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The week Garfield died. Analysis & comics (zachwhalen.net)
52 points by forsaken on Jan 18, 2009 | hide | past | web | favorite | 27 comments



While reading this, I couldn't help but feel that it had the tenor of an english lit assignment... then realised that it was exactly that.

A+ notwithstanding.


That tenor, the idea of it, the very thought, comes with little, almost no practice whatsoever. You, the reader, are astute in making this observation, however English Lit. is more than a tenor, it is a soprano of the highest order!

(English lit. encourages students to write essays that include unnecessary words or phrases. Bullshitting is a fine art apparently)


You're too forgiving. D- for not researching Calvin & Hobbes.


i read that as "the terror of an english lit assignment." ::wipes tear of nostalgia from eye::

as i read i kept wanting to see the punchline, that is: how did this effect the next 30 years of garfield (seems unchanged to me) and other comic strip themes.

also, when i used to read comics i'd always wonder if comic writers were all given the same "list of suggestions", because quite frequently they'd all go through the same theme-phase together.


This reminds be of the great Garfield minus Garfield (The standard strip, but with Garfield removed): http://garfieldminusgarfield.net/

It's actually brilliant - Apparently J. Davis loves + approves of it too - says it bought a whole new perspective to his work.


Jim Davis says he approves, but stealing from one Jeremy Parsih, http://www.gamespite.net/verbalspew/archives/archive_2008-m0...:

"Then again, Davis is a shrewd businessman above all else. I guess it's possible he appreciates someone's poking holes in his life work in creative ways, but more likely he simply realized that letting someone publish a book that transforms his comic into depressing absurdism is the holiest of grails: A means by which to sell Garfield to people who hate Garfield."


See also the <a href="http://www.losanjealous.com/nfc/">Nietzsche Family Circus</a>.


You might want to check out http://scottmeetsfamilycircus.tumblr.com/ in that case. Quite funny.


The guy that made that stole it from someone else and is getting a book deal out of it.


Posting a message like that without supplying references or evidence just seems wrong.


I'm not saying he stole it, but it is a fairly natural extension of older ideas. The Garfield Randomizer, which randomised panels from Garfield strips, came out sometime in 2005, then the idea of removing Garfield's speech bubbles from the comics appeared on Truth and Beauty Bombs forum in January 2006 along with a few variants. Garfield Minus Garfield came February 2008.

It doesn't seem to matter who has an idea anymore. Free-spirited exchange of ideas eventually seems to give way to whoever can market themselves the best in order to extract the cash out of those ideas, whether it's CollegeHumor, Ebaumsworld or I Can Haz Cheezburger.


Don't forget the strip Arbuckle, which used the same idea a long time ago. And the first G-G strips weren't originals, they were plucked from the Internet.

Kind of worrisome that G-G is what passes for genius online nowadays. It's clever, it's humorous, but it's a one-off joke that got old really fast. No?


Reminds me of a much dark, and wittier, comic (imo): http://pbfcomics.com.


PBF is definitely edgy. It often makes me feel that I shouldn't be laughing at it.


I think it's plausible that Jim Davis was on vacation that week, and somebody with some talent filled in. Then he came back unfortunately.


By the time this came out, Davis wasn't writing his own Garfield strips anymore. I remember him saying in an interview that he thought this week was a "fun joke" to play on readers. He obviously didn't read much into it.

Am I alone in really wishing this sort of thing wasn't on Hacker News? Not just because it deals with comics, but because it makes a mockery of real analysis. Garfield is not art. It's brilliant marketing, but no actual content - not by the time this strip had been created, anyway. Analysis like this distracts from the analysis that really matters: analysis that might introduce casual readers to an entirely new medium. I'm not exactly a comics maven, but I remember reading a strip-by-strip analysis of Krazy Kat, a comic that absolutely does benefit from such analysis. It got me into that entire era of comicry. There are more recent comics that benefit from such analysis. Peanuts. Bloom County. Calvin & Hobbes. Each has strips that benefit from really thinking, panel by panel.

This? A mockery! Nothing interesting is happening. The person that made these strips was just stringing along clich├ęd views. The only interesting thing is that it happened in a strip that's usually punchline after punchline - the comic itself is bland, derivative, and in fact quite bad. This isn't the "I'm upside down" of Peanuts, or the pterodactyl flying away in Calvin & Hobbes. This is bullshit. And the analysis is bullshit compounding bullshit. It's a disgrace. Stuff like this is why people mock the sorts of analysis that really ought to be praised.


