Sometimes when I take a little break from blogging, I wonder if the comics landscape will have shifted in my absence, leaving me stranded in a world I no longer understand. Fortunately, the newspaper comics industry is incredibly ossified, so I usually have no worries on that score. For instance, Spider-Man is engaged in a battle against a super-villain, and is losing, pathetically, and in need of a bailout from another, better superhero! No changes here! Kingpin is at least being innovative in his attack on Spider-Man: he’s using a laser beam hidden in his cane to defeat the wall-crawler, rather than just bludgeoning him with the cane itself, which would surely have been just as effective and probably a lot more efficient, if less artful.
Apartment 3-G, 5/20/13
Lu Ann clearly did not take the opportunity afforded by my absence to become less of a moron. At first I was confused as to why she would be surprised that Greg, Margo’s client/love slave, was James Bond — surely this isn’t a secret to anyone at this point? But then I saw how she apparently shouldered Margo aside and grabbed hold of her freakishly huge laptop, so now I assume she thinks Greg is trapped inside the screen. “Whoa — is that Greg?! Greg, don’t worry, we’ll get Superman to free you from the Phantom Zone!”
It there’s one thing we can expect from our longrunning legacy comics, it’s that they do a good job of illustrating hoary old humor tropes. Haha, Heathcliff’s owner-boy’s trumpet (?) playing is terrible, resembling a bellow made by a yak! Specifically, a mating bellow made by a yak. Check out the hearts hovering above that yak’s head. It’s attracting yaks … for sex.
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 5/20/13
Like many isolated, desperately poor, undergoverned enclaves, Hootin’ Holler can erupt in vicious, arbitrary violence at any moment.
GUYS! First of all, thank you for your incredibly generous response to the fundraiser. Everyone who donated will be hearing from me in the next few days to figure out what sort of reward you’d be interested in and double checking on your mailing address. And let’s have a big hand for Uncle Lumpy for his always-awesome fill-in duties. It’s fun spending a week laughing along with the comics instead of thinking of ways to make you laugh, and he always does a great job.
Meanwhile, I have observed your hilarious comments from afar and have selected a slightly delayed comment of the week!
“Mister Fox, are you by any chance familiar with the article ‘Fever Response in North American Snakes’? Published in the Journal of Herpetology? 1996? I’m afraid, Detective sir, that your racist and inaccurate stereotypes are as offensive to me as your pose is to crabs.” –Annie
And some runners up! Also funny!
“‘Hold on Tommie — isn’t your mother that worker bee who never leaves the house?’ ‘Sure is, Margo. I guess this is what they call a “character reboot.” Seems odd to spell it out like this, since I’m sure no-one remembers my old mom. Maybe they’ve updated her into a smart, independent woman for the modern age? Ha ha, just kidding, of course not.’” –pugfuggly
Mary Worth: “Tomorrow’s strip will feature explicit drawings of Tom and Beth enthusiastically shaking hands. Demands for the cancellation of the strip will flood editors’ in-boxes by mid-morning.” –LP2004
“It is now established that Newspaper Spider-Man is less harmful than a feeble, backward-delivered kick to the shin from an incompetent undercover police agent. With each experiment we come closer to a more exact measurement of Spider-Man’s incompetence. In time we will establish a precise value for his ineptness, which will of course be the most useless knowledge on record.” –Droopy Says
“I’m not sure how Heathcliff trashing that sign is really sticking it to the dog, but I dig the triumphant Black Power salute.” –Doctor Handsome
“The PARROT/RAPTOR double anagram is a rookie mistake. Leave the Jumbling to the professionals please.” –LUJBEM FEJF
“Actually, when the Governor says he’s right outside her door, he means right outside her door. There’s a Lincoln Towncar parked in the hallway and Lu Ann will have to crawl through the open passenger window before he’ll back up into the service elevator.” –Drewbear
“Snark all you want about the Governor talking like a six year old, but think for a moment to whom he is speaking.” –Zerowolf
“Yikes! For weeks Beth has been necking and nuzzling with Tom only on her right side, and now she has this terrible crick in her neck. Did no one tell her to alternate sides? Mary Worth, where were you?!” –Amos Snarkadder
“I don’t even remember what my life was like before I met you! That’s … weird, isn’t it? I keep feeling like I’m forgetting something … do I have a dog I’m supposed to feed? Ah well, it’s been three weeks, whatever it was is probably dead, so who cares. Love is SO GREAT.” –Tophat
Again, huge thanks to everyone who put some scratch in my tip jar! To find out more about how you could be thanked in this spot, and more about sponsoring this site’s RSS feed, click here.
