4 Coolest Parodies and Criticism of Newspaper Comics

  • September 20, 2010
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Garfield Minimized: Garfield without dialogue or Garfield.

Jim Davis, as has been mentioned, focuses so much on marketing the eponymous cat on coffee mugs and calendars that he has let his creativity slip. Garfield is given snarky lines and the center of attention, often to the point that it ruins the joke. Absurd set ups are weighed down by dialogue. Fans have found that removing the dialogue makes the strip funnier and more absurd than having Garfield speak at all.


Removing the dialogue shifts the focus from Garfield to Jon. This is taken to a larger degree in the parody strip Garfield Minus Garfield. Unlike the rest of the strips, Garfield Minus Garfield is approved by creator Jim Davis and has been published in book form by his company. The comic removes Garfield from the comic strip, leaving only panels of Jon Arbuckle. Creator Dan Walsh describes the purpose of the minimalist strip: “It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.”


Whether Jim Davis approved the comic on its quirky humor merits, or just saw it as another stream for royalties in his media empire, it’s made Garfield bearable to read again. Similar to GMG, other attempts have been made to explore this dysfunctional world of Jon Arbuckle, including Realfield, in which Garfield’s speech is removed and he is replaced by a realistic, non-talking cat, and Arbuckle, a hand drawn strip that is as bleak as it is hilarious.


Comics Curmudgeon

The greatest source of comic’s criticism on the web comes from Josh Fruhlinger, also known as the Comics Curmudgeon. Since 2004, he has used his website joshreads.com to provide a running commentary on the state of newspaper comic strips.

While he occasionally highlights strips he likes, the vast majority of his commentary focuses on the “legacy strips” that have been running for decades. His snarky commentary lampoons the tired dinosaur strips, plodding along the slow path to extinction.

Among the commentary are some running alternative interpretations about comics strips:


Marmaduke’s owner “Phil” is really Hitler, who escaped Germany but is forever damned to take care of the man-eating demon hound Marmaduke in a suburban hell.

Beetle Bailey:

Beetle and Sarge’s fighting antics are merely a shield they use to hide their homoerotic feelings they dare not speak, at least so long as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is in force.

Mark Trail:

Mark Trail is a Forest Ranger most happy when throwing punches to enforce wildlife justice and least happy with the sexual advances of his wife, Cherry. Also his adopted son Rusty has inhuman eyes.

Slylock Fox and Comix for Kids:

Much time is spent analyzing the corrupt legal system of the anthropomorphic animal society.

Some commentary aims straight at the fact that the comics long ago lost their way, such as:

Funky Winkerbean:

The strip has been roundly criticized for its huge leaps in time, changing from a strip of high school antics to a sad tale of cancer, death and misery .

Dennis the Menace:

Dennis is called out for his lack of menacing and utter boringness of the strip.


While the strip is written about an African-American kid, the dialogue and causal Yiddish slang indicates it’s written by an elderly Jewish man.

The blog has renewed interest and discussion of soap opera strips, and has noted that Mary Worth is a Machiavellian puppet master that drove her stalker to an alcoholic car accident, and the sociopathic tendencies of Margo from Apartment 3-G are staggering. He was also quoted in USA Today on the declining quality of For Better or For Worse after the creators stopped producing new stories.

Fruhlinger has become influential in the comics publishing world. One Pearls Before Swine comic had author Stephen Pastis sitting in his Internet Happy Box after a particularity harsh criticism. Fruhlinger has been featured in a Jumble cartoon as a criminal on multiple occasions.


The jury finds the defendant giluyt!

Got some more awesome parodies to add to the list? Let us know below! Written by Philip Moon – Copyrighted © www.weirdworm.com Image Sources
Image sources:

  • - Dysfunctional Family Circus/ The Other Family: http://www.sarahmoffett.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/family-circus-blog.gif http://www.flashpointsocialmedia.com/Area51/Orion/Images/dfc/recontext1.gif http://americandigest.org/mt-archives/nd4.jpg
  • - Garfield Randomizer: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/5a/Garfield_1989-10-27_right_panel.png http://wondermark.com/x/rand-garf22.gif
  • - Garfield Minimized: Garfield without dialogue or Garfield.: http://wondermark.com/tcsd/recontext10.gif http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_l4iyjt1FjN1qz8z2ro1_500.png
  • - Comics Curmudgeon: http://www.joshreads.com/images/09/10/i091022jumble.png