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Posted at 1:20 PM ET, 09/15/2009

The Possible Dream: Desperately Seeking a New LOL Strip

By Michael Cavna

I have a dream, and it's quite a modest dream, really. Nothing grand, not now. These are humbling times, and so I scale my wishes accordingly. I have a bright shining hope for the comics page, and it is this:

I want a new gut-buster.

That's right: I crave the kind of rip-snortin' comic strip that's so funny, it makes me suck wind. Renders me momentarily helpless, like a toppled roadside turtle wriggling to right itself.

Or, put another way (this dream knows no metaphorical limits): I seek a hilarious new comic that gives my senses such an electric buzz, I return daily for my fix -- like a lab rat in a maze, looking to get hopped up on Muenster. But some days in my quest, alas, I gaze at some comics and wonder: Who moved my cheese?

Don't get me wrong -- there are two key qualifiers here:
1. The Post's comics pages have some strips that reliably make this Riffster laugh out loud. Heading that list often these days is "Pearls Before Swine." (Who better to understand my lab-rat desires than, well, Rat?)


2. And the second qualifier is: Judge ye not comics solely by the ability to elicit audible ha-has. I relish the smorgasbord, from cute to sweet to clever, from smile-inducing to simply, artfully true. The diversity makes for a richer morning ritual.

Part of this appetite is heightened by a skim through the new book of collected "W.T. Duck" strips (out this month). The shutterbug duck and his cohorts flash some of the wittiest brevity this side of "Dilbert." I read the strip regularly online, but the book sharpens the sense that Aaron Johnson's strip is getting ever better -- coming into ever sharper focus.

Yes, this Riffster also wishes for more strips in my daily comics, and pines to see them run larger. But for today, we'll keep the dream plausible. Realistic. Humble.

Is there a gut-bustin', LOL comic you'd like to see in The Post or whatever your local paper is? If so: Comic Riffs invites your comical candidates.

By Michael Cavna  | September 15, 2009; 1:20 PM ET
Categories:  The Riffs  
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I noticed the other day that my kids both grab for the comics (after I'm done, of course) and they read varying parts, but I never see them laugh.

I think it's easier to be funny every day (or a majority of days) with a single panel than with a strip.

Rubes, Loose Parts, Real Life Adventures, Flight Deck, Cornered, Bizarro. ALL LOL funny more times than not. Replace Tank with In the Bleachers ~ Tank's become so wordy I can't get to the punchline. Bleachers is clean and simple AND funny.

Best (imo) laugh strip: The Knight Life. Bring it on seven instead of one.

The Duplex (the "other" McCoy strip) is pretty good at getting a real laugh. So is Adam at Home, and The Norm (which I haven't seen in a long time). Luann does a good job.

Zits and Big Nate and Frazz fit in the LOL category. Sometimes Baby Blues ("Is Wren OK?" "We'll know in a minute."). The Zits "I'm lost" sequence was hilarious.

Who said "dying is easy. Comedy is hard."?

Posted by: filfeit | September 15, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

This blog was a good idea that was very, very, very poorly executed. Look at the amount of comments for most posts. How about we give someone new a try now, hmm?

Posted by: MarylanDChris | September 15, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

This Pickles made me laugh out loud a few weeks ago, and I hadn't done that in so long I took note of the date:

Posted by: abgr | September 15, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

The best strips, to me, besides Pearls Before Swine, are (in no particular order) Frazz, Real Life Adventures, Bizarro, Baby Blues, Pickles, Rhymes With Orange, Zits, and Nest Heads. One Big Happy as well as Red and Rover are great but are usually more sweet than LOL funny. A real laugh can be counted on by at least one in a group like that.

As for you being replaced, as suggested by MarylanDChris, I say no! Let him (her) show how much better he (she) would do by posting better comments than this one today.

Posted by: allenofwoodhaven | September 15, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

I am with allen. MarylanDChris- put up a track record. Oh and and, very, very, very is not very, very, very persuasive.

Posted by: Montanan | September 15, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm rather surprised to see TWO comments mentioning "Bizarro" as an "excellent" comic. I quit reading it a very long time ago: back then it was a consistently lame, cheap rip-off of Larson's "Far Side". Perhaps it is worth another look, even despite the vegetarian platform.

Posted by: kilby | September 16, 2009 2:22 AM | Report abuse

There are very few LOL strips these days, though Dilbert and Watch Your Head would certainly qualify, and it's too bad that The Boondocks gave it up for TV. The most frustrating of all of them continues to be Zippy, which about once every six months gets into Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend territory, but for the rest of the time is barely worth a glance.

