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Is this supposed to be funny?


Oh, I get it – the operative word here is “cartoons”, and the joke is that the current political situation is a different “cartoon” from the one Jeffy and PJ usually watch. Ha. Ha. That’s a real knee-slapper. I’ve got nothing against The Family Circus and I’m not trying to turn into the Comics Curmudgeon – but today’s Family Circus is badly written and poorly composed. Perhaps they should leave the political humor to Garry Trudeau.

  • I think it’s about kids’ response to seeing news coverage pre-empting their precious cartoon shows.

  • Don’t get me started!

    I have no clue what the problem is with newspaper comic strip creators these days. The Blondie strip was the *ONLY* one in today’s local paper that was even MARGINALLY funny.

    Have xkcd and Dinosaur Comics just ruined me for newsprint, or have the funny papers really gone as downhill as it seems?

  • I look at this as a statement to what ever happened to the cartoons that were on TV. Look at the state of saturday morning cartoons. Remember syndication had the best cartoons on weekday afternoons?

  • Spencer

    Its no laugh fest, but I don’t see what the big deal is. I think its funny.

  • Pete

    Tom the Dancing Bug is a great weekly, while Lio is a really good daily.

  • Lurch Poiuyt

    Seems like typical Family Circus to me.
    Too bad Perry Bible Fellowship isn’t really around anymore.

  • The problem with most comic strips, is they lack variety. The artists only want to highlight the main characters, or the characters that are the most popular, to ensure their strip will be read. Boondocks was great in it’s first year when it focused on 4 or 5 different characters, but later it became a strip only for Huey and his brother (friend?).

    Garfield for the most part has always been about Garfield and Jon. But Jim Davis (and his current artists) don’t seem to want to focus on any supporting characters, have them carry a week’s worth of strips.

    Some strips creat a family of characters, and then don’t even bother creating any others. Examples are Pickles, Baby Blues, and Family Circus.

    Get Fuzzy used to have several supporting characters such as Joe, the two ferrets, and Rob’s family, but they haven’t made an appearence since I don’t know when.

    Scott Adams’ Dilbert is really the only strip right now that still keeps all its characters in the spotlight. Adams even still tries to create new characters instead of always relying on known ones.

    But even Dilbert isn’t as funny as it was say 5 years ago. As I said in another board, Scott Adams these days is relying too much on “circular humor”, that is, comic stories that go in a loop (you could read the strip over and over again infinetly, and the story would make since)

  • First of all, when was the last time they actually showed cartoons (morning or afternoon?) on television? Most cartoons are shown on kids networks – and the last time I looked, neither Nick or Disney interrupted their cartoons for news shows.

    Second, I think most comic strips are out of touch with society and people – trapped in the bubble of “the way things were” circa the Norman Rockwell era many decades ago. It’s not that they’re not funny anymore, they’re ….just not good, at all. 99 percent of them. I find obituaries in most newspapers much more entertaining than the comic strips of today.

    Ok, now I’m turning into a curmudgeon. I’ll stop now…

  • I remember liking Family Circus when I was about five. Now it kind of embarrasses me.

    But people, I think you’re forgetting that they keep strips like Family Circus and Peanuts up for the old folks out there. So they don’t feel like time is passing them by, which, of course, it is.

  • Wait! The PBF is not around anymore? Noooooooo!

  • This is why all you folks should be reading cutting edge webcomics!!!

    I think what works against the gag is the timing, Oct would have made it more relevant.

  • david

    I also thought it was supposed to be news coverage preempting their cartoons, but then that gag makes no sense. Do they watch the Simpsons? Whens the last time a political debate(or anything for that matter) interrupted Nickelodeon, or PBS…

    Sports and bad weather are the only things that cut into cartoons.

    Logic aside, it’s still not funny…

    Now if it was the New York times cover on the TV…

  • David Breneman

    Is Gary Trudeau funny? I thought he was just hip and ironic. And he can’t draw anyone without dark circles under their eyes. Nor can he do charicature, which is why all the famous people in his strips are puffs of smoke or twinkling lights or little wavy lines. Great talent there.

  • When I was eight years old, I threw a holy terror tantrum when Bugs Bunny & Tweety was canceled so ABC could cover Princess Di’s funeral.

    Looking back in retrospect, the cartoons were still more important.

