A comment on single panel strips

There seems to be a little confusion concerning the idea of what a single-panel strip is.

I draw distinctions between 4 different sources. The first is newspapers. Newspapers often include one-panel comic strips to fill in otherwise odd-shaped blank space on the page. The most common single-panel strips these days, if you look at more than one paper, will be Non Sequitur, Bizarro, Marmaduke and possibly Family Circus. The most famous, of course, is The Far Side.

The second and third sources are the online comics hosting sites GoComics and ComicsKingdom. I prefer GoComics because the interface is a little easier to navigate, and the server is faster. They have quite a few more strips that fit the gag category, including Wayno Vision, 1 and Done, Too Much Coffee Man, Wide Open, The Daily Drawing, and Sketchy Chics. I don’t frequent Comics Kingdom as much, so I’m only aware of Piraro’s Bizarro and Family Circus (which I don’t read). I’ll add here that Comics Sherpa has single-panel strips as well, but the artists are still trying to find their chops, and may not be “professional quality” yet.

The fourth group includes magazines, such as Playboy and the New Yorker. While there are a lot of single-panel strips here, at least some of them aren’t “gag strips” in the classical sense, in that a lot of the stuff that runs in the New Yorker makes you go “hmmm,” rather than being laugh-out-loud funny. Here we used to get (“back in the day”) the science strips of Sidney Harris, the horror one-pagers of Gahan Wilson, the macabre humor of Chas Addams, and the off-the-wall stuff of B. Kliban (precursor to The Far Side). We can probably add Mad magazine to this list, but I don’t have any examples to work with at the moment. And, please note that Kliban, and Kliban Cats are currently in reruns on GoComics. Plus, Rich Powell of Wide Open also does work for Mad magazine.

There is a fifth category, and that is self-published webcomics, which would include Sketchy Chics, and conceivably Bent Objects (although many people, including photographer Terry Border would argue that his stuff doesn’t qualify as “comic strips”). Over time, though, more of the independent webcomics are being brought over to GoComics, at least until their contracts run out.

So, I’d say there are a lot more single-panel gag comics out there waiting to be nominated by their fans, or creators. I’m hoping that some of them are ones I don’t know about yet, but really want to read when I learn about them.

In any event, if you haven’t left your suggestions here yet, please go to the previous blog entry and leave a comment there (or, comment on this post. I don’t care.) And while you’re at at, maybe you can give me your views on the differences between “a single panel comic”, and “a single panel gag comic.”

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