I confess that baby-talk drives me nuts, even when spoken by parents to children or by actual babies — don’t get me started on adults using it with one another. I stay away from the otherwise appealing Mutts to avoid that damn lishping cat, or dog, I don’t know, I don’t care, I won’t look. So “Gwanpa” here really sets my teeth on edge. It’s not even good baby talk with that awkward N-to-P transition, and it neglects fine alternatives like Grampa or Pop-Pop that children actually use and would work really well here. Repeating the offense six times in panel nine just twists the knife.
But credit Curtis for unleashing a terrifying hallucinatory vision on a par with Funky Winkerbean‘s Rust Belt hellscape. Who wouldn’t bolt screaming from hundreds of Curtises (Curtes? Curtides?) invading your home and swarming your comfy chair, wormlike Curtid fingers rifling through your pockets for money and smokes to the pounding rhythms of “rap” music? Why are there so many, all the same age? What do their hat colors mean? And not least, how did Curtis père ever convince some poor girl to mate with him, possibly more than once? Because if that’s the kind of world we live in, I’m pulling my wool cap down over my shiny pate and going right back to bed, nightmares or no.
Judge Parker, 5/19/13
I confess I didn’t expect Judge Parker to be so fastidious in maintaining continuity. In a strip that drips out plot points like bitumen, it would be easy to dump details like the elder Parkers’ marital frictions or April’s dead Dad down the oubliette, trusting that only a handful of lunatic obsessives would ever call them on it. But courtesy of Katherine’s suspicious nature and acid tongue, here they are front and center.
Early “tomorrow”, half of the Parker-Driver universe will set sail for Randy’s and April’s Acapulco crowd-nuptial, leaving the other half at Spencer Farms to grapple with Neddy’s Ross-Thalia Niger kidnapping con. How delightful would it be if April’s shadowy dad is alive and running the kidnapping ring/con game from his seat at the rehearsal dinner? Both plots could then collapse on one another in a melee of shouted accusations, tearing hair, and gunfire, from which the Parker-Drivers would somehow emerge carrying huge bags of cash.
I confess to having been MORE THAN A LITTLE irritated with The Phantom for breaking off its Sunday series featuring crush object/murderess Savarna so quickly. But here’s Lee Falk’s other comics hero Mandrake, and he brought crush object Narda along, so I guess all is forgiven.
The story itself is, obviously, completely nuts. To safeguard the gold being trickled out of Cockaigne in cruise ships, the Walkers and the The_Magicians are embarking on a “Masquerade Cruise” that requires them to go around in different costumes every day as they browse the ship’s theaters, buffet tables, and slots parlors. Day 1 won’t be a problem, of course — they can just show up in their own outrageous get-up. But around Day 5 we should see the Phantom skulking in the shadows dressed as Marie Antoinette, and “Super Mario Brother” Mandrake gesturing hypnotically at Rainbow Brite. The “girls” will at some point dress as the Phantom and Mandrake, leading to some fun sexytimes below decks.
The cruise ship is, of course, headed for Acapulco, which means the gold of Cockaigne will wind up with the Parker-Spencers, unless of course April’s dad steals it first.
Dick Tracy, 5/19/13
Update: Dr. Sail’s experiment is confirmed as Insect-Kewpie Mysta “Moon Maid” Tracy — cue Junior Tracy marital discord and ’70′s-era madness. It’s not yet clear how the Parker-Drivers will make a buck off this.
That’s it for me, folks — look for Josh to return on Monday with a new round of comics and your Comments of the Week. Thanks for a fun time, and your generous response to the spring fundraiser — see you next time!
– Uncle Lumpy
Mark Trail, 5/18/13
Girl fight Girl fight GIRL FIGHT!!!
Mark Trail is a pretty punchy guy, as you can tell from this collection of a few of his greatest hits. But Cherry, despite her reputation as a coffee-and-pancake-bearing hausfrau, is actually quite the little badass herself. Our gal can cinch up a pack mule, nail a beer can dead center in mid-air with a rifle no sissy shotgun for her no sir — and look damn fine doing it. As we see here, she can also slap the clear light of reason right back into an effete city-dwelling hysteric overcome by panic over some teensy forest-consuming sea of fire.
Or maybe not? Maybe Cherry isn’t trying to focus Shelley’s attention so much as rebuke her for disrespecting Wes? “Don’t you dare speak that way about your husband, Mrs. Wesley Thompson — what part of ‘Love, Honor, and Obey’ don’t you understand? And my own husband Mark loves these backwoods, ablaze or not: I will not stand for you to call them ‘stupid.’” Maybe behind all her woodsy competence, Cherry really is that traditional hausfrau, impatient for this annoying inferno to end so she can get back to her man’s side where she belongs?
