One of the benefits of life in a small state is access, and I ran into Senator Jeanne Shaheen on the outdoor mall downtown yesterday.
I didn't tell her that Obamacare was destroying our families, though I guess I was supposed to. I did tell her that the combination of a lousy student loan system and the highest tuition in the country was destroying New Hampshire's conceptual infrastructure.
The dark money is flowing into the Granite State as the Koch Brothers and gang seek to provide Massachusetts with a third senator get Scott Brown elected. If the polls are right, we're not that easily fooled, but polls have been wrong. We shall see.
Meanwhile, I'm clicking on all their ads in order to help them spend their money.
None of which is why I'm leading off with today's Freshly Squeezed, though I liked it for those reasons.
But it's the second-to-last Sunday for the strip, which Ed Stein is retiring on the 19th. I don't like that.
However, I wanted to provide a heads up that Ed will be launching a new webcomic based on his childhood in small-town Texas at an unspecified date presumably not too long from the time Freshly Squeezed draws to a close.
I'll update with a link when it happens, or you can monitor things here.
Speaking of starting over, James Allen has done a nice job of freshening Mark Trail since he took it over, without totally redefining a popular strip.
His Sundays seem to be energized simply from a new hand at the tiller, while his first Mon-Sat arc took Trail to Africa and concerned rhino poaching.
He certainly didn't get into the root causes -- his villain was simply a greedy Yank, which is hardly the problem -- nor did the story have the fascinating convolution of a Judge Parker story. But either change would have upset and confused loyal Trailheads without suddenly bringing in a flood of new readers.
I was happy to see a little tighter pacing and more credible dialogue, part of that enhanced credibility coming in the form of balloon placement that did not make it appear that said dialogue was coming from the animals in the frame.
As to the topic of zombie strips, I'm not a fan of them in print and wish that the increasingly precious real estate of newspapers were more devoted to new work by original artists.
However, if familiar content is what keeps readers shelling out for the paper, then familiar content is what keeps the format alive, and the challenge is to persuade editors to establish a balance that could conceivably engage a new generation rather than simply maintaining the old.
There's plenty of space for both new and old strips at GoComics and Comic Kingdom, but, at least at the moment, what artists get from those sites isn't enough to keep them in coffee, much less to pay for their time, and the key to survival is to get into enough newspapers to make the effort worthwhile, and to begin to leverage your popularity into book and coffee mug sales.
For now, a syndicated strip's primary need remains appealing to editors, but the day will come when, like all webcomics, the trick will be to have a following of individual readers and that needs to start happening now, not then.
It's not necessarily a "harder" task, but it is a different one.
Juxtaposition of the Day
Obviously, Dan Piraro and Hilary Price do not have the same perspective on off-duty reptilians.
This one is a matter of pure timing. A song came on yesterday that reminded me of a near-miss near-romance, which in turn got me to thinking that those are the ones that haunt you.
In that particular case, she had moved to the West Coast and I flew all the way out there to see if something might happen and we were barely out of the car at her place when we agreed that, yeah, we could have a nice visit, but nothing was gonna happen.
So when I hear "our" song, I can get all squishy and nostalgic, which is a lot different than when I hear songs that remind me of the ones where we pressed on anyway and thus discovered beyond any possible doubt all the reasons that it had been a bad, stupid, doomed folly from the start.
I suppose it's like the job you didn't take, which would have been perfect, or the town you didn't move to, which would have been idyllic.
There's a line to be drawn between romantic nostalgia (which is sweet and fun) and vain regret (which is pointless and self-destructive), and the Big Rule is that, if you like where you're at, you ought not to despise the road that got you there.
True of romance, true of career, true of location location location.
On the other hand, if you don't keep things moving on an upward curve in all those things, you might indeed end up having something to regret. In which case you should either fix it or live with it, but don't sit around bullshitting yourself about it.
I like the Lockhorns for the same reason I'm glad State Farm has brought back this bit of hilarious schadenfreude. I think, on the whole, I'd rather be married to Loretta.
Too bad you can't buy a policy to keep you from ending up there.