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In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing. Feature: Pie Comic Creator: John McNamee Format: large formats Frequency: 3+ times a week Recommended if you like: Invisible Bread, Poorly Drawn Lines, PBF Comics, XKCD, Creased Comics When searching for a good candidate for this week's post, I scrolled past the words "Pie Comic." What a delicious and simple title! I love pie, and I work for GoComics. How come I have never heard of this strip? The answer, it turns out, is that it just launched on GoComics two weeks ago. However, the strip's creator, John McNamee, has built a large following for Pie Comic on Tumblr and other sites for the past decade or so. With his other writing credits including stories and videos for The Onion and sketch comedy troupes, John's imagination and talent seem especially well suited for comics. I like the simple but fun-to-look-at art, the sharp and effective punchlines, and the fact that you never know who the characters will be from strip to strip or what unexpected turns things will take. Here's a couple more recent examples: Read more Pie Comic today right here at GoComics. Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Laugh Tracks
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In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing. Feature: Reply All Creator: Donna A. Lewis Format: four panels Frequency: daily Recommended if you like: Cathy, Dilbert, humor related to office politics, self-appearance and family members who don't know how to use email properly Each week we get submissions detailing people's childhood dreams of creating a syndicated comic strip. Many of them write that it's the only job they could ever imagine having. But it's often those who have labored in other professions who wind up finding the most joy and consistency in the cartooning profession. In other words, when you work hard for something and know what the alternative looks like, it's hard to take that success for granted. At least that's the vibe I get from Donna A. Lewis, whose daily comic "Reply All" chronicles the day-to-day neuroses and social interactions of Lizzie, a highly self-aware single woman in the public relations industry. Like Stephan Pastis, Lewis has a background in law, and she still works as an attorney for the Department of Homeland Security even while producing "Reply All," which has been syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group since 2011. Lewis' art isn't terribly sophisticated, but when it comes to the writing, the characters' clever exchanges, modern concerns and streamlined dialogue give "Reply All" a subversive, socially conscious flair. For example, take the two-day sequence on mansplaining below. The issue is handled in a way that a white male reader like me (presumably the most offending category of "mansplainers") feels in on the joke. The feminine perspective will appeal to readers of Cathy (a character Lewis has said she does not personally identify with), and the office humor is similar at times to Dilbert, but "Reply All" feels more of-the-moment than those two classics, like a comic your witty colleague doodled during a meeting and made everyone in the office giggle. Which, in fact, is exactly how "Reply All" came into being. Here's a couple more recent strips: Read more "Reply All" every day right here on GoComics.com! Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing. Feature: Randolph Itch, 2 a.m. Creator: Tom Toles Format: single-panel Frequency: daily Recommended if you like: Kliban, The Far Side, Reality Check, Off The Mark, Tom Toles' editorial cartoons One night shortly after my first child was born, I decided to take advantage of my loopy, sleep-deprived state to write a bunch of punchlines that I thought would be excellent material for a batch of one-panel cartoons. I got on quite a roll and came up with about two dozen, but almost all of them turned out to be totally worthless when examined in the light of day. The insomnia-driven musings in "Randolph Itch, 2 a.m.", however, are nuggets of single-panel cartoon gold. Written and illustrated by Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Tom Toles, "Randolph Itch, 2 a.m." was in syndication from the late '90s until 2002, when Toles took a job with the Washington Post. It began running on GoComics a decade later, offering fans of Toles' editorial work a window into the parts of his imagination not concerned with politics. The back-and-white art is every bit as sharp and detailed as his editorial cartoons, with Sunday strips in full color. Much like Pat Oliphant's Punk or Dave Whamond's Squirrel, the little cartoonist in the corner gets the first word/riff on that day's joke, adding an extra layer of punniness and observational humor. Having read Toles' op-ed cartoons for a decade, I gained a whole new appreciation of his talent and inventiveness through reading "Randolph." Here's a few more samples… Read more Randolph Itch, 2 a.m. comics right here at GoComics! Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing. Feature: Kid Shay Comics Creator: Josh Shalek Format: large format, multi-panel Frequency: 2x a week (Mondays and Thursdays) Recommended if you like: Zombies, Egypt, mad scientists, crazy uncles, friendly werewolves, Anubis Since it launched in October 2014, Kid Shay Comics has chronicled the Egyptian adventures of Kate Crane and her crazy uncle Brian, who has a fascination with the zombies outside Cairo. Complete with helicopter crashes, haunted temples and a werewolf named Levon, the "Tomb of the Zombies" sequence in Kid Shay Comics is a suspenseful but lighthearted foray into the realms of the undead — all carried out over the course of Kate's summer vacation. Cartoonist Josh Shalek does a lot with black and white here, with figures that look a little similar to Ted Rall's comics or the Big Nate strips that are drawn by Nate. The size and arrangement of panels differs in each strip, with a change of perspective that keeps the eye occupied and draws anticipation for the next installment. I like the artistic touches such as the middle panel of this strip that illustrate the main character's imagination. Now that the "Tomb of the Zombies" has wrapped up this week, I'm excited to see what's next for Kid Shay Comics. In the meantime, stop by table O-6 at the small press pavilion of San Diego Comic Con from July 8 - 12 and say hello to Josh in person. And... ...read more Kid Shay Comics right here on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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Feature: Pot-Shots Creator: Ashleigh Brilliant Format: single panel, no more than 17 words Frequency: daily Recommended if you like: epigrams, eCards, clip art, riddles, wordplay, brevity, brilliance Although the punchy phrases, ironic, made-for-T-shirt humor and symbiosis of sarcasm and clip art look and feel very similar to the modern meme, these "Pot-Shots" date back to the 1960s and '70s, when Ashleigh Brilliant was giving daily public lectures in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, teaching history on a "Floating University" cruise ship, and publishing his clever epigrams by the dozen. According to Brilliant's own description for what constitutes a proper Pot-Shot: "...What is said must be really worth saying, but, as far as possible, never actually have been said before. There can be humor, profundity, poignancy, whimsy or a combination of all these. Another criterion is that the material should have lasting value and be capable of being appreciated in other times and other cultures. Because of this stricture, there can be no rhyme, no rhythm, no puns, no idioms – in fact, none of the conventional wordplay that makes writing short expressions fun and easy." In a way, Brilliant's epigrams — no longer than 17 words in all but a few cases — are a forerunner to the modern use of Twitter for comedy and wit. They're lots of fun to read, look at and think about, and a perfect combination of a sharp British wit steeped in popular American humor. Think Oscar Wilde meets Mark Twain with a dash of sixties San Francisco whimsy, and that will put you somewhere close to the mark. Read more Pot-Shots right here on GoComics.com! Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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In this weekly series, editor Lucas Wetzel spotlights new and unusual comic features from the GoComics A-Z listing. Feature: Lay Lines Comics Creator: Carol Lay Format: six panels Frequency: daily Recommended if you like: Whimsical storytelling, '90s alt-weekly flashbacks, out-of-body experiences, Russian roulette If you look at the state of comics today, you can divide things up fairly neatly into two camps: print newspaper funnies, and online-only features (i.e. webcomics). But bridging that gap for toward the end of the 20th century was a series of alt-weekly cartoons — colorful, counter-cultural, large-format comics with considerably more attitude than you would find in traditional print features. One of that era's pioneers is Carol Lay, who began publishing comics in the LA Weekly in 1990 after working for Hanna-Barbera comics, Western Publishing, DC and Marvel Comics. Her first mini-feature, "The Thing Under The Futon," also kicked off her arrival on GoComics earlier this year. Since then, she's been running other classic story lines such as "Now, Endsville" (which starts here) and "Invisible City," (which starts here), both of which were harvested from now out-of-print print collections. Reading Lay Lines Comics on GoComics should offer an interesting view at how Lay's style evolved over the years, from the early '90s "big teeth" look of her characters to potentially some of the alt-weekly work she did in the decades that followed. Lay Lines Comics also includes Lay's occasional contextual notes and special new illustrations. An excerpt from "The Thing Under The Futon" is below. Read more Lay Lines comics right here on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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Remember how when you were a kid you would spin a globe, close your eyes, hold out your finger, and wherever you wound up pointing to was where you were going to live? I've been doing a similar exercise lately with GoComics A to Z listing to figure out what to read next. With so many great features on the site, it can be hard to keep up with them all, so I wanted to start spotlighting a few that I've recently stumbled upon and enjoyed. Since my job mostly involves proofreading features that are syndicated for print, I'm looking forward to digging further into the GoComics A to Z (and everywhere in between). Look for a new blog post in this series each Wednesday morning. The first installment is below. — Lucas ___ Feature: Foolish Mortals Creator: Tom Horacek Format: single panel Frequency: 1x a week Recommended if you like: F Minus, WuMo, Buni "Foolish Mortals" is an apt summation of the poor, unfortunate souls that populate this weekly single panel strip. "Foolish Mortals" has a simplistic, computer-generated look that gives a playful, wacky flavor to its otherwise dark-edged humor. The fact that the characters look a little like Fisher-Price "Little People" figures makes their often reckless, troubled, bizarre behavior that much easier to laugh at. "Foolish Mortals" only uploads one new strip a week, but the quality level makes it worth the wait. Here are a few recent favorites: Read more "Foolish Mortals" here on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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The night has finally arrived when incomparable late-night television host David Letterman is no longer on the air. Let's take a look at some GoComics classics mentioning Dave and his show, as well as a few recent tributes. Here they are, in no particular order. (Drumroll, please...) 