  • Belieeeeeeeeeeve me….I caught it!! Don’t you remember….when YOU were a tot glued to tv-toons….and some idiot (& mega-boring)poilitical thing took its place….for seemingly “DAYS!” Nothing would turn our stomach more. I’ll never forget when JFK died…..just imagine…..pre-empting “Linus the Lion-Hearted” (of all things) for “live coverage” of railroad tracks…..for endless hours!!

    Thank GAWD there IZZ such a thing, nowadays, as “CN”….and….far mo’ better….”Boomerang!!”

  • Chuck R.

    David, You’re being downright unfair to Mr. Trudeau. He has much more versatility as a caricaturist than you give him credit for. How about the White House rose garden with word balloons? Or the blip with the Trojan helmet? The man is the king of the photo-reference workaround.

  • Wait…I don’t think I EVER found Family Circus to be funny. Just not my thing.

    Oh, and PBF still has comics up online…just apparently “has taken a break from it to pursue other things.”

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    On more of a gut-check level, I remember Eric Schwartz of the e-strip “Sabrina Online” doing a drawing for 9/11 showing the grown-ups in shock as they watch the news coverage while a child says “You said the new Tans-Formas cartoon would be on now.” Same deal as the Keane but way heavier.

  • FP

    –When I was eight years old, I threw a holy terror tantrum when Bugs Bunny & Tweety was canceled so ABC could cover Princess Di’s funeral.–

    I felt like that, way back in my tot days. When Martin Loofa and Bobby K were shot, and the daily cartoons were gone for a while, I was furious. Filled with rage, I blamed the dead guys. I had no conception of who or what they actually were. I thought they deserved to be punished for making my cartoons go away. I stalked around the house cursing the dern poop heads until my parents told me to shut up.

  • Oh boy, I have to admit, embarrassingly enough, that I, too, had a similar situation to that mentioned by Thad Komorowski, only mine was the interruption of one of the rare airings of “CIRCUS DAZE” for an update on details of the Kennedy assassination. One minute, there’s Jojo, the dog-face boy, tearing at his hind quarters as the fleas attack and the camera pans over to the elephant and…”we interrupt this telecast to bring you this further update!” Aahhh, talk about coetus interruptus! Hey, I was a kid, and I sat there in front of the TV set with a stunned look on my face as if someone punched me in the stomach!

    Well, in the network’s defense, those days of local television kept us all informed whether we wanted to hear it, as kids, or not and, perhaps as punishment for my childish selfishness, the MGM HAPPY HARMONIES cartoon is *STILL* not on DVD…and I can no longer physically see the film anyway!

  • The comic strip is a dying art. Only a handful of strips like Pearls Before Swine, Candorville and the Knight Life are keeping it alive.

    p.s. I wonder how many tween girls were upset when their favorite Disney shows were preempted on ABC for the British Open. Hundreds of thousands of angry tweens are more powerful.

  • Just 5 years ago, I’d get pissy whenever ABC would pre-empt “Whose Line” with Billy Graham, or Late Night Football. What were they thinking.

  • The newspaper comics don’t all suck these days. Just look at Pearls Before Swine.

    I generally don’t find Family Circus all that funny. All their jokes center around “oh what cute thing did the kids say today” which I guess is funny if have grandkids, but otherwise it’s not my type of humor.

  • Jim Meadows

    This Family Circus cartoon brought to mind an old Flintstones strip (there was once a comic strip spinoff of the Flintstones TV show) that used a similar gag. Baby Pebbles, communicating by thought baloons, is laughing at the funny pages of the newspaper. Fred Flintstone takes the section away, explaining that it’s the editorial page. In the final panel, Pebbles is surprised, feeling certain she was looking at the funnies. Well, I don’t retell it well, but it was effective.

  • josh

    I think it simply means what it says……kids are way beyond our important grown up bullshit.

  • Paul

    Well, if it is indeed intended to go beyond merely a kid’s disappointment over his customary TV fare being preempted, it’s part of the grand tradition of mocking politicians in cartoons. The blustering, self-important political blowhard has long been a comic staple, as has been the overblown rhetoric of campaign speechifying. Certainly there’s still plenty of that around today, and there’s nothing here to indicate it’s directed at any particular candidate or cause. That’s not to say this example is a laugh riot or a trenchant observation; in fact, it’s rather obvious and pretty much falls flat. But to criticize it for anything beyond that I think is overreacting.

