In recent months, I have become an on-line acquaintance of some of the bestest artist/writers in the field of Webcomics. I will be giving them props here in the blog in the near future, right after I give props to my favorite Bloggers, some of whom I’ve known since the previous millennium. In the meantime, something in one of those comic strips that are printed on crispy kleenex has gotten my attention.
One of my favorites in that category is “Frazz”, about a grammar school janitor who’s better at teaching life lessons to the kids than the teachers. I consider it one of the best-written comics for its mix of wry humor, philosophy and playful positivity (incredibly without ever getting over-sweet – a rare accomplishment).
It’s often compared to “Calvin and Hobbes” (a high honor by itself), but mostly for its visual style – look at this composite picture of Calvin and Frazz both “rockin’ out” (No, the two characters have never actually shared a comic panel; that’s just me playing with my graphic thingy again). As a result, some comic strip critics have suggested that Frazz himself is a grown-up version of Calvin. If that were true, then Frazz has learned a lot since his childhood, most notably to leave fantasy behind. There isn’t a spaceship, T-Rex or talking tiger anywhere near Frazz’s environment. There is one kid in the strip, Caulfield, who is Calvin-esque in his ability for mischief; he might just build sadistic snowman tableaux IF it ever snowed where he lived. Frazz gives Caulfield a lot of personal attention, working in a non-controntational way to nudge him into more maturity – maybe he sees in him some of his own past mistakes. I don’t know.
What I do know is that I have just seen the first thing in “Frazz” that seems to be a blatant copy of “Calvin and Hobbes”. If you remember C&H, then you must remember the chaotic sport called Calvinball (If not, click on that link for the “official” “rules”). On May 1st, “Frazz” introduced a new sport that he and the kids called Bedlamball. And for four days of strips, it was deja vu all over again.
(At least there was no mention of flags or masks.) After these four strips, Frazz artist Jef Mallett wisely moved on to another subject before the World Calvinball League could call its lawyers… Then again, for all I know, Bill Watterson himself may have contacted Mallett and said “you know, there were a couple things about Calvinball I never got around to…”
For those of you wondering, yes, I am eagerly awaiting a C&D from Frazz’s syndicate.