just think it works in these two categories.)

bubujin said...

I have to go with Ruthie only because I like the puns and the malapropisms.

Claude said...

125records: One Big Happy doesn't run the online comic concurrently with the print version, at least not at the syndicate's site. There's a legal reason involved but I don't remember the specifics. If you want the current strip, you have to go to a newspaper website, such as chron.com.

DemetriosX said...

Caulfield. Man I wish I'd thought of Caulfield. Ruthie is turning this into a race, but people: precocious means having an advanced development, usually in this context mental. I've known plenty of six year olds and Ruthie is just plain stupid.

It hit me this morning while I was in the shower: yello has missed a couple of obvious categories. Namely, Biggest Clueless Moron (Satchel, Pig, Hammy) and Biggest Dweeb (Gunther, Verne).

Jim said...

Sheldon of SHELDON fame.

Which one of those pikers downloaded an encyclopedia into a duck's brain, hmm?

None of them, that's who.

Sheldon all the way.

ygg said...

It doesn't look like you've really read much Agnes - your description is really not at all on-target. Of course my vote had to be for her, and I do hope that other commenters (and yourself) give her more of a chance. "Grifter-in-training" she most certainly is not. And her schemes have more to do with assuaging a fairly complicated sense of oddness and self-consciousness than they do with any sort of actual schemeyness.

Zeb said...

Danae's a good runner-up, but my vote is for Caulfield (Frazz) all day.

Cedar said...

I voted for Heart, and I would have voted wrote in a vote for her friend Dean had I thought about it. They're fairly realstic and recognizable as children, but sophisticated and informed.

For some reason, I though Danae was a teenager (13-15 years old). How old is she?

Anonymous said...

where the fuck is Dolly from the Family Circus?

gnome de blog said...

I'm voting for Heart in a double-overtime squeaker over Danae. However, I want to leave a comment in support of Ted Forth's junior nemesis, Faye. If she appeared a little more regularly, she'd be the hands-down winner.

Hooper_X said...

I have to pour out a 40 for RILEY ESCOBAR.

the most precocious thug of all.

-hx, man, i miss the boondocks.

Anonymous said...

Caulfield!

"You know when you're reading in class, and you get ahead?

How far ahead?

Jean-Paul Sartre."

Anonymous said...

I'd like to nominate Lio, from the comic with the same name. I don't know if that strip is syndicated far and wide yet, the local paper here just previewed it, and might be picking it up.

Anonymous said...

Based on her general moodiness and the way she's always flopping around in in her bed, I though Danae was a teenager. The pony being an ironic touch (sorta like Veronica Mars). I didn't realize she was a child.

Anonymous said...

Lio!

Luprand said...

Personally, I would've voted for Linus from Peanuts, but that's way out of the running. The problem with precocious kids, of course, is that they're so often annoying - especially if they're being used entirely as voices against "The Man" (tm).

other anonymous said...

LIO!

Anonymous said...

If only Calvi nand Hobbes were still going....*le sigh*

Lydia said...

Caulfield from Frazz - definite winner

Iggy said...

Why was Caulfield not included in the first place?

escort milano ragazze said...

This won't truly have success, I think this way.

posicionamiento google said...

I saw really much worthwhile info in this post!

muebles cuenca said...

So, I don't actually believe this will have effect.

www.muebleslarioja.muebles.cn said...

It can't really have success, I suppose like this.