I had to respond to a MetaFilter post about a writer claiming that “For Better or Worse” is “the best comic in the 111-year history of the modern newspaper strip”. (pardon if I’m repeating some points from previous blog posts here… I had to get it ALL together for the Filter) I think his description was a bit incomplete. “For Better or Worse” is the best Canadian comic strip ever. Although I must nod agreeably to one thing he said: “What’s the matter with Kansas?” But probably not for the same reason.So what is the Best Comic Strip ever? Let’s run down the usual suspects…
Obviously, “Calvin and Hobbes” should receive a lifetime achievement award for fulfilling a specific set of goals and quitting while you’re ahead.
“The Far Side”? I think “Bizarro” was always just as funny and it still is… and two other random one-panel comics, “Speed Bump” and “Reality Check” are not generally as good, but have had some great singular moments. If only “Non-Sequitur” would LOSE the regular characters…”
Best ‘silly’ comic ever? “Frank and Ernest” (whose creator just passed away, but he’d left the comic to his son years ago).
Current single best comic strip: “Over the Hedge” (I cringed when they announced the movie, but even Bruce Willis couldn’t ruin it). The ‘animals commenting on human life’ theme is excellently done, but not overdone. The characters are well defined, unique, and funny, and their interaction works. I just wish they’d redesign Verne the Turtle’s face…
The “Charles Schulz Memorial We Know You’re Just Coasting But You’re Still Very Good” Award goes to “Dilbert”, with “Opus” a solid runner-up.
A big “Uh-Oh” to “Get Fuzzy” which is drifting into the realm of “Garfield but with bigger words and better art”. And “Pearls Before Swine” is no longer making it look easy – just last week it had a gag so bad, Rat went to Stephen Patsis’ desk with a gun and said “This is for your own good” (which I must admit was a far superior gag than the one he was responding to).
Best “Family Strip (because it’s a helluva lot more like families really are these days)” goes to “Foxtrot”.
Still, with “Hedge”, “Dilbert”, “Fuzzy”, “Pearls” and “Foxtrot” every day, plus “Frazz” (coolest school janitor ever) and “Candorville” (best strip with Black characters since “Boondocks” got boring) and “9 Chickweek Lane” (sexy toon females plus a madaman philosopher) and “Kudzu” (even though Rev. Will B. Dunn has pretty much taken over) and “Sherman’s Lagoon” (better than talknig animals – talking FISH!), you can fill a page with as many good daily laughs as I remember you ever could. (And I grew up when “Peanuts” was cool!) And that’s without throwing in the obligatory “Peanuts” reruns and still-uneven-after-all-these-years “Doonsbury”.
Then you just add all the good webcomics (and despite “Achewood’s” rep as the first big edgy webcomic, there are several others at least as good), and I, after taking careful consideration all the factors, pick as the ALL TIME GREATEST COMIC STRIP:
It’s Brenda Starr, which since Mary Schmick (the true author of “Wear Sunscreen”) has been writing it, has parodied Bill O’Reilly, American Idol. celebrity chefs in general and most recently “Gone With the Wind” with its current ‘Old Hollywood’ storyline. It’s so cool, the Comics Curmudgeon won’t touch it… (Seriously, the premiere blog dedicated to making fun of old-style comic strips has never commented on Brenda. That says a lot.)