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Written by 6:11 am Comic Strip

Best Comic Strips

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best-comic-strip_optimizedComic strips hold an integral role in print media, bringing beloved stories and characters to readers daily. Serialized graphical stories that build over years, comic strips influence culture and connect across generations. The greatest examples become sensations, leaving iconic legacies.

This article explores 10 of the best comic strips of all time, spotlighting their significance, sensibilities, and impact on the world. From Calvin and Hobbes’ imaginative plots to the minimalist wisdom of Peanuts to Non-Sequitur’s absurd observations – these strips left indelible marks.

Beyond the laughter, the strips showcase artistic innovation and skill in succinct storytelling that deepens rather than fades. The list provides an understanding of how these comics shaped history while retaining relevance.

Here is a table summarizing the 10 best comic strips:

Comic Strip Creator Years in Print Themes Signature Style
Calvin and Hobbes Bill Watterson 1985-1995 Imagination, philosophy, childhood Stellar art, funny/thoughtful plots
Peanuts Charles M. Schulz 1950-2000 Depression, loneliness, struggles of life Minimalist 4 panels, timeless relevance
The Far Side Gary Larson 1980–1995 Surreal, absurd observations Anthropomorphic animals, ironic reversals
Bloom County Berkeley Breathed 1980–1989 Politics, pop culture commentary Satirical characters like Opus the Penguin
Doonesbury Garry Trudeau 1970–Present Politics, social issues, generational shifts Serialized plots integrating real public figures
Garfield Jim Davis 1978–Present Mundane life, pet/owner dynamics Lasagna-loving fat cat, gags
Foxtrot Bill Amend 1988–Present Geeky kids, suburban family life Relatable situations, tech/pop culture references
Mutts Patrick McDonnell 1994–Present Animal friendship, philosophy, kindness Sweet earnest perspective and observations
Zits Jerry Scott & Jim Borgman 1997–Present Teenager life, generation gaps Youth culture and family clashes
Non-Sequitur Wiley Miller 1992–Present Absurdities of life, wordplay Unpredictable stream of consciousness

10 Best Comic Strips

1. Calvin and Hobbes

Sale
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
  • Hardcover Book
  • Bill Watterson (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1440 Pages - 09/06/2005 (Publication Date) - Andrews McMeel Publishing (Publisher)

Created by Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes followed the humorous adventures of its title characters from 1985 to 1995. Centered around Calvin, an energetic and mischievous 6-year-old boy with an overactive imagination, and his sardonic stuffed tiger Hobbes, the strip built a rich world filled with universal themes about childhood innocence, friendship, philosophy, and growing up.

Calvin and Hobbes set themselves apart through Watterson’s magnificent draftsmanship, his ability to convey imagination and fantasy, and his character’s relatable interactions. The strip connected deeply due to its joyful spirit, funny yet thoughtful take on youth, and timeless appeal. It remains one of the most legendary and influential comic strips in history.

2. Peanuts

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Peanuts 2000: The 50th Year Of The World's Favorite Comic Strip
  • Schulz, Charles M. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages - 09/05/2000 (Publication Date) - Ballantine Books (Publisher)

With its long tenure from 1950 to 2000 under creator Charles M. Schulz, Peanuts left an undeniable cultural impact on the world. Following the lives of beloved characters like the hapless Charlie Brown and his philosopher dog Snoopy, Peanuts built humor and deeper themes around concepts like depression, loneliness, faith, and the struggles of life. Simple yet profound, Peanuts touched on ideas both timely and timeless.

Strips often had a melancholy tinge while resonating with hope. Generations grew up with Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Schroeder, and the gang. Schulz innovated the medium with his minimalist four-panel gag structure that could turn profound with a simple final punchline. The last strip ran the day after Schulz passed away, closing out a 50-year story.

3. The Far Side

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The Complete Far Side
  • POSSIBLY THE GREATEST COMIC OF ALL TIME - Revered by fans as the funniest, most original cartoon ever, The Far Side debuted in January 1980 and spent 14 years on the world's comics pages until Gary Larson retired in 1994.
  • THE MOST COMPLETE COLLECTION AVAILABLE - This set contains every single Far Side cartoon ever printed, and a bunch more created by Larson after he retired.
  • BONUS EXTRAS - Includes a forward by legendary comedian Steve Martin and chapter introductions by Gary Larson himself, along with letters from fans and haters.
  • GIANT THREE BOOK SET - Contains three softcover books in hard-sided slipcover case. 1278 pages.
  • MAKES A GREAT GIFT - Any Far Side collector or fan of Sunday comics will love it.

The offbeat, peculiar humor of The Far Side, created by Gary Larson from 1980 to 1995, made it a sensation unlike any strip before it. Set in banal suburban settings, The Far Side took a surreal approach by putting normal animals and people into absurd situations marked by ironic reversals, dark humor, and unexpected punchlines.

Larson’s wholly original comedic sensibilities produced strange gags and funny observations. Recurring motifs included anthropomorphic cows, aliens frequenting Earth, and the stupidity of some animals compared to others. Larson’s creative freedom pioneered new territory in the comic strip medium.

4. Bloom County

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Bloom County: Real, Classy, & Compleat: 1980-1989
  • Breathed, Berkeley (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 832 Pages - 10/31/2017 (Publication Date) - IDW Publishing (Publisher)

Berkeley Breathed’s satirical Bloom County ran from 1980 to 1989. This strip combined quirky characters with biting cultural commentary across politics, celebrity, and current events.

Centered around a boarding house of eccentric personalities including Bill the Cat, Opus the Penguin, and Michael Binkley, Bloom County skewered the era’s culture and news in irreverent ways that still hold up decades later.

