Start the year with a kiss. Good idea. And it happens all over the country, from sea to shining sea, at the stroke of midnight on New Yearâs Eve. We donât think about it much, but if youâre cartooning a kiss, itâs one of the more difficult ponderables. How do you draw people kissing? Where do you put the noses? How do you depict the conjunction of mouths? These are not easy matters for a cartoonist. In the Luann strip for today (below), Greg Evans displays his usual dexterity at renderingâsimply, definitivelyâthe complexities of this visual. Noses, mouthsâall in the right places to persuade us that kissing is going on.
Below Brad and Toni (being pestered by Toniâs niece, who often tags along to interfere with Brad and Toniâs romantic designs upon each other) is another comic strip kiss. For as long as Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott have been producing Baby Blues, Iâve wondered how the father, Darryl, manages to kiss his wife, Wanda. Darrylâs nose is just too humongous for easy oscillation. Last September, I saw a picture of Darryl and Wanda embracing with their faces close enough to suggest how they might be depicted kissing: Kirkman simply drew Darrylâs nose closest to the camera, sort of bypassing the actual point of contact, but Wandaâs face, behind Darrylâs proboscis, was, thereby, all but obliterated. Not good. The moment of lip-lock here is much more skillfully captured in a purely cartoony mode.
New Yearâs Day doesnât receive the attention on the funnies page that Christmas does. Very few “Happy New Yearâs” wishes clutter the panels. In the days of yore, it was different: lots of “Happy New Yearâs.”Â Maybe itâs because New Yearâs Day, except for the Parade of Roses and various football contests, is essentially a non-functioning day. One of the school kids in Jef Mallettâs Frazz says itâs just a “boring holiday,” explaining: “Like Columbus Day without the warmth. Iâll bet thatâs why my parents sleep through half of it.” Frazz, ever the diplomat, says: “Thatâs the theory Iâd go with.”
In Classic Peanuts, Lucy, after existing in the New Year for just a single panel, announces that “this year is no better than the last one.”
In Tim Rickardâs Brewster Rockit: Space Guy, the cast, like too many pundits at this juncture, discuss what to call the first decade of the 21st century. “How about the âaughtsâ like âI aught to look for a job.â” “Some call them the âzeroesâ like âI have zero money leftââor the ânaughtsâ like âI should naught have gotten that subprime loan.â” “Or the âohsâ like âOh, man, Iâm broke.â” At this point, the aged Year 2009 leaves, carrying his scythe and saying, “Goodbye.”
I like “naughty naughts” myself because it suggests the descent into nothingness that we have followed since the Bush League took charge first thing in the decade. In Patrick McDonnellâs Mutts, Earl the pooch says to Mooch the cat, “Hey, Moochâitâs a New Year!” Mooch ponders this announcement for a panel and then says: “What was wrong with the old one?”
Donât get me started.