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365 Reasons to Love Comics #46

Yesterday is one of my most despised days of the year. I hate Valentine’s. That’s why I invented a holiday for February 15th: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Day! Celebrate the solitude, ladies and gents. It has nothing to do with today’s entry, but I felt like pimping my one-man holiday. Back to Black History Month!

Today we talk about a cool guy who works in comics, but not the book kind of comics. Intrigued? Read on!

2/15/07

46. Robb Armstrong

Jump Start 3.jpg

Click the pictures to make ‘em bigger and more readable.

Robb Armstrong is the creator of Jump Start, a fun comic strip you may or may not read. The strip happens to have had a few Black History Month strips run recently, so I’ll drop ‘em throughout the column due to the extreme lack of pictures the internet wants to give me related to Jump Start. Curses!

Jump Start is the story of Joe and Marcy Cobb, their ever-expanding number of children (they’ve got four, now), and their friends and family. Some may say it’s the “whitest strip about black people,” and I can understand why. But hey, this strip isn’t Boondocks. Jump Start’s not about race; it’s about a Philadelphia family that happens to be black. That’s Armstrong’s perspective, at any rate.

Jump Start 1.gif

Another cool thing about Jump Start is that the characters can grow and change. Perhaps not as much as the gang in For Better or for Worse (at least, not yet), but they’re not static, like the cast of Hagar or Beetle Bailey. Relationships change, hairstyles change, kids are born, etc. Combine that with a large and wonderful supporting cast, and you definitely find yourself caring about what happens.

I love the art style used in the strip, and I especially adore the lettering. The rounded square balloons, the use of lower case for the kids and all-caps for the adults– it brings the whole charming package together.

Jump Start 2.gif

When Armstrong isn’t busy on the strip, he’s on tour giving talks at schools. Now, I happened to be at one of these one time. I was the only one there who had heard of him, as I was from further away than anybody else and actually had Jump Start in my home paper.

Man, the kind of stuff Robb’s gone through in his life is pretty crazy. His background is filled with stories of tragedy and hope and fulfilling one’s potential. He’s a pretty effective public speaker and a damn funny stand-up comic.

Anybody else read Jump Start? Anybody else dig it?

Jump Start on the web

19 Comments

I don’t read it much, as in Toronto it’s carried in the worst of the local papers. But it is one of the few tolerable things about that paper.

this is the first i’ve heard of this strip. i’ll have to check out the link to read more.

i thought right away about boondocks, which you mention in this post, when the black history section came up in the 365 reasons to love comics.

i’ll save my favorite boondocks strip comments for when young panther huey shows up in this series.

Jump Start is one of the most boring, unoriginal, unfunny strips currently being produced. This entry does not belong.

Jump Start is one of the most boring, unoriginal, unfunny strips currently being produced. This entry does not belong.

I suppose you don’t read Garfield, Beetle Bailey, Hagar the Horrible, the Wizard of Id, Blondie, Peanuts reprints, Mark Trail, Cathy, Marmaduke, Family Circus, Hi and Lois, Girls & Sports, most of B.C., quite a bit of Shoe, or that damn horrible Opus, then. Along with numerous others which slip my mind because they’re so dull.

Compared to them, Jump Start is manna from Heaven, and I love its charm, art, and yeah, even the lettering.

I’m not a big fan of Jump Start– but it has provided me with chuckles now and again. Can’t really ask for more out of a few tiny panels a day.

There are great comic strips (Peanuts, Calvin & Hobbes, Barnaby, Liberty Meadows, Zippy the Pinhead), bad comic strips (Garfield, Marmaduke, Family Circus, Zippy the Pinhead), and those harmless ones in-between, such as Jump Start, the Lockhorns, the Adventures of Aaron, and Zippy the Pinhead.

Because it manages to be all three at once, I do think Zippy the Pinhead might be an excellent reason to love comics. :-)

…And, speaking of the Post-Valentine’s Day Blues, I can think of something that might cheer you up if you click on my name. :-)

“Compared to them, Jump Start is manna from Heaven”

Another case of settling for mediocre comics. No, Bill, Comics should be GOOD.

