Monday, April 11, 2005

Ice Cube is a prophet

In 1993 or 1994, I can't remember, Ice Cube wrote a song about how "Today was a good day." Well, if I could rap, I would pen a song to my day today. For one thing, I didn't go to work ... long weekend. Secondly, I got to get up whenever I wanted and watched a bit of television. Then I got some breakfast (left over Chinese food) and read the paper. After that I goofed around on the net.

Skaus, Jay and Ryan should be here within the hour and then we're going to the Opening Day of the World Champion Boston Red Sox. These are huge tickets and I got them a few months ago. We have shitty seats, but I don't care, the Sox are getting their rings, running up their championship banner and are playing the Yankees. If there is a better scenario, I don't know of one. I have been literally looking forward to this since the end of October.

Originally, a bunch of us were going to take the day off and just chill out at a Fenway bar and watch the game. Obviously this is going to be much better. Damn, I can't wait. Tomorrow, or Wednesday, I'll give a full report.

There are a lot of terrible comics. The art is atrocious, the writing is poor and the joke telling is something that would make Carrot Top blanche. The one thing that these strips have is originality. There aren't many dogs like Marmaduke, sticky sweet characters were a dime a dozen 40 years ago, but Family Circus is the last vestige of that age and Garfield was once envelope pushing. Not Drabble though, take every old cliche from functional dis-we-put-the FUN-in-functional family and you'll find it in this strip by Kevin Fagan.

- Stupid older son? Check.
- Smart (genius level) middle son, with glasses? Check.
- "Cute" precocious younger daughter? Check.
- Over mothering, sassy, mom? Check.
- Wise ass cat? Yup.
- Dog? You betcha.
- Other "weird" animal that lives at the house? Uh-huh, it's a DUCK!
- Girl that is oblivious and disgusted by son, yet still hangs with him? There she is.

But the worst transgression is the father. He is a carbon copy of Homer Simpson. And not the interesting Homer, who is slow but well-meaning, the jerk ass Homer Simpson. You know the one, the guy who does stupid things that have Internet nerds (like me) scratching their heads saying, "This is stupid, Homer wouldn't do that, the writers are too fucking lazy to come up with anything resembling a plot."

The good thing for Simpsons fans is that jerk ass Homer isn't around too much, however jerk ass Drabble is. Let's see, he's losing his hair, he's fat, he's the butt of his kids' jokes, his wife doesn't respect him. Yup. Sounds like Springfield's favorite parent. And don't think that the Simpson writers haven't noticed. A few years ago a scene showed Homer reading the paper and he says, "Hey, the father from Drabble reminds me of me!"

I've been reading this strip since it first came out and the character of the father wasn't always like this. Yes, he was a bit oafish, but he wasn't clinically retarded like he is now. I think Fagan saw the popularity of Homer and just decided to make his character the same way so that readers would subconsciously feel like they're "reading" their favorite animated show.

It doesn't work. For one thing, Fagan fails to understand that the reason why people love Homer is because of the back story of the guy, the first eight or so seasons of the Simpsons were able to set a history of Homer as the lovable loser who tries to do the right thing, but through unseen circumstances fails. But in the end, it's ok because his wife and children love him because he's always trying. That's good writing, writing with warmth. Fagan can not do this. Why? I don't know, it's not easy, but he fails miserably in this regard.

So, without a built up backstory, he just makes his star a hopeless clod. No one likes a character like that, so the cartoon suffers. And that's just the main character. Like Seinfeld, where the main character was the weakest, this strip could be saved with solid stories and great supporting characters. Unfortunately for Drabble fans, Fagan is actually worse with supporting characters as he is with his main characters. To say that these are simply one-dimensional, one-joke, one-trick ponies would be a slap in the face to one-demensional, one-joke, one-trick ponies.

As dumb as the father is, his son is more stupid. The mother is shrewy bitch who doesn't have a nice word to say about anyone, and is drawn so terribly that she actually looks like her husband's grandmother. The middle son is a straight man, who's only joke is to disprove the axiom that wisdom comes with age. The daughter is uses nothing but baby malapropos like pasaghetti for spaghetti and misunderstands simple instructions. And the less said about the animals the better.

The stories revolve from Norman (the son) trying to get the "pretty girl" to notice him, Drabble calling in tips to the local radio station about traffic, Drabble being fat and trying to diet (which always provides a chance for his wife to say something sarcastic) and the old hack cartoonists favorite joke: golf.

Fagan obviously is not a talented writer, his talent must be in the art of his strip, right? Wrong. Terribly plotted, the pencils are sloppy and jammed together. Normally the latter means that there would be some sort of detail in the panel, there is minimal. Look at the first panel, there are three people jammed into that small square. The father (Ralph) is going golfing, what a fucking surprise. His loser son is going with him, though he is without clubs, and the wife is sitting in front of what looks to be a black hole reading a magazine called "Home" that has what looks like a picture of Snoopy's dog house on it.

Besides having heads that would crush their bodies, the two males have no necks, hidden by collars and bow ties (who wears a bow tie to golf) and the wife has a pencil thin neck with a strand of pearls that begin at the middle of her back and go down to her boobs. This is repeated in three of the four panels. Just sloppy.

And the worst part is that the "joke" is a reference to a song sung by Bette Midler that was popular 17 years ago. Didn't Congress issue a moratorium on making "Wind Beneath My Wings" jokes at the beginning of the 90s? Terrible. Terrible. Terrible. While not as famous as Marmaduke, Drabble may just be worse than that piece of trash.

BTW, if you want to see a great example of comics and the Internet, go to

Here artist/writer Jimmy Johnson does some artist commentary on his older strips and updates his blog every day. Great stuff. Check it out. Now, off to Fenway!

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