My Dinner without Andre

It is easy to pick a side in the long-running debate between Garfield Minus Garfield and the original Silent Garfield. The latter reveals a bleak hidden dimension to the original strip, and enlarges our understanding by offering a new way to read it. The former simply relies on a cheap gimmick that reveals nothing other than the banal observation that if you remove one character from a dialogue, the remaining figures will look foolish. Take Andre Gregory out of My Dinner with Andre and you'll make Wallace Shawn look weird, too. So what? (I'd like to call dibs on that YouTube edit, by the way.) After all, it's no surprise that Garfield Minus Garfield got official approval and a book, while Silent Garfield quietly disappeared.

These thoughts are prompted by the new popular "viral" comic-strip edit, 3eanuts. The idea here is simple, too. As the site says, "Charles Schulz's Peanuts comics often conceal the existential despair of their world with a closing joke at the characters' expense. With the last panel omitted, despair pervades all." You could perform this trick with most stories too—lop off the ending of anything from Psycho to Romeo & Juliet or Goodfellas, and you'll get a radically different tone and impression. So in a sense this is another facile experiment, but at least it illuminates something about how powerfully an artist's editing choices affect the reader. (via)

Today on TCJ:

Don't miss Jog's latest column, Shaenon Garrity's long-awaited return to the Journal with a review of the latest volume of Finder, and day two of Brandon Graham's diary.

More links:

Philip Nel brings us Crockett Johnson's first strip.

Jim ("Our Nixon") Shooter is still blogging, and just put up a post about how he became editor-in-chief of Marvel while he was still in his twenties.

The comments thread after this typically terrific Glenn Kenny post on Taxi Driver sees various of his readers getting back into the old argument over whether the main character of Scorsese's Raging Bull is "identifiable" — a debate that always seems to flare up around Scorsese and Coen Bros. films, and which also brings to mind last year's back-and-forth on more or less the same topic regarding Daniel Clowes's Wilson. Both sides of the character debate are represented well on the Kenny thread.

Joanne Siegel's letter to the head of Time Warner from shortly before her death is a must read (Spurgeon explains), and very sad.