Cartoons Improved on the Web

Since the publication of the September 6 More Messages column, in which I read all of the comics in the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post for two weeks to discover what I have (and haven't) been missing, I've received plenty of e-mails, pro and con, from fans of the form -- and several have suggested websites that enhance the comic-reading experience. Here are three of the best:

Joe Mathlete Explains Today's Marmaduke:

The appeal of "Marmaduke" wasn't all that clear to me when I was eight-years old, so it's continuing survival is mystifying to me -- or at least it was until visiting this site, in which the shadowy Joe Mathlete plumbs the depths of the iconic Great Dane. His reading of the panel above is fairly succinct: "Marmaduke is an asshole." However, he adds this side note: "If $10.00 CAR WASH has a franchise in your area, I highly recommend them. They're the only car wash I know that will clean the inside of your windshield, and they only charge ten dollars!"

The Comics Curmudgeon:

Josh Fruhlinger makes me look like a piker. This Baltimore-based editor and writer boasts in his profile that "he's been reading the entire comics section every day for as long as he can remember" -- and on his website, he publishes wry comments about assorted strips, adding insights that are sure to win over the hardcore comics junkie. For instance, his depiction of this "Apartment 3G" offering declares: "Hahahahahahahaha. Oh, Eric, Eric, Eric, this is not wise. Just remember, you yellow-shirted morsel: you are no Dr. Drew Corey M.D. and Margo, sir, is no Dawn Weston." Well said.

Zero TV's "Mary Worth" Series:

A series of producers utilizing the Zero TV site, including Stephanie Barber, Sara Boland and Naomi Wyoming, had an inspired idea: filming vignettes drawn from "Mary Worth" comics that originally appeared May 17-June 13, 1998. The results are wonderfully creepy, with the actors holding stiff, stylized poses as they deliver deadpan dialogue like "May I borrow a cup of telephone?" as part of a storyline about the arrival of overbearing new neighbor Dudley Ford. Captured in stark black and white, with a soundtrack dominated by the ominous rustling of an ill wind, the live action "Mary Worth" is downright David Lynch-ian -- a bizarre tribute to a medium that's still got life in it yet. -- Michael Roberts