42. The Year 2034!, 04/11/2012
When I was a kid, if somebody on television said, "The Year Two Thousand!" in an echoey voice, it meant you were about to see a picture of a domed city on the moon, or people flying around with jetpacks, or All Manual Labor Now Being Done By Robots!, or something cool like that. Promises were made, and they didn't all pan out, and it's possible to take the cynical view that the present is not as much fun as it was, back when it was The Future. Consider, though, that in the science fiction of the nineteen-fifties, The Year Two Thousand is exactly like the nineteen-fifties, only with jetpacks. That is to say that not too many decades ago, shrinking rays, giant ants, and flying saucers were easier to imagine than an African-American President, or legal gay marriages, or this Internet thing. So The Future turns out not to have been so bad after all. The really hopeful note is that there's a kid living in my house who is too young to remember The Year Two Thousand. The People of the Future walk among us...
41. Yule-terior Motives, 12/30/2010
As we've all heard many times, it's better to give than to receive. Just buying yourself all the stuff that you want for Christmas is crass and contrary to the spirit of the holiday. However, buying all the stuff you want and giving it to your KID is perfectly okay--there's a nice little ethical gray area, there, with room for lots of giving, or receiving, or whatever you want to call it. Of course, you can't give your daughter an electric razor or a sweater in your size for Christmas, so you'll have to cross your fingers and hope that you legitimately receive that sort of stuff from somebody else. But as far as bringing videogames into the house goes, you're golden. Of course, eventually your child will outgrow her interest in videogames, and then your cover will be blown... one can only hope that by that time, there will be grandchildren...
40. The Comeback, 11/23/2010
My wife has known me long enough to have seen me perform the 'manly flip', as illustrated at the top of page two. As a younger man, I was not only a slovenly hippie, but, paradoxically, an *extremely vain* slovenly hippie. In an abstract way, I can almost regard it as a good thing that I lost my hair: it has saved me the tremendous amount of time and mental energy that I would otherwise have spent fussing with it, over the last decade-and-a-half. Nobody wants to be bald, but it does sort of definitively settle the question of whether one is showing one's age, and free one's mind for other things...
39. Star Wear, 10/11/2010
I enjoyed drawing the Star Wars stormtrooper--it reminded me of a day in the eighth grade which I spent with a friend, trying to figure out how to draw those helmets. Kevin, wherever you are, I'm not quite geek enough to say 'may the Force be with you', but I hope you're well.
38. Saving Face, 05/10/2010
As I think I've noted elsewhere, my daughter, when she was barely old enough to talk, insisted that snowmen be referred to as 'snow ladies'. She is keenly aware of it whenever her gender is not getting equal time. I'd been waiting a long time for a chance to build a snowman with her--we get plenty of snow in the course of an average winter, but most of it is dry, powdery, and altogether unsuitable. At the same time I had reservations about building a snowm--sorry, snow LADY with her: when she was little, she tended to form very possessive attachments to objects very easily (see 'TICK!'), and I was a little afraid that a relationship with anything as temporary as a snowlady could only end in tears. She took it in stride, though, even with a little teasing...
37. Bullseye, 03/31/2010
Nice shooting, Tex.
36. Handyman, 02/27/2010
In an earlier comic, Disposal, we talked about how Daddies are nature's way of removing leftovers from the ecosystem. Lest anybody think that that's all we're good for, here's another example of how we Dads make ourselves useful around the house.
35. Leap For Sheep, 01/28/2010
Did you guys know that sheep are even-toed ungulates? This month we recognize the contributions that sheep have made to our space program. No, I'm bluffing--this comic doesn't make any sense at all. It's a digital painting based on a silly drawing that I did for my daughter. We may hope that future comics will be more down-to-earth, and less spaced-out.
34. The Corollary, 12/24/2009
This time last year, we did a comic about how it feels when you're a kid waiting for Christmas to arrive. This year, it seemed appropriate to offer a view from the other side of the parent/child divide...
