It’s a thin divide that separates an actual comic strip from something that merely resembles one. Those that lie outside the classic definition are what I call “un-comics.” They function like standard comic strips and work toward the same end, but are unmistakably different for any number of reasons. I’m not often sure what they are saying, but here are some un-comics that stand out in a small crowd.
A Softer World - The collaboration of Joey Comeau and Emily Horne, A Softer World, upon first glance, is merely a series of snapshots with typed script glued on top. Visually, it is no more than that, but the careful reader will notice a finely structured work of art. Whether dark (“Waking up is nice / for those first few moments / before you remember who and what you are.”), slapstick (“If something seems too good to be true / quick! put it in your mouth.”), or sweetly poetic (“We talk in the dark as we fall asleep / and are objects in the night sky / outside of time.”); each layout is unique and multi-layered.
Meszcomics - Mescomics makes unreadable messy comics – their words, not mine. Let me see if I can sum up the work in a single sentence: These are the semi-coherent adventures of the homosexual Sin-Cat and his pals, who find themselves in obscure instances and explore (sometimes in Spanish, French, German or Cockney) their own unreality. Or as they may say in Meszcomiceese: It runs along underside to the place that lives, where happy dances and sadness sings. And children are goat-monkeys.
Comics for the Blind – Using an array of devices to make its point, Comics for the Blind is dedicated to poking fun at scores of popular comic strip titles. No one is safe and nothing is sacred. It may be a diatribe about The Lockhorns, a word-only description of Hagar the Horrible, Luann with deleted text, or a Family Circus simply thrown to the wolves that are reader comments. Most notable is the popular “Improving Garfield,” which is simply Garfield with altered or removed word balloons.
Garfield Minus Garfield - Garfield must be an easy target because Garfield Minus Garfield is, well, just that. The stated motive is to reveal the existential angst of the still single and middle-aged Jon Arbuckle after almost 35 years in circulation. I have to admit, it really does cast Jon in a new, sometimes sad and disturbing light. In case you were curious about how something like this goes over with Garfield creator Jim Davis, he calls G-G “an inspired thing to do.”
Another Tower - Unfortunately, Another Tower recently went down for reconstruction. I wish I could offer a brief explanation about the content, but I don’t know. I really don’t. You’ll have to wait and judge for yourself.