10: Grand Avenue, 6/30/2004 Roughly a decade ago, Gabby applied to be an intern on "Letterman," but it didn't pan out. Check out this highly entertaining Grantland feature about what interning for Dave was actually like. 9. Ziggy, 4/7/1994 Among the many names floated in the last year for Dave's replacement, Ziggy's parrot, Josh, was not mentioned. I guess there are comics, and then there are comics. 8. Frazz, 7/7/2003 Growing up is hard. First you aren't old enough to stay up for late-night shows, and then when you do, the hosts retire. Fortunately, Stephen Colbert starts his "Late Show" run this September. 7. Stupid human/pet tricks medley The Doozies, 5/13/2015 Drabble, 7/17/2000 Kit 'n' Carlyle, 3/17/2001 6. Reality Check, 10/18/2000 It may be a little rude, but the gap in Dave's teeth is part of his iconic figure. (Check out this "Off The Mark" for another view) 5. The Flying McCoys, 9/20/2006 The GoComics archives from the '90s and 2000s are full of these "Leno vs. Letterman" debates. The Flying McCoys get right to the heart of the matter in this classic strip. 4. The Doozies, 5/20/2015 Nobody does a tribute like Tom Gammill and "The Doozies." 3. Jeff Stahler, 5/19/2015 At first, things seem OK without Dave on TV... 2. Drabble, 5/15/2015 ...then reality sets in. 1. Gary Varvel, 5/19/2015 Great strip from Gary to bring it all back home. Hope you enjoyed these strips, and congrats to Letterman and his team for an excellent run. #ThanksDave! (Honorable mention goes to Big Top, for the sequence in which Wink went on Letterman to challenge Courtney Love to a cage-fighting contest) Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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I woke up this morning to find a bunch of confetti, sketch pads and empty champagne bottles littering my front yard. This is not an unusual site for a weekend night, but was a little odd for a Tuesday morning. "Must be some kind of holiday," I said. "Cinco de Mayo?" my wife asked. "I don't think so," I said, scrolling through my social media feeds to find out what was up. Oh yeah! It's National Cartoonists Day. People around here take it pretty seriously. Like so many others, I grew up wanting to be a cartoonist (or a doctor/NBA player as a backup). I sketched cartoons about a mad scientist named Sotdoly and also drew Simpsons characters on index cards which I would trade for either small change or Triscuits. It was an auspicious start. However, I wound up doing more writing/editing and less writing/cartooning, and after college I landed an internship writing marketing copy for Universal Press Syndicate, which eventually became a full-time editing job here at Universal Uclick. So if I wasn't going to be a cartoonist, I could at least work on their behalf. Friends and family members will ask me what cartoonists are like, and I tell them it's impossible to make any sweeping generalizations. Every one of them has his/her own style, and that variety of talent and approach is what makes the comics page (and GoComics.com) so interesting. Some cartoonists work months in advance, and others can hardly bring themselves to write until the deadline is staring them in the face. Some sketch out roughs and send them in for feedback, while others use only tablets and computer screens. Some work early in the morning and others stay up all night. The thing these individuals have in common is that they all followed their dreams and worked incredibly hard to get where they are. (read the full cartoon above over at Richard's blog) Cartoonists can be strange individuals, or they can blend in seamlessly with the rest of society, but they're usually hyper-attentive to the world around them, always storing up material and generating ideas that could bring life to their characters and the worlds those characters inhabit. Being a cartoonist is often less a childhood fancy than a lifelong compulsion. Many of them will tell you that they never considered being anything else, even if they did have to work a variety of jobs to get where they are now. As Savage Chickens creator Doug Savage writes: If you’re a creative person, you need a creative outlet only slightly less than you need food and water. Spend time doing something you love, every day, even if you can only spare a few minutes. You never know where it will lead! Doug's quote above came from his "Meet Your Creator" blog post, which is an ongoing series we've been running for a couple years now. The series offers a fascinating, first-person glimpse into our cartoonists' studios and working methods. If you have any... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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Have you hugged your copy editor lately? Well maybe you should, because it's National Proofreading Day, an occasion dedicated to promoting mistake-free writing, and also one of the most festive holidays of the year after Arbor Day and International Tuba Day. But before you brake out the beer funnels, kazoos, and Wite-Out, lets all take a moment too apperciate hte impotence of proof-readers every were because, with out them we all all wood look like fools. (You see what I did there? Excellent. You're hired!) When it comes to keeping errors and typos out of the funny pages, comics editors like me owe a lot to the people around us — our co-editors, production specialists, paginators and the newspaper editors who run our features — any of whom might point out a mistake before it makes it into print. And, of course, there's the readers themselves, who often aren't shy about pointing out our editorial shortcomings. One old guy in Tucson used to send us his own marked-up copies of the crossword puzzles. In one case, the published clue was "Mariachi wear" and the answer was "Serapes." He wrote: "Mariachis seldom — if ever — wear serapes!" Now I'm not one for tattoos, but that phrase seems as worthy of ink as any I've ever heard. All jokes aside, proofreading can be a serious business. At best, errors are a distraction for the reader, and at worst they can create a skewed or false understanding of the news. Typos also make the writer, cartoonist or editor feel bad about themselves. To lighten things up, here's a series of classic GoComics features honoring the art and science of proofreading. Click on each image to view more from each strip. And have a fantabulous National Proofreading Day. — Lucas Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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I don't really buy into the whole "Friday the 13th" thing. To me it's just a bunch of silly superstition. I don't think a single bad thing has happened to me on a Friday the 13th. Except for August 13, 2009, when I came home from work to find that my toolshed had been struck by lightning and had caught on fire. Or Dec. 13, 2013, when I got chased through a parking lot by a headless horseman on a Segway. Or April 13, 2012, when my pet basset hound, Snifflez, got her vanity collar caught in the sliding doors at Aldi. Or Feb. 13, 2009, when my (former) friends convinced me to see the Michael Bay-produced reboot of the "Friday the 13th" series. Come to think of it, Friday the 13th hasn't been especially kind to me (or Snifflez). But this year, I've developed an antidote to supplement my regular Santeria sessions: A list of 13 GoComics features perfect for enjoying on a superstitious occasion like today. Enjoy! (And watch your back). 13: Non Sequitur It doesn't take much to spark Danae's active imagination, especially to the spooky side of things (she does sleep beside a skull lamp, after all). Read more Non Sequitur here. 12: Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson Speaking of overactive imaginations, the "haunted cubby" sequence back in September of 2011 still stands out as one of the most frightening mysteries ever to occur at Blisshaven Preschool. 11: Pooch Cafe by Paul Gilligan And there are few canines out there more fun to watch freak out than Poncho of Pooch Cafe fame. (though this Overboard is a pretty great example as well). 10. Adam@Home by Rob Harrell Adam@Home is not known for being an especially scary strip. But if you ask me, there aren't many more terrifying subjects than family members who can't take a hint. 9. Political Cartoons (by various) If you want to really freak yourself out while reading cartoons, look no further than GoComics' roster of editorial cartoons. This Tom Toles strip is a particularly vivid example of the role fear plays in the news/infotainment sector, though I'm sure there's probably a similar strip out there mocking MSNBC for the same thing. I'm not taking any sides, but I have definitely witnessed how riled up Fox News makes my grandparents. The Great Depression, World War II and McCarthyism didn't scare them, but a couple hours of cable news sends them into hysterics. 8. Skin Horse by Shaenon K. Garrity and Jeffrey C. Wells Now we're really getting into creepy territory... Skin Horse is a strip based on the premise that "Somewhere in this great nation is a top-secret government agency in charge of providing aid to America's nonhuman citizenry." To paraphrase a recent Skin Horse strip, "there's no cure for mad genius." Thank goodness for that. 7: The Worst Thing I've Ever Done by Ted Rall This serialized edition of Ted Rall's classic crowd-sourced confessions provides a window into the darkness of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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Those of us who work at GoComics feel pretty comfortable with the idea of being grown-ups who read, edit and promote comic strips for a living. I always wanted to work in the humor/art/entertainment industry on some level, so it's a natural fit. But lately I've felt an extra level of appreciation for the craft, having watched my 2.5-year-old daughter encounter some of the GoComics characters and features for the first time. It started, as it often does, with Snoopy. We found some animated shorts on Netflix (produced by Peanuts and with editorial input from folks like Stephan Pastis) and introduced her to the Charlie Brown Halloween and Christmas specials last year, which she loved (who wouldn't?). She likes to point to the characters, say their name out loud and laugh, occasionally looking over to us for affirmation. It's a fun way to watch TV. Next, I brought home a coloring book I found at the office which includes characters like Ziggy, Heart of the City, Fox Trot and others. She did an especially amazing job coloring Baldo, even if the purple skin and green hair she gave him didn't quite match our official color guide. I sent Mark Tatulli a picture of her coloring of Heart of the City and told him that if he ever needed a back-up colorist, I knew someone who would work for cheap. At the Joslyn art museum in Omaha (a pretty fantastic place if you're in that part of the world) we saw a graphic novel exhibit in the children's wing that prominently features Big Nate creator Lincoln Peirce. The framed, original Big Nate artwork looked right at