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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 12/18/2008

The Morning Line: When Art Goes to Hell in a HAND Basket--Or Not.

By Michael Cavna

Comic Riffs has said before that, artistically, hands are our ultimate telltale sign. Masterfully rendered digits are their own small visual joy, while hamhanded palms, as it were, can drive to distraction.

On this count, I must give a special (and deftly drafted, natch) thumbs-up to today's "Get Fuzzy."

The first panel is a cartooning case-study in drawing hands with "feeling." As in, you can feel the weight of Rob the Agoraphobe's cheek resting listlessly on his left palm; meantime, you can also sense the pressure of his right hand's outstretched fingers. And then, in the final panel, the departing hand pushing off the table is just exquisite, with a touch o' Seuss.

Also worth a hearty hand today is "Zits," in which Mama Duncan's digits juggle Jeremy's lifestyle.

The easy lines remind me of a primo Chuck Jones sketch.

On the flip side today is our ol' friend "Sally Forth."

I rather appreciate the gag -- especially the Rankin-Bass line. But in the first panel, Sally appears to be holding that package with an almost superhuman, iron-claw strength -- as if it's the Opposing Thumb of Smallville. Now we really know how she keeps Ted in line.

What cartoon's palms deserve a hand? The morning's line is now open...

By Michael Cavna  | December 18, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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Brooke McEldowney does a lot with hands in "9 Chickweed Lane". When his main characters Amos and Edda "took their relationship to a new level" last month, hands were all that he showed in the entire November 7th strip.

Posted by: greggwiggins | December 18, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

I know it's not about hands, but does anyone have any idea why Pastis abandoned one of the best "Pearls" story lines ever for the second week in a row? I mean, the prairie dog preacher is funny, but I want Guard Duck and Snuffles and the bomb. Just upsetting to be teased like that two weeks in a row...

Posted by: rlintott | December 18, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Rankin-Bass - how many youngsters know who/what the names represent. Get Fuzzy has tghe hands award in this group. However, the 9 Chickweed of 11-7 is perfect.

Posted by: ZeldaJane | December 18, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

re: verbosity of text. I was first defeated by so many words in "Prince Valiant" as a kid. Now retired and have time to read. Zippy has multi-level dialogue that is not only too long but meaningless.

Zits, Baby Blues, Get Fuzzy, Pearls..., Pickles, Big Nate are all magnificent on every level.

Pooch Cafe is so funny. Criticism of Spiderman is too harsh. It is stupid but harks back to the really old days of Dick Tracy. It is the only "old fashioned " comic left.

But, Little Dog Lost, On The Fastrack should be dropped from the paper as a waste of space.
The art work in "Judge Parker is what attrcted me to the current story about the murderous Dixie. The story moves so slowly, but the artwork is gallery worthy.

Posted by: flexy12 | December 19, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I love the hands in "Gil Thorp" - they're gigantic, only semi-human, and often apparently detached from any arm. They just float into view, like the huge insects in "Mark Trail".

Posted by: seismic-2 | December 21, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

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