Those who know me well know two facts about me, both of which are relevant to today’s post:
1) I don’t have a lot of favorites. I don’t have a favorite color or book or ice cream or song.
2) I take comic strips very seriously for a thirty-something. (May come from writing one. [If sporadically.])
So, with those two facts in mind, it means something then when I say that Arlo and Janis is my favorite comic strip.
It’s hard for me to describe exactly why I love Arlo and Janis so much. It’s funny, which helps a lot. But it’s real. I identify with it, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. It’s real in the sense that (much to Johnson’s initial disappointment) there are no talking animals. There are no dinosaurs or wizards. Just a couple and their son and cat, and the world they live in. But it’s also real in the sense that the couple and their world are completely believable. Johnson captures an emotional tapestry of marriage and work and life and adulthood (an early theme of the strip that continues even as the characters gradually age) that resonates.
And I love it because I want to be Arlo Day when I (kind of) grow up. I want to enjoy life and be silly and love deeply and unabashedly sensually and I want to pine after time on a sail boat. I want to live, and be unashamed of wanting that life to be fun, even if it also has to be all responsible. Yes, the strip is about adulthood, but Arlo embodies the C.S. Lewis quote, “When I became a man, I put away childish things including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
Which brings us to this:
While Arlo and Janis is my favorite comic, I’ll be the first to admit that’s not my favorite individual strip. It’s a decent Arlo strip, but I’m not a sardines and crackers kinda guy, and I’m generally hit-or-miss on the cat strips.
So why am I posting it?
Because it’s mine.
Jimmy Johnson sold a batch of original artwork on eBay, and I bought one. Specifically, that one.
Like I said, it wasn’t my favorite of the batch, but it was the one that I was able to get using the Buy It Now feature, meaning I picked it up for less than the ones that are being auctioned go for. It was still a decent chunk of change for a comic strip, but I just got some birthday money and some improv show checks, so what better way to spend money for my birthday and for being funny than by indulging on a humorous birthday gift for myself, right?
He posted twelve strips yesterday, five of which were bought outright, and the remainder are still available for auction. I had a friend help me try to buy my favorite of the batch, but couldn’t get it before someone submitted a bit, ending the Buy It Now option. With two and a half days left in the auction, it’s already up to a hundred dollars more than I paid for mine. Even having bought one, there are a couple more I’m keeping an eye on, but I imagine they’ll exceed my price range before they’re sold.
Which, I will also point out, means that my purchase was a good investment, in an art collector sense. ‘Cause that’s totally why I did it. (I wish now I’d used that logic a while back to buy Johnson’s one now-out-of-print collection, Arlo and Janis: Bop ‘Till You Drop.I bought a copy a few years ago for my friend Lain at what seemed then like a pretty high price for a comic strip collection, but which was less than a fifth of what you would now pay on Amazon. I kinda wish now I’d bought a second copy for myself at that price.)
Point being, I’m rather happy. I’ve been a fan of the strip for 18 years, and I’m excited about having a greater connection to it.
Somehow, I think Arlo would understand.