“Can’t really ask for more out of a few tiny panels a day.”

Of course you can. And you should. You deserve better.

I dunno, Dan, I think there is enough of a clear delineation between what Bill is doing here and, say, a review entry, so as to keep him clear from having to live up to the standard of “do not recommend something you do not think is good.”

You can love something that is not good, just so long as you acknowledge that loving something is not the same as saying it is good.

That sounds like a rationalization to me.

Calling something ‘a reason to love comics’ is really only differentiated from it being ‘something that is good about comics’ by semantics.

But I’m not on staff here and they’re not my rules to enforce. Maybe I have a false sense of entitlement about the blog. It’s just that I enjoyed this blog, specifically, because it didn’t kiss ass and it didn’t settle for mediocrity.

Comics Should Be Good should be good.

Rationalization? It’s practically word for word from Joe’s “Art is not Subjective” speech the other week.

No matter how much I love America’s Funniest Home Videos or Tron, they are terrible. Do I care? No. If someone says they are terrible, do I get offended? Of course not; they’re right. But I don’t feel bad for liking them. That’s the subjectivity of taste versus the objectivity of art critique.

That’s all Bill is doing here – saying 365 comic-related things he loves, which apparently happen to also include some stupid stuff like Jump Start and SuperPro, etc.

He’s not making any critical statements here. He’s just rattling off a bunch of stuff he loves about comic books.

Another case of settling for mediocre comics. No, Bill, Comics should be GOOD.

Dude, don’t try to out-elitist me, because you can’t. My beret is bigger than yours.

I’ve written about lots of “terrible” concepts in this column that I still think are awesome. I don’t think Jump Start is terrible, though; I quite like it.

Besides, it’s about the creator, not the strip itself. There’s not much on the internet about Armstrong, but I’ve met him, I’ve heard his story, and I think he’s a great creator worthy of an entry.

JumpStart used to be much better in the early years, when Joe and Marci were just a couple of struggling kids trying to juggle marriage and career while fending of the ‘help’ of family and friends. After the kids were born it unfortunately settled back into domestic sitcom (although there are some concepts, like the kid optimistically named ‘Doctor’ Appleby, that still make me smile).

I own a book-length collection of JumpStart with a lengthy forward on love and marriage by Armstrong. The man is indeed a great guy, he’s trying to do the right thing, and to me that’s a reason to love comics.

There is a massive, massive difference between loving something and appreciating it critically – that’s wy we commonly separate heart from head. This column is about loving comics, and while I don’t always agree with the choices, I love it for that reason. :)

I read the comics pretty much everyday. I look forward to the rare day where Garfield or Hagar the Horrible are actually funny.

Jump Start is good comics, I think. It’s fun and breezy, and sometimes that all you want. It’s been a while since I read it, though. Four kids?! Wow. The new goatee looks nice, though.

“There are great comic strips (Peanuts, Calvin & Hobbes, Barnaby, Liberty Meadows, Zippy the Pinhead)”

I don’t disagree with your taste but these are either no longer being produced or don’t appear in mainstream newspapers. I’m not a fan of Jumpstart but it’s easily in the top ten list of comic strips published in Cincinnati papers (not that that’s much to brag about).

The Kirbydotter

March 10, 2007 at 2:13 pm

I never heard of this strip.
From the examples presented here, I’m guessing why.
Nothing particularly funny or quirky, or interesting in the characters or gags.

I’m in the camp of those who doesn’t understand why it is mentioned here. If it was about a white family it probably even wouldn’t be published.

I always look forward to reading new comics from new papers when I travel. Read Jumpstart while at the coast. More than anything, I liked the art. The style is simple and emotive, it’s fun. I enjoy reading it, and that’s what I want out of my comic.

I love Jump Start. While seemingly every other comic strip is portraying blacks as buffoons, Jump Start characters are well rounded, flawed, and human. I love the fact that not everything is a sight gag or just plain outrageously stupid (although those aren’t necessarily bad just don’t want it on a regular basis).

Bob Ximines (RCC)

June 20, 2008 at 6:36 am

Robb keep putting out the message. We need you in the Community. I love what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.

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