This is Lucas's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Lucas's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Lucas
Recent Activity
Image
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
Image
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
Image
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
30
Image
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
Image
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
Image
Ultra-imaginative illustrator Grant Snider encourages us to take a look at our nation's poetry beaucracy in this fantastic schematic. Though poetry is a somewhat marginalized, often shied-away from art form, I was thinking earlier today just how much an impact it has on other kinds of writing, including sequential art. Although they seldom write in formal verse, cartoonists make use of the same lyricism and economy of language used in poetry. In other words, poetry is to other forms of writing what ballet is to football. Does that make sense? If not, I have a feeling the bureau in the ground-floor of this illustration might revoke my poetic license. Again. Read more Incidental Comics over at GoComics. And if you like Grant's work, be sure to order something from the Incidental Comics poster shop. Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2014 at Laugh Tracks
Image
As if picking out Christmas presents isn't enough pressure already, Jen Sorensen's colorful recounting of the Perkins' holiday shopping debacle introduces a whole new crisis of conscience. Makes me nostalgic for the days when our grandparents would just go out to the woodshed and make a hobby horse or something by hand. Sadly, those days are gone. But I've got to admit — the excellence of the Rudolph sweater in panel 3 surpasses all irony. Read more of Jen Sorensen's work on GoComics, including her chilling take on what it will be like when airlines allow cell phones. Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2013 at Laugh Tracks
Image
When I need a break from modern-day jokes about Amazon delivery drones or the debacle of HealthCare.gov, I like to take a look back at some of the large-format classic comics such as those presented each week in Peter Maresca's Origins of the Sunday Comics. So it was with great delight that I discovered one of our GoComics features, Working Daze, had decided to present its own origin story in weekly installments, starting with the 9/22 strip below: I hadn't previously realized that Working Daze, originally launched by the venerable Montgomery Syndicate, was an 101-year-old feature. Some of my comic-expert friends tried to convince me that it actually isn't, citing dubious Internet sources such as Wikipedia. But when it comes to comics, the legend is always more interesting, especially when the legend includes passages like this, from History of the Working Daze part 8. To read the ongoing series, simply visit gocomics.com/workingdaze or add it to your daily GoComics lineup. The current custodians of the brand, John Zakour and Scott Roberts, are doing a great job, but with such a tumultous history, there's no telling how long they will last. --Lucas Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2013 at Laugh Tracks
Image
While traditionally op/ed cartoons have accompanied print newspapers' hard news and opinion columns, there's something rewarding about being able to access a larger body of work of op/ed cartoonists like Matt Bors on GoComics. Taken on their own, they are good for a laugh, a quick appreciation of art, and perhaps some discussion or internal debate. In clusters, however, they become time capsules of what issues are up for debate in that particular week/month/year. Bors' August output, which I've excerpted from below, is a great example of this. The side-panel face off of Barack/USA and Putin/Russia in this Matt Bors op/ed from last week is nothing short of brilliant. As is today's devastating panel on Egypt: While our sales materials place him solidly in the left, Bors' satirical edge is sharp enough to cut through partisan labels right to the absurd core of any situation. He can make you laugh hysterically while slyly delivering a message. The magnetic poetry, french press and blackberry really sell this scene. Read new Matt Bors cartoons twice a week at GoComics. Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2013 at Laugh Tracks
Image
I hope you've been reading Nancy lately, as it's been a fun, edge-of-your seat advenure that started Monday at the clubhouse locale above and continues into next week. Start here to read the whole series. I also wanted to give a quick shout out to Guy Gilchrist for all the talent, dedication and hard work he brings to Nancy. Guy just delivered the commencement speech at Nossi College of Art in Tennessee last week, and he's a great example of someone who puts his heart and soul into whatever he does. Storylines like the current one are funny and colorful but also draw attention to important issues, with the perpetually young protagonists handling adversity with a grace beyond their years. Take today's strip for example: Also, today's strip brings another classic United Features / GoComics property into the equation: Tarzan. (As you may know, I am somewhat conversant in Mangani). Happy weekend to you all, and starting next week my posts will be appearing on Tuesdays. Bonus contest: Can anyone tell me what the Spanish-language version of the "Nancy" comic is titled? Winner gets a mention in the GoComics blog. Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2013 at Laugh Tracks
Image
In my native Kansas City, food culture is becoming more and more of a "thing." From Anthony Bourdain's regular visits to local barbecue joints to new food websites popping up, the chatter about new eateries and local delicacies is getting to a broiling point. Me, however — I take more of an Arlo approach. His line in the last panel of Tuesday's Arlo & Janis is a great variation of the "eat to live, don't live to eat" mantra that I'll be sure to quote next time I get stuck in a conversation about the merits of farm-to-table dining and raising one's own chickens. Another good source of foodie/locavore skepticism is Jeff Stahler's Moderately Confused (above). Jeff does a great job of skewering the latest trends, including restaurant and coffee shop culture, social media and the way people communicate. Be sure to check out ModCon on (where else?) GoComics. Thought I had more comics to share with you, but the week is almost over, and writing all of this is starting to make me pretty darn hungry. Have a fun and nourishing Labor Day! Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2012 at Laugh Tracks
Image
