On Strips: All That Running

By | Friday, January 08, 2016 Leave a Comment
Jef Mallett's Frazz from May 30, 2014...
I don't recall the first time I encountered Frazz but it's one of those strips that I've consistently enjoyed for many years now. It's occasionally suggested that it almost acts as a sequel to Calvin & Hobbes (in large part because of Frazz's hair style and color) although Mallett certainly never intended it as such. And, though his humor strikes a similar chord as Bill Watterson's, it's markedly different in that where Watterson celebrated life through imagination, Mallett celebrates life through being an active participant in it, both mentally and physically. The comparison could be made of the creators as well -- Watterson is a notorious recluse in much the same way that Calvin spent so much time in his own head, and Mallett is somewhat infamous for competing in marathons and other more extreme types of activities.

As you may know, I myself started running in 2011. I wasn't at all inspired by Frazz or Mallett to be honest. I had a friend who was going to run a marathon, and I said to myself, "Hey, if Chris can run a marathon, so can I!" Turns out that I enjoy running and the sense of empowerment I get from completing marathons is immensely powerful. I also connect more with Frazz (and his runner girlfriend Jane) than I did before I started getting into distance running, but that was mostly an ancillary benefit.

As I said, my running was never really inspired directly by Frazz. But I've grown to appreciate him more, and I find myself echoing some of his sentiments about looking forward to running in bad weather or for crazy-long distances. Also like Frazz, I find myself on the receiving end of "you must be nuts to do that" comments from time to time, although that tapers off as people see and accept distance running as a thing I do.

Right now, I'm in Walt Disney World. Yesterday, I ran a 5k through Epcot. Earlier this morning, I did a 10k. Tomorrow, I'll be in a half-marathon that runs through both Epcot and the Magic Kingdom. And on Sunday, I'll be doing a full marathon that winds through all of Disney's theme parks. That's a total of 48.6 miles over the course of four days. It's called the Dopey Challenge and I understand about 6,000 people signed up for it.

I've said before on this blog that I've been taking some running signage to heart by trying to DO EPIC SHIT! And while Frazz's actions as depicted in the comic generally don't seem very epic, there's plenty of references to the fact that does do epic things like compete in triathlons. (I could make a joke about newspapers being so wary of offending people that they couldn't even depict something that merely showed Frazz DOING EPIC SHIT!) But what Frazz does when he's not being epic is still a life of deep and meaningful engagement, as I said, both mentally and physically. Maybe newspaper comics aren't completely dead yet, and there still is a lesson or two that can be learned from them!
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