Nah, I’m going with “badass.”
Curtis struck a pose for his class picture so outrageous that even Chutney, despite her lifelong crush on him, doesn’t want a copy. But this strip works another way, too: on the very day Chutney finally decides to put Curtis behind her, he shows up with a photo of himself as a gift. She savors the moment and the memory of what felt like love for so long, then, true to her decision, sends him on his way — a loser in every important sense of the word.
Unfortunately, that would make Barry the strip’s principal character, and I’m pretty sure nobody wants that.
Mary Worth, 5/18/13
Oh man you guys Mary Worth has been such a garden of visual delights lately I can’t get enough of it. Check out the disembodied hand watering Elinor’s windowsill — maybe that’s Beth’s leftover hand from panel two? Speaking of which, our monopod young lovers may as well wrap up their tryst — those bushes have already engulfed Tom’s private parts.
Wizard of Id, 5/18/13
Opening for Bung at the Laugh Zone tonight will be Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart singing The Whisky Ain’t Workin’.” Frankly, it’s not doing much for The Wizard of Id, either.
Family Circus, 5/18/13
“It’s a nice day.”
“I like ice cream.”
“It is pleasant to be outdoors this time of year.”
“Punchlines are overrated.”
– Uncle Lumpy
So ends the Spring 2013 Comics Curmudgeon fundraiser — thank you one and all, generous readers!
What’s that you say? Something along the lines of, “Oh my gosh Uncle Lumpy I was so busy I forgot to contribute and now I not only feel terrible but worse I won’t get an awesome refrigerator magnet and life has no meaning for me anymore and I don’t see how I can go on”? Well, listen, I really shouldn’t do this, but just this once if you click here you can still get to the Fundraiser page, make a contribution (click the banner or the email button), and qualify for your one-of-a-kind Matt Crowe refrigerator magnet. This is just between us, all right? Please don’t tell Josh — I could get in a lot of trouble!
Apartment 3-G, 5/17/13
Peter, get your mind out of your pants and pay attention — Lu Ann just told you all her secrets! Repeat after me: “She can’t remember the last time she had a hot dog with everything.” Jeez, dude.
Funky Winkerbean, 5/17/13
OK, let’s recap a little. Sneery McThumbsup here is Frank “Frankie” Pierce, former football star of Westview High bête noir Big Walnut Tech, who impregnated Les Moore’s first wife Dead Lisa (who was neither married to Les nor dead at the time, as if those are two different things) with Darin in the back of his totally bitchin’ ’70′s van — the one with that sharp knockoff Frank Frazetta mural of the sabretooth tiger and the babe with a spear on the side and the “Don’t Come Knockin’” sticker on the remnants of the rear bumper? Wow, that was a cool van. The mute thug is Leonard “Lenny” Gant, Frank’s accomplice in whatever con he’s running.
Frank, who runs “Astounding Productions” (last big hit: Vans of the ’70′s), came to Westview after seeing a TV news report about Les’s contract to convert his terrible misery porn memoir “Lisa’s Story” into a screenplay featuring excruciating dialogue like, “I can’t pretend to know what you’re going through, but I’m here for you and ready to listen as much as you need, and be your friend even if I haven’t got the right words.”
Frankie’s con cannot possibly be aimed at Darin, who works as the IT and marketing specialist for a pizza parlor (fer Chrissake), has an unemployed pregnant wife, and is therefore so poor he lacks even a van to call his own. So the con must be aimed at Les and his big deal. Will Frankie try to hijack production rights in favor of his own company? Unleash a second version of Les’s travesty upon the world? Block production entirely, claiming that Lisa’s Story somehow defames him and Darin?
To find out, I guess you’ll just have to keep reading — and whatever happens dear reader, even though I can’t pretend to know what you’re going through, I want you to know I’m here for you and ready to listen as much as you need and be your friend, even if I haven’t got the right words. If you need me for anything, I’ll be in my van.
The Comics Curmudgeon has been systematically neglecting Luann as a public service, but I’m obliged to report that Luann is still a thing that exists. The last few weeks’ strips have shown Luann to be a self-absorbed slob whose “friends” don’t really like her and whose “talents” aren’t apparent to anyone outside her own headspace. So yeah, you haven’t missed anything.
Luann schemed to hook up with crush-object Australian stereotype Quill (G’day! Sheila! Barbie! THAT’S a knoyfe!) at summer drama camp. The camp accepted Quill, rejected Luann, and accepted pretty, ambitious go-getter Tiffany, Luann’s hated rival for Quill’s affections. And so here we are.
