When the final obituary of the printed newspaper is written, I'd like to see the analysis go beyond the usual suspects of greedy stockholders, Internet competition and shrinking ad revenue. I want some enterprising pundit to blame the rotting dinosaur carcass that is the newspaper comics page.
Some papers do a better job than others, but even those that print good alternatives like "Big Nate" or "Get Fuzzy" continue to prop up dreck like "Garfield," "Blondie" and "Hagar the Horrible." Does anyone find these even mildly entertaining? At least "The Family Circus" is so unfunny that it has taken on a kind of screw-you punk edge. Some days, it doesn't even make sense. As the saying goes, I'm strangely drawn to it. But with the exception of about three other strips, the comics page in my daily newspaper is an utter waste of newsprint.
Geek friends have turned me on to a number of funny Web-only strips, but I found "Alien Loves Predator" the old-fashioned way: mindlessly surfing the Net. The premise: Alien and Predator are roommates in New York, where they try speed dating, argue on the subway, apartment hunt among crack dealers, and occasionally hang out with Jesus. The weekly strip is hilarious, but it kinda pisses me off that it would never make it in a non-alternative newspaper. For starters, cranky 89-year-olds — the ones who call editors to complain — wouldn't get it. Irreverent treatment of the Jesus action figure would cause switchboards to light up. And since no one under 35 reads dead-tree newspapers anymore (so we are told), it wouldn't connect with the readers most likely to appreciate it.
Personally, I think a recurring Jesus cameo in "Shoe" would rule.