Well, Passover starts a week from tonight, which means it’s time for our annual Passover story. We’ve been doing this for 11 years now, since the strip’s second year, and we went through the low-hanging fruit a long time ago. Meaning that some years, in our effort to do something new, we’ve cobbled together stories that we were less than happy with. This year, though, we actually found a nice universal and simple topic we somehow missed. Hope you enjoy it and, if you’re a Passover person, have a wonderful holiday. AFTER you clean the house.
So, I got an email from a reader last week that read as follows:
“Being a married man in his forties with teenage kids, I can relate to a lot of the family and everyday situations that these characters encounter. I appreciate the down-to-earth interactions and sly humor. But I do have a bit of a criticism. Len’s character is good in that he is a committed husband and father, but he has too many “doofus” moments. I know it’s a comic, it’s meant to be funny, but he seems to get more than his fair share of embarrassing decisions and their consequences. As much as current culture takes shots at the American dad (from Homer Simpson through most weeknight sitcoms and on), it would be nice to see Len have more strong father characteristics to go with his comic catastrophes.”
The letter addressed a topic you hear about a fair amount, at least in some circles–the willingness to make men, fathers in particular, the butt of the jokes in comedies and other types of entertainment. It’s been a concern of ours, though less because we fear undermining the status of fathers than because it’s a cliche.
As I said in my reply, while it’s true that Len frequently plays the doofus, he’s hardly Homer Simpson. He’s not stupid and incompetent, nor is he generally motivated by selfishness and greed, as Homer is. Len means well and intends to do the right thing. He’s just wrong a lot. The fact is, almost all the humor in our strip is based on irony, that is, a character wants something and ends up with the opposite. If you read us consistently, you know that Abby is just fallible as Len is. In fact, we try to give the two equal time to be incorrect, though it’s not on a fixed schedule—we may, say, do 2 Len stories in a row if those are the ideas we happen to have.
Comedy’s all about human frailty; strong and admirable characters are seldom very funny or even interesting. And while our strip isn’t strictly autobiographical, it does reflect the way we see ourselves, and while self-deprecation may be an effective strategy to gaining reader’s sympathy, it’s also our natural tendency. Which is to say, if Len’s a doofus, it’s because I’m one, too
I’ve been asked to contribute to a Jewish comics anthology, that includes such luminaries as Art Spiegelman and Robert Crumb. I’m putting in two pieces, one new and one old (I wrote and drew comic books for over 10 years and the older piece, called “Ben Dordia’s Confession” originally appeared in one of them). It’s being funded by a Kickstarter campaign that runs until March 8th, so if you’re a supporter of things like that and you want, say, a cool Golem tee shirt ( A $25 contribution), please make a donation at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1350078939/the-jewish-comix-anthology-volume-1. You won’t be sorry and neither will I.