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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 01/22/2009

What Is the Single Funniest Comic Today? (*No Retirees)

By Michael Cavna

"You write about comics?" asked the 30ish guy, somewhat intrigued. "I used to read the comics all the time, but I don't find 'em so funny anymore."

"What was the last comic that you did find funny, " I asked. "Which one made you want to read it every day?"

THE FAR SIDE (Universal Press Syndicate)Enlarge Comic

"Easy," he replied. "The Far Side. Now that was a funny comic."

This exchange, interestingly, isn't so uncommon. Whether it's a product of changing tastes, getting too busy in the "real world" or the comics themselves, more than a few people have told me they don't find most comic strips that laugh-out-loud humorous anymore

Perhaps they're just being wistful -- comics were better back-in-the-day -- but this happens too often, I think, to chalk it all up to gauzy memories. Perhaps it has more to do with changing reading habits at large. In either case, to lure readers back, I try to find a single strip that might appeal to them, depending on their tastes. ("Like sly, sarcastic animals? Here, try 'Pearls Before Swine,' " I have said, sounding like some sort of comic-strip pusher.)

PEARLS BEFORE SWINE (United Feature Syndicate) Enlarge Comic

This has gives rise to The Question, really. And I put that question to you: What is the singlest funniest comic strip -- we're talking consistently funniest -- being produced today?

You've got your top, singular, numero-uno candidate that just makes you howl? Then: Fire away.

By Michael Cavna  | January 22, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  The Riffs  
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Right now, in my opinion, it has to be "Zits".The strip has a little"Kathy","For better or worse"and all the other famial strips.

Posted by: sanfordflg | January 22, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Sherman's Lagoon.

Posted by: troymacgill | January 22, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

The one strip that, more than others, often brings a smile is "Andy Capp".
"Real Life Adventures", also, is one of my favorites.
Personally, I prefer the 'cartoon' types over the 'strip' type comics.

Posted by: al852 | January 22, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

"Cul de Sac" by Richard Thompson is the strip the consistently has me laughing out loud. Sunday's sequence about static electricity was absolutely brilliant. With Thompson, everything comes together for the perfect storm of humor: his drawing style, his pacing, what he shows in a panel (and what he leaves to the reader's imagination), his perspective on everyday things -- it's all there. And it all makes me laugh.

Posted by: rgraves1 | January 22, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

A close race between Pearls and Fuzzy, and Fuzzy wins by a hair. Honorable mention to Cul de Sac.

Posted by: tidalwv | January 22, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Pearls Before Swine
Get Fuzzy
Sherman's Lagoon
Brewster Rockit

Pretty much in that order for me. (Although I'm going from memory).

Of course, the serials Judge Parker and Mark Trail are LOL funny, but I'm not sure they're trying to be.

Posted by: JkR- | January 22, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Cul de Sac
Pearls Before Swine
Cow and Boy
Brewster Rockit

Anyone who thinks comics aren't funny today either isn't paying attention or is a humorless dolt.

Posted by: stewartflamingo | January 22, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I agree with most of these. However, if Foxtrot were still produced on a daily basis, I'd have to add that one.

Posted by: startasyoumeantogoon | January 22, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

You raise the bar when you say they need to be consistently funny. Often, what seems to be most funny is when the artist takes a chance with something and it works. When it doesn't, when then it's not. So if we exclude the hit-and-miss comics, e.g. Fuzzy and Pearls, then we're left with the "safe" comics, like Zits and Sherman.

I'd like to raise up a surprise, B.C. Like Blondie, it's using a standard set of elements but BC's artist (whoever it is) is managing to make the strip fresh again.

Single funniest in general? Zits.
Today? Get Fuzzy, with its permutations on metronomes.

Posted by: tws1372 | January 22, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Ha! When I read Pearls this morning, I thought of the political cartoonists. Super skill, but does the world really need you?

Posted by: MSchafer | January 22, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Ok, so as a 60-something, I have to weigh in with Pickles. The artist has nailed the relationship in a senior couple. Sometimes my husband and I think he's following us.
I am also consistently entertained by Zits, Sherman and Doonesbury, although the latter is sometimes more poignant and spot-on than funny.

