365 Reasons to Love Comics #46

Yesterday is one of my most despised days of the year. I hate Valentine's. That's why I invented a holiday for February 15th: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Day! Celebrate the solitude, ladies and gents. It has nothing to do with today's entry, but I felt like pimping my one-man holiday. Back to Black History Month!

Today we talk about a cool guy who works in comics, but not the book kind of comics. Intrigued? Read on!


46. Robb Armstrong

Click the pictures to make 'em bigger and more readable.

Robb Armstrong is the creator of Jump Start, a fun comic strip you may or may not read. The strip happens to have had a few Black History Month strips run recently, so I'll drop 'em throughout the column due to the extreme lack of pictures the internet wants to give me related to Jump Start. Curses!

Jump Start is the story of Joe and Marcy Cobb, their ever-expanding number of children (they've got four, now), and their friends and family. Some may say it's the "whitest strip about black people," and I can understand why. But hey, this strip isn't Boondocks. Jump Start's not about race; it's about a Philadelphia family that happens to be black. That's Armstrong's perspective, at any rate.

Another cool thing about Jump Start is that the characters can grow and change. Perhaps not as much as the gang in For Better or for Worse (at least, not yet), but they're not static, like the cast of Hagar or Beetle Bailey. Relationships change, hairstyles change, kids are born, etc. Combine that with a large and wonderful supporting cast, and you definitely find yourself caring about what happens.

I love the art style used in the strip, and I especially adore the lettering. The rounded square balloons, the use of lower case for the kids and all-caps for the adults-- it brings the whole charming package together.

When Armstrong isn't busy on the strip, he's on tour giving talks at schools. Now, I happened to be at one of these one time. I was the only one there who had heard of him, as I was from further away than anybody else and actually had Jump Start in my home paper.

Man, the kind of stuff Robb's gone through in his life is pretty crazy. His background is filled with stories of tragedy and hope and fulfilling one's potential. He's a pretty effective public speaker and a damn funny stand-up comic.

Anybody else read Jump Start? Anybody else dig it?

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