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Kudzu: Still crappy

Kudzu, 3/5/05

Just in case you were wondering.

Kudzu is the most egregious (but by no means the only) perpetrator of what I like to call Vacation Cloud syndrome. Were you ever forced to sit through the slides or photos of someone’s tropical vacation, where they insist on showing you all 219 pictures they took of tropical skies because “each one is so different”? And, I mean, you could spend the long time in studying the pictures, and eventually you would see that in there are subtle variations in the interplay of light and shadow that give each picture a unique feel. But you wouldn’t do that, because it would be a goddamn waste of time. Kudzu is a little like that: I’m sure that each one of the “Spiritual Weatherman” or “Preacher Dunn Gives A Eulogy” or “Doris The Parakeet Watches TV” strips has its own individual charms, but, really, will the payoff be worth the effort in figuring out the subtleties? Sadly, the answer is no.

39 responses to “Kudzu: Still crappy”

  1. Woodrowfan
    March 5th, 2005 at 5:47 pm [Reply]

    Kudzu has ALWAYS sucked. They watch TV in that strip more than they do in the Boondocks. At least the Boondocks is often FUNNY.

  2. Joseph J. Finn
    March 5th, 2005 at 6:32 pm [Reply]

    The sad thing is, Kudzu was really funny at one point; I remember a storyline where they mocked Oral Roberts over his goofy 800-foot Jesus experience that was just a scream.

  3. Anonymous
    March 5th, 2005 at 7:46 pm [Reply]

    What does “acting out” mean?

    Is it just “acting up”?

  4. Andrew
    March 5th, 2005 at 8:36 pm [Reply]

    I have a design-related request, and if anyone could fulfill I would be very happy. I created this Sunday-style Garfield strip from one of Castlezzt’s modified dailies:

    The problem, however, is that the strip lacks the title panel to truly bring it to completion. I wasn’t able to find a correctly-sized image of a Sunday strip to be able to incorporate its title panel, but, as I realized when I examined a Sunday strip more closely, this wouldn’t work very smoothly anyway, as each Sunday panel is slightly larger than the daily panels, and so the title panel would cover too much space to be able to be incorporated here. Does anyone, then, have the computer-design abilities to be able to create a convincing title panel for this Sunday-style strip? I can’t guarantee that it will be used, but you will at least receive some sort of laudatory response. Thanks very much.

  5. Zipper the mule
    March 5th, 2005 at 8:58 pm [Reply]

    That preacher in Kudzu is so roadside man.

  6. King Of All Paperboys
    March 5th, 2005 at 10:35 pm [Reply]

    Wait a minute… you mean people don’t LIKE my vacation slides?!?

    I’m… flabbergasted. I had no idea.

  7. Incident
    March 6th, 2005 at 12:03 am [Reply]

    I’d feel “doubt, despair, and listlessness” too if I could achieve only partial carnality.

  8. Jay Nickola
    March 6th, 2005 at 2:40 am [Reply]

    Will someone please FOR THE LOVE OF GOD explain Saturday’s Ziggy to me? It’s…but he…and there’s… “Memory?” Whaaa? AAGGHH WHEN DOES THE HURTING STOP!!

  9. Honey
    March 6th, 2005 at 7:45 am [Reply]

    The hurting stops when you stop reading Ziggy.

    The comics page goes by a lot faster when you skip the crap, but it’s also less likely to cause a stress headache.

  10. Exquisite Dead Guy
    March 6th, 2005 at 7:59 am [Reply]

    I agree, Honey. The comics page should be issued with a built-in Firefox extension to block out the falderal.

    Wow. I used “falderal” in a sentence and promoted Firefox and I’ve only been up five minutes. Sweet.

  11. Ziggy
    March 6th, 2005 at 12:59 pm [Reply]

    Yes, but you misspelled it.

  12. Exquisite Dead Guy
    March 6th, 2005 at 1:39 pm [Reply]

    fal·de·ral n. Variant of folderol.

    Read for yourself.

  13. Islamorada Girl
    March 6th, 2005 at 4:19 pm [Reply]

    Fiddle-de-dee, Miz Scarlet!

  14. Bill Peschel
    March 6th, 2005 at 5:56 pm [Reply]

    It is a shame. I knew Doug when he was editorial cartoonist at the Charlotte Observer (I still have a great Nixon he drew for a talk he gave at West Charlotte High School).

    Down in North Carolina among the Bakkers and Anita Bryant (yes, that far back), and school integration, he was sharp funny and rude, and he drove the pointy-headed residents of that “world-class” city wild.

    And Kudzu used to be sharp too, but it’s gone on for too long.

    All comic strips use repetitive jokes, but some do it better than others. FoxTrot keeps going by introducing jokes based on popular references (especially tech references). Kudzu’s just recycling.

