After this week’s Major Spoilers Podcast, I was taken by how much I loved all the adventures of Calvin & Hobbes, to the point where it’s fighting with The Far Side and Bloom County for the top slot of ‘Most Loved Comic Strip Tale Of All Time.’  Then I remember the ‘Penguin Lust’ arc and the long strip of the brick wall outside the White House being dismantled in Doonesbury, or even the point back when Garfield was funny, and I have to go and read those trade paperbacks again, by which point I forget the question, but remember all the lyrics to “I’m A Boinger.”

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) still can’t believe how much of ‘Bloom County’ seemingly escaped the MSP team, asking: What’s the best comic STRIP of all time?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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15 Comments

  1. Ken
    May 23, 2013 at 1:35 pm — Reply

    Calvin and Hobbes leaves everyone else in the dust simply from consistency and quality.

  2. JoeM
    May 23, 2013 at 1:58 pm — Reply

    You know, I’m going to answer the question in a different way. As a kid I used to go to the library and read old newspapers on microfieche. The the strip I kept going back to, and still do is Alley Oop. I will admit, it has not been consistent, but I do like me some time-travelling cavemen riding dinosaurs.

  3. Frank
    May 23, 2013 at 2:01 pm — Reply

    It’s too hard to pick just one.

    Bringing up Father (1913-2000)
    Bloom County (1980-1989)
    Calvin and Hobbes (1985-1995)
    Pogo (1949-1975)

  4. May 23, 2013 at 2:34 pm — Reply

    Bloom County is my favorite, though very much a product of its time, The Far Side is technically not a strip, but as far as gag panel comics go, nothing beats Herman, though Far Side comes close (Jim Unger was simply a better cartoonist and draftsman than Gary Larson while they both mined areas of really weird humor).

    Pogo’s art its unparalleled in my book except for possibly the work done on Lil Abner by Al Capp and Frank Frazetta. Gasoline Alley was really amazing once Walt adopted Skeezix and that strip found its focus. In a hundred plus years of newspaper strips there are too many excellent examples of great strips, spread across the years, all products of THEIR times to say X is the BEST ever.

    Even much maligned strips like Blondie, Beetle Bailey, Garfield and The Wizard of Id were innovative, funny and enjoyable at one time or another, but suffered from going on too long and becoming nothing more than ‘intellectual property’ existing on sheer inertia.

    Calvin and Hobbes for all the reasons mentioned in the podcast is easily the best strip of its era, and I don’t think there has been anything even close to it since it ended. Once it began to wane, if ever so slightly, Waterson ended it, and has done nothing to follow up. It will probably always have that mystique to enhance the quality already inherent in the material. No one can point to it and say, yeah, but it started off kind of rough, nor can they point to a moment and say, and here’s where it fell apart. It is a strip unique in that respect.

  5. Arbor Day
    May 23, 2013 at 2:49 pm — Reply

    Growing up I’d by the collections. It went in this order for me: Garfield, The Far Side. Calvin & Hobbes, then Dilbert.

    Still read comics though, Least I Could Do, Penny Arcade, Hark A Vagrant, etc.

    Best one of current generation is Dr. Mcninja though.

  6. May 23, 2013 at 3:27 pm — Reply

    Newspaper strip: A definite tie between Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side.

    Webcomics that are like strips: Least I Could Do, Queen of Wands and Looking For Group (“For Pony!”).

  7. Ryan 'Halite' King
    May 23, 2013 at 3:32 pm — Reply

    The only strip I could, and have, read every single comic and enjoy was Calvin and Hobbes. While there are other strips I have loved, they have periods that aren’t so good or individuals that fall flat. To continuously output that much quality really puts Calvin and Hobbes at the top.

    • Ryan 'Halite' King
      May 23, 2013 at 3:33 pm — Reply

      If we also want to include webcomics, I think XKCD has to be the best there. The humor is really great, sometimes you learn something as well, but recently Munroe’s ability to use the online medium to push the boundaries of what a comic is has set it apart.