But thanks for that W.T. Duck link. That one looks promising.

Posted by: andym108 | September 16, 2009 6:36 AM | Report abuse

I'm definitely a fan of W.T. Duck and would like to see it added to the WP comics page. I've been reading it online for over a year, back when it was known as What The Duck. Some of the jokes are painfully funny, though not split your sides.

Posted by: sstryker58 | September 16, 2009 7:20 AM | Report abuse

It may be a bit expansive, but this seems a bit of what I call the roller-coaster phenomenon where we seek the "greatest-ever" (e.g. thrill of a ride), and once we experience it, it's no longer any good, so we seek the next greater one - be it thrills, scares (has Halloween always been disgustingly graphic?), or laughs.
The jokes don't have to be over-the-top for me, just fresh enough for me to appreciate their effort. Thus the innocence of Mutts rises to the top, and the new generation of B.C. has revived the strip with new takes on their standard set of characters and situations.

Posted by: tws1372 | September 16, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

B.C. and Mutts:99% they are both perfect.
Zits is next along with Grand Avenue. The legacy that is great is Raising Duncan and Shoe, would not miss either one.

Posted by: ZeldaJane | September 16, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

I disagree about The Duplex. I'm always getting on the Expressies to stop running it, because it's not funny.

Most of the comics I LOL at are not appropriate for a family newspaper (though maybe that was just obvious and unspoken). Perry Bible Fellowship, Irritability, etc.

Actually, come to think of it, Wondermark is hilarious and usually keeps the off-color stuff to a minimum. I don't think it comes out daily, but let's get it in the paper occasionally!

Posted by: RKaufman13 | September 16, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Sometimes Doonesbury gets me. I think F-Minus is the only WashPost comic that makes me laugh out loud on a semi-regular basis.

I agree with RKaufman, most of the LOL comics of my acquaintance would not fly in a Family Newspaper. If there is one such comic I wish would get more mainstream traction, it's xkcd ( It's awash in nerd humor for all types (programming jokes, biology jokes, social awkwardness jokes and just plain mischief and mayham.) The language, and occasionally the content, would keep it out of most print newspapers.

(If you check them out, let your mouse hover over the strip - the artist always includes bonus punchline/commentary in the rollover text.)

Posted by: ishkabibbleA | September 16, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

and boo to MarylanDChris.

Posted by: ishkabibbleA | September 16, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

While I don't often LOL at too many strips there are a few that can get a good laugh out of me. Pearls before Swine, Cul de Sac and Get Fuzzy often do. Arlo & Janis, Zits, Frazz, The Barn, Bizarro, Off the Mark and Lio are joys to read and have been known to produce good chuckles.

And it still befuddles me when I see panel cartoons referred as cheap rip-offs of Gary Larson's The Far Side. While I loved The Far Side and wish Larson was still doing that panel I respect any cartoonist who has the fortitude to do a daily strip and keep coming up with new ideas. Just because a cartoonist uses weird humor and strange situations doesn't mean they are ripping anyone off. The Far Side has been gone almost 15 years and I'm glad that there are other sources of humor out there for all of us to laugh at.

Posted by: elyrest | September 16, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, well, Zippy. But I've already lost that battle.

Posted by: Theophylact | September 16, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps it has gotten better since then, but when I said that "Bizarro" is (or was) a lame rip-off of the Far Side, it wasn't the "one-panel" and "weird humor" issues. At this distance (nearly two decades later) I have no way to prove it, but I recall that a number of Larson's jokes were simply lifted, re-worked slightly, and re-used. The fact that the Far Side was still active at the time made it easy to compare greatness with lameness.

Posted by: kilby | September 16, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

How any one could call Mutts laugh out funny makes me laugh out loud.

Posted by: greasypores | September 17, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

These are not exactly PRINT comics but they are definitely LOL that deserve attention:

Pinkerton by Mike Witmer - About the boyish antics of the furry inhabitants of the fictional Pinkerton National Park. Think Bloom County without the political tirade.

Imagine This by Lucas Turnbloom - Centers around the life of a nerdy adult who revisits his childhood imaginary friends.

Posted by: fourteedays | September 17, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Pooch Cafe and Cow and Boy both make me laugh out loud from time to time.

Posted by: buckeye96 | September 17, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

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