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Sunday Comics

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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.

XKCD

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.

Sheldon

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

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.

Yeah For Comics!

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So, apparently there is a whole society devoted to cartoons, the National Cartoonists Society. Who knew? Not me, until this weekend, when I found out that Richard Thompson, the author of one of my favorites, won Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year. You can see a list of all this year’s winners here.

Richard Thompson’s comic, Cul de Sac, is about a 4-year-old (sound familiar?) named Alice and her family, who live in the eponymous neighborhood Cul de Sac. There is the usual cast of wacky characters, including the melancholy older brother, Petey; the busy mom; the commuter Dad, whose tiny car sometimes gets lost in the sand box; and a whole host of friends who attend Blisshaven Academy preschool. Alice is dead on, often bossy, sometimes cranky, and occasionally far wiser than her years. Petey is a fun character, too. As the older, wiser brother (I think he’s supposed to be around 8 ) he usually tolerates Alice’s antics fairly well, but the outside world sometimes makes him try to chew his arm off. You can check out Cul de Sac on GoComics, or buy books and other paraphernalia on Amazon.

Another of my favorite cartoonists, Dave Kellett of Sheldon and Drive penned a comic about the award weekend. Funnily enough, it mentioned two more of my faves, Randall Munroe of xkcd and Bill Amend of FoxTrot.

Check ’em all out!

Good-bye, Spirit

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Spirit, the intrepid little Mars rover has not responded to the last attempt from NASA to contact it. Satellites orbiting Mars will continue to passively listen for signals from Spirit, but the odds are against the poor little guy, who’s circuits probably froze in the bitter Martian winter.

Originally scheduled to be a three-month mission, Spirit persevered for 5 years until it finally got stuck in a sand pit. Even then, it bravely continued on as a stationary observatory on Mars. Spririt’s “twin,” Opportunity is still going strong, and the mega-rover Curiosity is scheduled to land on Mars next summer.

Good-bye, Spirit, and thanks for all the knowledge!

Read the full story here:
http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-rover-spirit-mission.html

And a cute comic about Spirit from xkcd:
Spirit

Fly Well, Endeavor!

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Just a quickie, tonight. As you probably already know, the penultimate shuttle launch was this morning. (Don’t you just love that word? People should say “penultimate” more.) And it’s the last launch ever for Endeavor. I don’t have any original thoughts on it, but I did want to link to this xkcd comic that says […]