33. Music Hath Charms, 06/19/2009
As a dad, it is inevitable that you will hear, in passing, the latest tween anthem playing in your daughter's room. The song is about how you never cried so hard as when your boyfriend broke up with you after math class, and then you saw him with that girl who chews gum, even though he promised he would always be true-ee-ooh. It's a song that is not for you--not made for you, not marketed at you. You are Outside The Intended Demographic. And not just outside it standing on the front step, ringing the doorbell and about to be let in, either. As far as the world of that song is concerned you are outside the orbit of Pluto, your existence barely detectable even with the most sophisticated instruments. Nevertheless, unavoidably, you will hear the song. And the part we don't talk about is this: eventually, in an unguarded moment, you will catch yourself SINGING the song. Just quietly to yourself. And when you realize what you're doing, after the initial flash of outrage or embarrassment has passed and you're satisfied that nobody heard you, you'll think, "What the heck... it's kinda catchy," and continue singing. Are you finally separated, in that moment, from your last claim to hipness? Has your tree, in that moment, shed its last green leaf? NO. In that moment YOU ARE A DAD. On the occasion of Father's Day, June 21, 2009, we salute you.
32. The Critic, 03/30/2009
This week: impartial literary criticism.
31. The Magic Word, 03/23/2009
Unlike many of our comics, this one does not depict a real-life event. My daughter actually has a pretty good idea of what the magic word is. She did suggest this joke to me, though, and so probably deserves a byline this week...
30. Adventure, 02/23/2009
I remember 1977 as The Year That Star Wars Came Out. It was the year when drawings of The Incredible Hulk In His Incredible Torn-Up Pants stopped appearing in my school notebooks, to be replaced by drawings of TIE fighters, X-wings, and Imperial Stormtroopers. Imperial Stormtroopers have weird helmets and are incredibly hard to draw, but I sat next to a kid in math class who knew how to draw them, and I learned how to do it from him. At the expense of learning any math that year--but hey: life is full of trade-offs, and sometimes a man's got to make The Tough Choices. For many years I kept one of my homework papers from that class. It had a particularly good Incredible Hulk on it, and next to the drawing my math teacher had written, in red ink, "You don't have time for this!" To this day it puts a smile on my face to reflect that he was every bit as wrong as I thought he was at the time. Anyway, all of this is beside the point; the point is that Star Wars wasn't the only important thing that happened in 1977. Wikipedia tells me that the Atari 2600 also came out in 1977. If you're old enough to have owned one, then there's some chance you'll understand what I'm talking about in this week's comic...
29. Kids These Days, 02/16/2009
Kids these days have it easy. When I was a lad, we didn't have these here HOME video games. Why, if I wanted to play a video game, I had to walk TWENTY MILES in each direction to get to an arcade! Carrying TWELVE POUNDS of quarters! Well, okay, in fairness, I didn't have to carry the quarters on the way back.
28. Snow Honor Among Thieves, 02/02/2009
There are some important distinctions to be made between different kinds of snow. The two main kinds of snow are 1.) the dry, powdery kind, and 2.) the kind that's wet enough to stick to itself. The second kind is what you need if you want to make a snowball solid enough to really paste somebody, or a snow wall behind which to take cover, or a snow fort in which to keep all your snowballs. I realize that some of you, in childhood, probably made snowmen and snow angels, and practiced other non-combative Snow Arts. You guys would not have lasted long in my neighborhood, which was like a winter-sports version of Saving Private Ryan for pretty much the entire cold season...
27. A Salt On The Senses, 01/12/2009
Sometimes, being a Man means taking responsibility for the portion of the meal that your child simply will not eat. We've talked about this before, in a story called Disposal. What we haven't talked about are the risks that you take when you step up to the, uh, plate...
