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Posted at 9:05 AM ET, 11/10/2009

Should We Forget 'Fuzzy'? Time to Defend (& Commend) That 'Toon

By Michael Cavna

Bucky Katt's backhanded insults: The feisty feline can certainly make a racket, if not wield one. (United Feature Syndicate)

Some readers have asked Comic Riffs why features that are generally acknowledged to be "more popular" still need to be defended, or commended, in this forum. To which I have merely a two-word reply: "Ziggy Lives."

By that I mean, I've never met anyone, ever, who has publicly proclaimed to me their deep devotion to "Ziggy." And yet the round-shouldered one -- who stares at us with a sort of bland existential half-grin, as if he can never hold more than 12 words in his head at one time -- marches on, outliving and outmaneuvering some strips of far more substance.

In other words: In comics, you can rarely take the subjectivity of "popularity" for granted.

That said, I think "GET FUZZY" is absolutely one of the best half-dozen newspaper strips that's really of this decade -- fitting neatly in the company of such comics as "Pearls Before Swine" and "Cul de Sac" and "Lio."

The other day, one reader said "Get Fuzzy's" character arrangement had largely followed the blueprint of "Garfield." But to the adult reader's eye, methinks, comparing those two strips is like comparing lobster corn chowder with strained, bland baby food. Sure, I'll take an attitudinal cat, a wide-eyed dog and a beleaguered pet owner -- in the strip that ripples with wit and punning and poetry. If nothing else, the Garfield Comparison only makes me appreciate "Fuzzy" all the more.

That said, I do worry about Rob the Recluse. Mr. Wilco can go weeks, months without leaving the apartment, barely having human contact. If this is a fine-lined cry for help from the cartoonist, Darby Conley, please send clues in the pets' food bowls, or on Rob's jersey shirts. We'll send a human life-line -- if, that is, we can get past Bucky Katt and not trigger the patter of Satchel.

It's your turn, o Riffs readers. If you're not a particular fan, feel free to Impugn That 'Toon. Otherwise, now's the time to Defend. That. 'Toon.

By Michael Cavna  | November 10, 2009; 9:05 AM ET
Categories:  Defend That 'Toon, The Comic Strip  
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There have been weeks that I barely read Fuzzy - then others that I really read. So, keep it. Only, some of the story lines are boring.

Posted by: ZeldaJane | November 10, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Get Fuzzy is the toon that makes me want to get up every morning! Nothing like it since the demise of Pogo and friends. My huband, on the other hand, refuses to even read it. He thinks Bucky Katt is a bad dude. I think my husband has a screw loose in his sense of humor (which is generally pretty great.)

Posted by: Oldbroad | November 10, 2009 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Great strip. Bucky's personality is eerily similar to that of our Siamese - if we understood what she was saying, it'd probably be close to what he's saying oftentimes.

Posted by: borealis998 | November 10, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

The strip shown is a good example of why I think Get Fuzzy is hard to "get" without pretty good knowledge of the characters. I know people who really like it, but without daily exposure (in print), I have never been able to get "over the hump" to a point where the strip is enjoyable. I've tried reading it online a few times, but never happened to hit a sequence that made it seem worth continuing.

HOWEVER, after all those video clip installments in the past two weeks (odd effect: zero comments any time even one video appears), one "repeat", and a quick furry of comments on "Tank" (almost all of which turned out to be Redskin fan grousing), it is VERY nice that this blog is getting back to the subject of newspaper comic strips.

Posted by: kilby | November 10, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

This strip went through a long blah period, then caught fire and has been great ever since. I agree that you need to know the characters to understand some of the humor. It's one of the five strips I read if I'm short on time and can't read all my favorite 20 or so.

Posted by: FallsChurch4 | November 10, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

This is a strip that, in baseball terms, either strikes out or hits a home run, but rarely makes a base hit. So it's understandable that many readers won't get, or even like, the strip if they catch it in a slump. But I'm sure that once they read it when Darby hits it out of the park, then they will learn to appreciate its humor and subtlety (although Bucky is NEVER subtle).

Posted by: tws1372 | November 10, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I loved it when it first came out.

