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Since when can gag cartoonists get away with drawing strips with no humor and no punch line? For the last year or so, strips like "Crankshaft" and "Curtis" have felt the need to occasionally deliver a somber lesson in place of a gag. These can go on for weeks at a stretch.

Serial strips like "Gil Thorp" and "Rex Morgan, M.D." are reserved for this type of serious subject matter, which is why I avoid reading them. It sounds like a cop-out to me if you write a humorous strip regularly but then temporarily change to drama when you cannot think of a joke.

Serious themes should be reserved for drawings that look like actual people, not goofy, bug-eyed caricatures. How can you take a subject seriously when you normally laugh at these silly drawings? There should be a constant division between the genres. If it's supposed to be a funny strip, it should always try to be funny. People don't read "Funky Winkerbean" for life lessons.

I am interested in someday becoming a comic strip writer and artist. How easy it would be for me if, when I couldn't think of a joke, I just got on a two- or three-week soapbox about the evils of driving drunk. Yes, this is something everyone should be aware of, but the comics page is not the forum for it.

The news is already full of real tragedy involving arson, murder and teen crimes. We do not need it to spill over onto the so-called "funny pages." What's next? Miss Buxley suing the general in "Beetle Bailey" for sexual harassment in the military?

Brian Snelling Buffalo

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