Growing up, the only thing appealing about a newspaper was the CNY section and the comics in particular.  I never really got into the crossword puzzles until later in life, or when I began to “know things.”  I’d answer the questions as best as I could, starting out with the Saturday edition.  Sure that’s an odd day to attempt crossword puzzles, being the second difficult puzzle of the week, but that was one aspect of my childhood I cannot ever forget. 

Each Saturday, because my mom was from Solvay, we’d go to my maternal grandmother’s house.  It was clockwork and it was the best thing to anticipate.  In the latter school years, speaking for everyone, we didn’t have class.  In college, well, sometimes days of the week were days off.  Now, just the general idea of the weekend is pleasant to the ear.  

My brother and I would sit and watch television with some kind of beverage and treat.  The treats were of a wide variety of cookies, especially those sourdough cookies that come in those tin cans and are of different designs, almond windmill cookies, and (my all time favorite) cheese puffs balls and Cheetos.  However, before retiring to watch television, we’d sit in the kitchen for a little bit, talking, and pleasantly listening.  My grandmother would have some kind of food started, taking a break to make sure everyone was all set.  In the afternoons, she’d make sure my dad had a cold gin and tonic for enjoyment. 

I’d sit with my dad, looking at those crosswords, trying to figure out ones I knew.  Uncle Benny, as it has been known, was the idealistic crossword solver, and I wanted to be like that.  Unfortunately, I still have not reached that level.

However, the comics had my full attention.  The anticipation for the next installments of The Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, and Peanuts (among others) plagued my mind, especially the ability of these cartoonists creating such a story.  Unfortunately, Gary Larson and Bill Watterson are now retired, Charles Schulz has passed on; at least the magic of their strips reign.  Now, Pearls Before Swine, Get Fuzzy, Dilbert, Non Sequitur, and still Peanuts catch my eye.

For the longest time, my dream job growing up was to be a cartoonist.  Unfortunately, drawing was not my forte. 

Get Fuzzy and Garfield, not leaving out Pearls Before Swine, contain wise cracking animals.  Two of said strips contain animals with ability to communicate with people.  With Garfield, we can just see what he’s thinking and Odie, the dog who puts on the “dumb as bricks” persona, often lets out a gem of intelligence; he may be smarter than he wants us to think. 

Sarah’s cats fall into the same category.  When I can’t get to the comics, or choose not to read them online, I just watch these critters.

Cork, the orange one, is the real life Garfield.  He has some pudge, he’s lazy, he’s moody, he thinks about food all the time, he doesn’t like to be woken up and he can be downright mean.  Cork is smart and picks up on habits.  Coincidence?  He bats Porter around like nobody’s business.

If there was some cat group of mercenaries, he’d be the brains of the operation.

Porter, on the other hand, is more like a dog.  He’s all about cuddling and he wants attention; he doesn’t curl up on your lap, but lies and stretches out in the most comfortable fashion; he follows Cork around, copying his habits.  However, he is able to entertain himself easily, especially with his food.  He swats a paw-full of food bits out of his bowl.  Next, he will hit each food morsel individually, sliding it across the floor, and he’ll punce on it before eating it.  It’s on to the next one from there.

Porter’s role would not necessarily be the “fall guy,” but he would be the cat in action.  His curiosity and ballsy attitude would push him to (hopefully) get the job done.

The movie, Beginners, a movie mentioned in the previous post, Ewan McGregor takes in the Jack Russell Terrier who “talks;” the audience understands him through the use of subtitles.  In a sense, the dog borderlines Garfield, Jon may or may not be understanding his animal which is responding to his actions and words.  Cork and Porter walk around all day long, making noise.  They look at me, talk, and walk away.  I’ll say something to them, they’ll make eye contact and respond.  They’ll utter one meow, varying in audibility, or will go off on a “rant.”

A comic strip is really an art, aside the consistent drawing, character, and humor.  The time frame for character development is infinite.  Who knows how successful your strip is going to be.  If it is successful, how is the creater going to keep everything going?  I’m sure you can take it day-by-day, but that’s a boring approach.

Look at Calvin and Hobbes: a boy and his stuffed tiger who comes to life when no one is around.  Watterson names his two title characters after philosophers.  His two characters are philosophers.  I’m sorry, but this is the man’s comic.  Sure, females can “relate” or think it’s cute and funny when reading it growing up, but they cannot truely fully appreciate the sentimentality of a boy and his tiger/pet/imaginary friend.  This is no man-and-his-dog story.  It’s about a boy and his growing up.  Bill Watterson has captured this element of a boy’s life and literally illustrated it, and I’m not just talking about the literal sense of the term.

I have one certain stuffed animal I have had since a kid.  I have a few of them, actually.  The relationship any child has with said stuffed animal, is priceless.  We give ourselves responsibility.  We want to make sure the animal is with our person and not lost, is clean and not falling apart, and is “happy.”   If our parents take care of us, then why can’t we take care of something? 

The girls who befriended human looking dolls while growing up… I’m sorry, but that kills the imagination of what I’m stressing here.

Like we have gotten lost and caught up in our own worlds, guys, we still do the same today.  We have enjoyed that feeling and giving ourselves a “man cave,” or time to ourselves, isn’t just a metaphor, but the acceptance of wanting to continue this self-fulfillment of learning and growing and (importantly) self-assurance.  No one should take offence to alone time.  It’s giving us guys time to grow. 

When life gives you Legos, build your own little world.

Granted, you still may have that stuffed animal.  Good for you.  If you still talk to it, well, I’m sorry.  I cannot help you there.

I’m just happy many of these comics, these childhood nuggets of satisfaction, are contained in anthologies.  Not only have these cartoonists given me inspiration, but also personal gratification knowing that I can reflect and recognize why I am happy today. 

Life is appreciated.

Comments.... ?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.