Literary Disco Revisits Gil Thorp
Julia, Rider, and Tod on the Longtime Running Sports Comic Strip
On today’s episode, Julia, Rider, and Tod discuss Gil Thorp, the sports-oriented comic strip which has been published since 1958. (Are you all missing sports on television yet?)
From the episode:
Rider Strong: It is such an interesting art because part of the appeal is the fact that it’s going to be slow and you’re going to check back tomorrow and only get a little. You get a little bit of intrigue, but not real drama or does it like build to a dramatic point? Like, at some point does something big happened? Does somebody gets murdered or win or lose the big game, or is the whole point of this art form to just be normal, like everyday life where little dramas don’t add up to much?
Tod Goldberg: Look, I just want to read you a bit of dialog from March 11th, 2020. This is Gil Thorp talking to one of his young students, Chris, I believe, and Gil Thorp says. “Did Teddy DeMarco give you an advance copy of a test?” And the kid responds. “I don’t know.” [laughs] And then you got to wait until tomorrow to find out. And then tomorrow, Gil says, “Chris, this is serious. You don’t know if Teddy gave you last year’s midterm.” And Chris says, “That’s what he said it was. But I never looked.”
Julia Pistell: Which we know as readers because we were paying attention.
Tod Goldberg: Right, we saw that happen. I just assumed that these things had turned into broad satire in like the last thirty years, but they haven’t. These serious comic strips have maintained this level of ferocious seriousness.
Rider Strong: What’s interesting is that these, in a lot of ways more than Peanuts or Calvin and Hobbes or any other normal comic strips, these are the precursors to the really great graphic novel that have come out in the last fifteen years. If these guys were being written like this in the 50s, they were kind of ahead of their time in terms of taking what is essentially a kid’s form and take it seriously and try and write developed characters or more prosaic situations that are not cartoon-y but like normal, everyday life. That has led to some of the best works of art I’ve encountered in a long time. There has been so many great and interesting ways to use this art form, and I feel that they are indebted to this.
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