Breathed brought political and social issues to the forefront through his cast in fresh, provocative ways. Signature storylines included Opus’s tuna addiction, Bill the Cat’s foray into stardom, and the metal rocker turned-lawyer Steve Dallas. Bloom County was a new style of edgy, serial strip comedy.

5. Doonesbury

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Dbury@50: The Complete Digital Doonesbury
  • Hardcover Book
  • Trudeau, G. B. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 11/17/2020 (Publication Date) - Andrews McMeel Publishing (Publisher)

Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury has been in publication since 1970, reflecting the cultural shifts of its times while innovating the comic strip medium with long narratives.

Focused on a cast of characters including everyman Mike Doonesbury over multiple generations of students and adults, Doonesbury evolved into telling serialized stories integrating real public figures, news events, wars, elections, and social causes.

Doonesbury offered a living history, satirizing events from shifting generational perspectives while pioneering a soap-operatic strip structure. The result is a strip that has kept its finger on the pulse of current events for over 50 years thanks to Trudeau’s fearlessness.

6. Garfield

Garfield's Sunday Finest: 35 Years of My Best Sunday Funnies (Leather Bound, Signed Limited Edition)
  • Jim Davis (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 04/12/2024 (Publication Date) - Easton Press (Publisher)

Few comic creations have reached the cultural saturation of Garfield the Cat. Jim Davis struck gold in 1978 with the sarcastic, lasagna-loving fat cat Garfield and his hapless socially awkward owner Jon Arbuckle.

It became the world’s most widely syndicated strip thanks to the universal humor in the interactions between Garfield, his fellow cat Nermal, dog Odie, and owner Jon dealing with mundane daily life situations.

Garfield’s global brand has spawned merchandise, TV specials, and two live-action movies showing his unprecedented multi-generational appeal as one of the most recognizable cartoon characters worldwide.

7. Foxtrot

Sale
Wrapped-Up FoxTrot: A Treasury with the Final Daily Strips (Volume 36)
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Amend, Bill (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 192 Pages - 05/19/2009 (Publication Date) - Andrews McMeel Publishing (Publisher)

Foxtrot, created by Bill Amend in 1988, remains in newspapers today thanks to its smart, nerdy sensibilities.

Centered around the Fox family, including young kids Peter and Paige, their bemused parents Andy and Roger, and their pet iguana Quincy, Foxtrot builds highly-relatable situational comedy around school hazards, technology mishaps, pop culture obsessions, and recurring misadventures from geek subcultures.

Amend works of science fiction, math, dinosaurs, and lingo into his strips in clever ways. Foxtrot’s multigenerational fanbase relates to the suburban family dynamics with intelligence and wit.

8. Mutts

Sale
Mutts: Walking Home
  • McDonnell, Patrick (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 208 Pages - 10/25/2022 (Publication Date) - Andrews McMeel Publishing (Publisher)

Patrick McDonnell’s Mutts, launched in 1994, delivers heartwarming humor through a diverse cast of animal characters. Centered around beloved dog Earl and his animal friends including guard duck, kitten Mooch, and more – Mutts explores friendship, kindness, philosophy, and more with delicate simplicity.

Sweet, sometimes somber, and always charming – Mutts has earned devoted fans thanks to its earnest perspective and tender observations of daily life. McDonnell’s adorable drawing style and quiet wisdom make it the perfect strip to brighten tough days.

9. Zits

Sale
Zits: Undivided Inattention (Zits Treasury)
  • Zits: Undivided Inattention
  • Andrews McMeel Publishing
  • ABIS BOOK
  • Scott, Jerry (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Since 1997, Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman’s Zits has tapped into the consciousness of multiple generations by spotlighting the life of teenager Jeremy Duncan, his friends Hector and Sara, and his bemused parents Walt and Connie.

With youth-oriented jokes mixed with generation gap culture clashes, Zits nails down the funny, embarrassing, thought-provoking moments that come with that transitional time of life.

Storylines explore school, dating, jobs, cars, independence. Zits remain culturally relevant by organically allowing its characters to grow up and face new scenarios.

10. Non Sequitur

Non Sequitur 2023 Day-to-Day Calendar
  • Miller, Wiley (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 640 Pages - 11/01/2022 (Publication Date) - Andrews McMeel Publishing (Publisher)

Wiley Miller’s Non-Sequitur takes a magnifying glass to the absurdities of modern life within single-panel cartoons. Running since 1992, Non-Sequitur creates a witty stream of non-sequiturs navigating word puns, visual gags, sarcasm, and biting social commentary.

Unified only through life’s randomness, the strip jumps topics with irreverence. Smart, dense, and unpredictable – Non-Sequitur offers distinctive cerebral humor for observant readers who enjoy piecing together references.

Miller engages philosophy and political satire through inventive art styles with his iconic egg-shaped-headed characters.

Conclusion

The 10 spotlighted strips demonstrate the artistic heights possible in the comic strip format through memorable characters, insightful commentary, and mastery of the craft across different sensibilities. Calvin and Hobbes brought imagination and stunning art to life, Schulz distilled profound meaning into four Peanut panels, and Larson pioneered surreal humor in The Far Side.

Strips like Foxtrot and Zits have grown alongside their audiences over generations. Despite changes, the comics format remains beloved for its accessibility bringing reliable entertainment, wisdom, and chronicles of life.

For this, the greatest strips stand timeless as artifacts that help process living. Their influence shows the resonance possible when creators commit to quality and vision – building worlds inside tiny panels that feel as alive as reality.