The Blabbing Baboon, by Friend-of-the-Blog Richard Marcej, is not intended to be humorous, but rather a journal of his life, which does not include crimefighting or espionage or even skydiving.
As such, it is more like American Splendor than Mad Magazine, and probably an acquired taste, particularly since he doesn't share the late Harvey Pekar's fascinatingly iracsible, anti-social personality.
In fact, the interest in his strip is that he comes across as a normal person, whose life, if equally as mundane as Pekar's, does not even stand out for moments of repressed, or unrepressed, hostility.
Much less for appearances and disappearances on Letterman.
However, even if you aren't into small, unremarkable moments, Marcej is now embarking on some rather large if still -- in the current economy -- unremarkable moments, since, as the past two installments indicate, he has been granted the Order of the Cardboard Box.
If you go back to yesterday's January 5 entry, you'll see that I offered some comforting notions in the comments, to which he replied that, while he could have used the moment to catch up to the present day (since real-life commitments regularly force this daily record to fall behind), he intends to blog the experience in all its glory.
In the following days, weeks, months, etc… I’ll be covering what
it’s like to be an unemployed man over 50 in this day and age.
While it’s made life much more difficult, it’s made
for interesting comics.
Which provides two levels of suspense: One hoping for a happy ending and the other knowing that, however it is going, he's not going to gussy it up.
And speaking of FOTB telling personal stories, the second installment of Brian Fies' weekly Mom's Cancer serialization is up at GoComics (this isn't the whole thing; go look), as is his commentary on it.
I'm not going to point out every update every Monday, but today's not only mirrors the idea of honest portrayal of mundane moments, but shows how they can resonate with the reader.
Brian is on the phone with his sister, an RN, who is telling him that their mother has had ... something.
She's not panicked and he's taking it so much in stride that, given what the reader already knows, it comes across, if not as "callous," at least as a casualness he will later regret, or question.
For me, it mirrored my mother's phone call 30 years ago -- nearly to the day -- when she said, "Your father's had a heart attack" and my response was "How bad was it?"
I should have known that my mother becomes the most calm when all hell is breaking loose.
Rather than sitting up in bed being told, "You've had a little heart attack," my father was in the ICU full of tubes and wires, where he would remain for the next month.
The difference between a good and a mediocre graphic memoir is being able to evoke those moments of "Yes, that's how it is," even when what is being depicted is only tangentially related to the reader's actual experience, and the great memoirs evoke it even when the event is completely beyond someone else's experience: "Yes, that's how it surely would be."
Anyway, I've received the Order of the Cardboard Box and will be reading about Richard's experience with interest.
I do not anticipate a lot of laughter, but that's not all that comics are supposed to provoke.
Juxtaposition of the Day
Speaking of comics that provoked more pondering than giggles, I chuckled over this pair, but then reflected on the phenomenon as well.
I ranted at length the other day about how the myth of Stranger Danger has got parents panicked and made us more accepting of governmental surveillance, not to mention vulnerable to bunco artists and exploiters.
The flip side of that surfaces in the "We didn't need protection" attitude that greets helmet and seat belt laws, from people like Lola who insist that it's all a bunch of interfering nonsense.
I've got personal reasons to feel otherwise, including the observations of a son who spent more than a dozen years in hospital trauma departments attempting to reassemble people who didn't think they needed protection.
When I was working on a risk-assessment curriculum piece for kids, I asked him about seat belts and he said that, while he'd really like to see all drivers wear a five-point restraint harness and a helmet, it is necessary to be more practical than that and go with what they are likely to accept.
And, as the Middletons suggest, kids do accept helmets and seat belts as the default, if that's how they are presented.
It's only a big deal if you decide that's the thing you want to make a big deal about: The likelihood of a bicycle accident. (515,000 emergency room visits per year)
As opposed to the incredibly lesser likelihood of a random psychotic stranger snatching your child from the street. (Just over 100 per year)
But, yeah, we all grew up doing crazy shit and we're all still here.
So much for the good old days before seat belts, helmets, padded dashboards, air bags, vaccinations and other forms of interference in the glories of childhood.
I promise you, those massive drops in death rates for kids were not all the result of locking up friendly strangers.
And this isn't funny, either
Scott Stantis has had Winslow and Carmen going through quite a lot of soul-searching lately in Prickly City, and he's a fellow who takes the term "soul" quite seriously.
There has been a lot written about the failure of Reconstruction and how the "Lost Cause" attitude not only brought about a century of post-war Jim Crow, but continues to poison the well of social consciousness.
Stantis, however, an Old School conservative in the mold of Bill Buckley and Scoop Jackson, has been more universal in his examination of our moral failures with one another.
And yes, you're right: For every Rush Limbaugh there is a Michael Moore.
So let's see a liberal cartoonist question liberal, bomb-throwing dimwits.
The next year and a half are going to be unbearable if, out of some ridiculous sense of partisan loyalty, nobody is willing to point out the people who are spreading ignorant hostility.
As Yossarian said, "The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he is on."