  8. gary
    May 23, 2013 at 5:49 pm — Reply

    Of the old-order paper print comics, I think Calvin and Hobbes wins hands down. As a young’un I would have said it was a tie between C&H, Far Side, and Garfield. But in retrospect Garfield is the same few jokes over and over, and while Far Side had many moments of brilliance, it’s not nearly as consistent and timeless as Calvin & Hobbes.

    Of the webcomics, I’d have to go with Penny-Arcade, the first arc of the Abominable Charles Christopher, and Anders Loves Maria. PA for staying funny and relevant on the internet for 15 years (how many other things have remained relevant on the internet for 15 years?). ACC for it’s beautiful art and wonderful characters (current arcs are too slow — weekly updates but too many side-stories). Anders Loves Maria for its believable, lovable, but flawed characters and poignant story.

  9. Oldcomicfan
    May 23, 2013 at 7:37 pm — Reply

    From the early era of comic strips, it would have to be Eric Segar’s Thimble Theater. From my youth, in the category of Adventure strips, it would have to be Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie (our paper only got the Sunday strips, which printed the climax of the chapter of the adventure that had been building up all week. It was like being only allowed to read the last page of every book Dickens ever wrote – which is why I am buying the IDW collection since I finally, forty years later, get to read the rest of the story), and for political humor, Walt Kelly’s Pogo. (Incidently, the circus train sequence from the opening of “Dumbo” was drawn by Walt Kelly. If you watch that movie, you’ll recognize the art style as being the same from Pogo and it doesn’t quite match the rest of the movie nor the Disney bland “house” style, which makes me wonder if that is perhaps why Kelly was never asked to work on any other Disney animated movie). From the modern era, for art up until Calvin and Hobbs it would have to be Prince Valiant until C & H knocked it off its throne, and for sheer humor, my favorite was Thomas K. Ryan’s Tumbleweeds. Tops in my books for the strip that went on too long under the banner of the original creator, that would be Peanuts. I quit liking that strip once it turned into the Snoopy and Woodstock show. Once Woodstock showed up, a good half of the cast vanished never to be seen again, except in the television specials.

  10. May 24, 2013 at 4:35 am — Reply

    Bloom County is hands down my favorite. The characters, the jokes, the time-capsule nature of it now… it just works. For panel gags, people are still trying & failing to emulate The Far Side, which is still the high water mark for being as warped as possible. As for current strips, I enjoy Pearls Before Swine for its equally warped humor & characters, even if certain characters have a tendency to bring it to a screeching halt (coughGoatcough).

    For older pre-childhood strips, I have great love for the “big foot” adventure strips like Thimble Theater and Wash Tubbs/Captain Easy. Even if some of the stuff in them (especially the latter) look horribly dated today, they revolutionized the comic art form & left the world with memorable characters that have, unfortunately, fallen by the wayside.

  11. Boostergold
    May 24, 2013 at 6:02 am — Reply

    First post nails it. C&H, always and forever.

  12. Seamas
    May 24, 2013 at 6:41 am — Reply

    My personal favorite is Bloom County. But in terms of overall quality, there really can be no debate. Calvin and Hobbes is the best comic strip ever.

  13. Dave
    May 24, 2013 at 10:44 am — Reply

    For print: It would be hard to find a strip that beats the consistency in quality, humor, and all around fun as “Calvin and Hobbes.” The absolute worst “Calvin and Hobbes” strip is still better than the average (and sometimes even the great) strips produced by others.

    “The Far Side” gets honorable mention for me in this category.

    In regards to online comics: For longevity with consistent quality, Mike and Jerry get my vote with “Penny Arcade” followed closely by Scott Kurtz’s “PVP.” and Mike, Jerry, and Scott together on “The Trenches.”

    Honorable mention in online comics: Pete Abrams “Sluggy Freelance.” I’ve drifted away and back to it over the years, but the first few seasons are a fun read with some great punchlines.

  14. May 25, 2013 at 1:14 am — Reply

    If you’re going for literally “comic” strips, definitely POGO. Strips in general: TERRY AND THE PIRATES.

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