  15. Mark Kawakami
    March 6th, 2005 at 8:09 pm [Reply]

    Josh, I’m glad to see you unapologetically abandon the “say one nice thing in every post” credo you had, because, honestly, it’s just not always possible.

  16. cartoonlad
    March 6th, 2005 at 11:49 pm [Reply]

    I used to read Kudzu until I realized that the cartoonist somehow seemed to stretch four days worth of jokes over six days every single week.

  17. Saint Chree
    March 7th, 2005 at 12:58 am [Reply]

    Was I the only person who noticed how catty Thel was today in Family Circus?
    meow! another saucer of milk for ms. keane!

    seriously though, look at how excited Jeffy is getting. He wants a cookie, and he is willing to do whatever it takes. each word he chokes out causes his tiny smile to light up that much more, knowing this humilation will soon bring him his just desserts*. Then Mommy has to destroy it all, shatter his dreams in one fell swoop, having the gall to turn her back on her own son as she does so. Look at that expression. it’s not sad, just shattered.

    *With terrible puns like that, I should really start writing for Haggar.

  18. Incident
    March 7th, 2005 at 1:13 am [Reply]

    If I knew little Jeffy, I would torture him too. There’s something about him that just plain asks for it.

    It does seem as if the Keane family is being a lot nastier to each other, I’ve noticed lately.

  19. winterbear
    March 7th, 2005 at 3:53 am [Reply]

    This is an excellent example of the lazy cartoonist. He has about 5 or six joke set ups he uses over and over again. Kind of like the knock knock joke. Dont have an idea for a strip today? pull out one of the stanard set ups and see what happens. after a few years, the stip is reduced to just these gags.

    In some ways I have a lot of sympathy for these guys… it must really suck to have to come up with 365 short jokes that fit into small boxes over and over again, year after year.

    It make me have a lot more respect for the great ones like Waterson who have looked this task in the eye and decided to retire rather than slide into mediocrity.

  20. Joe
    March 7th, 2005 at 8:29 am [Reply]

    I think the preacher is stating his observations on comic strips these days: partly carnal, with widespread doubt, despair and listlessness, with mood swings.

    I think you could fit every comic strip on any given day into one of those three categories, especially the second one.

  21. Tim Begley
    March 7th, 2005 at 11:50 am [Reply]

    Has anyone noticed in Mark Trail today that Andy is talking? When did they teach him that? Or, is Sheriff Johnson using him as some sort of a ventriloquist dummy?

  22. Sassy_Rocks
    March 7th, 2005 at 12:28 pm [Reply]

    Yes, talking and childcare are two of Andy’s exceptional talents. Mark Trail thanked Rusty for holding down the fort during his vacation. Usually, that would be Andy’s job. How senile is Doc that a pre-pubescent punk like Rusty or a dog is left in charge while Mark’s hanging out at the Oyster Bar?

  23. luluchappel
    March 7th, 2005 at 1:14 pm [Reply]

    How odd that today’s Boondocks and Candorville had the same theme (Blacks & barbecue). Also today, Cathy & Irving had sex. Look at Irving’s eyes get buggier & poppier in the first 3 panels, then he quiets down in the last panel as he tells Cathy he loves her. Doesn’t seem to have been as good for her, though.

  24. NotReallyErnie
    March 7th, 2005 at 1:16 pm [Reply]

    We get two pages of comics in our local newspaper and I read them all except two – Kudzu and Peanuts.

    Gad, I even read Fred Bassett and Snuffy Smith, neither of which is funny or even worth reading, but they don’t skeeve me like Peanuts or irritate me like Kudzu.

  25. shirky
    March 7th, 2005 at 2:20 pm [Reply]

    does anyone else read the comics in the boston globe? what happened with the Boondocks the other day? was that nonsensical rerun there to replace a CONTROVERSIAL strip again? what was it? someone tell me!

  26. Sassy_Rocks
    March 7th, 2005 at 2:29 pm [Reply]

    I read every comic in the Washington Post every day. Some are repetitive and stale, such as “Classic” Peanuts, or Kathy, others pander or proselethyze, such as “BC”, or Candorville, yet others attempt to be funny and fail miserably, such as Beetle Bailey. Nonetheless, the one strip I really have to force myself to read is Prince Valiant. Now that is just plain comic crap, even compared with the other lame ones.

  27. DCBirdblaster
    March 7th, 2005 at 6:19 pm [Reply]

    What ever happened to the good ‘ole American work ethic? It went from “I think I’ll go out and build an Interstate Hyway system today!” to “I think I’ll go to work, sit at my desk, and pretend I’m busy so I can get a paycheck.”

