There’s Talk and There’s Talk

I was talking yesterday about comic-strip characters and how they age, or how they’re allowed to age. Some characters, like Dennis “the Menace” Mitchell, never age. The Bumstead family ages, but at a glacial pace. When the strip began over 75 years ago, Cookie and Alexander were children. Now, when they do appear, they’re teenagers. A very few characters, like Lynn Johnston’s Patterson family, age in real time. And some, Like Arlo and Janis, waltz along in something like 3/4 time. In the previous post, I touched on the difficulties faced by the creators of characters who never age. Today, we’ll talk about the peculiarities of aging comic-strip characters. The obvious problem is, they get old! On the plus side, this presents the comic strip author with a continually evolving premise and the potential of new material. On the negative side, much of the new material involves physical ailments and ennui! Who wants to read about that? Fortunately, a lot of people. The challenge is to bring along new, younger readers as well. I try to solve this by presenting Arlo and Janis as being somewhere between the age of 50 and 70. It’s not a perfect strategy, but it’s mine.