Thursday, March 02, 2023


 The funnies. That's what my dad used to call them. This was not his invention, but it is where I learned to call the section of the newspaper filled top to bottom with comic strips The Funnies. At that time in my life there were a number of these that I looked on with confusion and eventually glossed over completely. One of these was Rex Morgan M.D. I could not gather my concern for Doctor Rex and his soap opera cavalcade of patients. Likewise, much to the dismay of my father, I had little to no interest in the adventures of Prince Valiant. Sunday morning sword and sorcery? No thank you. 

Snuffy Smith and Barney Google generally got a pass from me, as did Andy Capp. Truth be told, I was really there for just one thing: Peanuts. Back in the day, Charlie Brown and his pals were right up front, a half page just above the fold. It was there that I found my joy, and Snoopy. And if I felt I could manage the time, I would go ahead and leaf through the other five pages of this full color Sunday treat. Beetle Bailey and maybe a little Blondie. And somewhere in that mix came Wee Pals

Morrie Turner's strip was like a woke version of Peanuts, not that Chuck Schulz was that conservative himself, but it was in Wee Pals that I first encountered the idea of Rainbow Power. I credit Mister Turner with sparking a kid's understanding of social justice. The polyethnic mix of children sounding off in thoughtful ways was just what I needed in my white suburban enclave of Boulder, Colorado. 

Eventually this led me to Doonesbury and eventually of the comics page entirely. By high school I had, for the most part, left The Funnies behind. When I did check in, it was for Bloom County and to sneer at Cathy. As open as my mind ever got, I could never be that interested in a woman with no nose trying on bathing suits. 

Somewhere in there, a comic strip snuck in there called Dilbert. It told the story of a cubicle worker. It was funny for a large cross section of cubicle workers. It became a big enough sensation that it spawned an animated version that ran for two seasons. The comic strip continued to run in papers across the country until it turned out that the creator, Scott Adams, was a racist. To get an idea of how low his recent hateful rant sank, Elon Musk chose to pop up to support him. Now Dilbert will be missing from The Funnies, which begs the question: Was Dilbert ever really that funny? I think I'd rather read Rex Morgan, M.D.

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