You know how authors of long-running series grow to resent their protagonists so much they start working to subvert them? Like the way Arthur Conan Doyle “killed” Sherlock Holmes in The Final Problem? Is something like that at work here? Will we see Quill grow to love and respect Tiffany, a centered woman mature beyond her years, unashamed of her desires and undeterred by the spiteful carping of infantile, jealous rivals? Or will it just be more of the same old middle-school tee hee pretend sexxy with Luann? Oh, I think we know the answer to that question!
Mary Worth, 5/17/13
Is there anything more terrifying than Love in Mary Worth? Ignore the saccharine declarations and watch as Tom drags a flailing Beth down Charterstone’s gargantuan sidewalk to a secluded spot where he can wrench her head half off and devour her succulent brain.
Just a reminder — no Comments of the Week on my watch. Look for them Monday when Josh gets back!
– Uncle Lumpy
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Oh my gosh you guys! Comics panel hero Matt Crowe, in awe of Comics Curmudgeon readers’ generosity, has agreed to create enough additional Judge Parker and Rex Morgan, M.D. refrigerator magnets to cover the overwhelming demand we’ve experienced. But it’s the final day of the Spring 2013 Fundraiser, so contribute $15 or more now to receive your very own one-of-a-kind comics keepsake. Thank you, generous readers! And hurry!
Sherman’s Lagoon, 5/16/13
Lead characters Sherman the shark and Fillmore the sea turtle have been furloughed from Sherman’s Lagoon due to sequestration budget cuts, leaving Hawthorne the annoying crab and Ernest the generic fish to pick up the slack. Now when I type “Sherman’s Lagoon site:” (just before adding “wikipedia.org” obviously), the Google helpfully completes it as “Sherman’s Lagoon site down”, so maybe Ernest made good on his implied threat to crash the servers?
Anyway, I’m not sure Sherman’s Lagoon will be improved by laying off its main characters, but a lot of other comic strips sure would: imagine 9 Chickweed Lane with Solange the cat free of the other characters’ insufferable yammering, or Mark Trail relaunched as a suave urban romance between Bill Ellis and Kelly Welly — stiff competition for Apartment 3-G, I bet!
It could happen: after all, Snuffy Smith elbowed Barney Google out of his own strip long ago, and Funky Winkerbean‘s eponymous “hero” isn’t much more than an overweight, depressed walk-on anymore. Likewise, Blondie has pretty much morphed into Dagwood, and Sally Forth into Ted.
Badass pirate-fighter Savarna could easily replace the Phantom, who is frankly turning out to be a real wuss. And who wouldn’t prefer reading Terrible Actress Mary Jane Parker to The Amazing Spider-Man? Rebooting Crankshaft as Pam and Jeff could show us the tender rebirth of marital love after the deaths of hated, intrusive parents. Crime-fighting gardener Carlos Alora in Charterstone Confidential could document the seedy underside of America’s retirement communities without some old bat second-guessing his every anguished, ethically dubious move. Helga the Wïdöw could inspire us with the daily struggles of a proud, resourceful woman against the murderous oppressive Viking patriarchy. And finally, clearing all the characters out of Crock (retitled Empty Sahara) would give us a welcome visual and mental break every day.
Hi and Lois, 5/16/13
Awe-struck by the miracle of Creation, Ditto Flagston professes his atheism.
Apartment 3-G, 5/16/13
The Governor of New York is a desperate stalker who talks like a six-year-old and doesn’t need to be in Albany for anything important, no siree. Lu Ann will be right down.
Judge Parker, 5/16/13
Ah, wars interest Sophie (and judging by her jacket she’s backing Team Mali) — but money interests Sam. And he seems pretty darn upset that sometimes it takes months to work out a ransom! Surely a smart lawyer should be able to fix that — think, Sam! There must be a way to accelerate ransom negotiation and delivery to increase hostage-inventory turns and drive up cash flow. Reverse-auction Web portal? Third-party escrow service? Exchange-tradable ransom futures?
All that seems like far, far too much effort to our Sam. No doubt he’ll just fall back on the strip’s traditions and have secretary Gloria Sanchez draft a letter: “Dear Kidnappers — I am Sam Driver of Spencer Farms, Parkerville ST. I have not yet received from you a large suitcase filled with cash, for no reason. Please correct this situation at once! Sincerely, Sam Driver, Esq. PS. My pal Randy Parker says hi and thanks you for his cash.”
“Fedex that tonight, Gloria. Phew, that was a lot of work — Hey Abby, is dinner on yet, or do I have time for another nip of that Shiraz?”
– Uncle Lumpy