It started over a week ago, with a few days off in Little River Canyon. The Little River in the northeast corner of Alabama is unusual, because it’s one of the few rivers anywhere that runs most of its entire course on top of a mountain ridge, in this specific case, Lookout Mountain. In the process of doing so, the river has cut one of America’s deepest gorges east of the Mississippi River. Google it if you’re interested. Anyway, I was in a rented cabin without so much as a cell-phone signal. Sure, I could have dragged myself out of my ravine and found a signal, but I was taking a few days off. Then, immediately upon my return, real life struck back with a vengeance, and that consumed a few more days, but here I am.
I’ve written here a lot about the ideal comic strip being a marriage of drawing and writing, and it is true. However, in the early going most of Arlo & Janis leaned heavily on the writing, for that is what I was trained to do. The above Sunday comic from 1994 is an illustration of that. It makes a pithy and, I think, worthwhile observation, but it is simply dialog. Written down, without cartoons, it could be understood. As spoken word it could be understood. Just because it was given to Arlo to deliver the lines doesn’t make this a bad comic strip, but a comic artist shouldn’t rely on this sort of thing every day. Keep in mind, by the way, that when this was drawn, I was referring to Phil Donahue and Geraldo Rivera. Most Americans had not yet heard of Jerry Springer and his imitators. Sometimes, I truly despair.