Back when a higher percentage of the human population read newspapers, lazy syndicates could get away with licensing pre-existing, already-popular characters for new comic strips instead of buying original concepts. The peak of this practice was in the early 80's when Star Wars, Star Trek, Tarzan, Bruce Lee, several Hanna-Barbera characters and even Dallas had their own newspaper strips. The majority of them came courtesy of Creators Syndicate, ironically named because it was intended to sell creator-driven things, but they soon broke their promise and became the worst offenders for soulless product-based strips.

The last two licensed-character strips Creators sold were Pokemon (which is what you came for) and Rugrats. We're not talking about the Rugrats strip right now, but rest assured, it's just as bad.

We've just begun and I already have so many questions.

#1: Ash had plenty of dense moments in the show, but does he really think covering himself in pot holders is going to protect him from fire? This strip would be much funnier if Charmander (who is nowhere to be seen) actually did attack Ash and set him on fire, leaving him screaming and running around like a maniac in the last panel.
#2: What is GOING ON in that middle row?
#3: Why does Ash's mom have so many pot holders? In fact, why does she have so many lavender pot holders? She's screwy.

Just look at that art. Isn't it beautiful?

Guh....WHY IS HE GOING TO SCHOOL? Everybody knows school doesn't exist in the Pokemon universe! And where is "Pokemon Training Academy"? I don't remember him going there either, unless this is a direct reference to the "Pokemon Technical Institute" episode with Giselle.'s not.

This is actually the first strip I ever saw. My paper, thank their limited space, did not pick this strip up, but this one was scanned into a Pokemon website shortly after the strip began, to show everyone how terrible it was.

The strip contained several "games" within itself, the worst of which was the "find that Pokemon" game in each weekday edition. Can you NOT find Pidgeotto? Just try to not find him.

I would actually call Ash VERY well-trained, here. Look at the amazing acrobatic position he's in on the bottom strip, balancing his entire body weight on his knuckles. How many people do you know who could pull that off?

The artist must be missing something too. He's clearly seen the show, as he knows Brock is girl-crazy, but he doesn't know Starmie shoots water from its points, not its middle. This isn't obscure knowledge. Starmie appeared a lot in Season 1.

Pikachu sure winks at the audience a lot. It's as if to say, "In case you need help, there's a joke here."

Well, I think I need more help because I still don't get the top strip. I didn't get the bottom one either until I inspected it closely and saw Pikachu welling up tears in Panel #3. When the punchline hinges on one element, you want to make that element easier to see.

What I'm more interested in is the fact that Pikachu is levitating off the ground in Panel #4. Not only that, he's made the objects around him float in midair too (a Pokeball and the "hidden" Voltorb). This is a power he never exhibited in any other Poke-thing. I'm curious.

"I got a rock."

Holy Dodrio, what is her problem?? She's hosing every person that breathes on her wrong. In both of these I can't tell what she's explicitly upset about. My best guess is that she secretly wants both Ash and Brock to fall in love with her, which isn't canonical in the least.

Jigglypuff can't fly. But Pikachu can't fly either....

Above is the only "find the Pokemon" game that works. I still can't find Fearow in that strip. Maybe it's not even in there and they forgot.

I found Nidoqueen though.....she's cooked and on the table!

After a while, the Pokemon started "talking" with thought balloons. This improved nothing. Strip #2 sets a new low for humor.

Look at the top strip. That's the tiniest Bulbasaur I've ever seen. It's supposed to be hidden, but I can't take my eyes off it. What is the deal with that Bulbasaur? This is going to drive me crazy. Is it a pygmy species?

This? This is a joke I could actually see the show doing. It'd be kinda funny animated.

Pokemon Cartoonist Tip: If something isn't in the remote vicinity of funny, just draw a crazy, insane-o reaction take in response to it, and it'll turn into a gutbuster!

Don't hold your breath, redhead. I still can't believe what I saw in a Season Two episode. They were in the sewer, and something grabbed Bulbasaur and pulled him underwater. He didn't come back out. Then the same thing grabbed Misty, and she didn't come back out either. Later on they found the room where the two were, and Ash rushed over to Bulbasaur, embraced him and gushed "OHHH BULBASAUR, I THOUGHT I'D NEVER SEE YOU AGAIN! OOOHHH!!" Ash is more likely to marry Pikachu than any girl he's ever met.

At first glance I thought this was Professor Oak and they had drawn him REALLY wrong. But no, it's his nonexistent "teacher."

At least they kept Ash dumb and inexperienced -- that's one of the things that originally made the show appealing. Eventually by Johto all their personalities would be washed out and wooden, and Ash's life goal would be reduced to "chasing badges." An eighty-episode storyline was planned, but then Pokemon became an international hit, and they had to extend it for as long as they could (600 episodes and counting). That meant no more character growth for anyone, ever.

Okay, where is the writer getting this shrinking thing from? Clefairy can't "shrink" in either the games or the show. Metapod isn't supposed to be a month-old moldy banana either.

If you haven't had enough yet, what you're about to read is the "bonus week" of unpublished strips that didn't appear in the papers because the strip was cancelled from low circulation before that point.

Yes, it's that old moldy plot: someone thinks their friends are neglecting them, but it turns out they're planning a party for them. I saw this story done a thousand times in my preschool TV shows and Little Golden Books, and I was already sick of it by age seven. The dailies ended here, but it doesn't take a nuk-u-lar scientist to figure out the intended ending.

"Will we battle Team Rocket?" I guess not. This is their only appearance in the entire strip's history. "Prepare to fight fight fight dub over Japanese mouth flaps fight fight fight fight!"

The strips were collected in "Pikachu Meets the Press." Take a good look at its cover.

Notice how all those strip samples look completely different from the actual art used? The syndicate must have asked for samples from several artists before deciding on Benimaru. Many of those other samples look much better -- the other guys weren't trying to badly mimic character designs they weren't used to, but instead adapted Ash and Co. to their own styles. Well, actually the "realistic" sample looks pretty ridiculous, but the others are mighty fine.

The jokes wouldn't have been any better, but it could have at least had decent art.

Scans credited to: Jesse Barboza and Charles Brubaker