Posted by: maryannk | January 22, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I read dozens of comics a day. It's my feeling that a day without a good laugh is sorely lacking and what a bounty we have available to us between print and online comics. All of these people vying just to make ME laugh.

In no order:
Cul de Sac
Pearls Before Swine
Get Fuzzy
Stone Soup
Arlo & Janis
Doug Eat Doug
Red and Rover
Baby Blues

There are lots more that I laugh at and also with as I share my favorites with my husband who thinks he is "too old" to read the funny pages. He still laughs and sends them on to others who think they are too old too.

Right now I have been howling over Get Fuzzy and the metronome or is it the Metro Gnome!

Posted by: elyrest | January 22, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Pearls is my favorite with Dilbert and Brewster Rockit tied for second.

Posted by: Tiki79 | January 22, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

PBS, Fuzzy, Non Seq, Queen Vic, & Frazz are all consistently funny. Occasionally LOL funny.

Posted by: jimbo1949 | January 22, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Argyle Sweater by Scott Hilburn, Pooch Cafe by Paul Gilligan (
Funny 99% of the time.

Posted by: comicsfan | January 22, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Wow, someone likes BC! And it's not 1975! Alert the media! Or the New Media, or whatever...

Posted by: JkR- | January 22, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

"Laugh out loud" over the year? "Cul-de-sac", "Frank and Ernest" (which will not be a popular choice, I know...please no bite backs people), and "In the Bleachers" (which I frequently email as links to my brother, who works as a supervisor for a university athletic facility).

Consistent smiles day after day? Frazz.

But I have other favorites that I read every single day, which include "Doonesbury", "FBFW", and "the soaps" strips, as well as most of the "single cels".

My world is very high stress. I like strips that make me smile or laugh, that lighten my load and my day, add a little cheerfulness. Edgey and arguey strips may be clever--and as a highly intelligent being, I can appreciate those, that's why I check out the editorial cartoons--but they don't make my heart feel happy or cheerful. They don't make me laugh or smile.


Posted by: zerodefect01 | January 22, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Cul de Sac gets more laughs-out-loud from me than any others. Next is Sherman's Lagoon, Pirana Club and Brewster Rockit.

Posted by: abcd51 | January 22, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Shoe followed by Zits get my vote and my laughs. I look for Doonesbury every day.

Posted by: pjlardner | January 22, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Zippy, only Zippy.

Posted by: kerryt2 | January 22, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

My vote goes to Pearls, although the comments here lead me to think I should be reading other comics more often. I actually enjjoy many of the lame puns Pastis puts in the mouths of his characters.

Posted by: DrewDC | January 23, 2009 6:39 AM | Report abuse

... so maybe those puns aren't really so lame if someone's laughing at them. And for the record, I never wrote that I enjoy them -- technically, I wrote that I "enjjoy" them, so I retain deniability on that front.

Posted by: DrewDC | January 23, 2009 6:43 AM | Report abuse

Why has no one mentioned "Mutts?" It's not always laugh-out-loud funny, but it always brings a smile, and often a gentle nudge to do the right thing. Earl and Mooch snug under a huge pile of blankets is my screensaver.

I've been a huge "Doonesbury" fan from its inception, and continue to love it.

I'm a little disappointed that "For Better or For Worse" is starting over; I would have loved to continue the storyline that was going on. But it's still great.

"Cathy" and "Garfield" used to be funny, but gave up long ago. "Stone Soup" and "Real Life Adventures" always make me smile.

I love "Overboard" and "Red and Rover."

Posted by: jhershelredpuppy1 | January 23, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Unfourtantly except for Doonesbury the ones that cause me to laugh aloud and that I reread in books as much as possible (Calvin and Hobbess, Peanuts and The Far Side) don't fit this category. I think the best ones are over. But Cul de Sac, and Zits I guess are the best today.

Posted by: HallieRoseC | January 23, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Sherman, Pearls, Fuzzy, Frazz, Doonesbury,
Dilbert, Non Sequitur. Once in a while, Zits and Brewster.

But the most consistent of all these days is Agnes. "Obviously."

