So I posted that last post, got up, walked across the room, and started thinking again. I hate it when that happens.
Most people’s expose to comics is by way of the newspaper “funnies.” Personally, I feel that these pages are crap with some real gems in there (Get Fuzzy being the best that newspapers have to offer right now, although Opus has promise) but the fact remains that they’re what most people think of as being “comics” and that most of what’s on the funny pages isn’t funny… er, I meant to say: “is for kids.”
With a few notable exceptions–Mary Worth, which I don’t think anyone reads, For Better or For Worse, Dilbert, Doonesbury, and The Boondocks being what immediately springs to mind–the funny pages are devoted to comics written for kids or “for the kid in all of us.”
There’s an alternative, though, in the form of alternative papers, but they’re cartoons are always political. I’ve not yet seen an alternative paper that even bothered to try to have comics that were adult without being soley or mostly political in nature. My local alternative paper carries about three articles, twenty pages of ads, and a few cartoons: This Modern World, The Boondocks, and single-panel political-ish (not lampooning current events, just right-wing ideology) which is so terrible that I can’t be bothered to remember the name. This politics thing is pretty much the case with the adult-oriented cartoons in the mainstream papers with the political cartoons themselves, Doonesbury, and The Boondocks making up the “adult” part of the comics section.
Of course, the syndicates have as much to do with this as anything, but I’m disappointed in the alt. weeklies inability to find even a local cartoonist to try to create adult comics that aren’t political.
If one thinks about it, though, the most successful comic strips have been the ones that intruded on “adult” themes beyond politics. Calvin and Hobbes had some pretty adult humour in it; Dilbert is probably as boring to kids as Garfield is to me, but is a real hit with their parents; The Far Side played well with adults; Peanuts is morose and depressing in a way that hits at some adults (although I’m not sure of how many anymore; Peanuts is now, in reprint, a nostalgia act taking space away from new cartoonists).
So, perhaps, a good way to begin to convert the adult population of the United States to the idea that “comics aren’t just for kids” is to get some non-kid stuff on the Sunday funnies. Of course, trying to sell something like that to the syndicates is ridiculous on its face…