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So ends the Comics Curmudgeon 2015 Spring Fundraiser. Sincere thanks to everybody for your generosity/patience. We now resume our regularly scheduled programming.

Dick Tracy, 4/25/15

Heckuva plan there, Abe. I mean, nobody coulda seen that coming, right? Also, I admire your use of “enlisted” instead of the less delicate “forced at gunpoint.”

Funky Winkerbean, 4/25/15

“Gosh, Cindy, thanks for the offer ‘n’ everything, but as it happens, Mason Jarr the Hollywood Actor and I are already on excellent terms from having collaborated for weeks on the failed movie version of my horrible misery porn book Lisa’s Story about my dead wife, Lisa, who died. You may even recall that I was the one who introduced you to him, during his implausible visit to Westview to research his part in Starbuck Jones, because that’s totally a thing, and nobody can read comic books anywhere but here. Anyway, didn’t Mason (Jarr, the Actor: he lives out west somewhere) specifically say he wanted to bring in a writer from the ‘comic book world’ a few strips back? But don’t worry – Darrin just wandered in for no reason, and his gigantic head is right behind you, hanging on our every word. So I’m sure his Skype-buddy, unemployed comic-book writer Mopey Pete, will hear about the opportunity somehow.”

You can’t just let plots develop — you gotta engineer them.

Luann, 4/25/15

Luann shows the signs of 30 years of careful risk management — no unsettling “time jumps” here! “But wait!” you may say. “Didn’t the whole crew just graduate head off to various colleges and Peru and whatnot?” Yeahbut! No chances were taken with the franchise — the stories are the same old “romantic” entanglements, and new characters are plug-and-play replacements for worn-out old ones. For example, Luann’s eccentric fop art teacher fills in for whiny tool Mr. Fogarty, and Dez here is the Designated Ethnic Replacement for annoying prig Delta.

Caution is the watchword — even the Tarot (“Witchcraft!”) with its scary “Hanged Man” and “Death” cards gets a remake as a whimsical “Destiny Deck” (um, somehow not witchcraft?).

Anyway, just for the record, Luann’s mom’s name is “Nancy.” I don’t know how “Prudence” got in there.

Gil Thorp, 4/25/15

Despite my role as a small-c curmudgeon, I have great fondness for Gil Thorp‘s seasonal ritual, the Reading of the Roster. This one telegraphs (hell, literally states) that 2015′s Baseball Story will be about pitcher and cleanup hitter Jordy Castillo.

Slugging pitchers are rare in the majors but more common on college and high-school teams. With the Mudlarks, of course, there’s a good chance Gil and Mimi decided the positions and batting order during a drunken session of strip I-Ching.

– Uncle Lumpy

Sporting life

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Gil Thorp, 4/24/15

Don’t worry — Gil hasn’t squeezed all the air out of that blonde in the pink outfit and glasses; they’re actually two separate people. The one on the left is an Athletic Department admin, currently down in HR filling out a sexual harassment complaint. The one on the right is Marjie Ducey, the local newspaper sports reporter who shows up when the strip needs to unload some exposition.

So Wednesday night Aunt Lumpy and I were watching our beloved local major-league baseball team squeak out a win over their hated rival from the detestable Southern Part of the State, a team whose name is literally synonymous with evasion and cowardice. Watching a slow-motion replay of our heroic pitcher’s delivery, Aunt Lumpy wondered aloud “how do these guys not hurt themselves every game?” Now comes Gil Thorp, who is putting True Standish in as pitcher. You remember True Standish — the phenomenal nationally-ranked quarterback who has a scholarship lock at any college he chooses? The guy who led the Mudlarks to their first state championship since the Pleistocene? Accident-prone True Standish?

True to form, Gil cannot find a way to care about the kid’s welfare or future — his mind is all on wrapping up this interview and rushing over to his chiropractor’s office.

Mark Trail, 4/24/15

Wallace Wood “just wants one good year selling his lumber” so he can ask Susan to marry him. But ha ha, Nature hates Wally, and is determined to ruin his life. Parasitoids got the emerald ash borers under control? No problem, we’ll burn his trees to the ground. Fire goes out? No problem, we’ll get those beavers to put his land under water. Breach in the dam? Ha! That wolf will just stone-cold attack and eat Wally. Wally escapes the wolf? No prob, we’ve got a moose around here somewhere.

Find yourself a nice city fella, Susan.

Sherman’s Lagoon, 4/24/15

OK OK OK so Team Sherman here narrowly beat Paul Allen’s sub to sunken WWII battleship Musashi. They found the keys still in the ignition, and it started right up! But Allen’s research vessel, incomprehensibly armed, is closing in fast.

Allen, of course, owns the Seattle Seahawks, hated rival of our beloved local National Football League team, so I’m kinda hoping maybe the Musashi’s guns work, too? Is that so wrong?

Just a reminder that there is no Comment of the Week when I sit in — Enlong’s gem gets to ride up top a little longer.

–Uncle Lumpy

Watch out, girl, he’s got a teddy bear

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Curtis, 4/23/15

When you create a character who is as unlikeable as oh, say, Ed Crankshaft, from time to time you have to fake up some appealing qualities or history so the audience doesn’t come to its senses and give up on the strip entirely. So here comes “Backstabbin’ Bedwetter” Barry Wilkins — who can singlehandedly make you feel sorry for his brother Curtis — totin’ Teddy and talkin’ tough, ready for redemption.

There’s no precedent at all for Barry’s altruism — he was just as bored/disgusted by his brother’s romantic aspirations in Tuesday’s strip as he ever was, and nothing changed on Wednesday. There won’t be any consequences, either — Barry will be just as hateful as ever the next time we check in on him. It’s just time for a quick karma rinse-and-run.

I’ll take it all back if Michelle falls hopelessly in love with him.

Mary Worth, 4/23/15

NO NO NO TERRY DON’T DO IT YOU CAN NEVER GO BACK. Aw crud – gave it up, and for nothing.

A small irony here is that Terry Bryson was introduced to the strip as a privacy consultant who helped Toby Cameron understand how to defend herself against intrusions into her confidential personal and financial information, and that people shouldn’t be dopes. Well, Terry, you can kiss your own precious privacy goodbye. Dope.

B.C., 4/23/15

Oh boy — the long-awaited B.C./Crankshaft crossover.

Shoe, 4/23/15

I know Shoe is sort of the go-to strip for avian reproductive humor, but eww.

–Uncle Lumpy