Hello, folks! Last week in Cold Brood, I covered the five least funny comic strips still in syndication. My beef with these is that they simply are not funny. To recap, the offending titles included Broom-Hilda, Blondie, Beetle Bailey, Hagar the Horrible, and the abysmal Fred Basset.
Now, allow me to share my top 5 countdown of the absolute most hilarious strips to ever grace the funny pages. Without further ado:
5. Garfield (by Jim Davis). Ok, so the fat cat who made his debut in 1978 isn't as funny as he once was. But I cut my teeth on Garfield from the time I was old enough to read and, darn it, the early stuff was funny. About the time creator Jim Davis quit writing and illustrating the strip and hired a team to tackle it, the lasagna-loving, mischief-making, dog-despising feline started down the slippery slope to meh-dom.
4. The Lockhorns (by Bill Hoest). The ever-feuding man and wife who first bickered back in 1968 somehow manage to stay fresh week after week in the Sunday funnies. Maybe it's because we all know someone like them, an aging couple who trade deadpan potshots with one another. Why do they stick together if their marriage is so miserable? Well, it's more fun than if they were divorced and trading alimony checks or death threats.
3. Non Sequitur (by Wiley Miller). This laugh riot started in 1992 as a single-frame cartoon before evolving into political satire and finally, in its current stage, a more traditional multi-panel strip centering on the Pyle family from Watchacallit, Maine.
2. The Far Side (by Gary Larson). This uproarious funfest ran from January 1, 1980 through January 1, 1995. Not before and not since has a single panel brought about such hilarity (in this blogger's humble opinion). Larson is a master of understatement, which composes the core of The Far Side's humor.
1. Calvin and Hobbes (by Bill Watterson). The ultimate comic strip about a hyper-active and hyper-imaginative boy and his stuffed tiger who periodically comes to life (or does he?) is the stuff of genius. It ran between November 1985 and concluded beautifully on December 31, 1985. Watterson somehow managed to tackle issues such as education, environmentalism, bullying, and family ties by infusing it with sharp wit and biting satire. Never once during my in-depth reading of C&H did I ever shake my head and sigh. Always hilarious, often poignant, sometimes thought-provoking, what made this cartoon even better was Watterson's unflinching integrity in refusing to license his characters: no stuffed animals, no Saturday morning cartoons, no bumper stickers. Just pure art. And pure fun.
So what do you think? Am I on target? Any fans of the funny papers care to add their own favorites? Can't wait to hear from you on this.