Thursday, July 31, 2008

Another link to love

The key to a successful blog is specialization. Focus on one thing obsessively and the audience knows what to look for. There is a blog devoted to photographs of the contents of pickup truck glove compartments. (No, I don't have the link.) There is a blog devoted to the interpersonal relationships among the X-Wing pilots during the attack on the Death Star. (Again, sorry.) 

My blog is not successful because I am unable to specialize. My brain is either a pinball or silly putty, going in all directions. See, I can't even settle on a metaphor. I take no comfort in the Robert Heinlein quote, "Specialization is for insects." Because, let's face it, insects are pretty darn successful on this planet.

I do have a link to my favorite hyper-specialized blog in all of webdom. Now known as "The Comics Curmudgeon" but originally called "I Read the Comics so You Don't Have To," it is the dream destination for anyone who doesn't find the daily newspaper comics that funny or entertaining, but is compelled to read them anyway. Josh reads them and then ridicules the art, or the stories, or the perceived perverted personalities portrayed within. For example, Josh presents the above panel as evidence of Rex Morgan, M.D.'s repressed sexuality. As with everything in that comic strip, the truth is maddeningly more banal. 

Josh is wicked smart (he was just on "Jeopardy" for God's sake) and funny. His love for all these strips is apparent, even if it is the love one might have for a three-legged dog. Think of his blog as "Mystery Science Theater," but for Blondie and Mark Trail.

My own personal story of the comics: 

I was a paperboy for the Des Moines Register (Sunday mornings) and Tribune (daily afternoons, even Saturday) for my entire adolescence. I obsessively read every strip in the morning and afternoon papers, except for the "soap opera" strips. They just seemed so boring. But I did notice that in the strip Judge Parker, there was never a judge. So I started reading it and sure enough, the title character never made an appearance. As a thirteen-year-old I realized that reading Judge Parker was even less cool than the other things I did (watching all the Planet of the Apes sequels, playing Dungeons and Dragons) so I never spoke about it. But I made a secret deal with myself that I would stop reading Judge Parker when the judge showed up. By the time I went off to college, he had never appeared. (Perhaps the judge made quick appearances while I was in South Dakota visiting my grandparents, whose newspapers featured rare treats like Henry and Mary Worth.) I admit that I got excited when Sam Driver spoke to the judge on the telephone once in those five years. 

Twenty years later I rediscover Judge Parker thanks to Josh. (It appears that about six months have transpired in the characters' lives since I stopped reading.) And the judge himself has appeared, several times! Apparently he was holed up writing pulp fiction:

One of Josh's readers wrote in responding to the term "Crime-Fighting Judge," and suggested a few other outrageous character ideas, like a disease-fighting nurse or a fire-fighting fireman. And the ridicule goes on.


mattf said...

Not to put too fine a point on this, but give the judge some credit. A "crime-fighting cop" or a "crime-fighting D.A." is, or should be, par for the course. But a judge is supposed to weigh evidence fairly and interpret laws as they're written, not "fight crime." It brings to mind all the charges of "judicial activism" that both major U.S. political parties have tossed at each other over the past couple of years.
(The only soap-ish comic I read was Steve Roper & Mike Nomad, though I was never sure which was which.)

g nemec said...

I don't disagree, but the whole spirit of the site is to abuse the daily comic strips. It's not about playing fair.