Thanks for reading.
Some observers felt that Charles M. Schulz' work deteriorated after about the midpoint of his career. I wasn't the only one, but I was one of them. In the mid 80s sometime I made myself a promise that, if I ever sold a strip to a syndicate, I'd retire after twenty-five years rather than risk what I perceived had happened with Schulz after his twenty-five year mark. I mean, if this happened to him what hope had I?
(Nowadays of course I'm doing Arthur, King of Time and Space on the web, because the only reason I specified syndication in articulating my youthful aspirations was because, then, that was the only way to get a daily cartoon distributed to the world. And, as the faithful reader of this text section or of the FAQ will recall, I've pledged to do Arthur, King of Time and Space for twenty-five years. It's because in the mid 80s sometime I was rereading The Once and Future King, and taking notes, and concluded that according to T.H. White twenty-five years is how long King Arthur's reign lasted. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. I dunno.)
Webcartoonist Greg Holkan commented at Eric Burns' Websnark blog that that's a pretty crappy thing to do to one's memory of the man who is (at least according to Burns, who's probably right) the most cited influence among webcartoonists, even webcartoonists half my age, which seem to be almost all of them. "I ... feel it's ridiculous to propose that [Schulz] had a 'golden age' when his work was 'better'," Holkan (inkbrush) wrote. "Like anyone dedicated to their craft, he always got better. It's just that past a certain point, most people can't tell the difference between the work of a master potter and a clay jug made on an assembly line. There's an inability to appreciate the knowledge and expertise that go into the creation of something great and complicated, and there's a great deal of arrogance that goes along with it when one presumes that they know more about a subject than someone who's been dealing with it their whole life." Holkan's words persuaded me, particularly because I'd already been gifted with a collection of the last year of Peanuts which was pretty damn good.
Second only to Peanuts as influence and inspiration to me in my formative years was B.C. from Johnny Hart. His art was clean and his puns were art. But in the two decades between when I stopped buying every paperback collection as it hit the shelves and when I started reading B.C. on the web, Johnny Hart seems to have alienated the cartooning world - or at least the online cartooning world - by getting religion. Complaints when the subject comes up consist generally of evangelism bashing, occasionally broken up with concessions that "the strip used to be funny but isn't any more because" ... and then more evangelism bashing.
Well, B.C. still makes me laugh.
I think Hart is due some slack. I suspect he's being judged not on his work but his message, in an era when Christianity-bashing has become a socially acceptable prejudice (We gotta be spotted one, right? Right?). I note that if he keeps going just three or four more years he'll reach the fifty-year mark for drawing his strip every day all by himself. Fifty years even would beat Schulz out by eight months (the flesh was weak). If that's not a record, and if there's any other cartoonist besides Hart who's within a decade of it, I don't know it.
Record-breaking or not, it's still nearly fifty years. And we online
cartoonists are patting ourselves on the back because the best of us has
never missed a day since ... well, 1999. Jesus Christ.
Arthuriana sources I use or recommend:
Arthuriana - the Journal of Arthurian Studies; the website of the quarterly journal of the North American Branch of the International Arthurian Society.
The Camelot Project at the University of Rochester.
Camelot In Four Colors: A Survey of the Arthurian Legend in Comics
Mystical-WWW - The Arthurian A2Z knowledge Bank which has encyclopedically-arranged entries on the characters of the Arthurian legends.
Le Morte Darthur: Sir Thomas Malory's Book of King Arthur and of his Noble Knights of the Round Table, Volume 1 and Volume 2.