Nine out of 10 scientists agree: The universe is expanding. So is GoComics — and not just in the way you might think. Obviously, hundreds of new cartoons are added to the site every single day, but what you might not be aware of is how many of our fine features are concurrently having their archives expanded as well. Our fearless leader of digital features, David Ohman, has been working with his team to go through, scan and expand the GoComics backlogs of many of our classic strips such as Pearls Before Swine, Jump Start and dozens of others. Along the way they'll be adding some exclusives like the complete archives of Tom Toles' Randolph Itch 2 AM (above) and some classic work from Cul de Sac and Richard's Poor Almanac creator Richard Thompson. We'll make sure to keep you posted on what's been added, and you can also feel free to click around GoComics and let us know what else you'd like to see on the site. In the meantime, digital features specialist David Coates has set aside this gallery of classic UU and United Media comics that are popping up on GoComics even as we speak. Enjoy! A vintage Jump Start The always amusing Frank & Ernest The fabulous Grand Avenue The ridonkulous Drabble A couple of gems from The Born Loser A rather scintillating Betty classic And finally, a magnificent mega-panel of an unusually meditative Marmaduke. Thanks again to Mr. Coates for hand-selecting this gallery, and to Mr. Ohman and crew for working to bring these GoComics classics to the viewing public. Happy weekend! — Lucas Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2012 at Laugh Tracks
Image
While nobody seems quite sure how to fix Europe's financial woes, I believe I've stumbled upon one solution: start adding more comic strips to the newspapers. Fast. I first noticed a correlation between comics in newspapers and economic strength last week while reading the Wall Street Journal's report about investors fleeing the Eurozone for safer havens in Scandinavia. Just one night before, the president of our international division, Kerry Slagle, had been telling me about how strong a market Scandinavia is for our comics. Places like Greece, southern Italy or Portugal, on the other hand, run very little if any American comics features. Are you noticing a trend yet? If not, I'll go ahead and extrapolate: European nations can greatly improve their odds of thriving economically by running Universal Uclick comic features. First, I must admit that these are by no means scientific observations — just a bit of sophistry aimed at getting our friends across the pond to invest a bit more in laughter. As Mr. Slagle pointed out, Comics in the newspaper are a very American institution, and most European papers have only a couple comics at most. However, there are rumblings of more widespread comics appeal in Germany, the Eurozone country I'm most familiar with. The Museum of European Culture in Berlin is currently running an exhibit called "Comic Life" that showcases examples of how comics have emerged as a medium of entertainment, expression and even political awareness. The news network Deutsche Welle has a great feature about the exhibit and the rise of comics in that country. Last year I also stumbled across the above image of Garfield just across the street from the offices of the Leipziger Volkszeitung, Leipzig's daily broadsheet. Snoopy was on the sign's flipside (Not surprisingly, Snoopy, Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes are the most popular features in Europe). I also received a hardcover German edition of Gary Larson's "Cows of Our Planet" as a birthday gift last year. So the next time your friends Reinhold, Isabella or Jacque complain to you about debt insolvency in the Schengen countries, quietly slide them a copy of the 2012 UU catalog and urge them to contact their local newspaper. It might not clear up Europe's financial forecast overnight, but it would certainly make those bitter pills of economic worry a little bit easier to swallow. Plus, there's nothing quite like seeing "Frank & Ernest" speak Italian. Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2012 at Laugh Tracks
Image
As I warned readers of GoComics in my new staff bio, I plan to feature GoComics features that are especially relevant to today's topics and events. However, even I am surprised at how timely today's Brevity was, coming one day after an announcement that Adobe is advising Reader and Acrobat users of a critical security flaw. Take a peek at the comic: Note: Astute commenters have pointed out that there is no "Acrobat Reader" per se, that it's either Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat. Then again, the unauthorized hybrid program might explain why this guy's computer exploded. Also relevant to this week's events is Bad Reporter's take on the McKayla Maroney meme, with a bonus helping of a Randy Travis AND a Mitt Romney story. Bad Reporter, for the uninitiated, is like a one-man Onion / Daily Show / newspaper comic all in one feature. If you aren't subscribing to this one by email already, I highly encourage you to do so. Not only will you get a chuckle, you'll find out about sordid news headlines you might have known about yet. That's how on top of it the Bad Reporter is. Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2012 at Laugh Tracks
Image
Definite M&M vibe today on GoComics today, thanks to Argyle Sweater and Lola, preceded by yesterday's Off The Mark. Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2012 at Laugh Tracks
Image
Have you ever heard of this mega wombat? I hadn't either until today, Believe It Or Not. But I can't think of a better way to kick off the week. Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2011 at Laugh Tracks
Image
If there is any doubt that Poncho is the baddest pooch in the funny pages, let it be crushed like the pile of airbrushed skulls on the side of this cosmic conversion van. This masterpiece of Pooch Cafe fan art was created by Dave Coates in honor of the strip's 10-year anniversary last year. Dave has worked as Pooch Cafe creator Paul Gilligan's assistant, and we're now lucky enough to have him doing in-house production work here at Universal Uclick. "It seemed like the world wouldn't make as big a deal of the milestone as I felt it deserved, and I thought it'd be a fun challenge," Dave said of the van, which is tricked-out with images of sparkly bacon, space snakes, and several other details worth a closer look. Although the van has been around for a few months now, the summer months seem like a perfect time to take it out for a spin here on the Laugh Tracks blog. Who knows, you might see it parked at Lolapalooza in a few weeks, or next month at Flaming Dog (Burning Man's lesser-known canine cousin). Cheers once again to 10 years of Pooch Cafe, congrats to Paul, and thanks to Dave for sharing the art. As for the rest of y'all, keep on Moochin! Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2011 at Laugh Tracks