26. Bigfoot, 12/22/2008
Planet Saturday rings in the holiday with a story on a traditional Yuletide theme--Bigfoot! What is Santa Claus, after all, but a hairy guy who lives out in the wilderness? Right? And is seldom seen? Am I right? ...Okay, so maybe we haven't really got a handle on this whole 'holiday theme' thing yet. A few words about Bigfoot: it's important to be skeptical of the things one reads about sasquatches, lake monsters, saucer men, spoon bending, and a variety of other phenomena of dubious pedigree. However--I think it's also important to recognize that what we believe is going on in the world, and what is ACTUALLY going on, are probably two completely different things. Conventional wisdom, majority opinion, the prevailing currents of scientific thought, and the conclusions of Good Old-Fashioned Horse Sense have all proved to be completely wrong on many occasions, and I think it's a good idea to be skeptical of the skeptics once in a while, just to maintain a balanced view. In other words, while I don't particularly believe that there is any such thing as Bigfoot, I believe very much in the POSSIBILITY of such things. That being said--let's take a moment to consider the state of the art in Image Capturing Technology, shall we? License plate numbers are clearly visible in photos taken by satellites in space. You probably own a phone that can be used to make a movie with higher production values than most 1970s TV shows. Cameras offer image stabilization and automatic red-eye removal, and pretty soon they'll be doubling as GPS locators, .mp3 players, and hot-air popcorn poppers. What this all means, in short, is that nobody wants to see your blurry picture of something weird you saw in the woods. It's just not that hard to take a good picture anymore. So if the eighth cryptozoological wonder of the world walks up to you in broad daylight and shakes your hand, but your photos of the event all turn out blurry for some unfathomable reason, it's probably best to just keep it to yourself.
25. Nature is Awesome, 12/01/2008
Nature is awesome indeed, but as a child I had a few qualms about beaches. The worst thing about beaches is that when you're swimming at the beach, there are all sorts of unidentifiable THINGS underfoot. You might be moving them by stepping on them, or they might be moving by themselves. They might be harmless foot-poking things like stones and shells, or they might be gross horrible foot-poking things like weird jointy crustaceans with eye stalks and pincers. There's just no way to know. It seems silly to take a trip to the beach and then swim in the pool at the hotel, but at least in there you can see that you're not stepping on something with too many legs.
24. Fazoosh, 11/17/2008
If you're a superhero, you can jump over a house, fly meteorically through outer space, shoot weird rays from your eyes, lift a bus over your head, and punch supervillains so hard that their hurtling bodies smash through walls and make big craters in the ground. If, on the other hand, you're a kid pretending to be a superhero, you have to provide your own sound effects for all that stuff...
23. Nature Camp, 08/18/2008
Nature Camp was great, actually. There was bracelet-weaving and salamander-finding, and ears of corn got roasted over a fire. It's true that our little daughter did fashion a surprisingly tightly-twanged bow; but no furniture was damaged, and all that Lord Of The Flies stuff in the comic is strictly fictional.
22. Come Clean, 05/19/2008
Here we have a story about coming home covered in mud. No, scratch that- 'covered in mud' is for lightweights. Other kids got dirty; I came home wearing sod. When I left the house, I was a solitary child- but when I came back in, I was a functioning ecosystem. And when I took a bath at the end of the day, HABITATS were destroyed. Come to think of it, maybe that's why I hated to take baths so much- I had the budding conscience of an environmentalist! That was probably it... yeah... okay, maybe I just sincerely liked dirt. (I could, by the way, do a whole series of comics on my efforts to escape taking a bath, if that Watterson guy hadn't got there first. Spoilsport.)
21. We, Who Are About To Ride, 04/14/2008
The trouble with taking the child to the Amusement Park is that I don't want anything to do with most of the rides. If I want to get sick to my stomach for any reason, I don't have to climb aboard some outrageous, six-story-high, termite-riddled deathtrap. I can just sit on a swingset for a few minutes, and achieve the desired effect. And it's not just that I'm too old to have fun anymore! Even as a small child, I had a fully-developed sense of self-preservation, which told me that everything I needed to know about roller coasters could be learned at a safe distance. But the little girl has traits which can be explained neither by genetics nor by upbringing- and one of them is her utter fearlessness when it comes to amusement park rides. Neither rain, nor snow, nor unsafe speeds, nor spinning around too many times, nor even going upside-down shall stay her from her appointed rounds...
20. Slat's All, Folks, 03/03/2008
When a piece of furniture wears out, it's got to be discarded and replaced. Children accept this without question; they understand that it's part of the Cycle Of Life. Adults, on the other hand, often have difficulty achieving Acceptance. They want to know how this or that got broken, who jumped on what, and why you couldn't have gone outside if you were going to run wild like a crazy person. They get caught up in these questions, and it prevents them from letting go and moving on...
