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This winter is a Walk-On-The-Wild-Side.  One day (well, kinda) the sun beats on you like a conk buster; the next, the chill wind takes a chunk out of you with its pearly whites. It’s a double bind, resolved only by wearing layers that you can add or shed, stowed in pocket or pouch.

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The weather is ever-changing.  Connecticut feet thrash through snowbanks and lurch across icy  streets.  Mother Nature is behaving like the Katzenjammer Kids.  Hans and Fritz, those happy little savages, make their home a shambles and exasperate everyone with their hijinks. In the longest-running newspaper comic in history, the Katzenjammer family finally settles on a tropical island.  Cannibal Island.  With Long John Silver. And his Band of Pirates.  Mother Nature had it in for them too.

I loved these crazy kids.  They made the breakfast milk squirt through your nose.  Just recently, though, I indulged my curiosity and discovered that Katzenjammer is a combination of the German Katze , “cat,” and jammer , “distress.” As in, the howling of cats.  (It’s also German slang for a hangover.) The kids are irreverent tricksters with innocent faces who seldom get caught by the truant office, Der Inspector.  And their Mama turns a blind eye to her “liddle anchels.”

The writer, Rudolph Dirks, was inspired by the children’s story, Max and Moritz. He was one of the first comic writers to use a permanent cast of characters and put dialogue in speech balloons.  I wonder what Dirks would think about manga. And the book-sized volumes of it~ tankobon. Or a manga kissa ~ a cafe where people drink coffee, read manga and stay overnight. Think of it….Katzenjammer manga.  Now there’s a comic with Baditude!

I cut my reading teeth on TV ads ( All, Tide and Cheer introduced me to word families as the world turned) and then moved on to comics. Archie, Jughead, Veronica and Betty. Calvin and Hobbes. Kathy.  (I still can’t believe she hung up her pantsuit.)  Here’s my Top Ten List ( in no particular order) of long-running comic strips that made me smize.*

  1. The Family Circus
  2. Dennis the Menace
  3. Beetle Bailey
  4. Calvin and Hobbes
  5. The Katzenjammer Kids
  6. Archie
  7. Nancy
  8. Blondie
  9. Cathy
  10. For Better Or For Worse

Oh No! I can’t stop…………

  1. Little Orphan Annie
  2. Funky Winkerbean
  3. Garfield
  4. Zippy
  5. Bloom County
  6. Doonesbury

The Funnies. Dont’cha love ‘em? Beetle never gets older.  Hagar never gets bored with the same old Viking raids.

Farley the sheepdog saves a life.

Lacey Davenport struggles with Alzheimer’s.  Blondie gives us the Dagwood sandwich. Teacher Les Moore’s wife faces cancer.  Calvin, a carefree fatalist, and his buddy Hobbes toboggan away to forever go exploring.

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A sequence of drawings. Interrelated panels.  Text in balloons.  A peek into the human condition.   A Mother Lode of Awesome.

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Toni 1/26/11

*smile with my eyes…What comic makes you smize?

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