  • Esn

    @Michael F: The comic strip is by no means a “dying art”. There are still some wonderful comic strips being made out there. However, most of them are on the web rather than in the newspaper (Dilbert’s the only newspaper comic that I really like). On the web, though, there’s Dinosaur Comics, xkcd, Sinfest, and others, most of which could never be printed in newspapers for one reason or another (mostly because they touch controversial subjects from time to time, which makes them funny and simultaneously unprintable).

    The most amazing comic I’ve come across lately is called “The Abominable Charles Christopher“.

    Anyway, I think that carolita has the right idea: Family Circus is still there because the old folks like it (or at least find it reassuring). It has never been that funny, and I’m not sure why Jerry is dedicating a whole blog post to this one strip. It really is nothing unusual, or worthy of comment (unless you’re Ric Romero).

  • butmess

    Hi and Lois, Family Circus. Same strip?

    I have a full page comic strip of Flash Gordon hanging on my wall. Comic strip drawing was an art back then. Sunday pages could hang alongside Picassos in museums and no one would bat an eye.

    Does it really matter what the newspapers print these days since those days are gone for good?

  • I must say I’m quite surprised to see Jerry posting about something he doesn’t like.
    The cartoon, though, is crap.

  • Graham

    Huh? Family Circus was funny? When did that happen?

  • Brannigan’s Law

    The problem is I keep secretly hoping that Larson and Watterson will come back some day. I know Bill is probably painting in a field with his dad somewhere and will probably never come back, but Gary did leave his return up in the air. I think that’s the only reason I keep looking at the comics section. Although I do enjoy Tundra. I’d love for Marmaduke, Dennis the Menace, Love Is, and Family Circus to all go away already. I’m 35 and they felt extremely dated when i was a child. Webcomics are where its been at for many years now. I visit many a day and often support their collective printed books. The PBF put out a great book a while back.

  • Since someone started the “favorite comic strip” thread…

    Ballard Street. It’s the only strip I can depend on, at least in the L.A. Times.

  • Tom D.

    should we take this strip as proof that glen keane is adopted? he obviously can’t share the same gene pool as these two men.

  • When Calvin & Hobbes & The Far Side left the papers, the comics page has had little to no appeal to me anymore.

    But The Family Circus… yeesh… it’s never been funny.

  • Fred Sparrman

    When Glen was born, he sucked all the artistic talent away from everyone else in the entire family.

  • Not to be an attention whore, but what does everyone think of MY comics?

  • Matt Petersen

    Its funny how one sentence can be interpreted in so many different ways.
    I thought it was a comment of the almost nonexistance of Saturday or Sunday Morning Cartoons in the present day.
    Remember when you can turn the TV on and see Bugs Bunny? Yeah fat chance of that happening anymore…….

  • 20 years ago I used to goof on Family Circus for being stupid and unfunny. Joke’s on me, they’re STILL running it.

    Luckily at least we’ve got the internet today, where new talent can post their comics and circumvent having to bow down to King Features Syndicate to be seen. They’re too busy printing tired ol’ comics like Marmaduke, Dennis The Menace and other outdated drivel.

  • Brandon

    It’s still more witty and insightful, and better drawn and staged, than ANY of the “boondocks” strips. Horrible stuff.

  • Weldon Foster

    “Family Circus” should be about concerned parents worried over why their kids never age. The strip harkens back to a time when all youngsters were deemed cute and innocently humorous. That point of view carried validity in the early 1960’s, then bit the dust.

  • OM

    …It’s times like these that I’m glad we still have the Dysfunctional Family Circus still floating around to balance our dogma after getting run over by this sort of karma:




  • captainmurphy

    Brandon, I think the focus on one character over the others is often creator driven. Look at peanuts last 30 years, it could have been called Peppermint Patty and the relatives of Snoopy.

  • I don’t think the comic strip creators set out to produce trash. Like people in the animation business, the cartoonists are also under the heavy hands of their corporate overlords who’ve squashed the strips down to postage stamp proportions and squeezed the humor out of them. Hmm. Now there’s an idea: comic strips that come as a roll of stamps. Each panel is a different stamp. Pay your bills with Beetle Bailey, send your Christmas cards with Zits, post a package with the Sunday Spiderman. It might slow down the mail if the carriers start reading the envelopes though.

  • Mr. Semaj

    Even with the cartoonish incompetence and ignorance of today’s government, the Family Circus comic covering it is just boring.

    Brandon made an excellent point at the beginning, and it’s not just comic strips with the lack-of-variety problem. Whether its for comedy, action, drama, etc., too many of today’s cartoonists just don’t know how to ENTERTAIN, and they seem completely oblivious to those who speak up about it.

