It almost seems like a bygone era now when hearing stories of how the first section one would snatch out of a newspaper was the funny pages. Even the 40th President of the U.S., Ronald Reagan, stated publicly the first thing he read in the paper was the funny pages. Can you imagine trying to grab that section before a President of the U.S.? That’s how big a deal newspaper comic strips were in the heyday of newspapers, especially the separate color section in the Sunday paper. Newspaper comic strips haven’t disappeared, but newspaper subscriptions have declined with all the information on the Internet. As a result, comics have had to find new outlets on the Web for audiences. In a way, it has been an exciting development to give a whole new generation of cartoonists exposure that they would not ordinarily have had, since newspapers mainly run comic strips from the major syndicates. It has also given fresh new voices to comic strips, and allowed them to go places that they wouldn’t have had the freedom to explore in the newspaper. However, comic strips are built on having loyal audiences who read them, and it is much tougher to separate from the pack or have that daily portal to viewership that once was found in the daily newspaper. It is thus increasingly important to have a new media presence, not only through a website and apps, but also through Facebook and Twitter. The web is the main vehicle for this comic strip, “Jimmy O’Hair” (jimmyohair.com), and connecting with the audience remains the goal. People want humor and the web makes it easier to share material, so instead of passing around the funny pages at home, now it is passing comics around via e-mail, messaging, or social networks. So go grab the comic pages … online!
Today’s Jimmy O’Hair comic strip pays tribute to Roger Ebert, who passed away at 70 last week. It has Zeppa as a movie critic co-host to Roger Ebert. Of course, the chair next to Roger Ebert was occupied for many years on TV by the late Gene Siskel, as “Siskel and Ebert” became part of the lexicon and brought an appreciation of movies of all shapes and sizes to mass audiences. After Gene’s death, the spot was filled on a rotating basis by guest co-hosts and finally Richard Roeper before Roger Ebert’s health issues caused him to step down permanently. Still, Ebert continued to be an inspiration to those battling illness and staying productive, as he continued to post movie reviews in his Pulitzer-prize winning writing style for the Sun-Times and be an active Twitter presence up until the day he died. In the Jimmy O’Hair comic strip, Zeppa is a cinephile and that passion for cinema has carried over into movie reviews. This dream scenario has Zeppa paired with Ebert, the most well-known movie critic in the world. While the humor in this strip pokes fun at the typical critical reviews of mindless blockbuster films and little seen art-house films, Roger Ebert loved all different types of movies, whether a Hollywood blockbuster or an indie movie made on a shoestring budget in a foreign country. A movie was simply judged on its own merits, whether good or bad. Or as Roger Ebert was famous for saying, “No good film is too long, and no bad film is short enough.” The balcony is closed, but the love of movies will live on forever …
Today’s Jimmy O’Hair comic strip has physical humor in it as Jimmy tries to dunk a book on a bookshelf at the Bookrazy. The books fall over Jimmy, and he is piled underneath the stack as Hootie relays to him that dunking at the store isn’t the same as dunking in the NBA. Sometimes it’s good to have physical humor in a comic strip. Harken back to the glory days of newspaper comics and you’ll see Krazy Kat getting hit in the head by a brick from Ignatz the Mouse or Charlie Brown falling to the ground with a thud after Lucy swipes the football from him at the last second. Slapstick humor is a way to express actions in a farcical style such as when a pie hits a character in the face, or as in the comic strip today, all the books fall on Jimmy. It’s a common device used to get laughs, and though Jimmy tends to be a more of a wry comic strip, there will be times like today with physical humor in it. It also serves as a lesson to avoid this type of dunking at home even if you own some Air Jordans!
Happy New Year, as it’s the first blog posting in the new year. We got through the calendar year 2012 (a U.S. presidential election, an Olympics and an apocalypse date), and now we’re already forging ahead in 2013. What better way than to continue with more humor from Jimmy O’Hair? In today’s Jimmy O’Hair comic strip, Jimmy is sitting in front of his computer watching You Tube videos. Chances are that a lot of us have sat in front of the computer or our iPad or our smartphone and watched videos for hours. There are so many things we can watch, whether it’s the latest You Tube video sensation (think “Gangnam Style”) or a TV show or a music video or an old film clip or a web video created by users. We are living in a video world where we can shoot content on our cell phones and see it uploaded on the web in a few seconds, or where we can shoot a feature length film on a digital camera and see it distributed to online audiences. That’s the power of video, and it’s something that keeps Jimmy glued to his screen in today’s comic strip. Of course, Hootie is more old-fashioned and does not see the value in sitting in front of a screen all day, and the retort pokes fun at the mindlessness of much of what we watch. Yet, it is an example of how consumed we are by content, and how easy it is to gain access in the modern world. In the near future, the hope is that Jimmy O’Hair can also be the source of animated video content. There have been plans to make Jimmy O’Hair into at least web shorts, and I am excited to explore those opportunities. In the meantime, enjoy the Jimmy O’Hair comic strips and all the possibilities in the year 2013!
Jimmy O’Hair works at the Bookrazy, and there is no busier time for retail workers than the Christmas shopping season. Stores are open for increased hours, new items are released just in time for Christmas, and seasonal discounts are used to lure customers in droves. Even in a down economy, the hope is always that the Christmas season and increased consumer confidence will deliver great results for a company. It’s no different at the Bookrazy, where Jimmy and his co-workers are in the midst of the Christmas shopping frenzy. Christmas music is playing overhead, the workers are dressed in holiday garb, and shoppers are filling the Bookrazy for their gifting needs. In this atmosphere, the comic strip takes a humorous look at an item that has arrived in time for Christmas, a Jennifer Lopez book and ornament set, which gets Brooke excited. This is the time of year for many seasonal items, some useful and some silly … and this veers on the silly! Nevertheless, there will be plenty of opportunities in the comic strip for holiday humor, and hope that you’ll enjoy it. Season’s Greetings!