Since it’s Sunday, I’m going to talk about comics today! I’ve previously mentioned some that I like in this post, but, lucky you, now I’m going to tell you why I like them.
Calvin and Hobbes
My oldest-favorite comic is Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson. I remember (vaguely) when it first came to my little hometown newspaper. I liked it immediately. The irrepressible Calvin has the usual kid-ventures with home, school, friends, and play, but with the added twist of his stuffed tiger, Hobbes, whom he sees as completely real. Some people say that Hobbes is a manifestation of Calvin’s conscience; he is often telling Calvin that a particular exploit might not be such a good idea. I think he may be more of an older version of Calvin, though. He is still fun-loving, but he thinks through the consequences of their actions a little better, and he thinks kissing girls might not be so bad.
The modern comic I’ve been following the longest is probably xkcd. This is an Internet-only comic by Randall Munroe. It’s sarcastic and nerdy, two of my favorite things. Although it is generally inhabited only by stick figures, a few regular characters have emerged, including the main guy, a geeky girl (possibly named Megan), a really weird guy with a beret who likes scones, and a sociopathic (but lovable) guy with a flat hat. This comic often has punchlines that involve math, physics, and other science-y things. If you don’t get it, you can always check the forums, where someone has likely already explained it. It is also sometimes about relationships, and can be risque, so it’s not always family-friendly.
Another webcomic I love for its nerdy content is Sheldon, by Dave Kellett. Sheldon is a 10-year-old who wrote some kind of software and now owns a multi-billion-dollar company called Sheldonsoft. Sheldon lives with his Gramps; a talking duck named Arthur; Arthur’s “son,” a lizard (don’t ask) named Flaco; and his pug, Oso. I got into it because of Oso; the author owns a pug himself and occasionally does a pug comic that is just right on. Dave has also started a second webcomic called Drive, a space opera. It’s more serial and less laugh-out-loud funny than Sheldon, but still fun.
FoxTrot is an oldie that I’ve just discovered. It’s fun comic about a family with three children who get up to all kinds of antics. My favorite is, of course, the younger boy, who is a huge nerd. It’s pretty widely syndicated, so look for it in your paper.
Cul de Sac
I found Cul de Sac, by Richard Thompson, not too long ago after seeing quotes from Bill Watterson about how great it was. This is another strip about a family, the Otterloops, but this one is centered around 4-year-old Alice. There is a supporting cast of her little friends at Blisshaven Preschool, each with their own personality. I love the way Alice is portrayed – Mr. Thompson really gets preschoolers. Alice is often bossy, and occasionally mean for no apparent reason, but she is generally a bright, creative, energetic child just doing her best to figure out the world around her. Then there is her family: a mom and dad, plus big brother Petey, and and occasional appearance from a grandmother. I think Petey is supposed to be around 8 years old. He prefers laying on his bed reading comic books about a boy who lays on his bed to any sort of actual physical activity. He does have a few friends, including a girl named Viola, on whom he may or may not have a crush, and who may or may not have a crush on him; Andre and Loris, whom he met at comic book camp; and Ernesto, who may or may not be imaginary. Petey is more of a caricature than Alice (I guess a normal 4-year-old is funny enough), but he may be my favorite character. In fact, I think Cul de Sac is probably my favorite comic right now. You should check it out.