the humble comic strip & The Gas Van game

I am a graphic designer for a TV company in the UK and a lover of "the humble comic strip".

As an underated art form and a truely engaging form of literature, the comic strip crosses the boundaries between the writen word and the most influentual invention of the modern age: moving images of cinema and television. Always seen as the less intellectual younger sibling to the above, the comic strip and the single frame cartoon has a power beyond that pigeon-holing.

Art has always reflected the time it was written and the comic strip has just as much social commentary. People gloss over the political intentions of Herge's "Tintin" or the subversive messages of Jamie Hewlet's "Tank Girl". Alan Moore is as accomplished writer as any found in print yet chooses the visual narrative of the strip for ideas.

The daily "funnies" in virtually all the world's press follow social trends and reflect values in their own ways as much as the content of the editorials. The policical cartoons of today subvert and comment with as much zeal as the lampooning of Hogarth in his day.

With the advent of the internet, people who would never get into print can express their own thoughts into the world using the comic strip as an easy, understandable and familiar soapbox. Whether intensional social commentary or irelivant fun (such as my own" > , hardly "Watchmen" i know!) the comic strip should be viewed as any other historical document, and valued for it's virtues.


I was wondering about the power of the web and here is my own social experiment. For reasons, as yet unknow, my family invented a game in some unspecified moment of boredom. It goes like this:

Object of the game:
Whenever a member of the family sees a British Gas service vehicle the player must say aloud "Gas Van!"

1 This must be done EVERYTIME a gas van is seen, whether alone, in public, with someone else, it's on TV: EVERYTIME Once a player, always a player

2 If the player is with someone else who knows the rules and that person (also a player) also sees it then the player saying "gas van" is a point up, the point not being cancelled out until the second player sees a new gas van.

3 The same gas van cannot be knowingly counted twice

This is a very addictive game and players have been know to recruite other players just by playing (like my fiancee, my best friend, my sister's husband).

My social experiment is to see how many people I hear say "Gas Van!" aloud in the street due to the power of the web.
I will keep you posted.


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Hi there Nobby Mar 27, 2001


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