Here is my favorite comic strip of all time: Arnold. Does anyone else remember it? The crudely-drawn and often silly strip ran in the Detroit Free Press in the mid-1980s, and my friend Rico and I would read it religiously our senior year in our first-hour accounting class. In late 1987, the paper announced that it was putting Arnold up to a do-or-die vote; Detroit Free Press readers, not the edgiest lot, voted to banish the poor guy to oblivion (apparently the Freep was the only paper still running the strip at that point). As Arnold’s well-meaning but much-ridiculed pal Tommy used to say, I died a thousand deaths. Here is a sample strip:

Panels 1-3: Arnold, who, with his big nose, looks a little like one of the characters on a box of Nerds candy, writes a letter to Miss Manners, a syndicated columnist.

“Dear Miss Manners,

Last night at a dinner party the guests were bragging about their various talents. Not to be outdone, I proceed to demonstrate my ability to eat a bowl of soup — with my feet. Sure, I may have dropped my spoon once or twice but is that any reason for our host to become so uppity? Sincerely, Confused.”

Panel 4: Miss Manners responds, in print.

“Dear Confused,

I would like to slap your face in public.”

I issued so many honest-to-god guffaws (or were they chortles?) at the strip, yet have so few people to reminisce about it with, that I almost feel like I’m making the whole thing up. (It’s sort of the same way I feel about the short-lived but hilarious sitcom It’s Your Move, starring Jason Bateman. But that show’s fodder for a different post.) Tommy gets put in the “goon box” after doing something stupid in a low-stakes hockey game. Tommy gets made fun of because he has neck acne. Lots of google-eyed staring at the “camera” by both characters after suffering various teenage indignities. I wish that some smart publisher would put out a collection of these strips, but I suppose it’s another one of those lost classics.


I suspect I’m coming down with a cold.