Comic Strips, Making People Laugh Over and Over Again
Comic strips serve as a means to entertain, provoke thought and give a little laughter and pleasure to the reader. The author understands life and creates characters that communicate with their readers in a way that captures the reader’s attention and builds a loyal fan base that can be cultivated over a period of years.
Some of the popular comic strips of 2015 have been around for more than a decade because the authors have been able to articulate the reader’s values and opinions consistently in a humorous format. The readers appreciate the authors ability to communicate through satire, comedy, and innocence, what they value and therefore boost the authors popularity.
So, What Comic Strips are People Reading Today
The popular comic strips of 2015 include the long running Calvin and Hobbes. A boy and his stuffed tiger has been capturing reader’s attention for years. Bill Watterson introduced the witty boy and his stuffed tiger in 1985 and it has been one of the most loved comic strips created. Another long running comic strip that is cherished by many is Garfield. Jim Davis and his fat, obnoxious cat, Garfield, have been making audiences laugh since 1978 and hold’s the Guinness Book of World Record for being the world’s most widely syndicated comic strip.
Garfield, Jon, and Odie, the blissfully unaware beagle are the main characters in the strip and continually entertain their audience through Garfields laziness, Jon’s awkwardness and Odies ability to remain completely naive toward Garfield’s cynical nature.
While most comic strips are written toward the humorous side, some focus on politics and satire. Doonesbury written and sketched by Gary Trudeau is a popular comic strip that was launched in the 70’s and remains a favorite to this day. Trudeau’s art and ironic humor blurred the line between editorial cartoon and the funny pages. The comic strip frequently uses real life politicians which have been known to cause a lot of controversy around sensitive areas such as war, still, Doonesbury is one of the most favorite political comic strips of all time.
Another comic strip that is favored among the white collar workers is Dilbert. Written and sketched by Scott Adams, Dilbert is known for having humorous satire in an office setting. The comic strips popularity is contributed to the fact that many workers in the corporate world relate to Adams satire of office politics that hinders productivity.
Comic Strips are here to stay because People Need to Laugh
Popular comic strips such as Dilbert, are published in more than 2000 newspapers and online worldwide. People need to laugh and authors such as Trudeau, Watterson, Adams and Davis are delivering laughter everyday with their humorous writing, witty sketching and intricate art. They give their readers a moment of pleasure, thoughts to ponder on and in most cases, with boldness, say out loud what the reader is already thinking.
Provocative, witty and peppered with charisma, are the writers that bring humor and satire to a sometimes pessimistic world where we can just take a step back and laugh at ourselves.
Newspaper comic strips began at the end of the 19th century and their mark on the world endures today as having created beloved iconic characters that have appeared in books, television, and the big screen.
Before the internet, few homes were without the delivery of the daily and Sunday paper, and both adults and children followed the ongoing shenanigans of their favorite comic characters every day. As time and decades passed, many of the characters in comic strips became household names. The 1980s was one of the golden ages of comics, where popularity soared and comic characters became famous in a way that we today would describe as “viral”.
The Most Memorable Comic Strips of the 1980s
Many long-standing comic strips such as Peanuts (1950 – 2000) or Archie (1947 – current) have clearly stood the test of time. Yet, some of our history’s most recognizable comics reached their height of fame in the 1980s. Some of the comics that began right before the 80s integrated into pop culture and fame seamlessly. Many that were born in the decade that brought us big hair, rubber bracelets, and New Wave, made a strong debut and generated an instant fan base.
Garfield (1978 – Current) by Jim Davis – While this comic strip began in the late 70s, it took the 80s by storm. This grouchy, lasagna-loving cat grew to a level of fame perhaps only previously seen by Snoopy. This enduring comic strip is a mix of cuteness and sarcasm that follows Garfield and his interactions with his “owner” Jon and their family dog Odie among other recurring characters.
- Garfield made it OK to hate Mondays, to be sarcastic, and yet still have a soft spot for your teddy bear. From books and t-shirts to stuffed Garfields with suction cups for clinging to the car windows, Garfield was well-marketed and everywhere in the 1980s.
- The Far Side (1980 -1995) by Gary Larson – This single panel comic was often funny, sometimes surreal, and caused many a raised eyebrow during its run. 23 books have been published with comics from this award-winning syndicated one-liner. Nothing was off the table for Larson, and The Far Side spent a decade and a half poking fun at animals, people, puns, philosophy, culture, or oddities on a daily basis.
Calvin and Hobbes (1985-1995) by Bill Waterson – A mischievous boy named Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes go on grand, philosophical, and sometimes naughty adventures.
- To Calvin, Hobbes was very much alive and a full participant in all of their experiences, while Calvin’s parents and friends saw a stuffed toy of a typical six-year-old boy. It was very charming and reminiscent of Winnie the Pooh or Puff the Magic Dragon, yet contemporarily intelligent, timely, and sometimes serious.