Now it's the same every day.

Posted by: greasypores | November 10, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps too often "Getty Fuzzy" can be little more than a string of contrived "Frank & Ernest"-style puns, but when it does aim higher at really making an important point, then few strips do so as effectively as GF does. I agree with most readers than Rob can be really depressing and annoying, but at least he is not so grating that it would be worth dropping him altogether (in the style of "Garfield without Garfield".) Even when the strip misses the mark in its humor, the art almost never disappoints - it's one of the highlights of the comics page. All in all, GF is one of the Post's real "stars", a bright light shining through amidst the dead embers of all the zombie strips that fill up the page.

I fear, though, that all this praise in today's blog will lead someone at WaPo management to feel that "Get Fuzzy" would be a wonderful addition to Kid's Post. After all, it's a cute little strip about house pets, right?

Posted by: seismic-2 | November 10, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

"Fuzzy" has been a great strip but you do miss the brilliance of the early years. Remember how strong the "Judge Judy" arc was?? Lately we have been a but mired in the "Bucky-is-dumb-jerk" arc. This comic could use a serious freshening up, but it is still one of my favorites.

Posted by: kcghost | November 10, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I love Get Fuzzy. It's light-years past Garfield, but I do see where you are coming from in the comparison. Much like cooking though the ingredients are only one part of a dish. Darby Conley is a master chef when it comes to comics and Get Fuzzy is prime fare. I will admit that it is an acquired taste though and one that I did not appreciate on first reading it. Bucky can be difficult to stomach when first reading the strip, but ever after he is a driving force on a crazy trip. Rob Wilco would probably just curl up and forever hibernate without the little curmudgeon. It is a comic gem and one of the few standouts of recent comics.

Posted by: elyrest | November 10, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Great strip, but please print it bigger....

Posted by: JkR- | November 10, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

One of the main reasons I read the Washington Post.
I also miss "Cul de Sac" VERY MUCH!

Posted by: lufrank1 | November 10, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I have always liked Get Fuzzy my problem is the print is so small ii has becaome bearly readable.

Posted by: markhagner1 | November 10, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

For a long time after this strip joined the WP I read it. I kept trying to "get it," but I couldn't see where it was going, what it was saying, or if there was any point. All of the charecters are detached from their location, surroundings and circumstances. Each and every one of them are, for a lack of other terms, STUPID. There is no touchstone (look it up). There isn't any normal in their world to compare them to. Even the human charecter is too dumb to function. What kind of world do they inhabit? No one is capable of bringing home food. Either develop a consistent world they can live in or put them in the one we inhabit. In other words, let it go.

Posted by: olddog1 | November 10, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

I used to love this strip, and even now it sometimes comes close to real genius. But, honestly, there are days when I just see that huggy cat or some other no-so-funny peripheral character and don't even want to read the strip. It bothers me more when GF isn't funny, because it's capable of being so good. Whereas a strip like Grand Avenue can be unfunny for weeks at a time and I don't even care. Maybe Darby needs a good editor - somebody who just won't let him get away with any nonsense, and pushes him to be as good as he's capable of.

Posted by: marshlc | November 10, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: 2old2readcomics | November 11, 2009 2:54 AM | Report abuse

I love the Fuzzy Strip! It is brand new to me. I was raised on Pop eye!

Bucky and Satchel are now like my best friends----Rob is just the idiot they live with. The days that I dont see the strip, I really miss it.

Posted by: stoat | November 11, 2009 6:09 AM | Report abuse

IMO Get Fuzzy is just one of many strips in the Post (other examples would be Speed Bump and Mother Goose and Grimm) that can be reduced to four words: It tries too hard. The only reason I'd "defend" it is because it seems to bring so many other readers pleasure.

But if the Post ever drops Watch Your Head, Dilbert, or Tom the Dancing Bug (which of course it already has, from the print edition), then I'm sending Quincy after your old lady.

Posted by: andym108 | November 11, 2009 7:01 AM | Report abuse

Get Fuzzy is my favorite "new" strip. I love Satchel's kindness, and Bucky's puns are top-notch. When he said he was going to implement his "Many-Fist Destiny" a few weeks ago, I was happy all day. Conley is a genius. Keep the strip.

