Sunday Comics

This past week’s “Doonesbury” and today’s edition (wherein B.D. continues his recovery (if there’s such a thing as “recovery”) in losing his leg) – has been great stuff. B.D.’s young daughter doesn’t quite understand what happened to her dad, the leg and helmet gone. Even B.D. wonders – geez, what did happen to the helmet? 😉

(my previous comments on the B.D. storyline)

I do think that Garry Trudeau has done a nice job showing how B.D.’s progress – or the fact that B.D. is still just trying to deal with it – like today’s instance, where the occupational therapist is running B.D. through a model kitchen to get used to living life again.

Therapist asks: “For example, what if your wife asks you to remove the trash can from under the counter? What’s your strategy?”

B.D.: “I say, ‘You do it. I lost a leg in Iraq.'”

Deadpanned Therapist: “No, I mean bio-mechanically.”

Ok, B.D. needs a little work here. But, he’ll get there.

I don’t like what’s happening to the “Annie” comic strip – and this has been going on the past four years now. Annie back in her 1970’s to 1990’s incarnation under comic strip artist Leonard Starr was fascinating. Starr didn’t have the libertarian/conservative/nationalist bent that Annie’s original creator Harold Gray had, but Starr knew how to craft characters and stories. Annie would wander the country trying to look for Daddy Warbucks; Warbucks would be obviously missing his daughter, but was caught up in protecting her or dealing with his multi-billion company; their poignancy was strikingly apparent.

During the final years of Starr’s work, Annie was trying to catch up on her education and recognizing that her dad has some seriously unresolved love affairs (Angela, who had her naternal feelings for Annie but had to get over her abusive husband, and that Russian spy, who saved Warbucks’ life from hypothermia using her… um… body warmth); Punjab, Warbucks’ sidekick/bodyguard/wise man, was passing the duties to his teenager nephew, Punjee – who was dealing with the burden of those duties (which meant sacrificing a love interest and a mainstream life); and even the Asp, the other bodyguard/wise man, had to deal with the fact that his niece, Stella Han, was a serious villain (putting aside that Han was the stereotyped Asian Dragon Woman, who was hardly attractive and had issues about her uncle). Stuff like that.

The new cartoonists (or at least the writer, a Daily News writer who has new cartoonists working with him every year) aren’t quite as good. Annie hasn’t been her vibrant self in so long – it’s this fake version of her (Annie was a tough but not stupid kid; these days, she’s just… I just don’t get it). Warbucks has been reduced to being a seriously absent dad who’s only goal is to serve the War Against Terrorism. In fact, the writers of the comic strip’s current incarnation are back in the political commentary mode (I mean, please, spare me the not-very-veiled political stance about the terrorism problems; villains say their lines like “We will not be able to hurt the Americans, no thanks to Warbucks. Curses!”). And, while it’s nice that Annie now has an ethnic female role model/guardian, Amelia Santiago (a Cuban-American pilot), I do miss Punjee and other characters. If the Asp and Punjab make any appearances these days, they’re Noble Minority Characters/Warriors, Serving The War Against Terrorism. There’s no mention of recurring characters like Huff, Warbucks’ gruff lookalike bodyguard, who was a softy to Annie underneath his gruff demeanor; Ezra Eon, the genius professor who still talked like a hick; Dermot, the cute young man (who Annie may or may not have had a crush on) who was too busy with the computer programming stuff to get a love life; etc. The absolute crime for a comic strip is to have average or even bad writing. The guys behind the current Annie should actually go back and read the past 20 years of Annie and figure it out. (and one of these days, I’ll write to the Daily News and tell them to do so). “Annie” is missing the richness she used to have.

I’ll stop now. Enjoy the work week.

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