home on the wall of the fine arts museum, and seeing it on display reminded me how detailed, expressive and balanced his artwork is, especially in the graphic novels. Not that our daughter was paying much attention, since she was busy drawing pictures in the kids' craft area. It was a different story the following week when we got her her first ever McDonald's Happy Meal, which made us feel like generous and also terribly irresponsible parents at the same time. The Happy Meal toy was a cool little Big Nate book that came with stickers. I pointed out Nate, Teddy, Francis, Gina, Jenny and Artur to her, but I didn't see Chad. If you ask me, that's a pretty big missed opportunity. Chad would be an excellent spokesperson for just about any kid-friendly eating establishment. Then again, I can see why he might not be an ideal fit for a company trying to promote healthy eating options in spite of themselves. Either way, kids love Chad, Big Nate, Heart, Charlie Brown and so many other GoComics characters I haven't mentioned here. As adults, it's easy to understand and explain what about the artwork and writing makes a certain feature successful. But kids appreciate this stuff on an intuitive level, experiencing a genuine delight when they see these characters. It also makes me feel proud... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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Heavy week in the world of editorial cartooning. As mentioned in previous posts on the subject, all of us have been watching the events in Paris closely and with great sympathy. We've received several media queries wanting to get our take, and even though we do represent many editorial cartoonists, this story is less about businesses like ours than it is about larger issues of free expression, confronting terrorism, and what it means to live in a free society. Still, given that the title "Charlie Hebdo" refers back to Charlie Brown (an important figure here at GoComics HQ), it's hard not to take things a little personally. While my own inclination is to internalize and reflect on these events rather than share my opinions and interpretations, our cartoonists don't have that luxury. Within hours they were sending in work relating to the attack, and it's not by accident that the fountain pen has emerged as the most iconic symbol in these cartoons as a whole. Today I'd like to share a few images and links that have helped me process this week's events. First, a few words from our friends in the Eurozone, Wulff & Morgenthaler, creators of the hit strip WuMo: Today's Bad Reporter portrays our own national media in a withering light — a bold, but (I believe) necessary statement from someone who isn't afraid to make it. (I also just adore the image of the angry old journalist in front of his computer.) Cartoonist Ted Rall shared his thoughts yesterday in an article for the Los Angeles Times. It's a good read from a cartoonist who isn't afraid to ruffle feathers in service of making a statement, in which he recounts his own connection to the Charlie Hebdo staff and acknowledges the innate power of cartooning and the courage it takes to carry it out. Some of the most interesting analysis and comparisons I've seen of European and American editorial cartoon responses to the tragedy comes from the excellent Weekly Storybook Comic Strip of the Day blog. It includes detailed discussion of different cartoons, links to other galleries and some good perspective on the cartooning business and the importance of free speech. One of the most constructive things I read was a profile about the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists themselves, which a friend of mine wrote for the German magazine Der Spiegel. The article pointed out that Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Bernard Verlhac, whose pen name was Tignous, was a member of the organization "Cartooning For Peace." While his drawings were often controversial, skewering former president Sarkozy as well as those in clerical positions, Tignous clearly wanted his cartooning to be a positive social force. "If I knew that each of my drawings could prevent a kidnapping or murder, or remove a landmine, then I would not sleep anymore and would only draw," he said (my translation). Cartooning, as Ted pointed out, takes courage. Not just to tackle difficult subjects using artwork, words and symbols, but also to share... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2015 at Laugh Tracks
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When Jack Nicholson shouted "You can't handle the truth!" to Tom Cruise in the 1992 film "A Few Good Men," moviegoers were greatly moved by the intensity of the scene. If the same line was delivered today, however, Tom Cruise might instead say: "Actually, I've found a very concise and hilarious vehicle for delivering me the truth, one panel at a time. It's called Truth Facts and you can read it every day on GoComics.com!" Truth Facts is brought to you by the same Danish masterminds that created WuMo. It turns the fabric of our social decorum into swiss cheese-cloth, not just reading between the lines but translating what's written there into witty, irreverent observations that fit perfectly into stylish graphs, charts and pictograms. People who have already been reading Truth Facts might have noticed that the strip hadn't updated in a few weeks, but after working out a couple of kinks in the production pipeline, it's been restored to its once-a-day glory. Below (and above) are a few highlights from the past month. But I highly recommend starting with today's strip and working your way all the way to its launch earlier in the year. Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2014 at Laugh Tracks
