The Seven-Word Story

Our ancestors had maybe three entertainment options available to them:cavemancrop eating, watching someone else eating, or watching someone else getting eaten. The rest of their day wasn’t nearly as much fun.


Over time, our choices multiplied. There are a serious number of diversions available to us these days, enough that we hardly ever choose to watch someone eat, which is a shame, since it can be very entertaining.

Middle Aged Man Eating A Bacon Sandwich

Consider television, the Internet, movies, and video games. What a great way for both you and your computer to waste a day. And let’s not forget the abundance of sporting events, live theater, and concerts we have at our disposal.

I could go on and on – and that, to me, is the problem. Most of these activities go on and on; movies stretch beyond two hours, video games are unbeatable in less than three days,

Two Boys Playing With Game Consoleand television shows require at least a five month commitment – longer if there’s a season ending cliffhanger.

Am I the only one cursed with restless legs? Isn’t there anyone who appreciates a quickie any more? (I’m not referring to a ten-minute oil change). It wasn’t that long ago that we could satisfy our entertainment fix by watching a standalone half-hour sitcom. Take seinfeldlogoSeinfeld for instance. Thirty minutes and you’re done. Sure, all the seasons kind of link together, but really, it’s only a half-hour commitment.

For lots of people though, the ultimate leisure time indulgence is reading a good book (or even a bad book, as long as it’s on a Kindle so nobody else can see how little taste you have). The thing is, books can be massively long (thank you Mr. Tolstoy, you little trendsetter you). For a deliberate reader like me, that’s as big an obligation as playing Grand Theft Auto V, and then watching every season of The Walking Dead.

Having said that, a number of publishers and authors have done a pretty good job of tightening things up a bit. Lots of books, especially the juicy, steamy ones, are being written and published as novellas, which usually cap out at less than 30,000 words. Flash fiction is gaining in popularity too, with complete stories typically just a few hundred
words, and sometimes less. Given these options, why are there still so many wordyRambler_American_1st-generation_blue_sedancropbooks? I thought they stopped making Ramblers back in the 60’s.

So, what do I do for entertainment whenever I sense my jimmy legs firing up? I read a comic. Not hundred page graphic novel comic books, or even twenty page Archie & Jughead’s. I’m talking comic strips, or better yet, single panel cartoons. They’re the

perfect snack – the amuse bouche of story telling. I give a quick glance, and then I can move on with my day, satisfied. If a cartoon is stupid, not funny, or I just don’t get it, it’s no big deal. I’d given it only a few seconds of my life. But if it’s a good one, it could impact my day, as a good book might.

I still enjoy novels, television and other time consumers. I’m sure I would be miserable without them. But I encourage everyone to give more thought (or less thought, actually) to spending a few seconds every day with a cartoon. I’ll take a seven-word illustrated story any time. Maybe you should too.

Rambler photo courtesy of Christopher Ziemnowicz.

About hmargulies

Writer and cartoonist.
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