Pearls and cartoons

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

What’s the difference between cartoons and comics? No, this is not a trick question.

Comics, according to one source, “are a series of drawings that tell the sequences of a story or an incident in picture form.” These are what we used to call “funnies,” because they were originally meant to be funny.

A cartoon, on the other hand, is a drawing or a series of drawings that tell a story quickly, and may be humorous, satirical, or dramatic.

Hmmm. That doesn’t exactly clear things up, does it?

I take comics seriously. No, that’s wrong. I take reading comics seriously, maybe too seriously, and stack newspapers for weeks until I’m sure I’ve read them all. This gets complex when we visit Jean for a week or so and read the comic pages of the Washington Times, where I have to resort to subterfuge to grab the comics first. On Sunday, we buy the Washington Post, which has one of the largest and most interesting comic sections in the country.

Trouble is, when I get home, I also feel obliged to read whatever comics I missed in the AJC.

“Why?” says Dave. “They’re just comics. You haven’t missed much.”

I know, but when I miss a lot of comics I miss my parallel universe. I want to know who is this Dan fellow in Mark Trail, and what happened to Foxtrot, and who in the world are those nasty characters on the left page?

That’s when I discovered that I can read a month of comics at a time via and a couple of other mass sources.

Dave loves Get Fuzzy; I read it, but hate it. Overboard is barely tol’able, Rhymes with Orange is sometimes terrific, usually not, and the new one, On a Claire Day, has potential. The bottom three strips and Non Sequitur on that page are junk. Sometimes Dog eats Doug is cute.

But while I merely glance at the left page, I savor everything, although in varying degrees, on the right page. My all-time favorite is For Better or for Worse.

Like savoring dessert by eating it slowly, and last, I start with Blondie, then move right to Family Circus and Lockhorns, then down the right column, left to Cathy, and up through my runner-up favorites to (ta, da!) FBorFW.

Several years ago, I wrote the editor of the comics page, Frank Rizzo, to complain about a strip that went missing while we were in Europe, and, following my rule that if you complain, you have to voice approval in equal measures, I told him how much I liked a new strip called Raising Duncan. It was a sweet little story about a writing couple and their Scotch terrier and cat.

Oddly, Mr. Rizzo and I both used the term “sweet” about Raising Duncan, because it fit so well. I should have known that in less than a month, the endearing little family was toast. The syndicate dropped it, and Chris Browne, its creator, pulled the plug on Duncan.

(Note: I just discovered that is running Raising Duncan as “Classics,” and I enjoyed a pleasant half hour reading strips I don’t believe I’d seen before.)

For years I’ve been begging for the puzzle Cryptoquote, my favorite mental workout. Experts on aging say it is highly beneficial, especially for the elderly, to sharpen one’s mind by doing puzzles – it may prevent dementia.

Anyhow, Rizzo always cites lack of space as the reason, and that’s reasonable. So when Pearls Before Swine ran what I consider an offensive strip, March 31, I wrote Mr. Rizzo that he’d have room to perform a public service by replacing Pearls with Cryptoquote.

Huh. He writes back that Pearls is wildly popular, nationally and in the Atlanta market, and very politely adds that I don’t have to like it. And while he admits that Cryptoquote is “often requested,” he cautions me that it is unlikely to be added, and extremely unlikely that Pearls will be pulled.

’Tis a difficult job he has, trying to keep everyone, if not happy, at least amused. Let him know when you really like new strips or hate them:

He doesn’t mention whether he finds the March 31 strip offensive, just defended it as one of the most popular strips in the country. (That in itself scares me a little.)

The offending strip? It’s entitled “Pig and Britney in Rehab.” Britney is sitting at the base of a tree, when Pig runs up, all upset because he doesn’t have a drinking problem and they’re kicking him out of rehab.

“I’m gonna miss you,” he says to her, and she replies, “I’ll miss you too, Pig.” The second panel has no dialog, but in the third and last panel, Pig turns his back to Britney and says: “You really need to start wearing underpants.”

Cartoon or comic? Doesn’t matter. Either way it’s tacky.

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