ComicsAlliance: 15 Suicidally Depressing Newspaper Strips



Head over to ComicsAlliance today for my latest contribution, a roundup of fifteen newspaper strips that have taken the emphasis off of the “comic” and moved it onto something more closely resembling “soul-crushing despair.”

Yes, unlike the masterful way that Charles Schultz used neurosis and fear as a springboard of comedy in Peanuts–handily reprinted in the beautiful Fantagraphics collections that no reader should be without–these are strips that just cut out the humor altogether and pass the savings on to you! It’s pretty grim, but to be honest, out of all the stuff I’ve done for CA so far, this one’s my favorite.

Not just because I find a few of these strips to actually be hilarious–like that installlment of Funky Winkerbean, which is great because you could can replace that middle panel with virtually anything to make that third-panel pause even more uncomfortable than it already is–but because doing it allowed me to catch up on a two and a half year backlog of the Comics Curmudgeon.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the site, Josh Fruhlinger single-handedly justifies the existence of the comics page with his daily reading and commentary. He’s been going since 2004, and over the past five years, he’s earned one of the most fanatically loyal audiences on the Internet for good reason: he’s hilarious.

So please, check him out, but save it until after you get through the ComicsAlliance piece. You’ll need something to cheer you up after that.

29 thoughts on “ComicsAlliance: 15 Suicidally Depressing Newspaper Strips

  1. Fine, I’ll defend that Funky Winkerbean strip. My parents are 67 and I can see that sort of thing coming down the road.

    That said, Josh really is hysterical; his Mary Worth mocking alone is worth every moment spent reading.

  2. Todd, that was great.

    Simsy, the only thing funnier than your article is the indignant replies to it. I mean how dare you impugn Family Circus?

    Now review that awful Transformers comic I sent you.

  3. Hold on, hold on… Are you saying there are people in the comments of something I wrote that are being completely insane?!

    Well there’s a first time for everything, I guess!

  4. I love Comics Curmudgeon because it revealed to me the secret, unspoken truth behind Marmaduke, making it hilarious for the first time.

  5. What always startles me about that specific Funky Winkerbean strip is that these guys are nearly 3 decades older than I was when my parents died. I look at them and wonder how their parents could possibly still be living.

  6. Even though I’ve always been a huge Spider-Man fan, I would have been completely oblivious to how HORRIBLE the Spidey newspaper strip is if not for Josh Fruhlinger. I will never forgive him for occasionally talking about that crap.

    I do read his site everyday and laugh a lot at it, even when he talks about Spidey being defeated by the unstoppable team of A Random Brick and Gravity. But forgiveness? Nay.

  7. I discovered Josh for myself within the past year, and haven’t missed an update since. To me, he’s the Chris Sims of newspaper strips. if only Gil Thorp had more kicks to the face in it… *sigh*

  8. I’m sure it was just space limitations that kept you from delving into the horror that is “Mallard Fillmore”.

  9. Simsy, the only thing funnier than your article is the indignant replies to it. I mean how dare you impugn Family Circus?

    Yeah, if you think the strips Chris posted were depressing they’re nothing compared to the comments.

  10. I’m most impressed by what I imagine to be a soul-crushing number of newspapaer strips to compile the article.

    …or were they pretty much all published on the same day?

  11. Brian,

    I am not sure Mallard Fillmore really fits within the scope of Chris’ column. It seems he was noting comic strips that are very bleak and depressing… Fillmore is really just not funny.

  12. Yeah, there’s a little difference between “all of my friends are dead” and “people I disagree with politically are wrong.”

  13. Wow. I had no idea Funky Winkerbean had descended into For Better or Worse level melodrama. This is likely why I stopped reading the funny pages on a regular basis about 10 years ago….

  14. Simsy, the only thing funnier than your article is the indignant replies to it. I mean how dare you impugn Family Circus?

    I used to be a newspaper reporter. I can’t tell you how shocking it was after spending so much time on the Internet to have a man at the senior center ask me why our paper couldn’t run “funny” comics like Family Circus.

    Then again, the comics we DID run were bullshit like Cats & Dogs and Hubert so he may have had a point.

  15. I agree about the Comics Curmudgeon. I’ve been reading it regularly for about a year now. It’s the only way that dull, depressing comic strips like Crankshaft or Mary Worth have any sort of entertainment value whatsoever.

  16. And I see that Dick Tracy has taken to smoking crack.

    Points for originality. I’d like to see Chester Gould’s face when he finds out in Newstrip Heaven.

  17. PS

    Is that Lizz in the straightjacket? Man, she’s been getting herself into tight situations for over 50 years.

  18. Comic treatment of depressing news and times isn’t new, it’s just never before been done so ineptly and so heavy-handed as it is today. Comic strips in the past would tackle the issues facing their readers with dignity, empathy and care. The decade of the 1930’s featured characters and strips that mirrored the depression era lives of the middle classes, yet they never came across as depressing or insulting, nor did they try to make light of anyone’s suffering. They were executed with a light, deft humorous touch that was warm and affectionate without being maudlin or sappy. In spite of that, they still managed to amuse, entertain and uplift in a way that modern strips have forgotten. These show no affection for either the characters nor the people who read the strips. They insult the times we live in and they denigrate the problems faced by the readers. They neither amuse nor uplift. The comics page has become a sad place with few glimmers of originality or creativity. Now excuse me while I check on how rat is intimidating pig in today’s pearls before swine.

  19. Josh Fruhlinger and Chris Sims: two great tastes that taste great together!

    Seriously, I never paid any attention to comic strips, and I still don’t, but Comics Curmudgeon is a must-read.