April 14, 2004
Those complicated comics

Leon Hale is a bit confuzzled about a couple of comic strips.

Do you read the Chronicle's funnies? I do, sure, but sometimes I need to have them explained to me.

No, I'm not kidding. Some days I just don't get what a comic strip is saying to me.

Give you an example. Do you still have Tuesday's paper in the house? The funnies are in Section D. Now find the Boondocks strip on Page 11.

I've just started reading this feature in the last year, and I've enjoyed those two African-American boys. They're sharp, and they keep up with what's going on in the world.

In Tuesday's strip, one of the kids is at his desk in school. A white girl is sitting at the desk behind him and is saying, "Holla back, Huey! Whoop!! Whoop!! Holla back! Hoooo!! Hoooo!!"

That's it. The boy seems irritated by this, but I don't know why. Explain that one to me.

Then go to Tuesday's Doonesbury. Two college students are shown here. One is at a computer, and he is embarrassed when his friend walks in and sees what's showing on the monitor. Then the friend starts watching, too, and he remarks, "Well, she certainly seems determined." And the guy at the computer responds, "Well, it's a loop, man."

Does that mean anything to you? Is it funny?

Now, I like Leon Hale. He's usually a breath of fresh air and is a distinct voice on the Chron's pages. This, however, is cluelessness on Thom Marshall magnitude.

I thought the meaning of the referenced Boondocks comic was pretty obvious, but if he'd waited another day and checked out today's strip, I think the point would have been clear to him. As for the Doonesbury in question - and it's a rerun, by the way - I fail to see how he fails to see that Jeff is watching a movie. I mean, isn't "loop" a quaint, old-fashioned term referring to a short movie that repeats itself over and over? Hell, usually Hale gets an entire column out of it when he stumbles across an archaic word. What happened here?

Ah, well, maybe he was just having an off day. I can live with that. What he should really be embarrassed about - and I'm not sure which is more shameful - is his later admission that he reads Gil Thorpe and considers the Hocus Focus feature to be a challenge. I know (though I still have a hard time believing) that there are people who actually read comics like Gil Thorpe, but using how he does at Hocus Focus as a barometer of the rest of his day? The mind reels.

UPDATE: This came up in the comments, so I'll mention it here. There's a profile of Aaron McGruder in the New Yorker that's worth a read (link via Mark Evanier). An animated feature of Boondocks is indeed in the works, according to this.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 14, 2004 to Society and cultcha | TrackBack

Re Boondocks, there's a long piece on that dude in the current New Yorker. Quite the misanthrope.

Posted by: Kriston Capps on April 14, 2004 1:19 PM

Now that I no longer get a newspaper, I read Get Fuzzy and Foxtrot, for which I have RSS feeds, and Doonesbury on Slate.

The only comics I find that I miss are Boondocks and Sylvia.

Posted by: Ginger on April 14, 2004 1:34 PM

I was never much of a Doonesbury fan, but to me it's suckitude (when I see it) has never been higher. It seems to be a bad parody of its old self these days.

Posted by: Tim on April 14, 2004 1:49 PM

Never was much of a Gil Thorpe fan, but I quit reading Mary Worth in protest after the whole white slavery storyline.

I'm reminded of the Greogry Peck quote on one of the Bloom County anthologies. Recalled hazily, it went: "What is this thing called Bloom County? What is wrong with me that I can't understand it?"

Posted by: Pete on April 14, 2004 1:59 PM

The author of Gil Thorpe, Jerry B. Jenkins, is avery rich man. He co-authored the "Left Behind" series with Tim LaHaye.

As for the Hocus Focus, Leon should always start with a tie or button, then look for an extra cloud or win....er, uh... I mean that's what I'm told. You know by people who actually read that...kids like my nephew...oh, never mind.

Posted by: Patrick on April 14, 2004 2:03 PM

Bloom Country rocked. So did Calvin and Hobbes. And when they went away, I think what little joy I got from the Sunday comics went away with them.

Boondocks is pretty good, though. I hear they're working on a series from it and that, undoubtedly, will suck unless they do an animated series. Animated characters can get away with stuff "real" people can't say.

Posted by: Sue on April 14, 2004 2:33 PM

Boondocks has kind of grown on me. Get Fuzzy offers a rather sarcastic view of the world, which I like (although the attacks on Pittsburgh a few months back did not go over so well with some friends of mine that are originally from that city). I think Bucky Katt is the Opus for the new millenium.

The Bloom County archives has revealed some story lines I didn't know about until I saw them online. The archives over last two days has been a spoof of the 1984 Miss America pageant winner, Vanessa Williams, where Steve Dallas wins the Mr. America Pageant.

As for Doonesbury, it's a toss-up between that and Cathy for the Sultans of Suckitude trophy.

Posted by: William Hughes on April 14, 2004 2:52 PM

Mark Evanier has the link to the Aaron McGruder profile. An animated feature is indeed in the works, according to this.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on April 14, 2004 3:16 PM

jees, a loop is porn talk. it's what they used to have in those pay for view porn joints, you'd pay a quarter of a couple of minutes of the loop, jeez, youth is wasted on the young

Posted by: loopy on April 14, 2004 10:34 PM