December 17th, 2009
by Terri Libenson
I came across this little piece by R.C. Harvey in â€œThe Comics Journalâ€ the other day thanks to our ever-reliable Google Alert system. It was a criticism to a particular strip: Dec 1. At first I kind of wrote it off. Why get defensive, right? To each his own. But then I caught myself later quipping to my husband, â€œYou know one of my biggest pet peeves? When someone tries to define what a comic strip is.â€ After all, comic strips are constantly evolving. Like other art forms, how can anyone define its parameters?
So Iâ€™d like to take a stand. Yes, of course Iâ€™m aware that Pajama Diaries is wordier than many cartoons. ItÂ is in diary format. But if you read it on a daily basis, youâ€™ll notice I tend to balance the wordier ones with more visual or less text-y strips. Not that I should defend that process at all. I mean, geez, has anyone read a Doonesbury cartoon?
In college and beyond, I was an admirer of artists like Lynda Barry and Nicole Hollander, whose comics are not only wordy, but feminine-skewed. Like Lynda Barry, I deal with both narrative and dialog. I like that dynamic. And after hmmph-teen years working in the card business, I also came to realize men and women generally gravitate toward different styles of humor.
Not that Iâ€™m trying to appeal just to women, but letâ€™s face it. When I do hear from both sexes, the men tend to like my quicker, gag-based jokes while women usually appreciate the story lines and relatable stuff. Those often include the heavily â€œverboseâ€ strips. Honestly, most of the time Iâ€™m just writing for myselfâ€¦and you wouldnâ€™t believe how much paring down even the wordier ones are subjected to.
But no matter. Harvey points out that this stripâ€™s wordiness gets in the way of the art. The artwork certainly looks fine and engaging on my computer screen. And in the case of this particular strip, IÂ simply didnâ€™t want the visuals competing with the message.
Okay, so he isnâ€™t fond of my â€œverbosity.â€ No problem. But next time Iâ€™m busy â€œemasculatingâ€ my strip, think about my biggest audience: MOMS.
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