I take the comics way too seriously. In fact, after all the craziness of the election, after delivering all of the political mail, after hearing both sides of every issue including 6 ballot proposals here in Michigan, it was nice on Wednesday to see my old friends in the comics doing what they always do. There was Dagwood talking about food. There was Beetle goofing off. There was Brewster acting stupid, well, maybe not acting. The plotlines in Luann, Sally Forth, and Rex Morgan continued. It’s like these fictional characters are a lifeline to reality for me, which seems really weird at times.
Veteran’s Day falls on a Sunday this year which means that some cartoonists have taken the opportunity to recognize Veteran’s Day in a nice Sunday strip. I will get tomorrow off since that is the day the federal government will recognize the holiday. Unlike Columbus Day, President’s Day, and Martin Luther King Day which get moved to a Monday, Veteran’s Day observed always falls on that day unless it is a Saturday or Sunday. I will observe Veteran’s Day by finishing off the closing down of my pool tomorrow. It’s already covered, I just have to drain it down and blow the lines out.
I tend to be patriotic about my country. I love the USA. I never served in the military, but my father did at the cost of his right foot. Growing up, us kids would take off his artificial foot and put it back on for him like it was some kind of instructional toy. (Take off strap A, now remove side cover…) Now the grandkids are doing it too. My dad doesn’t show it off, it’s just a part of who he is. He doesn’t talk about what the war was like, but there is that visible reminder that the war did cost him something valuable.
So let’s examine the comic strips that observed Veteran’s Day today. In orange are the strips that I read on a daily basis. BC continues to be a great strip and I like that Mason Mastroianni has kept Johnny Hart’s name on the title. I wondered if BC would fade out after Johnny Hart’s death, but Mastroianni has done a pretty fair job of putting out solid work as a cartoonist. Wiley the one legged poet writes a tribute to veterans as he relaxes under a tree.
Doonesbury has done a fair service to veterans the last few years with the evolution of BD into a combat veteran who lost a leg, and the introduction of Ray and Toggle, two newer characters who struggle with PTSD. I like Toggle (Leo) who has married Alex, the daughter of Mike Doonesbury, who the strip has revolved around since the beginning. In today’s strip, Toggle and BD are talking about their struggles which is slightly different than how most other cartoonists are handling their tribute to veterans. While not the best tribute, it was well done.
In Herb and Jamaal, Herb’s son, Ezekiel, is quoting knowledge of African-American veterans to his father who seems very proud that his son understands the meaning of what he is quoting. Luann has a reference, but it doesn’t really highlight the idea of veterans serving except if you take the irony that Tiffany thinks that high school is war when in fact her struggles pale in comparison to the sacrifices that many military men and women have had to make. Pooch Café will make you smile if you understand Poncho, the main “pooch” in Pooch Café. Cake or Death (cartoons by Alex Baker) has a strip up which mentions veterans. Mallard Fillmore basically says, “thanks veterans”, as opposed to “thanks elections”. Curtis has a neat twist, the excitement of a veteran coming home from a tour of duty.
But let’s get onto today’s winners. Two honorable mentions are Red and Rover and Wizard of Id. In Red and Rover, Red is in his cub scout uniform along with his best friend, his dog Rover. He is saluting the flag paying tribute to the fallen veterans. Is it sad that they served and died, or would it be sadder if they had not? That’s the question posed by this strip. Excellent job, Brian Basset. View it here. Wizard of Id has Sir Rodney and Bung on their way to visit some of Sir Rodney’s old friends. On the way, Sir Rodney is describing their personalities to Bung and you can tell he is quite fond of the people he is describing. Then they get to the wall with their names on them. It’s a stark reminder that these were people with personalities who lived and died and may their memory live on with us. I like it and you can view it here.
But the winner today is a strip that I only started reading regularly in the past year. Baldo is a good solid family-friendly comic strip with a Hispanic flavor. Baldo and his friend Cruz go to visit an older friend who served in the military. As they are standing in his yard, Baldo says they know they are supposed to thank him for his service, but instead they want to ask him for something. The last panel fleshes out what the request was as this older veteran is describing to them some old war stories as they listen with anticipation. The art is so high quality with excellent backgrounds, an eye for detail on lawns, drinking glasses, and just everything; it really catches your eye. Even though it glosses over the gory side of war, even though many veterans don’t want to talk about their experiences, it still drives home that sometimes there can be insight when talking about these stories. What may seem meaningless to us now, are somebody else’s life experiences that could be valued. I absolutely love it. Excellent job by Hector D. Cantu and Carlos Castellanos. View it here.
Happy Veteran’s Day Dad. I hope you got a chance to read Baldo today. I look forward to seeing you in your play next weekend.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman