One of the best things in life is a good chuckle. Laughter, even a snicker, upgrades our internal energy, takes the load off life, and infuses our internal organs with healthy micro-fuels. For me, one of my sources are comics. It is a literary skill of vital importance.
Comic strips entered my childhood through my maternal grandparents. My brother and I had the joy of reading them when we visited every year. As our joy grew, my grandmother began clipping favorites out and mailing them to us with the weekly letter she sent.
When I got married, my husband began taking the daily paper. His family always had, and no breakfast was complete without it. Especially the comics. Ironically, I didn't read them, he read them to me. Better yet, retold them to me, like this.
There is a circle of lions all laying down eating their latest kill. You can see the tails wagging on some, the eyes craving the feast of others, then a head pops up and says, "Hey Sid! Remember that time last summer when we were gathered around the kill like this?
He could never finish the story because he was laughing too much. Then I could peek over and enjoy the rest of it. That is how comics fully entered my life.
With its full entrance came favorites. From the talents of Bill Waterson, Gary Larsen, Brian Crane, and Berkeley Breathed I gained an unfettered joy of pencil sketches and minimal words. I couldn't get enough. Clips, strips, books, and series all found me. I still have most of them today.
A Boy Named Calvin
There is nothing better than pulling the drawer by a chair open and finding a stack of Bill Waterson's Calvin and Hobbes books waiting to be devoured. The antics of a blond-haired boy and his bosom companion is transcendent.
New View of Nature
Before there was Calvin and Hobbes, there was Farside. The ability to see the common humor in people and nature erupted from the pen of Gary Larson. In a single cell he could make you split your sides in seconds. Stacks of worn copies of his books lived in our bookcase. Sometimes just walking past the book and seeing the cover was all you needed to put a spring in your step. If you did have a minute, it was necessary to lift the cover and read a couple before moving on. Like a brief rest stop in your day's journey. Nutrition for the soul.
One Spicy Couple
As my love of the art of comic grew, we found more favorites. If old age could be captured with joy and aplomb that award goes to Brian Crane, creator of Pickles. It is incalculable how many mornings in our home began with,
Earl and Opal are in their pajamas in bed, reading before they go to sleep. Earl says, "I think I am a pretty good role model for Nelson."
And our day would start. Earl always thinking he had the upper hand, until Opal one upped him. Crane made grandparents and sweet old couples the gold standard of the future. If that was maturity, it was worth it.
Penguin to the Rescue
Indefatigable determination came through Opus the Penguin, drawn and written by Berkeley Breathed. Earnest, trusting, and hopeful Opus would take on anything. All in the name of making life sweeter. He didn't split your sides like Pickles or Farside, but he gently helped you reflect. Life was special and deserved to be cherished.
For nearly thirty years two of Breathed's books have held an extra soft spot in our hearts and book cases. The Last Basselope and A Wish for Wings That Work. My youngest son was the ardent fan of these books. Last spring when he relocated to his new home he made sure The Last Basselope went with him. I don't doubt he will come and claim A Wish for Wings That Work at Christmas.
Comics are often overlooked as literature, but to me they are like a poem. Each word has to strike perfection to deliver the message. I love the ease of a comic to carry you away in an instant. Did you ever have a favorite comic strip or series?
See you tomorrow,