19. Tucker, Tuckered, 02/01/2008
This month, we offer a story about bedtime. Bedtime is when children have to lie down and be still so that their parents can get some rest. One way to get the children to lie down and be still is to sing to them. My mom used to sing 'This Old Man' to me when I was a child, and I remember being puzzled by the line 'this old man came rolling home'. I mean- is the guy okay? Is he rolling on purpose, like a hoop snake (kind of a disturbing thing for an old man to do)? Does he live at the bottom of a hill or something? What's the story here?
18. The Wait Of The World, 01/01/2008
This month's comic is about Christmas, and the Oscillating Universe Theory. Folks who were watching TV in the seventies may remember the Oscillating Universe Theory from Cosmos (that TV show where Carl Sagan said 'billions' a lot). According to the Oscillating Universe Theory, gravity will eventually cause all the stuff in the universe to contract into a single point- and then there'll be another big bang, another universe, and more trippy shows on PBS. Discerning viewers will also remember the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas Special- the stop-motion animated one where Rudolph meets the Abominable Snowman. In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll reveal that I was ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED of the Abominable Snowman from that Christmas Special, at least the first few times I saw it. If I'd thought of it, I would have included that guy in the Cellar Steps comic last month- he would have been right at home...
17. Cellar Steps, 12/01/2007
This is a comic about being afraid of the dark. Things that I considered putting into the comic, but ended up saving for the Director's Cut, include: Mole Men; a berserk robot; a Drain Ooze Monster; a really bad joke about 'The Cabinet Of Dr. Calamari' on page 5; and giant centipedes. The Giant Centipedes seemed out of place among all the imaginary monsters, since I actually HAD giant centipedes in my basement when I was a kid.
16. Animal Crackers, 11/01/2007
This month we offer more snack-related comics! Those of you who, until now, have been content to merely EAT your food will learn about a new and exciting way to get to the bottom of a box of animal crackers...
15. Baby's Best, 10/01/2007
It's my understanding that, when a pride of lions makes a kill, the male lion eats FIRST. It's the Law Of The Jungle, right? And then, of course, sometimes younger lions will challenge the, uh... silverback? No, that's gorillas... the Head Lion. Who, naturally, will fight fiercely to defend his status! I watched a lot of Mutual Of Omaha's Wild Kingdom when I was a kid, and I know this stuff. Anyway, in this month's comic, we see how a similar struggle for food is played out elsewhere in nature...
14. Piggybacks: A Legal Primer, 09/01/2007
We present this month's comic as a public service- because we at Planet Saturday believe you should Know Your Rights. I used to carry the child downstairs to breakfast every morning- she'd have been three, I think, when I started doing that regularly. One hates to abandon these traditions, but her size and my confidence in my knees first thing in the morning are going in opposite directions. Our hearts are still in it, but it's hard to really snuggle while you're performing a sort of teetery fireman's carry and trying not to fall down the steps, and it just doesn't have the feeling of magical intimacy that it had a few short years ago. Anyway, the last page of this month's comic is only PARTLY taken from life. The child really did do that- but she didn't get chewed out for it. I gave her a break, because I knew she'd just given me a comic.
13. Keep Off The Grass, 08/01/2007
This month's comic is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to the author's actual childhood is a little embarrassing, especially the part about pretending to be a superhero and making a 'zoom' noise. The comic omits one important feature of the schoolyard: a row of trees which produced small, hard, sour apples that were great for whipping at people. Remembering the trees made me remember a couple of expressions we used all the time: To WHIP (something at someone), wip, v., to throw hard. To BOOK, buk, v., to run fast. Usage: "Okay, I'm gonna whip this at him- if it hits him, be ready to BOOK." More about zooming, whipping, and booking in future installments...
