Comics and cartoons are ingrained in American life. One critic has called comic books crude, unimaginative, banal, vulgar, ultimately corrupting. They have been regarded with considerable suspicion by parents, educators, psychiatrists, and moral reformers. They have been investigated by governmental committees and subjected to severe censorship. Yet more than 200 million copies are sold annually. Upon even casual examination BLONDIE, ARCHIE, MARY WORTH, THE WIZARD OF ID, and SHOEamong the many comic stripswill be found to support some commonly accepted notion or standard of society. Why do comics both amuse and arouse controversy? Here is an attempt at an answer in a sharp-eyed comic-book lovers probing look at this step-child genre. He finds comics both loved and hated, relished and sneered at. In their relying on dramatic conventions of character, dialogue, scene, gesture, compressed time, and stage devices, he finds the comics close to the drama but probably closer kin toM. Thomas Inge is the author of 'Comics as culture' with ISBN 9780878054077 and ISBN 0878054073.