From the Funny Pages

To illustrate that I’m not continually beholden to the serious side of life, I’ll share my favorite daily comic strips — both as a kid and now. All appeared in the old Dallas Times Herald when I was growing up, a newspaper I read almost every day from age six through the last days before going off to college. Today, though the Times Herald is long gone, these once again are available daily, online.

Spider-Man – I never failed to read this childhood favorite, an American hero mis-portrayed as a bad guy by the media. Peter Parker often found himself inescapably shackled to his down-on-luck humanity — and sometimes, to the Kingpin’s concrete floor. [How does he keep getting out of those hopeless predicaments, imposed both by the villains and by his awkward love life?] I was pleased the movies were so smartly made and true to the characters, except that the classic Mary Jane from the newspapers is far, far more beautiful than Kirsten Dunst. I always preferred Stan Lee’s newsprint version over the comic books as well, and am disappointed for my 11 year old son’s sake that the Spider-Man books today contain some unnecessary, left-leaning social commentary and occasional mild profanities. | about and online |

Heathcliff – The epitome of cattitude — a cat with attitude, a bonafide tough guy who simply could not be intimidated. That’s a personality trait I appreciated enormously and carried firmly within me as a youth — sometimes too much for my own good; so it’s natural I would gravitate toward such a comic character. Cool and fiery all at once, this rugged ne’er-do-well feline rejects no food and relishes any chance to beat up the most snarly, gator-toothed dogs he encounters. He was far more entertaining and edgy in print than on the cheesy TV shows. | online | about |

Andy Capp – another tough guy — and a rugby playing, philosophizing, pub-and-couch dwelling, good-for-nothing, rent dodging English headlander, who takes no crap from anyone except his bigger, stronger wife, and who would be classified as blue collar if he ever had a job. His blunt, yet clever British wit paved the way for my later appreciation of Benny Hill and other comedies from the far side of the pond. | online | about |

Snuffy Smith – Snuffy was a hilarious, shotgun-totin’ hillbilly always staying one step ahead of “them revenuers.” With a backwoods wit and ornery wisdom only a redneck could appreciate fully, Snuffy guaranteed me at least a smile a day. | about | online |

Hagar the Horrible – The wandering viking warrior and explorer seemed to have a thousand arrows flying his way every few days, in between trips to the pub. As a kid I wanted his gorgeous, prodigiously top-heavy daughter Honi to come to life, and often. | about and online |

Zippy the Pinhead – Th’ comic that makes th’ reader think, but offbeat enough never to be boring. Zippy seems to have been born somewhere between here, yonder and th’ Twilight Zone (not surprisingly, a favorite TV rerun of mine as a kid). | about and online |

Blondie – If Zippy epitomizes the bizarre life, this exemplifies the ordinary daily existence. But despite that, and despite its long-running status as one of the most popular comics worldwide, I always read it when I see it. I guess I can relate to Dagwood’s clumsiness, forgetfulness, voracious appetite and (as of the last few years for me) very happy marriage to a stunning, creative blond who is far smarter than he. | about and online |


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