Here's an oddity that might have appeared in Mad Magazine rather than under its own label: Rex Morgan doesn't simply confront the Dorian Gray element of a strip that has been around this long, but challenges readers to take it seriously themselves.
It's a fun break in a process of reinvention that apparently includes wrapping up an attenuated storyline that seems to have gone on nearly as long as the strip, and I'm hoping we get the art forger/old gangster lady piece behind us and let Rex's kids fade back into the background, but I suppose we'll see.
As discussed earlier this week, Judge Parker is likely to undergo a bit of trimming and reinvention as well, and perhaps Rocky and Godiva can take little Sarah Morgan for a long trip around the world and let both strips get down to some sharper focus without any of them. From a writer's point of view, I think this falls under the category of falling in love with a character and losing discipline, an issue hardly confined to newspaper strips.
You want that colorful character who pops in once in awhile, either to stir up chaos or to save the day, but they have to be kept in check because they rarely bring much in the way of depth. In a strip like Dick Tracy, they are part of the charm, and the re-birth of that strip has delighted in oddities, crossovers and pure self-indulgent nonsense (today's being no exception).
But strips with a more serious setting require more disciplined writing. You don't have to acknowledge the fact that, in real life, Rex would have retired a generation ago, but you do have to keep things fresh, and set a younger pace unless you're playing to the same readers who were around when "the first" Dr. Morgan hung out his shingle.
This was a fun little psychotic break in the narrative. Let's see where the rebirth goes over the next few months.
Meanwhile, in the very current here-and-now, Ann Telnaes has her series of sketches from the Democratic National Convention, and, if you can get past the Washington Post's restrictive paywell, you'll get a kick out of a style admirably suited for this kind of quick-take work.
The same breezy, penetrating style that makes her finished pieces so devastating adds an element of informality to her sketches that makes me feel like I'm sitting next to her in study hall, looking over her shoulder and trying not to crack up and get in trouble. She doesn't have a mean-spirited bone in her body, but somehow still manages to exaggerate exactly the right thing in whoever she draws so that she doesn't have to add labels or commentary to make her point.
And if you do want to look over her shoulder, bear in mind that she's one of the featured artists at the Kenosha Festival in September, as is Jen Sorensen, who was featured here yesterday. I'm hoping to push my recovery forward enough to get out there, but you don't have that excuse for missing it.
Here's an article and video of the two of them, along with Signe Wilkinson, discussing their work and how they portray Hillary Clinton. Well worth the click.By the way, I find the Washington Post's paywall annoying because I wouldn't mind paying a reasonable amount for access to Ann's work, or Michael Cavna's column, but, like most papers with paywalls, they don't offer an al a carte menu and I'm hardly going to pay for an entire subscription to read two pieces a day.
Newspapers should wise up, but how many years have I said that?
Meanwhile, switching to a different browser will re-start the counter on your monthly total of free articles. Don't tell anyone I told you.
Finally, Dave Kellett posted this tribute to Richard Thompson at Sheldon, and it strikes me not only as a good piece in itself but emblematic of a lot of response I've seen across the board to Thompson's death: It's not just that his artistry was unparallelled, but that he touched an astonishing number of people on a very personal level.
The number of people who recounted his friendship and support are something you might expect upon the death of a much older person, who had had time to establish his own career and then look around to help inspire and encourage younger artists, but Thompson simply was that kind of guy anyway. He made more friends in 58 years than most people who lived nearly twice that long.
As Kellett suggests, it's a legacy that goes beyond art, but then again, his art was pretty astonishing by itself.