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When this WuMo ran a couple of weeks ago, we had a couple of client papers pull it in advance. They didn't like the idea of a baby getting hit by a truck. Neither do we, of course. But I personally thought the WuMo guys did a great job of making a wry point about people's obsession with their cell phones. When I take my kids to a park there's always one or two parents who don't look up from their phones the whole time. The beauty of the comics is that even when depicting — or hinting at — a gruesome situation, you can still make a point and no one gets hurt. As one commenter put it, "it's funny because it's true." The Doonesbury Sunday series of Zipper's legal pot growing business continues to be outstanding. It's a topic you won't see anyone tackle on the printed funny pages, or probably anywhere else, at least not at this level of quality. With more states expected to put legalization measures on the ballots in 2016, this pioneering saga will only have more and more relevance. There are a lot of remarkable things about this two-part sequence from The Quixote Syndrome. For one, this has got to be the most prominent featuring of male anatomy anywhere on GoComics, much less in a dismembered state. For another, the story is all true. Read part 2 / The Prequel here. My favorite line of the entire month (in addition to the afore-linked "You stole my penis!") has to be "I know you've heard of history's greatest master. His name was Mister Pringles." Read more Basic Instructions here. Poncho has an amazing imagination. And so does Pooch Cafe creator Paul Gilligan. Have a great Thanksgiving, folks, and stay tuned for more blog goodness all weekend long. Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2014 at Laugh Tracks
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Here at GoComics, we have a strong social conscience. And today that conscience is telling us to remind everyone to get out and vote. While you're waiting in line to pull the ballot, check out all of these Election Day comics right here in this handy, dandy compendium. Happy voting! Fritzi and Nancy voted! A touch of cynicism from Momma The polls are on fire in Brewster Rockit The strange afterlife of "Congressguys" discussed on Real Life Adventures Goober, Block and Tonto: honest fools running for office in today's Baldo Here are some more Election Day offerings from GoComics political cartoonists: Stuart Carlson Bob Gorrell Jeff Stahler Jerry Holbert A good note to end on, from Chris Britt Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2014 at Laugh Tracks
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We don't exactly have giddy grins on our faces this morning in Kansas City (far from it, in fact), but we can all agree that this MLB postseason was an exciting one. Now, if I could only stop replaying the last inning in my head... Read more Win, Lose or Drew toons right here on GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2014 at Laugh Tracks
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Drabble is often described as a family strip, a safe and pleasant feature that readers of all ages rely on for its relatable humor and consistent chuckles. But in reality, Drabble is often a vehicle for some pretty intense moments of drama and conflict. Last month, for example, Norm found himself in a pretty rough pickle while seated at the outfield of a Major League Baseball game (click here to jump to the beginning of that storyline). I thought of this while walking around the outfield at a recent Royal's playoff game vs. the Angels. Albert Pujols, who had been mostly quiet in the first 2.5 games of the series, drove a deep ball back to left center that you could tell pretty quickly was gone. The home run cut the Royals' lead to 5-2, and the crowd quieted as Phat Al rounded the bases. Moments later, though, a chorus of cheers rang out from the home crowd. Someone had thrown the home run ball back onto the field — a hilariously defiant gesture that pretty much says "take your home run and stuff it." Once again, life had imitated Drabble. The Royals went on to win that game and are now facing Baltimore in the American League Championship Series. If you read on to the conclusion of the Drabble story, you'll find a pretty satisfying conclusion as well. But the Drabble drama is far from over, as you'll see from today's strip (below). Banned from Pumpkinland!?! You're going to have to stay tooned to see how this one plays out. Until then, enjoy the playoffs, and don't forget to read your daily Drabble. Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2014 at Laugh Tracks
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When I hear the word Sweden, three things come to mind: Swedish Chef, Swedish Fish, and the films of Ingmar Bergman. But recently, I have learned there is a fourth thing: Ikea! That's right -- the Swedish furniture superstore opened up a location here in the Kansas provinces last week, and since then my family has purchased a couple of classy diaper bins and several hundred meatballs. As anyone who has purchased larger items at Ikea knows, however, the company cuts back on costs by leaving much of the assembly to the buyer. I experienced this with a baby crib a couple of years ago, but it was fairly intuitive. Some of these other products, however, are not so easy, as illustrated by WuMo: Argyle Sweater has a great take on this as well: If only it were so easy. I don't have a third comic today, but to keep in accordance with the rule of threes, here's a nice parting shot of this guy: Happy shopping, Kansas City! And if you make a date with Ikea, don't forget to follow the arrows. Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2014 at Laugh Tracks
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Since being introduced to American newspapers in fall 2013, WuMo has been picked up by over 350 publications and media outlets. A longtime favorite in Europe, WuMo's sharp humor, social irreverence and general hilarity have made it a fan favorite here as well. Writer Mikael Wulff and illustrator Anders Morgenthaler are willing to skewer just about any topic, and though not all of their gags make it into print, WuMo never loses its edgy spirit. Below are a dozen of my recent favorites. You'd be hard-pressed to find anything on the funny pages with this level of artistic detail and startled, bug-eyed expressions, to say nothing of the offbeat humor and subtle — or stinging — social commentary. Enjoy! Read more WuMo comics every day right here at GoComics! Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2014 at Laugh Tracks
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Like so many others, I've grown up with Adam@Home. When I first read it in the Kansas City Star in the '80s, I was a kid who enjoyed Clayton and Katy's sense of mischief and Adam's interest in computers (we had a spiffy Apple IIGS at the time). These days, as a sleep-deprived parent with perpetually disheveled hair and an ever-present mug of coffee in front of his MacBook, I can identify much better with Adam himself. Hard-working Laura's skepticism and dry sense of humor keeps the rest of the family in check, while baby Nick makes everyone smile without needing to say a word. While the artwork and color in Adam@Home has always bounced right off the page, it's really Brian Basset's (and now Rob Harrell's) writing that sets it apart from other family strips. Adam@Home is full of goofy ideas and little details, seamlessly incorporating over-the-top humor into everyday settings. Even better, the characters seem to genuinely like each other, giving the strip a warmth and charm that you won't find on television or even many other places on the funny pages. Recently I've found myself going back through the archives on GoComics (available from 1995 on) and appreciating how much humor and weirdness Bassett was able to wring from what looks on the surface like a very ordinary suburban life. The settings in Adam@Home were always fairly normative (manicured lawns, stucco houses, streets and drive-thrus lined with minivans), but the characters' wry observations and overactive imaginations made it clear that these neighborhoods were actually made up of quirky, whimsical individuals like the Newtons. It's a strip that promotes individuality by gently lampooning the universal. While as a younger person I mostly read Adam as a good-natured spoof of the middle-class family life, I now view it as a healthy way of retaining one's sense of humor in the face of growing older. The beauty of this (and other) comics is that they all mean different things to different people, and without a doubt Adam@Home has left — and continues to leave — a lasting impression on many thousands of readers each day. So before you dive into your favorite Adam@Home book collection or dig into the GoComics archives, please join me in raising a hefty mug of hot coffee in a birthday salute to one of the funny pages' true originals. Happy 30th, Adam! Subscribe to Adam@Home here! Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2014 at Laugh Tracks
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In recent years, the Tyrant Lizard has met its comeuppance — at least in the comics pages. I'm not sure exactly when the "look at the dangerous dinosaur with the funny little arms!" meme started, but I've seen some doozies. Most of them have been on the Web, with the T-Rex facing difficulty with everything from push-ups to self-gratification. GoComics has seen some winners as well, like this Brevity from 2011. Mark Parisi of "Off The Mark" had a pretty good one here back in 2010. More recently, the opening week of WuMo (in syndicated form — the strip itself has been thriving for a decade online) saw T-Rex in one of his most pathetic poses yet. To me, this was really the gold standard of "T-Rex with tiny arms" gags, far surpassing any of the indie-t-shirt offerings that sprout like weeds on the sidebars of the junk news sites I visit each day. It requires no words, and the expression on his face and the motion blur of his little left arm make us feel sorry for him even as we laugh at his plight. It could have easily been the last word in the conversation, but for good measure, Comics Sherpa standout "Rogue Symmetry" recently dealt the meme another blow (while simultaneously scoring laughs) in this now-viral panel. Good stuff. And a good point. But I somehow doubt we've seen the last of the simultaneously fearsome and helpless tiny-armed dino. Why? Not just because it's funny, but because of what the fearsome T-Rex with the pitiful arms symbolizes: Humankind. Humans can erect huge cities, fly all over the earth and into space, harness the power of the atom and instantaneously connect to people all over the globe. But when it comes to halting or reversing the effects of climate change, removing harmful chemicals from our food supply, or achieving peace between nations (or on our own streets), human beings are as helpless as a T-Rex reaching for a roll of toilet paper. Does that sound a little overly cynical? Perhaps. Surely there is plenty of laugh at about humanity that will eventually be parodied in hilarious detail by whatever life forms inherit the planet after it's done with us. But since that might take another 65 million years, I'll just keep on enjoying these T-Rex comics while we have them. Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2014 at Laugh Tracks