It's an easy question for me to answer, since I read the Sunday comics back to front, skipping all my favorites, and then read the favorites in ascending order, culminating with Sherman and Agnes.

"Last call, ladies!"

Posted by: pltrgyst | January 23, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I agree with many of the other comments. My favorites would include Candorville, Pearls, Fuzzy, Zippy, Cul de Sac, Brewster, Agnes and Pooch Cafe. I also really enjoy Big Nate, which is consistently entertaining.

Posted by: stickler | January 23, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Brewster Rockit, Get Fuzzy, Rhymes With Orange, Watch Your Head, Sherman's Lagoon, Piranha Club, and Speed Bump are the only ones I look forward to as consistently fun.

Outside the Post: Arlo & Janis, Monty, The Meaning Of Lila.

It's interesting how much people can differ. Some of the choices expressed above are strips that make me want to claw out my eyes. And I'm sure that many of those people would find some of my choices incomprehensible. Good for the Post for keeping the space for so many comic strips.

Posted by: tomtildrum | January 23, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Get Fuzzy
Pearls Before Swine
Mother Goose and Grimm
Frank and Ernest
La Cucaracha

...those are the ones, for me.

Posted by: SportzNut21 | January 23, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I had to think about the "consistency" part. This is what I came up with.

For me, the Top Ten in order:

xkcd (online only, I think)
Stone Soup
Penny Arcade (online)
Cul de Sac (friggin' fantasic)
Sherman's Lagoon
Sinfest (online)
Arlo & Janis
Get Fuzzy

And the rest, in order as best as I can:

Secret Asian Man
F Minus
Watch Your Head
Devil's Panties (online)
Nothing Nice to Say (online)
Brewster Rockit
Pearls Before Swine

Can you tell I read too many comic strips? But all of these make me smile a lot and often laugh aloud.

Posted by: familygallagher | January 23, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Whoops! And Unshelved (online)

Posted by: familygallagher | January 23, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

"Wow, someone likes BC! And it's not 1975! Alert the media! Or the New Media, or whatever..." (JkR)

Also Andy Capp! Who knew?

My vote is probably for Cul de Sac. Frazz and Pearls are also good bets for me. I read the whole section every day though, so often strips make me laugh when I don't expect them to.

Posted by: oceanchild | January 24, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Doonesbury is a must read, as it has the highest laugh potential, though it sometimes builds over days to get there.

Zits seems to have looked over my shoulders during the last ten years -- but I am the father of a now-24-year-old whose adolescence was a regular source of pleasant amusement.

I work in a techie job where Scott Adama seems to be frighteningly plugged into daily goings-on. If, as I've heard, others feel the same way, he is brilliant and we are doomed. But Dilbert is often hystrical.

As I approach my 60s, Pickles is starting to seem familiar in its humor, too.

Pearls Before Swine has the best chance, I think, of replacing Doonesbury as the laugh leader.

But the front pages of the newspaper -- with stories about people who have never left their home town extolling its virtue as the best place on earth, about executives who are rewarded with multimillion dollar bonuses days before the company goes bellyup, about government leaders blathering on about values they themselves lack -- that is where, sadly, the real humor may be found.

Will Rogers had it right -- his humor came simply from what he read in the newspaper.

Posted by: wnyexile | January 25, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

In your paper: Competition between Pearls Before Swine, Speed Bump, Brewster Rocket, and another vote for B.C. when it's in its surreal mode......

N ot in your paper: Bizarro IF the s.o.b. hadn't turned preachy; 9 Chickweed Lane for intellectual "New Yorker"-style humor; Stone Soup and FoxTrot for smart, sharp humor; Heart of the City for great young attitude and Mark Tatulli's gentle side.

Posted by: LNER4472 | January 26, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and Cul de Sac to the earlier post. And Richard's Poor Almanac. The more Richard Thompson, the merrier (be it the artist or the singer!).

Posted by: LNER4472 | January 26, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

Cul de Sac is my favorite strip.
Speed Bump is my favorite single panel.

Honorable mentions:
Argyle Sweater
Brewster Rockit
Rhymes With Orange

Posted by: ChuckInk | January 27, 2009 5:12 AM | Report abuse

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