The inherent problem with the job was the inevitable comics page for every other section or so of newspaper. Dad would set us up in the hallway behind the examination and surgery rooms and the dispensary with a few big cardboard boxes full of newspapers donated by neighbors and clients. The light was bad, the floor was hard, and if I'd been any older, either of these things would have bothered me. But I was just a kid. I liked being at the clinic. I liked being close to my dad, and in such professional manner. And I loved the comics! Many of them I'd already read, since we received the local newspaper, The Times Reporter (out of Dover and New Philadelphia, Ohio, where the printed newspaper is most likely still safe), at home. But some patrons donated old newspapers. And these were the true treasures! They were old, but they were new, if you know what I mean, because they contained the cartoon I hadn't read yet.
While I read all of the cartoons on each comics page, save Cathy, of course, there weren't many that I understood, and those that I could appreciate, I learned much later that I didn't really "get" back then. I did have, of course, two favorites (Peanuts I found too dull, Family Circus too gooey, Marmaduke was okay, and I loved the pictures for Doonesbury, but didn't understand a word of it): unsurprisingly, I'm sure, Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side. These brilliant cartoons were, and yet are, approachable by both kids and grownups, unlike most which pandered exclusively to one or the other. Both of these, and long since the retirement of their artists, I still read; I have both of them on a bookshelf not fifteen feet from where I sit now, both in their complete, boxed, and gloriously bound anthologies.
For better or worse, my son doesn't car a lick about The Far Side, but he is captivated by Calvin and Hobbes. He is still younger now than I was back when I unfolded newspapers for cash and pleasure, and I think he's still missing an important element of the discovery of these gems. Thankfully he has a lot of time ahead of him, and what that time might hold makes me wonder what discoveries he'll make and how he'll come by them--and if he were to write a blog like this thirty years down the road, what stories would he tell?
Maybe the Wii for Christmas was a mistake....
No matter the generation gap, Jacob's and my favorite C&H episodes align beautifully. As I hunched over the old newspapers bound for the inevitable receipt of dog poop and cat vomit, squinting in the dim, I tensed with delight each time I scanned down to Calvin and Hobbes and saw, much more than just Calvin or his best friend, Spaceman Spiff. So, too, does my son wiggle with delight at the sight of--
|by Bill Waterson|
(So I hope my title isn't too misleading. When I say that newspapers aren't worth crap, I mean, well, that the crap isn't worthy of the newspapers and their noble contents.)