Really, this subject could fill a blog all its own, and it could be retitled, “Comic Strips That My Father Didn’t Introduce to Me.” As a rule, anything I have ever tried to share with him is automatically determined to be stupid and puerile. To the contrary, anything he has ever shown me is brilliant beyond explanation, and no matter how much I’ve professed to enjoy it, I never truly enjoy it in my dad’s eyes. These facts don’t, however, stop him from expounding at length on the work’s great properties. And it’s not like I show him Garfield and he shows me work by Jean Giraud, no his favorite stuff is Popeye and Barney Google.
But this essay isn’t about my dad, it’s about a comic I like a lot: Tom the Dancing Bug by Ruben Bolling. I’ve been following this comic since the 80s, when it was featured in the Village Voice alongside Life in Hell and Lynda Barry’s comic (which I LOVED as a kid.) Around 1988, I got a subscription to Funny Times and kept following him there. I think the strip is reasonably funny, and the art, while nothing outstanding, is clean. I mean, it’s no Ziggy, but it’s pretty good.
I think what I like most about the comic is that it seems like something I could do. That’s not to take away from Ruben Bolling or to elevate my own meager artistic talent, but the fact that it seems to be drawn on a piece of 8.5 x 11″ typing paper, inked throughout with the same gauge pen and the cartoon figures spend most of their time standing around, well, it’s near and dear to my own doodling heart. Tom the Dancing Bug is a comic where the art guides you along the joke, and as such the art should not and does not overpower the writing. I feel it strikes a good balance, the pacing between panels is well-done, and come on: Dilbert is still one of the most popular strips in America. Surely we can appreciate Tom the Dancing Bug on the same merits (though we shouldn’t, Tom the Dancing Bug is far more meritorious).
Since entering the online arena, Tom the Dancing Bug has moved around a lot, but his strip can be seen weekly at boingboing.net. If you like laughs, if you don’t chatter at length about the movement of drawn lines, and if you’re somewhat left-leaning, you will probably like it. If you don’t like the comic strip, then you’re probably Dinkle, the unlovable loser.