In Autumn of 2015, I asked you to send me your lists of specific comics that are so “essential,” we can assume that most fans of the genre will be familiar with most if not all of them.
Over 60 of you responded, sending me 67 different comics, well over 200 comics in all, most of which got multiple votes. Before I list the top 10 (actually 16 because of a 9-way tie, this is the Close But No Segar list:
Doonebury: “Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!” (which was on my personal list)
Peanuts: “Hold My Hand, Chuck”
Bloom County: “Death Star”
B.C.: “Clams Got Legs!”
James Thurber: “It’s a naïve domestic Burgundy without any breeding, but I think you’ll be amused by its presumption”
Peanuts: “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night” (the original appearance)
And for the statistics-obsessed: Far Side was cited most often, 11 times; James Thurber 8; Calvin and Hobbes 6; The New Yorker (not including James Thurber and Charles Addams) 6; and Charles Addams 5.
And now the winners:
In a 9-way tie for 7th place (top to bottom, Gary Larson’s Far Side, Carl Rose in the New Yorker, James Thurber, Larson again, Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, BobMankoff in the New Yorker, that Larson guy a couple more times, and Saul Steinberg in the New Yorker):
And now coming in at #6, from James Thurber:
#5, Charles Addams:
#4, Charles Schulz:
#3, Walt Kelly:
#2, Peter Steiner:
And finally from Bill Watterson, published 20 years ago today, voted #1 by a wide margin, and probably the greatest comic strip finale ever:
This week, Stone Soup joined The Meaning of Tina, Peanuts, FBOFW, Peanuts, Fox Trot, Doonesbury, PreTeena, and Boondocks (which only ran originally for about a week and a half before Aaron McGruder got bored) as daily strips that are no longer being written, but are still running as repeats (or, as they’re euphemistically billed, “classics”).
(quick disclaimers: a couple of these strips still have new Sunday strips, and I’m not sure PreTeena repeats are still running — I deleted it from my bookmarks after the first rerun run completed)
Am I missing any? And are you for or against the practice of repeating old strips instead of replacing them with new strips? Granted, for most of us, who get our comics online, this makes little or no practical difference: but it would be nice, I think, if some new artists rather than Charles Schulz’s estate could make a few bucks.
If this had appeared on October 2, it would have made sense as a 64th anniversary tribute (now I’m imagining Charlie Brown, in his halting, phoenetically-spoken voice from the television specials, singing “When I’m 64″ — and it’s not pretty). Since they’re going back to 1952, if this had run on January 6, it would have commemorated the first Sunday strip (1/6/52). But is there any particular point to this running in mid-September?