Posted by: jlowrey | November 11, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

get fuzzy continues to frustrate and amaze,like most dogs and cats do as pets in real life.
this week i am smiling at the ferret once again finding a way to bring up "bad neighbor show" on the ferret tv channel.
i think Bucky said it best when commenting on Rob saying that the plan was cats would get rid of everybody and take over the world--and Bucky replied,"WELL THAT'S THE BASIC PLAN--YES! GET SOME "GET FUZZY TODAY".

Posted by: stevemcceney1 | November 11, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

I didn't like Get Fuzzy at first, but I kept reading it anyway since it seemed interesting and one day the character dynamics clicked and now I enjoy it most days. Some days it is laugh out loud funny, other days I get that it is probably setting up the story line for later. It's now one of my top 5 favorites.

"Cows hittin' on your sister at the company do" and the subsequent double-take still makes me laugh weeks later.

PS Bring back Tom the Dancing Bug!

Posted by: KeithW2 | November 11, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

I love "Fuzzy" because it is so irreverent. It definitely follows its own beat--totally inward looking. Doesn't really care if you get it or not. I often don't laugh at its humor but I am regularly amused.

Keep it real, Darby!

Posted by: CafeBeouf | November 11, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Bucky' character is more than, "ah, that's such a CAT thing!" He's mean, combative, insulting and arguably racist (species-ist?) And I love him for it! He's like a feline Eric Cartmen. I agree with the earlier comment, that "Get Fuzzy " is either a home-run or a base hit. There are entire weeks where I don't think the comic is very funny. But man, when it IS funny it's amazing. And I think the art is my favorite of any current comic: I love Bucky's jowly face and pot-belly.

Posted by: ishkabibbleA | November 11, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

One of my "must reads" in the funnies. It is truly hilarious commentary on the human psyche superimposed on animals we associate with those behaviors. If we think about it we probably all know someone that fits the characters in some way. The occasional Canadian references are so like American's views of that great neighbor - very limited understanding. Keep it coming.

Posted by: pjohn2 | November 11, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Garfield is great in its own way, which has nothing to do with Get Fuzzy's way. Garfield does a lot more with Jon's dorkiness, for example and is more playful in a sillier, childlike way. Bucky, on the other hand, is much more catlike. I also once had a Siamese mix - who was a lot more intelligent than many people I know - and she had Bucky Katt moments galore. I love both strips and hope they never get scrapped.

Posted by: lisamarie1 | November 11, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

"Get Fuzzy" is, in my opinion, the best comic strip out there at the moment. Both dogs and cats I've known frequently spring to mind when I read it.

Love it!

Posted by: nmik | November 11, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Its a good strip and its original so it should stay around. I have noticed, though, that the strip has changed from a year ago. I can't quite put my finger on it, but its different and not for the better.

Posted by: buckeye96 | November 12, 2009 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Used to be one of my favorites, but ever since the format change I don't usually bother with it anymore. It's not as funny/original as it used to be and, as many have commented, it's far too hard to read at the reduced size.

I used to read nearly all the comics, even the lame ones. I skip at least 1/3 since the format change made the wordier ones too hard to read.

Posted by: ArlingtonGay | November 12, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Get Fuzzy is the cleverest strip to come along in the last decade. It is outrageously funny, the characters are memorable, and the situations are outrageous without breaking the strip's logic.

It is also a gift to pet owners, as talking animals go, these are probably the closest a person can get to reality. Satchel and Bucky are probably just what you'd get if dogs and cats could talk.

Anyone out to get rid of it has an incredibly bizarre sense of humor.

Posted by: WillCraig16 | November 12, 2009 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Not only I but also the teens in the family love it. Sometimes I do wish the strip would "get out more" but the wordplay and the characterization are great. And I love how well Bucky mirrors the often insane-seeming behavior of real cats. By the way, why is the expression *barking* mad?

Keep it. Definitely.

Posted by: alicezzon | November 14, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

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