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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 02/ 9/2009

What Comic Dazzles You With Its Art?

By Michael Cavna

Somedays, when peering at the most visually striking strips, I can't bring myself to immediately read the text. It's not that I anticipate lame dialogue, or don't appreciate that strips are generally best read as a cohesive, coherent whole.

No, it's just that somedays, with some toons, I just need a moment to soak up the beauty of the draftsmanship and craft. Weighted lines, stirring shadows, a cross-hatch that dances across the page. When an artist has obviously taken the time to care, I like to return the favor by doing the same.

This practice is all the more heightened because some other strips register as little more than talking heads on inky postage stamps. So when I get to a comic like "Cul de Sac" -- just admire how Petey's shaking head almost defies the static page, if you let your eyes dance -- or the resurgent "Judge Parker," with its high contrast scenes and splashes of grays and Zipatone-esque shading ... well, I want a silent moment of visual reverie before diving in.

Now, I turn the microphone over to you. The Burning Question o' the Day, fellow Riffians: Which comic strips cause you to pause to admire their art?

The e-floor is now yours.

NOTE: The most mentioned strips will qualify for a (wholly unscientific) readers' poll later this week.

By Michael Cavna  | February 9, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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Pibgorm is absolutely beautiful in composition and color. The story lines are interesting, but the art is sensational. From the sublime to a lot less sublime--Zits. The body English of all the characters is wonderful. I love the boy's huge feet--teenager's feet always look like that to me.

Posted by: ndancis | February 9, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Rose is Rose in color..I always look first. The Judge in b&w is a winner, but only because you have heightened my awarness of the Art of the Cartoon.

Posted by: ZeldaJane | February 9, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

"Mutts" has the sparest and best pen-and-ink drawing I've seen since "Calvin & Hobbes".

Posted by: pmryan | February 9, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Eduardo Barreto has blown a ton of life into Judge Parker. And, I think Woody Wilson is writing stories that even though they take a while (6 months or so to complete) are engaging.

But, Barreto has made Judge Parker the best looking/drawn comic on the page. Hands down. He makes everyone look real (and real good looking).

Graham Nolan of Rex Morgan suggested Eduardo as someone who could be good to succeed Harold LeDoux back during a Washington Post chat with Suzanne Tobin in 2003. How prophetic. And, what a smart choice on behalf of Woody Wilson and King Features. Looking forward to more from Mr. Barreto on this feature for many years to come.

Posted by: RobM1013 | February 9, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Wiley's style on Non Sequitur always reminds me of a drunk Thomas Nast.
Of course, the Best Artist Award continually goes to Frank Cho, for the Liberty Meadows strips where he's "just trying out his new pens."

Posted by: phoste20 | February 9, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Pibgorn and Judge Parker, obviously, and yes, also Zits. Since Pibgorn is Web-only, it can be colorful and large, which is a tremendous advantage. I would add the lines in Zippy (although it's hard to see the art, as overwhelmed as that cramped space is by the word balloons!) and in Get Fuzzy. I also like the art in Brewster Rockit (as do, I suspect, many other readers who miss Calvin's wonderful extraterrestrials!). In the category of legacy-legacy-legacy strips, I would say that the art in Gasoline Alley is, er, a lot better than it needs to be, considering the strip that it's in.

Posted by: seismic-2 | February 9, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Nobody draws dogs and cats better than Patrick McDonnell of Mutts.

I like Zits, too.

Posted by: dstu | February 9, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I'm afraid to say Get Fuzzy and Cul de Sac, because Stephan Pastis might accuse me of stuffing the ballot box since I didn't vote for him.

Posted by: horacio2 | February 9, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Pibgorn, 9 Chickweed Lane and Girl Genius.

Posted by: eldergent | February 9, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I adore the zen simplicity and wonderfulness that is MUTTS.

Posted by: candygram4u | February 9, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

A special commendation should be given to Wiley for the artwork in yesterday's single-panel Sunday strip of Non Sequitur.

Posted by: seismic-2 | February 9, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

In addition to the aforementioned "9 Chickweed Lane," "Get Fuzzy," "Mutts," and "Zits," let me also nominate "Funky Winkerbean."

Posted by: SportzNut21 | February 9, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I like the art in Heart of the City, it has a really loose free-hand style with varying panel sizes and stuff. Always interesting to look at.

Fred Basset always has some nice art too

Posted by: jessecline | February 9, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Get Fuzzy is well-drawn. So is Blondie, which is, I suspect, often overlooked. Dennis the Menace, likewise.

None of this is counting Crumb, of course. And I'm leaving out the realist cartoons. Rex Morgan: pretty good.

Posted by: Jumper1 | February 9, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Judge Parker for sure in the Post. Barreto's work is very good on it.

I think Phantom is pretty good, but I have to read that online.

Rex Morgan - good too.

Posted by: alevine76 | February 9, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm a big fan of Judge Parker these days, but I would like to see Rex Morgan come back. It was really picking up when the Post dropped it a few years ago.

Mutts on Sundays are frequently lovely.

Posted by: Mrhode | February 9, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

and in looking at today's "9CL," it appears the program that Edda is reading for the night's concert is in both German and French. One would think the first piece would be identified as "Ouverture: La flute enchantee" considering the rest of the pieces (Elgar Cello Concerto, Franck Symphony in D minor) are identified en francais.

Posted by: SportzNut21 | February 9, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

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