Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Far Side

My last post celebrated one of my most well remembered '80s comics, Bloom County. But the 1980s were a great time for newspaper comics, and for a certain zippy oddball quirkiness that seemed to be present in culture. Bloom County was one example of this, but there were others too.  

The Far Side  was a single-panel comic that exhibited a wonderfully bizarre sense of humor. 

I'm not sure exactly how unusual The Far Side would seem today, but back in the '80s, they brought forth a refreshing sense of absurdity. 

Along with Bloom County, The Far Side was one of my daily "must reads" in the comic pages of the paper. And it was a comic that, seriously, once read, often remained in my mind for the rest of the day. It was one of the things that defined my teen years in the oddball colorful '80s, and it was one of the things that got me through my adolescence . . . the humor and the sense of absurdity about life and culture and reality.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bloom County

Back in the '80s, one of my daily routines was to read the comics section of the paper. And the '80s were an excellent time to read the comics. One of my fave comics was Bloom County, a topical comic full of outlandish characters who made light of the culture of the eighties.  It featured an oddball menagerie of characters, such as the hapless Opus the penguin (or "flightless waterfowl" as he would characterize himself) who found himself in any number of odd situations. When life became too intense, there was always the dandelion patch to retreat to.

Bloom County would frequently make me laugh out loud... and often, I would remember the comic throughout the day. While I was in many a high school class, I would often struggle to stifle a laugh from the memory of some Bloom County strip I had read earlier.. I found it that funny.

In addition to Opus, the characters included smarmy attorney Steve Dallas, young newspaper editor Milo Bloom, and the catatonic feline Bill the Cat. Bill's verbiage was limited to monosyllabic guttural responses, as shown in the above strip.

There was a sensitive young boy named Michael Binkley, who had an "anxiety closet" containing his worries. I always thought this was wonderful metaphor for the real life worries that kids (and adults) have.  

And there was a young genius named Oliver Wendell Jones, who was frequently seen in front of his computer.  At one point, he hacked into the Soviet newspaper Pravda, where he attempted to further peace by posting the fake headline "Gorbachev Urges Disarmamant: Total! Unilateral!", but his faulty translation of Russian made it instead "Gorbachev Sings Tractors: Turnips! Buttocks!"

Anyway, Bloom County started in 1980, and grew and evolved with the decade, finally posting its last strip in 1989. Afterward, the comic's creator Berkely Breathed produced a follow up strip called Outland in the '90s, and an Opus strip in the 2000's.  But I (and many others) remember most fondly those wonderful '80s era Bloom County strips. It provided an opportunity to laugh at the '80s culture and happenings around us, both good and bad, in a thoughtful and good natured spirit.  

It gently dealt with all the stuff in all our '80s anxiety closets, and when things got too intense, we could always seek refuge in that dandelion patch in our own minds.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Adam Ant: "Stand And Deliver"

Here's what I remember most about '80s music: the free spirit and the sense of theatricality that were so much a part of the New Wave/New Romantic scene. 

Here, Adam Ant is performing on Solid Gold back in 1981, just right before MTV and music video created a tidal wave of this type of fun, free-willed expression. 

Within a few years, the arty colorful theatricality you see here would be a main element of popular music, from the New Wave "Second British Invasion" to Prince and Cyndi Lauper and Madonna.