    The amount of effort that is put into comic strips today is half-assed at best. Typical of the average American’s work ethic today. What happened to the enthusiasm, the personal satisfaction in a job well done? The artist here is not even trying to come up with new material. (I think I heard this joke on an old Jay Leno)

  28. Anonymous
    March 8th, 2005 at 12:59 am [Reply]

    I dig your site. Thought you and your fanbase would like

  29. Zanzibar
    March 8th, 2005 at 8:11 am [Reply]

    There has undeniably been a sharper wit in the Family Circus in recent times; my guess is that this is the subtle influence of the younger Keane generation, gradually becoming more obvious as Bil recedes into the background. It won’t ever be Calvin and Hobbes (I mean this specifically in terms of family relations, but obviously not in anything else either), but we should at least see more strips like this one, and the those from the December 1st and October 11th archives.

  30. Monkeys Uncle
    March 8th, 2005 at 8:45 am [Reply]

    Speaking of lame strips we wish we could stop reading but cant… Funky Winkerbean has been on a super lame-a-thon for the past ten years. Still I can remember when it was just a funny strip about highschool geeks. Now it strives for some kind of social relevance and the humor (truth) is gone.

  31. PaxyPhil
    March 8th, 2005 at 8:47 am [Reply]

    Calvin and Hobbes was too mature – no six year old would say or do stuff like that.

    The kid needed Ritalin.

  32. Reswob
    March 8th, 2005 at 8:57 am [Reply]

    I read the Washington Post almost every day as well, I can’t remember the last time Prince Valiant was a daily strip, much less a sunday strip. In fact, let me double check my memory; nope, not there today. Admittedly, I used to read Prince, but I haven’t seen the comic in years outside of the NJ Star-Ledger. I don’t think they are even new stories since that comic been going on for years.

    As far as Peanuts, I saved a copy of the Sunday comics that had the last original strip written by Schulz, but I wish they would stop running reruns… or at least run reruns from the early, early strips, ones most people have never seen. If I remember the reason the Washington Post gave for keeping the strip it was simply because no one could imagine the comic pages without Charlie Brown. Not a good reason for keeping the strip around. Publish a retrospective, reissue the paperbacks, sell a screen savor, but it’s time to retire the strip from the daily newspaper.

    Just my .02

    p.s. encounter spelling errors at your own risk. There are bound to be at least several, since I have not yet replaced my blood with caffine this morning.

  33. PaxyPhil
    March 8th, 2005 at 9:18 am [Reply]

    Speaking of strips with children, Cleats has an obnoxious brat (Emily) who is self centered and tries to break up her divorced father’s romance.

    Emily looks like a snapping turtle, but with less personality.

  34. Woodstock
    March 8th, 2005 at 9:47 am [Reply]


    Where’s the Weekly World News when you need them? The deer is talking in today’s Mark Trail. Apparently the deer herd is going to rescue the celebrity and the little dog too!

  35. RememberByronFrost
    March 8th, 2005 at 10:40 am [Reply]

    Yep, that deer is talking!

    And what’s with the “well-known celebrity?” Is there another kind?

  36. Toonhead!
    March 8th, 2005 at 11:41 am [Reply]

    Wow! You’ve read my mind! This has always been my complaint about Kudzu. He finds a gag, and will milk and stretch it into a weeklong diluted trifle. It’s hard to believe that there was an uproar at the Boston Globe years ago the first time they tried to dump the strip. (It disappeared permamnently a few years later.)

    But then the same uproar arose when they wanted to boot Spider-Man until John Updike defended the strip. John Effin’ Updike?!?! Geez!

  37. Sassy_Rocks
    March 8th, 2005 at 11:41 am [Reply]

    Prince Valiant is in the Sunday Post, thankfully just once a week. As for Litlle Billy and friends pretending to be good guys and insurgents, I’m wondering how Mommy and Daddy Circus would react if he went off to Iraq, joined the jihad and became another American Taliban type…

  38. Bill Peschel
    March 8th, 2005 at 12:33 pm [Reply]

    For the record, Prince Valiant has always been a Sunday-only strip. And if you get the reprints from Fantagraphic Books, you’ll find it was a better drawn strip with better storylines.

    As for the repetitive nature, there’s just so much you can do with a comic strip that you have to come up with 365 jokes a year. Shoot, if you read the complete New Yorker, you’ll see the same gags over and over again, with different twists due to changes in culture and technology (except for Thurber, who’s simply mad).

    But it what the cartoonist does with those changes that separates the good from the evil. Look at Foxtrot and see that Amend cycles through certain jokes — such as Paige being attack by Quincy the lizard — and see that it’s a little different each time. Considering that the strip’s been around for over 10 years (my guess only), that’s a pretty good record.

  39. funny short nem
    March 8th, 2008 at 5:31 am [Reply]

    Beh, the comics in other countries aren’t any better, as they mostly copy them from the famous newspapers, just translating them or changing names, so it’s not just American comics that lack originality.

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