Media Mix

PICTURE IMPERFECT: A cartoonist with scant life experience is like a Smurf: cute, blue, and just full of shenanigans. While you can't bring yourself to actually enjoy said shenanigans, something about the unbridled cuteness of it all makes an acerbic response seem inappropriate. Well, at least to some. Others (notably the less employed) seem to have no such qualms, as evidenced by the reactions to Rhymes with Orange, an admittedly mediocre new collection of strips by Hillary B. Price. The response was magnetic: attraction, followed by repulsion.

Media Mix Optimistic understatement ("Where are the good ones?") was followed by outright hostility.

The most reactionary laundromat hipster responded, "Put that away. It's making me angry." Most who took it upon themselves to read over our shoulders offered long, wordless looks which seemed to translate to sympathy, disappointment, or perhaps a loss of respect. All moms polled, however, thought Price was cute, clever and that the criticism of her peer group was just thinly veiled envy. Which is just one reason why moms aren't part of our MCI Friends and Family calling circle.

We wanted to like Price, "who at 25 became the youngest woman ever to have a syndicated daily comic strip." The repetition of this fact in her press materials is rivaled only by the number of times the book's title is explained, to those of us who might not see it through to its logical conclusion: Like, ya know, nothing does rhyme with orange, get it?

"Price chose the title as a way to show the singularity of her strip and its humor." It's probably good that she did, and that she explains it in even more detail in her introduction, because in the end, the singularity and humor of her strip really aren't apparent by just looking at it. Drawing the bulk of its content from the uncharted territory of things animals think, how funny inanimate objects can be if you anthropomorphize a little, and creative ways to mooch off your family, it's no wonder Sally Forth creator Greg Howard was moved to call Price's cartooning the "freshest new voice in years." Like he would know.

Sorry to burst everyone's bubble, but Stanford-graduate Price seems like any other over-educated Gen Xer with supportive parents and a $100 box of colored pencils; except, of course, she's made a lucrative career out of obvious punchlines and simplistic line drawings. While others who engage in her caliber of work are still spending late nights and chump change at Kinko's for their rabid 'zine followers, Price's strip has made its way into newspapers nationwide, not to mention the pages of People, Forbes and Glamour magazines.

A snippet from her sponsors at Andrews McMeel, a trade-comic publishing giant that must be really hard-up these days for new talent, has determined this to be Orange's greatest selling-point: "Reading Price's comic strip is like eavesdropping into her personal world view. Her characters share their innermost feelings: 'I keep expecting someone to come in and arrest me for impersonating an adult.' " Well, that seems just as good a reason as any. Take her away, boys.

THE OTHER WHITE MEAT? As journalists, we can appreciate the occasional typo with the best of them. One recent favorite involved a TV news crew working the "local" Princess Di angle: A cardboard sign held by a distraught roadway-median mourner read, "We'll miss you Diana, Princess of Whales." The implications were staggering.

But in our extensive dine-out experience, restaurant menus afford some of the juiciest misspelled morsels. Next time you want to play with your food, head on over to Three Sisters Vietnamese Restaurant on East Speedway and order the No. 53: "Dick with Steamed Vegetables." Turns out the entree suffered from a bit of fowl play: In the fine print, we learn the intended course is, thankfully, the common webbed-foot variety.

LIFE IMITATES MONTY PYTHON: Feel alone in your self-loathing? Now there's a website just for you: Now you don't even have to pay someone to have an argument; just click on the box and up pops an insult, absolutely yours for the asking. Go ahead, you probably deserve it. TW

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