Math Comics, And, What The Heck, A Comic Strip Whose Existence I Can’t Explain


My mathematics blog had another roundup of comic strips, so do please go over and read that if you haven’t already. If you have read it, you’re welcome to read it again, but it won’t have changed all that much since you looked at it last time. Maybe there’ll be a couple more tiny icons of people who’ve clicked the “like” button, so if you’re a fan of tiny icons there’s that to look forward to.

Mom calls to keep a poorly-drawn woman informed of her apple purchase plans.
Donna A Lewis’s _Reply All_ comic for the 20th of July, 2014.

If not, then, let me fill out this post by bringing up Donna A Lewis’s Reply All, surely one of the most alleged comic strips to be in print today. And it is literally in print, like, running in newspapers. Comic strips have always valued writing over artwork — a comic strip with funny final panels will go farther than a bland strip with great artwork, however odd that might seem for a visual medium like comics — but here, well. I can see the humor, but it’s up against such a wall of bad artwork I just do not understand how this is more than just the comic strip that runs in the daily student newspaper because unspeakably terrible things get to run in the daily student newspaper. And Lewis gets two comics, with the panel-strip version Reply All Lite, which I just do not understand at all.

I don’t want to be cranky, and I don’t want to sound like I’m calling for Lewis’s head or anything. I have no reason to think she’s anything but a pleasant person with good friends and a useful day job (the only cartoonist who can afford to live just on the comic strip is Charles Schulz) and appealing hobbies and all. I just offer this for you to gape at and not understand.

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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

4 thoughts on “Math Comics, And, What The Heck, A Comic Strip Whose Existence I Can’t Explain”

    1. It honestly is. I can’t think of another that’s so inept. I know it’s popular to decry comic strips that are just stylized or eccentrically drawn as bad (Sylvia got a lot of flak for that) but Reply All is just … just … I can’t explain why it’s two daily strips.

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        1. Oh, Six Chix. Now that …

          Well. It’s a comic strip I like the principle of. I like the idea that there’s an anthology-style comic strip where new talent can get newspaper space and an audience and the chance to work as a professional syndicated cartoonist, with lower stakes than “this is the one comic strip we’re launching for three years, it better succeed or else”. I like that the cartoonists are in rotation, so that artists and writers can move on to (hopefully) rewarding projects and new artists can come in and try. And I like that King Features demonstrates its support for women in cartooning.

          But in practice. Wow. I haven’t enjoyed the strips the current roster has been making recently. The jokes haven’t been strong, to my tastes, and the crafting of the art hasn’t been much good either. I want to be open to the possibility that, say, I’ll come to see Martha Gradisher’s style as thoughtfully designed. But right now, I just don’t like it. I know; it’s good news for the oatmeal shortage. Certainly they don’t need my approval. But it’s easy for me to understand people who look at the strip and only see a mess.

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