Should I send you a box of matches, perhaps you'd be interested in burning his article?

There is no "right" intellectualism, thinking about things and analyzing things does not first have to pass through a filter created by you on what is right to think about, and what not.

Your statement is awful because it advocates the creation of a limited and closed world, with only special topics being "worthy" of thought.


You're fighting a straw man. I never said things weren't worthy of thought, or that there is shame in thinking about really stupid things. I said that I disliked the attention it was receiving on Hacker News. To take it to one extreme, while I'd never tell somebody that writing fanfiction was bad, I wouldn't nominate it for a Pulitzer. I wouldn't give the writer awards. I recall reading something wherein a fanfic writer was complaining that the lack of published fanfiction novels was "censorship" on behalf of publishers. Similarly, is it censorship for my to say I don't want awful, nonintellectual papers on Hacker News? No.

The problem with your statement (I won't call it awful) is that the flip side of intellectualism is that there are standards to be had. It means that while I can't deny people thought, I can choose to rebut the things that they say, which I attempted to do. I didn't just say "Garfield, shit, censor." I said, "I dislike this, because it makes it look like analysis is merely bullshitting about really simple things."

This article isn't thought-provoking. It doesn't teach anything unless you've never seen these comics before. Even now, I doubt anybody gets anything out of the article - all they get, they get from the comics. The article is fluff. By criticizing it, I wasn't denying high schoolers the right to critique! Far from it: I was saying that while high schoolers may not be smart or discerning in the crap they write, Hacker News is, and I dislike that so many people are voting up a crap story. There's no intelligent discussion coming up. The big talk is about whether or not Garfield Minus Garfield ripped off other things (which it did). People aren't discussion the fine art of comic craft, or anything interesting comics-related. This story's taking up a slot it shouldn't, and it's absolutely one of the worse Hacker News stories I've seen. It ticks me off because it's indicative of the community.

And for that matter, it ticks me off that you think it's right to bend and twist what I said. You make me out to be an intellectual Nazi. "Send me a box of matches." All the suggestions of censorship. I mean, come on. You've been here longer than I have, and still you see it necessary to respond so childishly?

It annoys me that this is what this site's becoming. And my original point was, calling this intellectualism is insulting the real intellectuals. It's like calling XKCD a physics teacher.


The thing here is that we have core philosophies that are different, and our statements here are indicative of these philosophies.

Let me explain what I mean:

In Germany it's illegal to publish or display Nazi material. I believe that we both are against the Nazi philosophy, but it appears to me that you belong to the group of people who would favour censoring such material, while I believe in absolute freedom of expression, and that such material should not be in any way illegal, and people should be free to argue for and against it.

Censorship is when it is not illegal to write the material, but it's illegal to make this material available in a public forum. What you advocate is the same as the German Government policy - you want these people free to write the material you don't like, but you actively work to make it not publicly visible in a forum you frequent.

I've never read a critique about comic characters, and I'm not particular interested in this particular one, but I am a very strong proponent of complete freedom of expression.

The problem with your path is that it's VERY subjective. You say you don't like it, but where is the line? What if I post an article about how Hamas builds a Bomb using cow manure. This may be interesting from a hacker perspective but it will offend many sensibilities - the point of the upvote, downvote button is to act as a filter, so if enough people find it interesting, it will go to the top, no matter how loudly individuals complain.

Final point : don't take my arguments seriously. I argue this dispassionately, and I don't expect you to take the points personally. Read my text critically, not emotionally.


Yeah! Of course. It's all about arguing, not about getting angry.

I think that you should be free to do anything. I don't, for instance, hate Garfield, and I don't hate the people that think it's worth analyzing Garfield. On the contrary! What I dislike is that this is an awful article, and it's on Hacker News. If you were to submit a story talking about Nazis that was poorly-written and ignored entirely the fact that Nazis did what they did, I'd get annoyed if it got upvoted.


Well put.


I remember seeing a For Better or for Worse (http://www.fborfw.com/index.php) comic where a guy says hi to a little girl in a shopping cart at the store, she waves back. Her mom freaks out and moves the cart, scolding the girl for talking to a stranger. The last frame of the comic has the guy saying "Sometimes I hate this world". Not very funny. I mean... what?!


Well, yeah. Not all comics are funny. FBOFW has a serious side to it.


Unfortunately, Davis went back to writing the same old shit after that story arc.


Hmm, how weird -- I've read a very similar analysis before, which I assumed this was. Then I noticed the current date. I wonder where this person ripped it off from?



what the fuck ...




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