What does he mean by that?
The famous poet Stephen Crane pointed out that we'd better be careful about wishing for freedom:
If I should cast off this tattered coat,Thompson never wrote poetry about existential dread but he was able to make the same point using humor, children and talking animals. Crane's words wouldn't fit in a tiny word balloon, but Thompson effectively grabs our attention by juxtaposing the simple words "I'm free!" with "Help!"
And go free into the mighty sky;
If I should find nothing there
But a vast blue,
Echoless, ignorant --
Last week we discussed whether comics are a suitable medium for profound content. As a general matter, I'd say no. Comics are short, simple, cheap, badly reproduced and aimed at a low readership. Most are poorly drawn. It's difficult to make great art using a medium that chafes and strains against ambitious content.
But every once in a great while, an artist comes along who vindicates the medium by achieving greatness within its confines. Gifted artists such as Herriman, Schulz, Watterson or Thompson, have the rare ability to simplify larger human truths into brief adventures squeezed to fit in small boxes.
Thompson's brief strip about the guinea pig makes Stephen Crane's point, but in a lighter more elegant way than Crane. As a bonus, he makes other funny observations about human nature along the way:
I love the evanescent loyalty of the children:
|Like Herriman, Thompson drew with "secret grace and obvious clumsiness."|
When Thompson's children grow up, they'll develop the guile to conceal their true natures. But cartoons don't allow room to gradually strip away artifice, so great cartoonists use children to distill grown up truths to their essence.