One might not think a comic almost exclusively about third-graders would have any level of sophistication.
One might, however, be wrong.
There is a tendency to dismiss young children as unintelligent. As unable to operate on the same level as adults.
Sometimes this is true. But I myself remember being young, and still being a thinking, feeling being. A different one then I am now, but a distinct one nonetheless.
I think a lot of people resonate with that. And a lot of people like having characters that can both recall the innocence of childhood while still retaining a sense of identity, awareness, and personality. I used Count Your Sheep as an example yesterday – you can’t see Katie without feeling an overwhelming onslaught of cute. But she is her own person, and for all her childish outlook, someone the reader can emphatize and agree with.
On the Playground runs along the same lines. The cast and crew are kids. And there are plenty of times when they do act like kids. But these are often in stark contrast to when Lizzie is philosophizing or the strip itself is making a point.
Now, this isn’t the first comic to tackle the concepts of growing up, or characters comic to grip with the realities of the world around them. It isn’t even the first one to do so from the perspective of youth.
But it does so, and it does so well. It makes you laugh and it makes you think, and those are the hallmarks of a good comic. It isn’t heavy on the story or the drama – it doesn’t need to be. But it lives up to that tradition of juxtaposing youth and experience. And sometimes the characters themselves don’t even realize their own irony.
It’s a good comic. It’s back online, updating Mondays and Fridays, with a sizable buffer.
That’s a good thing, in my book.