Newspapers have given us classics like The Family Circus, Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, and Peanuts. Unfortunately, they have also given us several stinkers as well. Common among the trash heap of the funnies are poor art, jokes a 5-year-old wouldn't find funny, poor characterization, and inane plots. There are also bad political cartoons, which have bad caricatures of the opposing side, poor arguments, and little purpose other than being Author Tracts.
Important Note: Merely being offensive in its subject matter isn't enough to justify a work as Horrible. Hard as it is to imagine at times, there's a market for all types of deviancy (no matter how small a niche it is). It has to fail to appeal even to that niche to qualify here.
Examples (more-or-less in alphabetical order):
- Between Friends is best described as a Lifetime Movie of the Week in comic strip form, but without any humor, intentional or accidental. It's even worse whenever it tries to be serious. Nobody with a Y chromosome escapes unscathed unless they're Viggo Mortensen or a reasonable facsimile thereof. All of the "empowered" women are depicted as insecure Does This Make Me Look Fat? types who switch between agonizing over buying a low-fat double-whipped frappuccino and pounding back the cheesecake-like there's no tomorrow in the blink of an eye; they don't fare well either.
- Reply All doesn't even have the saving grace of having passable art, as it resembles a 5th-Grader's MS Paint webcomic. Pupils are drawn outside the actual eyes, characters' hairstyles make them seem balding, and blatant copy-pasting makes the characters appear superimposed upon the backgrounds. The jokes are so poorly delivered that they become hard to distinguish from the actual dialogue. Reply All Lite, a single-panel "condensed" version, somehow manages to be worse by removing what little structure the original comic even had.
- Shadows has a bad script, even worse CG artwork, and blatantly pandered on the then-current vampire trend. For some reason, it replaced Striker, a much better strip that had run for years. Fortunately, the newspaper would cancel it in early 2013 and Striker was brought back in its place.
- Working It Out is so violently unfunny that it can accidentally get a pity laugh out of the reader. Most of the "jokes" consist of really bad puns, boring and unfunny office "humor" everyone's heard a million times before, and things that seem like they're supposed to be jokes, but aren't. One example is a comic where the boss character is playing with his cell phone with the caption informing us that he likes to fire employees through text messages; this "joke" was used twice. Worse, it doesn't realize which comics are relevant enough to reprint. For example, a strip made in 2007 that references Myspace, which was big at the time, was reprinted in 2012 when Facebook had overtaken Myspace as the most popular social media platform.
- FAST (Federation Against Software Theft), the company behind the infamous Piracy is Theft ads, to appeal to the kids, decided to write comic strips along with the £1000 reward promise. The strips have unrealistic plots, are plagued with very inconsistent face artwork, as teenage characters look far older than theyre supposed to be, suffer from the same problems as the Piracy is Theft ads, and the infamous Bloggos Pow strip features a kid calling FAST all because he saw a man at a market selling games which are implied to be legitimate copies. Like the Piracy is Theft ads, the comic strips were also mocked by various people. See Stuart Ashen discussing the strips (including the Bloggos Pow strip) here.
- Counterthink is a ridiculous mix of PETA and Happyology's most paranoid fantasies. Topics include why spending money on drugs, rather than herbal placebos, is bad; "doctors are incompetent, egotistical butchers"; "technologies are dangerous"; and "chemical additives, including Fluoride, are evil."
- The Leftersons! is a politically themed comic in the vein of Mallard Fillmore that somehow manages to be more Anvilicious and less funny than its inspiration. The creator of the comic doesn't seem to understand American Liberalism, so the strip fails at satire, and the characters have no personality to speak of. The art is unbelievably lazy: many panels, and even layouts for entire strips, are reused again and again with random background color changes. An example of its failure: the son of this Straw Character family is named Stalin and wears a Darwin-fish shirt, and his hair is done in a random-ass Totally Radical 1980s punk style, which shows you how up to date the author is.
- Many consider the reactions in the political strips of Mallard Fillmore a textbook example of Confirmation Bias. The problem with that idea is that many people with similar views (conservatives, especially older ones) don't find the strip funny, those on the opposite side of the political spectrum tend to find the comic blatantly insulting, and non-political readers just find it unfunny. Check any comics board with a newspaper section and note how many posts on "The Duck" contain the phrase "I'm a conservative, but...". The comic itself would probably be relegated to right-wing websites and newsletters if it wasn't frequently used as a "counter-balance" for the liberal viewpoints presented in Doonesbury note . It tends to substitute talk radio talking points for punchlines, forgets to do its research, and frequently repeats the same "joke" over several strips from slightly different angles. It overuses Straw Liberals and stereotypes of people of color, many of whom are in the regular cast. This is actually pretty sad since Bruce Tinsley's non-political strips can be genuinely funny and do show a flair for observational humor. Unfortunately, those strips make up less than 10% of the strip's output. Discussing Mallard Fillmore on The Comics Curmudgeon is now an automatic banning offense. Not helping is the fact that Mallard Fillmore has horribly lazy and ugly art, which often consists of either the duck's head shoved into a corner by a Wall of Text or Mallard splayed out in front of the television with his (thankfully) undetailed crotch on full display. In 2019, newspapers such as the San Diego Union-Tribune dropped the strip due to antisemitic humor, proving they no longer even found the comic a worthy balance to its liberal cohorts. This led to a long hiatus and Loren Fishman taking over Tinsley's duties making new comics in 2020. And then the entire Gannett newspaper chain dropped the strip.
- Minimum Security is a naturalist comic about a girl and her anthropomorphic animal friends. It is filled with terrible artwork, Aesops that support using extreme violence note and Straw Characters representing people the artist disagrees with, which would be: non-vegetarians, Republicans, car drivers, people who use the internet, people who support technological advancement, people who buy things, people who wear clothes, people who exist, etc. The artist has tried doing more conventional humor and failed at it. She also collaborated with another naturist artist to make As The World Burns, which can be found listed in the page for Comic Books. Even the groups in its primary demographic consider it too extreme and enforcing for their taste. You can still read the old strips online in a sense of Irony, as the artist frequently mocks technological advancement. However, some strips haven't been found nor scanned as they were originally printed on obscure newspapers.