To recap - this introduction is a re-run, the recommendations are reasonably fresh. Well, not FARMERS' MARKET-fresh; more like vacuum-sealed-and-shipped-across-the-country-coated-in-carnauba-wax-but-still-in-the-produce-section-fresh.
Half the time, they won't even look at it.
"I don't get cartoons," they'll say.
What's the expression? "Same planet, different worlds"?
I love comic strips. I use them in the classroom constantly. I put at least one on any quiz or worksheet I give to students; long tests might have as many as six or seven. I put a comic on any permission slip or letter home (you'd be surprised how many of those actually get read that way). I insert them in my PowerPoints.
This post is about how and where I find comic strips (and a few other things).
The Proper Mental State
The important thing, when reading comic strips (or anything else, for that matter) is your (well, in this case, my) state of mind. You (okay, me) have to have one idea constantly in the back of you mind - "Oh, that's cool! Is there any way I can use it in the classroom?" This is the same state of mind that most teachers have when visiting a dollar store or GoodWill; I've just expanded it to odd drawings and bad jokes.
Is It Legal?
I have no idea.
My understanding of copyright law (which is hazy at best) is that as long as a teacher isn't making any money or depriving the original artist of any revenue, it is kosher for him or her to use this sort of material in a classroom setting. If you are really worried about the legality of this, consult your school's Librarian.
Okay - So What Comic Strips Do I Read?
In no particular order, here is a partial list of the comic strips I read pretty much every day:
A weird, nerdy comic strip that makes me unaccountably happy.
This strip doesn't have any fixed characters or storylines. It's mildly goofy and comforting.
The king of goofy comic strips. These make me laugh out loud and elicit looks of blank confusion from students and colleagues. Which just makes me use them more.
I'm not sure why, but I think this is my favorite comic strip. It follows the life of a single mother, her two daughters and her extended family. It is gentle and affectionate and doesn't take itself too seriously.
Sometimes this is a single-panel strip. Sometimes it can run on for pages. It bounces from silly to cerebral to just plain weird. I cannot express how much I love it.
The bizarre and subversive world of librarians.
An odd, odd comic strip about life from the perspective of young children.
A largely pun-based comic that suits my sensibilities very well.
This comic strip isn't as consistently funny as some of the others that I read regularly. On the other hand, I could REALLY use the device illustrated above.
A very smart - as in sometimes way over my head - comic strip that you will find on the office door of any science grad student in the same way that you used to find Far Side comic strips when I was in college in the late Cretaceous Period.
Because Peanuts could be so heartwarming, we tend to forget how smart it was.
A very odd comic strip made from Victorian magazine illustrations. I actually make a mental not each Tuesday and Friday to look for it.
Because I love it.
Because it's really good.
Their marriage is my marriage.
Sometimes goofy, sometimes wry, sometimes too smart for their own good, sometimes just plain mystifying, New Yorker cartoons are the gold standard for comic strips.
A strip that manages to be funny, smart and sexy - usually all at once.
Made up of seemingly random photographs and often nonsensical, this comic strip makes me feel like there are other people as out of step with the rest of the world as I am. It comforts me.
It's at least as smart and funny now as it was 40 years ago.
Even when it doesn't make sense - which is most of the time - Buttersafe is very funny.
Ted Forth is my spirit animal.
Frog Applause never, ever makes sense. Good things - like love, peanut butter and jalapeño sandwiches, and the Muppets - don't always have to make sense.
This comic strip is almost never safe for work, appropriate for school in any way or in good taste.
I'm deeply disappointed on the days it doesn't run.
This comic strip makes me feel better about losing my mind.
Reliably goofy and funny.
Wiley Miller, the man who draws this strip is a very funny, grumpy, middle-aged man, which makes him something of a role-model for me.
Another not-particularly-safe-for-anywhere strip that delves deeply into characters with a lot of humor and compassion.
Classic paintings with new titles.
I'm beginning to see why I don't have much free time.
Your comments, as always, are welcome.
Unless you are a Korean shoe wholesaler pretending to be a lonely Ukrainian swimsuit model, in which case, I'd rather you didn't comment. (Been getting quite a few of those lately.)