Weekend Mornings and the Golden Age of Comics

Weekend mornings are a beautiful thing.  We all know that.  Most adult working stiffs in the developed world live for the weekends.  That’s why Fridays and Saturdays are most people’s favorite day of the week.  If you don’t believe me, just ask Loverboy.

But many of us don’t have the luxury of resting on the weekends.  They’ve become personal errand-running days, days to shuttle around the kids to various parties or sporting events, or days to catch up on work.  But even in our 24-hour news cycle culture, there is an innate human need to rest, recharge, and to reset each week.  I mean, even notorious Wall Street investment banks like my old shop have instituted a new “Saturday Rule” for junior analysts and associates to enforce at least one day of rest during the week.

As a childless adult, I’ve tended to sleep in on the weekends—squandering much of the morning shuffling around, quietly reading a book or the newspaper or a magazine on a tablet or laptop in pajamas with a hot beverage in hand.  Now I know many of you with young children have probably since forgotten the luxurious concept of a “quiet weekend morning” to yourself, but indulge me and go back to those weekend mornings before kids.  (I’ve heard and suspect THIS is what most of your mornings look like now.  Yikes…!)

But I’ve always found that there’s an especially innocent and pristine thing about the quiet of a weekend morning, especially when you’re a school-aged kid.  And I just recently realized that I’ve cultivated my current weekend morning habits of paper reading since childhood because of the Comics section.

When I think of weekend mornings growing up, the first things I think of are Looney Tunes on Saturday morning cartoons, and the Comics section from the Sunday paper.  I think back to Sunday mornings of retrieving the newspaper from the lawn outside, and running up the stairs to the carpeted living room floor where I’d neatly separate each section of the local paper, careful to leave the boring sections in a neat stack for my dad.  It’d usually go something like this: Section A News (Boooring, toss); Section B Business (Even more boooring, toss); Section C Sports (Who cares?  Toss.)  I’d finally come across the colorful Comics section, usually entrenched into all the colorful weekly store ads (mom enjoyed those) and Parade Magazine.  (I’ll be honest, I didn’t know if Parade still existed until I did a search to find the hyperlink here!)

I think that I particularly enjoyed the Comics section because it was my very own section of the paper, wholly dedicated to and focused on me: a kid.  I’d even have my own ritual in reading the comics in a particular order.  I’d start off with the comics I enjoyed the least and read them first, before moving onto my favorites: usually Garfield, Peanuts, and finally the piece de resistance: Calvin and Hobbes.  It was especially hard not to read my favorites first because they were usually prominently displayed on the first page of the Comics section, so it took quite a bit of willpower and delayed gratification.  But it was always worth the wait.

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Now as an adult household, DH and I decided to splurge on subscribing to a physical copy of the Sunday New York Times, but mostly to get all digital access for 2 users.  But I find that I carefully do much of the same type of sorting with different sections of the physical paper on Sundays:  News Section (Boring, I’ve read many of the stories online anyways, toss); Business Section (Equally boring, and I’ve read many of the headlines online already anyways, toss); Sports Section (Who cares?  Toss); Sunday Review (Oooh, yes, please!  It’s my favorite section!); Sunday Styles (Oh, lovely); NYTimes Magazine (I just love the size and layout of the Magazine!  It doesn’t get my hands dirty with newsprint ink!)  Thinking back to my childhood weekends, much of the sorting process remains the same, but now I prefer to read different sections.

And to be honest, if there was an independent Comics section in color in the NYT, it’s be one of the sections I’d set aside to read.  Sadly, there isn’t

These days with digital media, we don’t receive a physical copy of our local newspaper, never mind the Sunday paper.  And to be honest, I don’t even know if there still is a Comics section.  I think I might have seen it in a Sunday edition of my local paper, but sadly even that’s not enough to compel me to buy the whole paper these days.  I suppose the compromise is to visit this free GoComics site everyday to get my fix.  But it’s just not the same as flipping through a full color section of the newspaper.

And for those of you who dearly miss Calvin and Hobbes, you can indulge in a bit of childhood nostalgia by catching the documentary Dear Mr. Watterson, which opens in select theaters and on demand today (Nov 15th.)  I actually first read about the film last month in this GalleyCat article, that also includes a clip of the film, so it’s worth checking out.

I think that even as kids, many of us loyal readers knew on a vague subconscious level why we loved Calvin and Hobbes, but we couldn’t quite articulate or put our finger on it.  This Salon article does a much better job of explaining exactly why so many of us fell in love with this comic, particularly because we identified and wanted to be Calvin, and because the artwork was simply on a different level altogether:  “As various of Watterson’s fellow cartoonists point out, “Calvin and Hobbes” was the last in a historical line of fanciful or allegorical newspaper comics that attracted a large popular audience while pushing at the artistic and conceptual limits of the form.”

I guess I’m lamenting a bit on how the golden age of comics has already passed and that my own theoretical children won’t get the same opportunity to discover their favorite comics in the paper like I did.  And I suspect that perhaps my own love of reading, writing, and following the news was cultivated in childhood by the simple act of looking for the Comics section in the weekly paper.

On the flip side, I suppose there are always the book collections, and GoComics.com.  Parents, comics can be a good thing.

Happy Friday!  Enjoy your well-deserved weekend and happy reading!

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