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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 02/ 4/2009

Who Drew It Worst? The "Bad" Art Poll

By Michael Cavna

The Burning Question o' the Day is as straightforward as it is simple: Which comics display the worst art on the page?

Straightforward, yes, but perhaps not as simple as it seems. One fan's trashy style is another fan's fine-lined aesthetic bouquet.

F'rinstance, a regular Riffs reader told me he flat-out cannot stand Scott Stantis's scratchy style in "Prickly City." That same day, though, a Pulitzer-winning cartoonist said that Stantis's frenetic style is not only lovely and swellegant and a delight to behold, but also evocative of the great Jules Feiffer: a dynamic line exquisitely rendered. Talk about the height of compliments.

(Univeral Press Syndicate) Enlarge Comic

Likewise, there's The Case of "Dilbert." Scott Adams makes no great claims to artistry, he tells 'Riffs, but I would argue this: By knowing his limitations as well as his strengths, he eventually honed a static style of iconic-art that perfectly fits the strip.

(United Media) Enlarge Comic

If his workers are all but reduced to helpless near-zombies in a state of perpetual oppression, you don't exactly want to call upon the graceful lines and noirish shades of "Judge Parker's" Eduardo Baretto.

I ask this question not to "hate" on art (though that's surely enough motive for some). Nay, my greater curiosity here is how wildly your opinions might diverge. In other words: Which comics stir entirely opposite perspectives -- as if they were a viewer's version of an MC Escher illustration. Eye of the beholder, indeed.

So who draws it the worst? Whose art stirs in you powerful feelings of disgust and revulsion, hot wrath and high dudgeon? The floor is now yours.


Whenever you vote on "Riffs," just know this: The syndicates are listening.

In recent days, I asked for your noms for Funniest Post Comic, then posted a poll of your 15 most-mentioned contenders. Well, Universal Press Syndicate has noted the results when two of its strips -- "Cul de Sac" and "Pooch Cafe" -- were leading the way.

(Since then, "Agnes" has taken a slight lead as the vote tally suddenly -- suspiciously? -- ballooned to more than 900. And I should note that "Pearls Before Swine" was the consistent early leader before the voting got bizarrely rabid.)

We'll have to close the precincts soon on this one, but rest confident knowing your vote has reverberations. Just FYI, come that day when 'Riffs posts the final poll of the worst art in our midst, based on today's nominations.

By Michael Cavna  | February 4, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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Next: When Comics Feel the 'Michael Phelps Effect'


Stantis is clearly the ugliest cartoonist on the comics page in more ways than one.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 4, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

I like Stantis's art just fine, though less so his politics.

Posted by: rhompson | February 4, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

"Rhymes With Orange"; basically stick figures.

Posted by: capsfan77 | February 4, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

"Which comics stir entirely opposite perspectives -- as if they were a viewer's version of an MC Escher illustration." In the dictionary, if you look up to the word "perspective", it lists as antonyms "Gil Thorp".

Posted by: seismic-2 | February 4, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Perspective is a good word to use, every artist has a style. This includes visual and verbal content. The visual is unique to the creator, the signature. I appreciate the great artists doing comics, especially McEldowney, but I'm not going to single out anyone for "bad art". THESE ARE COMICS! Exaggeration and caricature are essential to the form.

Posted by: jimbo1949 | February 4, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

funniest: Agnes and Heart of the City, of course, C&H is always in top three.

Worst drawn: girls in sports.

Posted by: ZeldaJane | February 4, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Gil Thorp would get my vote. Yes, they are comics, but they are supposed to be drawn funny on purpose.

Posted by: marshlc | February 4, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Prickly City is probably my least favorite. I also dislike the way Close to Home is drawn, which feels very sloppy to me.

I guess my preference is for clarity, even if it takes on a stick-figury style.

Posted by: oceanchild | February 4, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Close to Home is the worst. It's so bad that one frequently cannot tell what's being depicted.

The Agnes vote total sounds like the poll is being goosed by the syndicate.

Posted by: tomtildrum | February 4, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

The Agnes vote total sounds like the poll is being goosed by the syndicate.

Posted by: tomtildrum | February 4, 2009 11:02 AM

Word. No way that's legit???

I don't care for the art in Prickly city or Agnes, and find it distracting. I pretty much stopped reading Agnes as it doesn't seem to flow past the eyes well.

Curtis and Big Nate have a similar issue, but I still follow Big Nate (Not Curtis, however).

Posted by: JkR- | February 4, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I'd single out the home of the giant wildlife, Mark Trail.

Posted by: greggwiggins | February 4, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Knight Life and Agnes are tied for worst art. They are both also pretty low on the humor scale, too.

Posted by: ndancis | February 4, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I loathe Prickly City with a white hot burning passion that could only be quenched if I sat on the ocean's floor for one million years.

If that took him more than 10 minutes from start to finish ... well well I'd be a coyote's uncle .. and I'm including the writing portion.

Posted by: horacio2 | February 4, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

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