A lot of children’s literature is kind of creepy in retrospect, but we accept it when we’re kids without thinking about it much. I don’t think that really is indicative of any kind of intentional current through it, except that a lot of the “classic” children’s stories are naturally older, and mores and opinions on things have changed while the stories haven’t. The stories stay acceptable because, like I was saying, people read them and accept them when they’re too young to look at them ironically or sexually, and then they want their kids to read the same things they read when they were little, there’s some vague idea of tradition, so the stories don’t get retired. Which is a lot like the Bible. Christianity being, if you want to look at it that way, a religion of zombie worship with a tradition of ritualized cannibalism and a host of pagan ceremonies assimilated into an occasionally nonsensical patchwork, but if you pound it into kids when they’re too young to know better then, as adults, the whole creepy freakshow actually provides them with a sense of comfort and security. Anyway, that was kind of a tangent and kind of not, because my basic point was just gonna be to say that I find The Velveteen Rabbit to be especially creepy, but I still really like it.
I did start out thinking this wasn’t really worth writing about, but a storyline started to occur to me and now I think it’ll be running through the strip for a while, so stay tuned. I plan to do a couple of storylines running concurrently, so they might take a while to finish, but hopefully they’ll be worth it.
I do like the idea of telling longer stories in this short strip format, because it’s fun to me to take something so rigid and see how far it can bend. Of course, long storylines in daily strips are nothing new. Dick Tracy in the ’30′s was doing massive stories that today would probably be considered “graphic novels” but at the time were doled out a few panels per installment. Today, though, the strip format seems to have gotten so set that you’re a little bit shocked when anything out of the ordinary is done with it. We’re conditioned to a degree to expect an exact rhythm of setup, beat, punchline. If the joke happens in the penultimate panel, you’ll probably go back and reread it to figure out if you missed something. I think that we’re not too far away from two daily cartoonists doing the exact same joke as one another without even realizing it. There are already Zits strips that do Calvin and Hobbes jokes almost panel-for-panel, but I’m not sure how “accidental” that actually is. The difference between the two is that Zits has lolled in its own refuse for years content to repeat in different fashions the basic concept, “Isn’t it funny how teenagers are lazy and say stupid things?” while Bill Watterson is a genius who could be working with a nub of yellow crayon and a discarded cheeseburger wrapper and would still manage to transcend and say something profound and entertaining. Then again, Get Fuzzy is nearly always a few panels of Bucky saying something mean, Satchel saying something stupid, and Rob expressing exasperation over it, and I love Get Fuzzy, so maybe there’s something enjoyable and useful in repetition. The best comics like that are a little bit like watching different artists cover an old blues song. You can hear a million different people sing Stack A Lee, and it gets more interesting the more it’s done, because you want to find out if there’s anyplace new to take it. And then you can be the Dixie Chicks molesting Landslide. It really all depends on how it’s done.
Anyway. I love Satchel. Buck too. Can’t they just all be happy? Maybe in their own way they are.
THE END. The first major story finished. That’s the end of ROLL WITH IT, folks. Hope you enjoyed. Not sure what’s coming next. Guess we’ll all find out Monday!
The penultimate page! Someone here is “sketch”. I’m sure we all wonder who it/they could be. Time to roll “Roll With It” to it’s Friday finish. Join us for the finale, will you?