Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Comic-Strip Christmas Carol: Stave One

Jim Davis, or whoever does Jim Davis's work for him nowadays, has a sweet, sweet deal. The Davisites* churn out three near-identical panels a day. The jokes are old and/or stupid; the characters do not grow or change. As young, hungry cartoonists shiver outside in the cold, the Davisites hunch over their drawing tables, sneering, "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"

Jim Davis:

I am the ghost of your colleague, Johnny Hart. I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link, and yard by yard, constructing it of terrible jokes, cardboard characters, predictable situations, lazy art, and the inability to recognise my own shortcomings. Would you know the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It is a ponderous chain!

You wonder at my condition, as I was always a good man of business? Humour was my business. The promotion of enjoyment was my business; cleverness, originality, boundary-pushing, and good writing were, all, my business. The earning of money was but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!

I am here to-night to warn you, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate. You will be haunted by Three Spirits. Without their visits, you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first to-morrow when the comics appear in the newspapers.

Look to see me no more; and look that, for your own sake, you remember what has passed between us!

P.S.: And yes, this strip is worthy of medievalisation. The stupidity of the joke is as nothing compared to the idiocy of the unchanging "art." Jim Davis isn't quite one of our trio of monks, but he operates like an ancient monk gone to seed, bored with his own work and taking as many shortcuts as humanly possible. Instead of drawing all sorts of monsters in the margins of his manuscripts, he produces the same one over and over. He is, really, to be pitied.

*Quite like Deadites, except that even if you cut off their heads, sever their limbs, and burn their bodies and/or drawing materials, they keep grinding away at this damned strip.

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