12. Life Lessons, 07/01/2007
This month's comic is taken directly from life. I remember the day not only because of the depicted Life Lesson- which I tried to really take to heart- but also because of the noodles. The noodles were made with spinach flour, and they were green. The child discovered that if she squeezed a handful of noodles, the result was a paste which would stick to all sorts of nearby surfaces! Relatively few noodles were eaten, but we figured there's a time for food, and then there's a time for Science and the investigation of Noodle-Related Phenomena...
11. Kansas Islands, 05/01/2007
Kansas Islands is one of my very favorite places in the whole world. (Okay, the number of places that I've actually been to is fairly small, but let's leave that out of this for the moment.) The woods are city woods, admittedly- full of stuff like rusty old shopping carts that got pushed down a ravine, and chipmunks that look like they eat a lot of cheese popcorn. But when I was a kid this was the Great Outdoors- it was Bear Country, and if you didn't know how to make a flint axe and tell directions by the moss on trees, your safe return to civilization was by no means guaranteed. It's difficult to visit the place now without thinking how little time seems to have passed between playing there as a kid, and playing there with MY kid. That feeling of chronological vertigo might be unpleasant in other circumstances, but in the woods, with the sound of moving water nearby, it somehow loses its power to alarm. June 2007 marks the beginning of our SECOND YEAR of posting comics here on the site! This strip, in fact, is a birthday card for the comic, in verse. I thank you all very much for reading.
10. Growth Spurt, 04/01/2007
Let the record show that I used to toss that little girl in the air, just like in the comic. She used to get the shoulder rides, the horsie rides, all of that stuff. You understand, this was back when I was bigger-than-her enough to make it exciting, and she was smaller-than-me enough to make it practical. She apparently remembers all of this clearly, EXCEPT for the part about how she wasn't four feet tall and fifty pounds heavy at the time. She sometimes seems confused as to why Daddy is no longer suitable for use as a trampoline/jungle gym, and I can't seem to impress upon her the importance of that little detail...
9. Disposal, 03/01/2007
Some thoughts about mealtime, this month... The child no longer requires us to cut the crusts off her bread. However, she still declines to actually EAT the crusts- she just eats around them, and we get them back in a pile at the end of the meal. Pizza crusts get the same treatment. And when we order take-out Pad Thai, she wolfs the noodles, but meticulously scrapes the green onions off to one side of the plate... and so on. This isn't to say that we're not members of the Clean Plate Club in our family- perish the thought! However, it must be recognized that some foods include a component which is unacceptable, and can only be returned with regrets at the conclusion of the meal. But what to do with the portion which your child simply will not eat? You can just scrape it into the garbage; however, wasting food is a sin, so this choice will see you doing some fast talking at the pearly gates at some point down the road. You can put it in the frig, let it get some fuzz on it, and THEN throw it away; but you're not fooling anybody- we all know this really amounts to the same thing as the first option. The REAL Heads-of-Households among us- the people who Wear The Pants- know that the decent thing to do is to man up and eat it yourself. Come on- weren't you just telling your kid that it's only a few bites, and it'd be good for her? Here comes the choo-choo...
8. The Race, 02/01/2007
Further thoughts on fair play. The day must come when every father is faced with the profoundly humbling prospect of being outrun by his own offspring at half his size... Incidentally- Monty's mom complained about the January comic being so short (the word 'stingy'was used, as a matter of fact)- so this month we've got FOUR LAVISHLY ILLUSTRATED PAGES for you! If anything, it's less story than last time- but spread out over more pages! Never let it be said that we failed to respond to the concerns of our Core Readership.
7. Rotten Egg, 01/01/2007
A scant few years ago, you were Letting The Child Win... but that sort of generosity is never extended back up the family tree. Now, she can sense that she'll soon be big enough to beat you fair and square- and until then, it turns out she's not above a little cheating to level the playing field...
6. Cold Weather Coping Strategies, 12/01/2006
Not that anybody enjoys being cold, but the onset of winter is particularly hard on those of us who've gone and lived in a kinder, gentler climate zone for a decade or so and then moved back. It's like being a zoo polar bear for a while- you lose all your extra blubber and fur and get used to lolling around all day with people throwing cheese popcorn at you. Then they release you back into the wild, and there you are with your city bear self all shivering and trying to remember how to eat penguin, and the other bears acting like they don't know you. Anyway, that's the subject of this month's comic- which was prepared some months in advance, before it became clear that we were going to have temperatures in the 60s in early December this year, so the joke's on us.
