Friday, April 3, 2009

A Comic Strip Manifesto

These days, the funny pages are about the most depressing part of a newspaper, and, hoo-boy, that's saying something. Recessions, wars, the Cleveland Browns--none of it compares to the mindless waste of paper and ink that is your average daily comic section. Oh, you'll find the occasional gem (Get Fuzzy, Doonesbury) jammed between the Cathys and the Garfields that dominate the syndicates, but really, if Beetle Bailey disappeared tomorrow, would anyone ever notice? Would anyone care? By now, we really know what Hi and Lois has to offer. And how about Ziggy? We got him 30 years ago, we get him now, and he's just as astoundingly lame as he ever was. Blondie has been running for 75 years, for crying out loud. He's been making the same goddam sandwich all that time. It's not funny, and yet it remains in the funny pages. And of course when we do finally get a new strip, it's Prickly City, for the love of Pete.

My point is: all of these total crap comic strips (I'm talking to you Hagar. You too, Wizard of Id) have been around since the dawn of time. They may have been good once. They may have been groundbreaking in their way, but now they're just taking up precious space.

Well, I'm here to tell you, gentle McBoners, that we don't have to settle for the medocrity. You have an alternative, and it is created with love in Portland, Oregon.

My friend Josh Shalek has been drawing Welcome to Falling Rock National Park for the past 4 years. Today McBone is pleased to announce the release of his third book. Perhaps you never heard about the first two. I can't say I blame you. You were too busy not lauging at Curtis.

Welcome to Falling Rock National Park (the official comic strip of McBone) takes place in a desert in the southwestern United States. Within its borders live four creatures of such towering imagination, that only a cartoonist as highly talented and bearded as Josh could have created it. With just a few panels, Josh creates a universe of chain-smoking javelinas and megalomaniacal owls that will get you thinking (as any truly great comic strip should) but also--and this is the real trick--laughing.

So, I'm not asking you all to click on this link or this link and buy Josh's book(s). I'm telling you to. Like now. Right. Now.

No, seriously though. Times are tough for everyone. Take heart! You can read a month's worth of the strip for free by clicking right here. We at McBone think you'll agree: Falling Rock, like other comics that are original and provocative and funny, belongs in the papers where we all can see it. Hell, do you think a transfusion of new blood will actually hurt slumping newspaper sales? I think not.

So, sorry, Sally Forth and B.C., and but you've been put on notice. For every Family Circus, there are a hundred struggling cartoonists trying to get a toe hold. Let's take back the funny pages and turn them over to new talent. Falling Rock is a great place to start.


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