The Great Newspaper Comics Challenge Part 2

For a moment there, I thought I had slipped through some kind of time portal into the distant past.

Here in front of me, in an Indianapolis community newspaper called the Eastside Voice, was the old “Flash Gordon” newspaper comic strip.

I hadn’t seen “Flash Gordon” in years. No newspapers that I knew of carried it. Yet here it was, in this little neighborhood newspaper.

Upon doing a little research on the Interwebs, I figured out why I hadn’t heard of the strip lately. “Flash Gordon” hasn’t been an actively-published newspaper comic strip since 2003, when artist Jim Keefe — following in the footsteps of classic “Flash Gordon” auteur Alex Raymond — stopped drawing it. Papers like the Eastside Voice run reprints of Keefe’s strips, which ran for several years.

So no danger that I’ve been missing new adventures of Flash, Dale and Ming the Merciless all these years.

So if “Flash Gordon” is still stuck on Mongo, what is in the comics lately?

A few weeks ago I acknowledged that I haven’t been reading newspaper comic strips regularly since the passing of “Calvin and Hobbes” and “The Far Side” and vowed to remedy that.

Well … I haven’t been reading the funny pages daily. But I thought I’d check out the Sunday edition today.

In “Peanuts” — a rerun, of course, since the passing of Charles Schulz a few years ago — takes a page from Calvin’s book by having Linus make a realistic snowman figure of Lucy. But instead of destroying it, Linus says he’ll get back at Lucy’s latest bullying by standing and watching the Lucy effigy “slowly melt away.” Yikes.

In “Garfield,” Jon insults Garfield’s bulge. Check. Garfield says talk about his waistline is making him hungry. Hmmm. Check, I guess.

In “Zits,” the teenage son in the household complains about having to take out the trash. Weirdly, however, the artists show the guy’s naked butt in the shower. Do we normally see naked butts in comics? Not since the great “Sgt. Snorkel Goes Streaking” incident of 1975, I would bet.

“Dilbert” looks at smartphone rage. It leads to a silly gag but it’s a good idea.

Jeff and Bil Keane’s “Family Circus” is a good execution of a simple idea. One of the kids — Billy? Jeffy? Honestly I can’t tell them apart — is seen giving a recitation of excuses about how he didn’t make his little brother cry.

More to come next time. Hopefully.

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