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Comic strips are like little windows outside of time in which events, conversations and jokes unfold in a rhythm untroubled by the pressures of our daily lives. Whether we're reading them at breakfast just before school or work, on our phones while hunched on the bus, or while sitting lazily on the couch, comics momentarily alter the way we experience time. An action sequence or dialogue that might take just a few minutes in real life feels natural stretched out over 6 or 7 days in the funny pages. We enjoy existing in that world a little bit at a time, as if we are distant yet nosy friends of the characters themselves. So it's especially fun to read comics on a mellow Saturday morning, when there really isn't much else that needs to be done. I especially liked the above "Heart of the City," which pays tribute to weekend inertia. My activities this past Saturday a.m. — drinking coffee, playing with our daughter and basically doing a whole lot of nothing — matched up almost perfectly with the strip itself. (Though I did succeed in watching the entire 1987 classic "Can't Buy Me Love" on ABC Family, a film I imagine Heart would enjoy as well). Even aside from those similarities, I thought Heart's words in the last panel contained an important message to make the most of the moments when the ordinary pressures of life aren't weighing you down. Do-nothing Saturday mornings are a special time, and we can often make the most of them by (somewhat parodoxically) doing nothing. And when it comes to finding a little bit of escape during the rest of the week, we can always read the comics. Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2014 at Laugh Tracks
I'm excited to see the new documentary, "Stripped," and will probably purchase it on iTunes unless I can wait until the showing at the Kansas City Film Festival next week. I can tell just by looking at the trailer that the film is going to prompt some interesting discussion. Take, for example, the remark by Chris Hastings that "it's actually about independent artists vs. artists working for a corporation." (Hastings draws the enormously popular and original Dr. McNinja, which combines the visual impact of a classic action comic book with the offbeat humor and quirky sensibility of a webcomic. I have a signed copy of "The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Vol. 1" and am a big fan.) Chris's statement places cartoonists into two camps, print/syndication vs. web/self-syndication, and hints at a struggle between old and new; aka the little guy vs. the "big corporation." A rousing and familiar narrative, to be sure, but is it really that cut and dry? Do all newspaper cartoonists sit in an office building and slave away at their comics while smug guys in suits siphen away the proceeds, while on the other side of town hip, young dudes and ladies kick back in a loft space, draw their strip whenever they please, upload to the web and watch the money roll in? Not exactly... In both cases, the artists operate as individuals, working from home, a studio, or on the road, and keeping their own schedule. The difference between a syndicated cartoonist and a web cartoonist is that the syndicated cartoonist makes a business arrangement with the syndicate, hiring them to create sales kits and marketing materials, personally present it to newspaper editors and publishers with whom they have relationships, bill clients for their costs, promote the strip, negotiate book and calendar deals, identify licensing possibilities, handle permissions queries, introduce the strip to international clients/partners, handle processing and distribution of the files themselves, and answer client questions, sales queries, media requests, etc. The cartoonist, meanwhile, is (ideally) able to focus on writing and drawing the strip itself, though of course they do have input and awareness of the other aspects as well. Web cartoonists, on the other hand, are responsible for all aspects of their property, including writing/illustrating/publishing the strip, marketing and promoting it, and creating products such as books, prints, t-shirts or other merch to create revenue. While it sounds like a wonderfully simple and direct model of doing business, any successful web cartoonist will tell you that it's not as easy as it looks. You have to invent a unique, entertaining, successful feature to attract an audience, create a system for creating, selling and shipping merchandise, be your own communications rep / brand ambassador / director of marketing, and probably lots of other important things that I'm leaving out. People like Chris Hastings, the creators of PvP, Questionable Content, Penny Arcade, Hark! A Vagrant and other successful webcomics demonstrate a crazy amount of discipline and hard-work, wearing many different hats in order... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2014 at Laugh Tracks
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I just wanted to call your attention to a couple of adventurous extended storylines taking place in the comics pages right now, in the middle of a blizzard. The first is taking place in Heart of the City, starting with the (above) 1/13 strip and continuing through the next couple of weeks. I got a sneak peak at some of the later strips in the series, and found it to be one of the more moving storylines I've seen in "Heart" or any other daily comic in quite some time. The other is happening right now in Pooch Cafe, and also started with the 1/13 strip, though where and when it winds up is anybody's guess. Guess you'll just have to keep reading to find out. Take care, and stay warm! Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2014 at Laugh Tracks