After a week of thrashing around trying to imitate political fervor, I’m relievedÂ now to return to the tamer niches of this precinct, namely comic strips instead of editorial cartoons. And this time, weâre looking at things we rarely seeâfor instance, these two Blondie strips from the last week in October.
Single panel Blondie! Unprecedented? If youâve followed the history of Chic Youngâs durable domestic drama, you might recall the long horizontal panel depicting the marriage of Blondie and Dagwood on February 17, 1933. And if youâre passionate about such things, youâll have the first volume of IDWâs Blondie: the Complete Daily Comic Strips from 1930-1933 in your library, and you can find this memorable panel for yourself.
ButÂ if you dig up that strip, youâll see that it is not, your memory to the contrary notwithstanding, a single panel strip: the wedding scene is the second panel of a three-panel strip.
Having frustrated my own memory of that historic Blondie incident, I am now at a complete loss about whether there has ever been a single panel Blondie. And so I suspect the specimens we have at hand are, as I said, unprecedented. And both occurred in a single week.
In our first clipping, dated October 27, the elongated format underscores the joke by emphasizing the length of the line of people tugging at Dagwood. But in the second instance, the joke is what old man Dithers has emblazoned on his Superman costume for the office Halloweâen party, and the elongation of the scene doesnât serve the joke. It permits a panoramic view of the crowd at the party, but thatâs scarcely essential to the gag.
So whatâs going on? Have Dean Young, Chicâs son and the stripâs manager, and his gag writer given up sequential art in favor of the Non Sequitur and Rhymes with Orange format, a format made increasingly popular by such other single-panel spasms as F-Minus, Brevity, Tundra, and Bound and Gagged?
Time will tell.
In our excerpt, below, from Dilbert, another nearly unprecedented occurrence
Has Scott Adams ever before depicted anything from a perspective other than the side? Profiles abound in Dilbert. ButÂ here we have the pointy-haired boss and Dilbert himself on opposite sides of a desk as seen from up above, over the bossâs shoulder. Suddenly the strip has dimension and, perhaps, even life.
Below that, Linus abandoning his faith. Unprecedented, I ween. His unflagging faith in the gourd god, subjected every year to severe trial, has never faltered. Except this time. Any other instances? Dunno. I await your reports.
Yes, I said Iâd taken a much-needed break from editorial cartoons, but the three Iâm showcasing herewith fall into the category of “unusual” if not, actually, unprecedented. And two of them have nothing to do with the recently conducted News Media Orgy (i.e., midterm election), and the other one, only tangentially connected to the aforementioned National Disturbance.
I canât read the signature on this one (Lowell?), but itâs an artful deployment of the visual resources of the medium in a way not often seen in political cartooning. Sergio Aragones once did an entire collection of cartoons in which the shadows of the participants contradicted what they were actually doing, but editoonists have not much resorted to this telling device for depicting the raging hypocrisy that infects politicians. Maybe weâll see more of itâthe device, not the hypocrisy, which is already so rampant that no increase is likely to be detectable. (It would be like identifying a single snowflake in a blizzard.)
Mike Luckovichâs cartoon is the first Iâve ever seen use the device he deploys.
The entire jokeânot to mention Luckovichâs point, that OâBamaâs stature has shrunk below that of the host of a fake news broadcastâdepends upon the ambiguity of the “speech” in the first panel. Whoâs speaking? The second panel tells usâand thereby makes Luckovichâs point. But I havenât seen the “cluster of words” format of speech balloon used in this way before. Clearly, the traditional speech balloonâwith a tail pointing to the speakerâwouldnât work.
And hereâs Eric Allie, using color in a new and lovely way.
His visual reference is to the riots a couple of weeks ago in France, and Iâm not sure what his point is. Is it that rioting in the street is more civilized, tamer, than American politics in an election year? Maybe.
In any event, itâs his deployment of color that struck me. Solid shapes, no outlinesâsomewhat in the manner of many contemporary animated cartoons. Striking. And now that newspapers are using color more and more, perhaps weâll see cartoonists getting a little more experimental, bolder, with color.