Jul 5, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 131:Heathcliff #17, August 1987

I have a fairly substantial amount of children's comics in my collection, and I have to admit that, for the most part, they're the ones I'm looking least forward to reading. Kid's comics are great when they're written not as kid's comics, but as comics with a good story that are suitable for all-ages. I think that there's perhaps a difference to be explored between "All-Ages" comics and kid's comics. All-ages comics appeal to exactly that, all ages. Kids comics, on the other hand, don't always.

I picked up a stack of comics for $10 today at a local flea market, and amongst them was this Heathcliff title. When he was younger, my son loved Heathcliff, so I've got a few issues kicking about, but I've never actually read them. I always viewed Heathcliff as a less-intelligent version of Garfield....

...and I was right.

The saving grace of this particular issue is that Heathcliff gains superpowers and briefly becomes "The Masked Moocher," proving that the superhero genre is capable of being deployed in the most unusual of places.

Heathcliff was okay, I suppose, for what it is. But what it is doesn't seem to do much. If one looks to the comics that kids used to read (think of Mad or the EC Comics lines), there were layers to those works that spoke not only the relatively primitive language of children, but acknowledged that there's a lot more going on in that primitive language than we sophisticates might be willing to admit. Slapstick, which is a tradition that Heathcliff grows from, has an element of satire built into its fabric, one that writers of children's comedy comics would do well to recall. Kids understand that the world we live in is a weird and ridiculous place. It's only as adults that we start seeing that ridiculousness as normal.

That was a bit disjointed. I promise I'll get back on track this week. It's been a weird few days. See you tomorrow.

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