Posts from 27th May 2008

27
May 08

Comics: A Beginner’s Guide: Old Comedy Newspaper Strips

The Brown Wedge12 comments • 4,745 views

There’s nothing in comics of any kind that I love more or regard more highly than two very old newspaper strips.

a Krazy Kat panelKrazy Kat

This strip started in 1914 and ran for thirty years, until the death of its creator George Herriman. The Sunday strips started in 1916, and I think they are as good as comics has ever got. The setup is odd but kind of simple: the Kat loves a mouse, Ignatz. Ignatz hates Krazy and throws bricks at him/her, which Krazy interprets as tokens of love. Offissa Pupp loves Krazy and tries to protect her/him from Ignatz. Krazy’s sex was indeterminate – often unclear, sometimes explicitly stated one way or the other. The setting, a town of shifting scenery in mesa country in SW America, is one of countless strangenesses in the strip, as is the lyrical language. This was back when comics were sometimes taken seriously – fans of this included F. Scott Fitzgerald, e.e. cummings, Gertrude Stein, Chaplin, Joyce and Picasso. In my more flippant moods I have claimed it resembles Tom & Jerry as depicted by Joyce and Picasso.

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DAVID SOUL – “Don’t Give Up On Us”

FT + Popular46 comments • 3,651 views

#399, 15th January 1977

Pretty much as soon as I finish one Popular entry, the next song earworms its way into my head as a memo to self – get thinking about this. With “Don’t Give Up On Us”, though, something odd’s been happening – I can’t keep the song in my brain and it keeps shifting back into “If You Leave Me Now”. There’s not a lot of melodic similarity but the tracks share a theme and a sappy intensity – unfortunately Soul’s tune, while pleasant enough, comes off the loser in this mental war and floats off into insignificance.

If you’d had a crush on Soul in ’77, though, this must have been pretty much perfect – the straight-to-camera video nailing its hammy intimacy perfectly. For me, it’s a bit of a drag, momentarily enlivened by the “I really lost my head last night…” middle eight, suddenly hinting at a way more interesting story behind the song. Tell us more, Dave! But the moment, all-too-quickly, passes.