Monday, August 18, 2008

Cartoon books

Pretty much every night before I go to sleep I read a cartoon book (or
as much of one as I get through before I fall asleep.) I've done this
as long as I can remember, and in fact cartoon books are the first
things I remember "reading." Maybe at that age, just 4, I was only
looking at the pictures. Who knows? I had a whole collection of
Peanuts cartoon books that were worn already by the time they got to
me, but I read what I had. As an adult, I have to admit I really don't
like Peanuts cartoons at all.

Once Calvin and Hobbes came out, I had something new and amazing to
read. It opened up a whole world of cartoon books to me. At the
beginning, I didn't get that they were brilliant little cartoons with
a lot more depth than just a precocious kid. But maybe that's why I
still enjoy them as a grown up. (Although as a grown up I also see
Bill Watterson as a preachy snob.)

Fox Trot was in there for a little while, but after a few seasons they
got pretty repetitive. I loved Bloom County even though as a kid i
didnt get any of the political stuff in them. Even now when I go visit
my sister I pull out her Bloom County cartoon books (she reads
cartoons too, it must be a family thing) and fall asleep reading those

More recently there was Pearls Before Swine but like Fox Trot, not
much staying power. Now, I love nothing more than going to the store
and finding a new Dilbert collection. So many of those hit so very
close to home.

At the beginning I had a love/hate relationship with Get Fuzzy. Darby
Conley did enough of a stint in my college town for Athens to consider
him one of our own. (The Fuzzy in the name is a reference to a local
band, the Fuzzy Sprouts.) I loved it because it was a very funny
cartoon. But I hated it because our school newspaper booted Dilbert
to put GF in there.

Get Fuzzy didn't have the staying power I would have liked to have
seen, and yet I buy the book every single time, because there are
always little gems hidden in there they are worth the purchase price.

But of course, the end all, be all of cartoons is The Far Side. If
anyone ever tops The Far Side in brilliance, I think I'd die. I still
remember the first Far Side cartoon I ever read. It was a drawing of
buffalo in a convertable and it said something like "when the buffalo
cruise." I remember not getting it. I'd love to say I was a brilliant
kid and thought it as hillarious, but I didn't get it. (it's also not
like it's one of his best cartoons.)

When I moved out to California, my first big bonus from my company was
large enough that I treated myself to the double box set of Far Side
cartoons. There is only one problem with this set and that is that
they are too heavy to comfortably fall asleep reading.

I look at the cartoons as a way to clear my mind of the day's stress
and fatigue and just focus on something light and funny. So, now I'm
off to read a Karl Pilkington book. Which may not be a cartoon book,
there's enough nonsense for it to be considered one. And he did do
some little illustrations.


hokgardner said...

I read the cartoon books when I have a migraine. There's just something soothing about them.

I've given up on Get Fuzzy, but Pearls still cracks me up regularly. Ella is way into Calvin and Hobbes now. She's inherited our love of cartoons.

Elaine said...

I think you're the only person I know who reads cartoons before sleeping. I had no idea you loved cartoons so much! verry unique. i love pearls!

I read horrific things before I sleep, to ensure that I'll give myself a nightmare.

soniasax said...

were you ever into family circus? i remeber buying several of those as a kid. and i think the far side is the only cartoon that has made me literally double over in laughter, more than once. i can see wanting to read stuff like that before sleeping, just something clever and light.