Funny business: Because they’re free!

Ever since everyone in my elementary school class was taught how to read The Herald Tribune (go ndéanai Día trocaire air), way back in 1961 or so, I have loved the daily funnies. I remember waking up early when I was in high school, heading for a local coffee shop, and starting my day with a cup of coffee and The Waterbury Republican.

There were all kinds of funnies, and I had my favorites, which I assiduously saved for last each day.

Ferd’nand by Mik (found at

Dondi, by Irwin Hasen. Found at Mr. Blog’s Tepid Ride

And my all-time favorite:

Rick O’Shay, by Stan Lynde.

Other strips, the soap operas like Mary Worth and Apartment 3-G, did nothing for me and I just skipped over them.

Remember that, there’s going to be a test.

Finally, when the newspapers ceased to be practical because of the internet (around 2002 for me) I became a fan of webcomics.

Webcomics are great. They are directly responsible for my hooking up with my wife, whom I love with all my heart and soul (even though she scared the living daylights out of me this morning at 3 AM and we hates her, hates her, hates her forever precious), and I’ve had to be selective about which ones I read, because there are thousands of them out there, and so many of them are top-drawer.

Some strips have discussion fora attached, one of which was how I met above-mentioned beloved wife (who is still in the doghouse). Most forum participants enjoy discussing and speculating about each day’s strip and upcoming plot possibilities, as well as an entire universe of random topics that crop up; indeed, a forum can become a living community. But there’s a strange phenomenon that afflicts these virtual villages: some people take up residence for the express purpose of being critical of the subject matter. Like the poor degenerate I mentioned in this post, they plunk themselves down and blow raspberries at the strip and its creator, day after day, without end.

Now, some of these people are just trolls, but there seems to be another phenomenon operating here. Like people who leave a religion and then spend the rest of their lives complaining about it, these netizens seem incapable of finding joy in anything positive, but must needs expend their energy complaining about something they hate. For the love of Mogg and his entire holy family, with thousands of webcomics out there, where is the value in reading something that annoys you? Coming back to my newspaper days, I can equate this phenomenon with my taking the time to hand-write a letter to the editor complaining about how boring and insipid I found Mary Worth, and threatening the artist with bodily injury and death. Every day.

A particularly egregious example of this sort of inanity is found at the “Bad Webcomics Wiki” (no link provided):

Essentially it’s nothing more than one man’s cesspool of hate and piss; the author is flat-out miserable, and assuages his pain by inflicting his misery on the rest of the world.

It’s not only the forums, either – artists get direct hate mail from readers, and it appears that this was even the case before the advent of the internet. Gary Larson’s The Pre-History of the Far Side contains some absolutely choice correspondence from people who found his cartoons offensive in some way or another. His response, in addition to mocking them in a published work, was

Teresa Burritt, the authoress of the offbeat Frog Applause, regularly posts hate mail from people, and recently blogged about it; I count a number of cartoonists among my personal friends, and some of them have shared correspondence with me that would either curl your hair or amuse you no end, depending on how you looked at it. Most of these artists take this sort of impotent vitriol in stride, and either ignore it or make a point of mocking it publicly to further enrage their detractors. Others I am acquainted with have a hard time with the sound and fury, and I hope they can get to a point of tranquility where they don’t allow the noisy idiots to dampen their spirits.

This whole essay was spawned by today’s Sinfest, by Tatsuya Ishida,

and another creation by Paul Taylor, author of the inimitable Wapsi Square:

The whole point here, which I recommend warmly to everyone who ever read a webcomic that they didn’t care for, is this:

Life is far too short to waste your time on such negative energy. If you read something you don’t like, for the love of Mogg’s holy grandmother, just ignore it. Better yet, find something positive to do – anything at all – and do it. As Artemus Ward said to the orfice-seekers pestering Abraham Lincoln:

“Go home, you miserable men, go home & till the sile! Go to peddlin tinware — go to choppin wood — go to bilin’ sope — stuff sassengers — black boots — git a clerk-ship on sum respectable manure cart — go round as original Swiss Bell Ringers — becum ‘origenal and only’ Campbell Minstrels — go to lecturin at 50 dollars a nite — imbark in the peanut bizniss — write for the Ledger — saw off your legs and go round givin concerts, with techin appeals to a charitable public, printed on your handbills — anything for a honest living, but don’t come round here drivin Old Abe crazy by your outrajis cuttings up!”

A better sermon I have never heard.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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