Monday, April 07, 2008

NCCCCC: Catch That Cliche

After counting the votes, we have the finalists in the National Corniest Cliche Comic Character Countdown and they are a motley bunch of stereotypes. Many people were frustrated with the No Patterson Rule. For Better or For Worse is a tough strip to pigeon-hole in these categories because it is part humor strip, part soap opera, and all lame. And know that it is in the zombie strip limbo of the living dead, the strip is beginning to compete with itself in any topic where spleens can be vented.

We had plenty of write-ins, most of them very well-reasoned. There were over a thousand votes cast, so I feel I got a real slice of the comics-loving community. And they love to hate the losers. Lets go through the finalists and then we can decide who is the Best (or Worst) of Show

Alarming Alcoholic – Leroy Lockhorn
Despite having an early lead, Andy Capp got edged out by Leroy Lockhorn. Now both of these characters have a glass in their hand as part of their defining character traits, but Leroy is bitterer and far more likely to be in an out of control stupor. I really wish Andy had won because he is a more iconic figure with far better clip art available online, but the readers have spoken.

Dopiest Dad – Dagwood
Dagwood would give anyone a run for the money in dopiest anything category. There is not anything he does that he doesn’t do lazily or incompetently. Except perhaps make oversized sandwiches. Happily married but dim-witted fathers are one of the last safe objects of derision in America and Dagwood has been blazing that trail for over severty-five years. Other dopey dads owe him a debt of gratitude for making them look good in comparison.

Perplexing Pet – Marmaduke
As I mentioned in the comments, this was Marmaduke’s category to lose and he won by the largest margin of any category. Even the much maligned Garfield got out-voted two-to-one. How this hyperactive Great Dane has managed to milk one joke for decades is the real mystery. And nothing I can say about the sexual subtext of the strip can match this.

Kid to Kick In The Ass – Dolly
I just could not fit everyone’s favorite loathsome brat into this category. I could have doubled the field and still not pleased everybody. Danae from Non Sequitor was favorite write-in. Still, Dolly is a worthy winner in the toughest division.

Judge’s Choice – Flagstone Family
At least one reader caught on that the candidates seemed to include an awful lot of folk from Hi and Lois and this was no accident. While no character finished higher than fourth in their respective category (Thirsty at least beat out all the other Walker/Browne lushes (a disturbingly common character type among that clan)), the entire Hi and Lois cast epitomizes lazy caricature driven characterization. For over a half century, this white-bread family has been a collection of “types” that went obsolete somewhere around the British Invasion. Even as they have tried to adapt and stay relevant, they remain constantly at least one decade behind the times.

So make a choice and check some boxes and we’ll see what you think.

In the meantime I’m going to start compiling a list of divisions for next year’s tourney. Some ideas I have kicking around are: Most Unforgivable Patterson, Swishiest Soap Star, Least Fulfilled Female, Most Dysfunctional Family. Go ahead and give me some other ideas. Until then, read my regular stuff and be sure to come back next year.


Anonymous said...

In a way, this is tough. The field is kind of weak this year.

Leroy: While Leroy is certainly a cliché, I don't think he's a cliché in the AA category. As somebody else pointed out, Leroy is about bile, not booze. We see him sober as often, if not more, than we do drunk.

Dagwood: Another cliché, but not in the right category. (To be fair, Dag is not quite a cliché since he was pretty much the first of his kind. His many imitators turned his shtick stale.) But for me his is first a voracious and lazy husband, second a harried and lazy employee, and only third a dopey dad. Cookie and Alexander appear so rarely, that we don't see this side of him very often. (And he gets creepy with Cookie.)

Dolly: A strong contender. Her malaprops are some of the worst out there, more forced than a Patterson pun and requiring an IQ roughly equal to Ruthie's subtracted from her brother Joe's.

The Flagstones: Face it, these folks are simply too whitebread. They are simply unable to evoke a reaction from anyone. Ninety percent of all readers will only think of Trixie and her sunbeam. This is truly the most pointless part of the Walker/Browne empire.

Marmaduke: He ran away with his division just like he runs away with his owners on a walk. Marm is the ultimate annoying pet, the ne plus ultra of big dogs, a one joke samba that has somehow managed to last for decades. The trophy is his.

Love the categories for next year. The first two look like real cutthroats and LFF is probably LuAnne's (A3G) to lose. Another possibility might be something along the lines of Biggest Dweeb (say Gunther from Luann) or Lovable Loser (Verne from Over the Hedge or Pig from Pearls Before Swine). These are a couple of stereotypes I don't think we've really dealt with in the past.

Anonymous said...

I had to go with none of the above. My vote is for Loretta Lockhorn with her frequent "women can't drive" image. How many times have we seen her coming through the door, looking disheveled and carrying (or wearing) the steering wheel? This woman has been responsible for more car wrecks than the Blues Brothers.

Ben said...

Wow, no one I voted for won. I thought Marvin, at leas, had his category in the bag.

Anonymous said...

Had to vote None of the Above. The Sultaness of Stereotype -- the eponymous Cathy -- is in a class by herself.

Cedar said...

Oh, now that I've read pendragon's comment, I want to change my vote to none of the above: Cathy as well.

As for future categories, maybe something like most dysfunctional Patterson.

Mooselet said...

It was a tough call, but in the end I cast my vote for Marmaduke. One dimensional doesn't begin to cover it.

Most Unforgivable Patterson?? I don't know if I could choose in that future category. What about a Jump the Shark category - as in which strip jumped furthest and deserves to lose its space on the comics page, or which strip's jump was the worst?

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

There are so many things I can't stand about Family Circus that just having one reason to vote for them is enough for me. Great series - as usual.