5. Paleo By Comparison, 10/01/2006
"Paleozoic rocks are well represented in Pennsylvania. Warm, shallow seas covered much of the state through the early Paleozoic..." That particular fact was dug up on the internet, but I read the same thing when I was a kid. I remember reading it, because I remember how DISAPPOINTED I was... you want to know why? Because it meant I could dig 'til I had blisters- I could dig all day long!- I could dig up my WHOLE BACK YARD, and all I was gonna get were some lousy FISH FOSSILS. What a RIP-OFF, you know? I mean, I was after the big, land-based carnivores! Tyrannosaurus! Allosaurus! Heck, I'd've settled for one of those sail-backed things... what do you call those? Dimetrodons! Partial skeletons would have been okay! But *fish*? It just didn't seem fair... The robot in this month's comic was a real toy I had when I was a kid. It wasn't three stories tall, but apart from that I've rendered it accurately from memory. I begged for it- BEGGED for it!- for Christmas one year, because it just looked SO cool on TV. It had a weird Outer-Space-sounding name, written on the box in weird outer-Space-looking writing which impressed me very much: it was utterly alien, yet it somehow LOOKED LIKE language, and its squiggles and complexities suggested that the universe might somewhere harbor weird creatures that DID NOT COMMUNICATE IN ENGLISH. It was in fact nothing more than Japanese writing on a Japanese-made toy, but at the time this was something entirely outside my experience. This was in the mid-seventies, you understand, when America was still exporting more weird stuff to Japan (KISS) than we were importing (Speed Racer, and the occasional Gamera movie on some UHF channel on Sunday mornings, if you were lucky).
4. Fight Or..., 09/01/2006
The ironic thing is that now, I won't get on an airplane. It's not that 'if the Good Lord had meant for man to fly, He'd have given us wings'- I don't feel the need to generalize about mankind and air travel. My objection is specific to myself: if the Good Lord had meant for ME to fly, he'd have given me a gut feeling about it that was something other than 'no I am NOT going up in that thing are you CRAZY?' (Incidentally- did you know that the word for the fear of flying is 'pterygophobia'? I think that should be the word for the fear of bus-sized, prehistoric lizard-birds- also a very reasonable fear, in my view.)
3. Loud, 08/01/2006
Kelli says this is her favorite one so far. Monty says when he was ten, he really did want to grow up to be Gene Simmons, and he's disappointed that it hasn't panned out. You guys know that Gene Simmons had a cow tongue grafted onto his real tongue, right? That's true. At least, it was true when I was in grade school. Also, some guy died from eating pop rocks, and if you write on yourself with a lead pencil, you'll get lead poisoning. Now there's an Internet, so that everybody can have access to this kind of vital information- but when I was a kid, we had to find it out by WORD OF MOUTH.
2. Tick!, 07/01/2006
This one's about a phase the little girl went through (and boy, you know you're getting old when YOU'RE the one saying the 'it's just a phase you're going through') during which all she wanted to do was collect sticks. We tried to explain that the whole world was covered with sticks; that, while they're not all the same, most of them are suitable for whatever you might need a stick for; and that it's therefore not really necessary to bring your favorite ones home from the park. She didn't see it that way. Of course it wasn't about the sticks so much as it was an investigation of ownership: can I keep this? HOW do I keep it? What happens to it if I stop keeping it? What happens to ME if I want it, but I can't get it back? It's interesting stuff, admittedly, but after a while all the sticks start to get on your nerves.
1. Caveman Costume, 06/01/2006
FREE LUNCH NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE: Starting this month, we're going to be posting montly comics! All the art on the site is GUARANTEED, in no particularly legally binding way, to amuse, educate, and enlighten; remove unsightly blemishes; grow hair on bald heads; and make you taller. The comics, in particular, will cut through a soup can- and still slice a tomato LIKE THIS! Enjoy, and thanks for reading.
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