- Bloom County (1980-1989) (2015 – ?) by Berkeley Breathed – The philosophical, political, and hilarious strip is in the midst of a reboot, but it has its roots firmly in the 1980s. With obtusely intelligent children like little Milo Bloom and Oliver Wendell Jones to adults with tragic character flaws and talking animals like Opus the Penguin and the somewhat catatonic Bill-the-Cat, nothing else like Bloom County ever existed in a comic strip. In fact, this strip alone, and its many books, spin-offs, and merchandizing may have defined the 80s all on its own.
FoxTrot (1988 – 2006) by Bill Amend – This is the ongoing story of the Fox family. Roger and Andy are the parents and they have three children: Peter, Paige, and Jason. This comic could likely be the reason behind the trend of nerds eventually becoming the new cool.
- Jason, the youngest son of the Fox family, is a highly intelligent kid with a passion for physics and programming. He debuted in 1988, long before being a geek was in style, and young readers identified with him and grew up along with the strip. Witty and insightful, the Fox family, friends, and pet iguana Quincy made us think and laugh.
Dilbert (1989- Current) by Scott Adams – Rounding out the end of the decade is Dilbert, a company guy with a tie that has never seen the underside of an iron. Ushered in at the end of the decade to meet the needs of the growing number of professional adults stuck in a cubicle or under the thumb of a clueless boss, this is the quintessential work satire in a comic strip. It endures still today, as laughing at the boss man or silly buzzwords never gets old.
Enduring and Endearing Comic Strips Continue
Clearly, this was not an exhaustive list of great comics. Other outstanding strips of social and comedy value such as For Better or for Worse, Ziggy, Family Circle, and others have come into our homes and hearts for decades at a time, survived the 1980s and more regardless of culture changes, with style and grace. It is simply that the memorable and exceptional comic strips not only survive and thrive, but impact and shape the surrounding world.
Why Comic Books Need Good Writing
Some people may call comic books juvenile, but this statement makes it clear they don’t read comics. Avid comic readers will tell you that the medium is home to some of the deepest stories ever told. Sure, there are books written for children. But nobody would call “The Godfather” juvenile only because “Dumbo” is also a film. Like any art form, there are markets for different customers.
There are comic classics that can stand up to great works of literature. While many see only pictures when they look at a comic book, most pick up a comic for the words. For the story told in the panels. The pictures don’t detract from the experience, they amplify it. Even with the most detailed artwork, a comic needs quality writing to keep the pages turning.
Frank Miller has earned widespread appeal in modern times due to the film adaptations of some of his work, including “Sin City” and “300”. Still, the writer gained the freedom to create his own books due to the notoriety he achieved working on classic comic characters.
Miller began as most comic writers do, taking assignments they don’t have much passion about in the hopes of establishing a brand. Working on several small titles in the late-70s, Miller eventually earned a gig at Marvel. His writing for “Daredevil” earned him fame and acclaim. So much acclaim, in fact, that he jumped ship to the rival company DC Comics. There he would create comic history.
His first offering for DC came in 1986, and forever changed the landscape of comic writing. This title, called “The Dark Knight Returns,” shows readers an older Batman, post-retirement. Much grittier than previous Batman stories, Miller brought the edge to Batman that catapulted the character to another spectrum. The old, angry Bruce Wayne, is lured out of retirement for one final oorah. (That is until “The Dark Knight Strikes Again”.) If readers could have only one book by which they criticize the comic industry, “The Dark Knight Returns” should be it.
Miller went on to create original works that were met with equal praise. He pushed the envelope in established brands before developing brands that stood toe-to-toe.
While most regard Stan Lee as the father of modern-day comics, Jack Kirby deserves an equal claim to that title. Kirby and Lee worked on many of the projects together that Lee is often connected to. This includes The Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the Incredible Hulk. Kirby also created the iconic Captain America character. This work is a telling statement by Kirby, as he is also a World War II veteran.
Kirby did not stop at Marvel. He moved on to DC and penned some of the most classic works published under their label. He came into the industry when comics were hardly noticeable, and he lent the books credibility through his unique creative mind. It could be said that there would be no comic book industry without the work of Kirby and Lee.
This Japanese comic artist and author is famed for the lavish worlds he creates. Toriyama began publishing comics in Japan’s “Weekly Shonen Jump” comic anthologies. There, he would pen short works that would develop over the course of several months. His first work, “Wonder Island” was published in 1978 and received moderate reviews. Fame came quickly on the heels of his next series, the comedy “Dr. Slump.” But in 1994, Toriyama created the series that etched his name into comic legend.
“Dragon Ball” was an instant success in Japan, having sold over 150 million copies to date. The story tells of a young boy named Son Goku who is sent to Earth by a dying race, much like Superman. Also similar to Superman, Son Goku is incredibly naive and has advanced fighting abilities.
The story was later advanced in the follow-up “Dragon Ball Z,” which brought Toriyama even more praise. The series also spawned a line-up of successful television programs and films.
Aside from comics, Toriyama lends his artwork to video game characters. His unique style and voice developed him an identity that few can match.
More Great Comic Authors to Be Found!
The three names mentioned above all share a common perseverance and creativity. Their writing brought readers to new worlds in a medium that still fights to be called “art”. The stories crafted by these masters can measure up to the quality standards founds in other forms of entertainment.
There are many other comic authors who deserve notice. Authors who break the silly notion that comic books are only for children.