    They must get a kick out of boring their audience to tears… :(

  • Keith Bryant

    I remember when I was 6 years old, my beloved Saturday morning cartoons were pre-empted by the funeral of Robert Kennedy. Of course, I now realize that the funeral was an important occasion, but try explaining that to totally pissed 6 year old.

  • Marbles

    I think people in general are rather unfair to newspaper comics. Sure, many of them can be lame, but they’re hardly the god-awful abominations they’re often made out to be.

    I just see them, even the dinosaur ones like Blondie, Marmaduke, Dennis, Family Circus etc. as serving their function. That stuff has its place just as much as anything more original and innovative does.
    Their having too much PROMINENCE is another matter.

    The best ones, though, are the ones that, as I see it, just mind their own business and don’t concern themselves with they’re “supposed” to be doing, letting their imaginations just carry them in any direction with as little regard for mainstream values as their editors will let them get away with. Berke Breathed, Garry Trudeau, Bill Watterson, Aaron McGruder (in his first year) and Gary Larson are the most obvious examples of that, but I’m sure there’s some more I’m not thinking of.

    But even among some of the dinosaurs, they’re not as out of touch as some people assume they are. Taking a closer look at some of them I’m often surprised by their keeping abreast of the times, not always in the surface, window-dressing ways either.
    And ironically, it’s some of the “younger” standbys that are sometimes the most glaringly anachronistic in tone. Curtis, for example, although it makes a point of addressing contemporary topics, it really does feel like it was written in the 1950s.

  • akira

    uh, was family circus ever funny? it’s always been funny to me in how unfunny it is, but it’s better drawn than a LOT of other comics, sadly.. check out “La Cucaracha” or “boondocks” if you want really lame political humor. the blame lies in the newspaper publishers… if you think the comics are lame you should check the SUPER LAME news stories/ propaganda, that they push!

    newspapers actively discourage edgy and thoughtful comics, cancel your subscription, and support artists on the web, and buy their stuff!

  • Jimchig

    I despise the Circus, always have. Can’t understand why they waste the ink on it. Yet, for everyone like me who hates it, there are people defending it, as evidenced by the yearly newspaper comic polls I’ve read. I’ve come to accept this and simply ignore it.

    However, I find that, as social commentary, I can identify with this one idea. It’s not funny (never is) but I agree with either interpretation. The lack of a solid block of uninterrupted cartoon time for the kiddies, or the overwhelming 24/7 coverage of political garbage at all costs.

    This should not be interpreted as an endorsement for this ‘salt in the wound’ of comics today, merely shock that I can actually appreciate this drivel, if only for one day.

  • hey, now…. be nice to Glen’s Daddy. he’s 85 you know, give him a little slack. :)

  • Rat

    No-one mentioned my favorite comic, mutts.

    I’d love to see that animated. So much life to the drawings.

  • joecab

    Yeah it’s just a preemption joke. You’re reading way too much into it if you see the cartoon comment as a political joke. Remember, this IS Family Circus. (But I sure wish Dysfunctional Family Circus was still active …)

  • Red

    I think it’s a brilliant cartoon! The whole presidential campaign this year IS a joke, lol!

  • brent

    is family circus even supposed to be funny?

    – “but today’s Family Circus is badly written and poorly composed”

    you forgot to mention past Family Circus comics too.

  • Marvin Hamlisch

    Now if the Family Circus did a historical series and lingered on smallpox epidemics, we might have something. I feel a song coming on!

  • Donald Seymoure

    I am constantly amazed that Family Circus still runs, but you cannot deny that it has found its audience- casual comic readers who will read the one panel gags and nothing else, if only for something “cute” and “quirky” to tape to the file cabinet back at the office.

    Does anyone else read Lio? I’m not sure how widely circulated it is, but it runs in my local paper. I enjoy the dark humor of it, and the art is both cute and horrific, without resorting to horror comic stereotypes. I enjoy Non-Sequitur as well, very imaginative.

    In the end… it is a shame about the newspaper comic page. Downsized almost to the point of obliteration, I often wonder how long they have left. Echoing what many have said already, after Watterson and Larson left, my interest sort of died.

  • Killroy McFate

    My mom is in her mid-60’s, and Lio is her favorite comic strip.

  • W. K.

    To each his own. I think Hornswiggle is “badly written and poorly composed” but you don’t see me busting any chops over it.