See...the thing is:
Many of the comics about which I am ranting were once truly good. They were products of their times, and they drew on the humour of their times to create funny jokes that would make their readers chuckle. If I had been born in the late twenties, I would probably have fond memories of Blondie and its contemporaries. I might even now be looking back wistfully on the good ol' days.
I choose to believe, however, that my nostalgia would not lead me to mistake the strips as they are now for the strips as they were then. These comics are no longer products of our times. They don't even know how to deal with our times.
Take Nancy. In 1933, an eight-year-old girl with fuzzy hair and an angular little skirt appeared in a comic, Fritzi Ritz, that had been around since 1922. Her popularity eventually propelled her to the centre of the plot, while her Aunt Fritzi was pushed to the sidelines. Nancy's creator, Ernie Bushmiller, won various awards as the comic surged in popularity.
Then, in 1982, he died.
Nancy lives on. Well...perhaps "lives" is the wrong word. The comic is a true zombie, lurching through the comics pages, shedding maggots and bits of brain matter, continually searching for young, fresh strips to destroy. If you want to experience true horror, read this last week's comics. * I didn't notice them in time to feature any of them...but damn.
Luckily, Nancy has a comfortably medieval atmosphere. Like many medieval authors, Guy and Brad Gilchrist, the comic's current hacks, are happy to draw on** older material, telling jokes that have already been told thousands of times and have thus been provided with "auctoritee." Look at today's comic. Note how much more weight the "Gosh, cell phones have become tiny!" gag has once you have considered that this is roughly the three billionth time it has appeared in a comic strip, movie, television show, or deodorant advertisement since the days when "tiny" meant "able to fit inside my huge purse, almost." An aura of auctoritee imbues the strip, turning it into an auctoritee itself.
It is also worth pointing out that people have been lamenting changing times since times started changing. The word "newfangled" is actually very old; Chaucer used it.*** Nancy is here drawing on a tradition that was already mouldy in the fourteenth century. Again, the strip is steeped in sweet, sweet auctoritee.
If the cartoonists keep on in this way, they will be discovering the printing press any decade now. Wait for it. Waaaait for it...
P.S.: No, I do not know why multiple horrifying Nancy heads are floating around in a blue void with a bunch of potatoes. They just are.
*I'm afraid this link will only work for the next three weeks. Then again, it's probably a really good thing that these particular comics will eventually not be accessible to anyone sane.
***Well, okay: he used the word "newefangelnesse." I'm a pedant...you're a pedant...we're all pedants togeeeeeeeetheeeeeeeerrrrrrrr...