Tuesday, April 27, 2010

When Dinosaurs Ruled The Comic Page

Tuesday Newspape Strip Day.

Last time I showed you some early B.C. Sundays, animation director John Kricfalusi linked here from his blog (see the link on the right), saying he used to read this strip when he was young, but lost interest when it lost it's voice in the sixties. This is something I have heard more often and franly, I don't agree. I to, think that B.C. is on eof the freshest, funniest and sharpest strips of it's age, but what surprised me when I looked at it a little bit closer, is the fact it didn't lose its egde until somewhere in the seventies. and even after that, up until the nineties, some flashes of brilliance occur. Is this atrick of memory most people have? That they know it became less special at some point, but they can't remember exactly when that was, so they say it's in the sixties (because they can't imagine anything holding it's freshness longer than say, seven years)? I actually think there might be another reason. If you look at these Sundays from 1966, you'll see they are as good as any of the earlier ones I have shown here. In fact, personally, I think this period is the highpoint of the strip. There was a color book of Sunday gags that was full of this sort of stuff from the seventies and sixties and if you can get your hands on it, you should. I think it was called Color Me B.C, but someone will correct me if I wrong. But what yo also see if you look at these strips, is how much the upper tier is missed. I have said many times that I think most strips are better with their third tier added, but what if that was actually truw? What if the fact that were three or four strips on each page in the late sixties, influenced peoples perception of the strip itself? For one thing, at a certain point Johnny Hart lost the freedom to direct the timing of his gags, because papers would more often than not cut away any panels that seemed superfluous...

It wasn't until later i the seventies, when artists strated incorporating the restrictions the newspapers were giving them and started limiting their creative possibillities that the comic stip as a whole took a nose dive. I personally see the appearance of the two tier version of the tabloid strip (two long tiers stacked in such a way that four or five strips could be placed on each page) as the turning point in the downfall of the American newspaper strip.

So enjoy these mid sixties strips and let's hope someoene somewhere will publish a collection of the best Sundays in their full three tier glory.

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