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Inferno Tuesday

Mark Trail, 9/16/14

When you think of Mark Trail besting his enemies, you obviously think about punching. There is however a lesser known but still very effective Mark Trail Power Move, and that’s when he rescues his enemies from mortal danger, thus humiliating them. This mortal danger generally takes the form of fiery car destruction caused by the very sort of animal the villain wronged. In this case, Ol’ “Dirty”’s truck was forced off a cliff by a herd of rhinos, no doubt in revenge for all the vicious horn-poaching he dished out on their kin. Mark’s melodramatic pleas for Chris to not die are frankly just metaphorical salt in his metaphorical wounds (as opposed to his actual wounds, which are no doubt plentiful but probably more rubbed with burning motor oil and dirt than salt).

Gil Thorp, 9/16/14

Meanwhile, over in Gil Thorp it’s time for the annual bonfire! God, if there’s one thing we can count on in this crazy mixed-up world, it’s the annual Mudlark bonfire, where players are presented to the screaming multitude, where the masses bay incoherently in their lust for blood, where fists are raised in ritualistic threats of violence, where players stake their very souls on promises of victory, where Coach Thorp basks in the otherworldly glow, where foreigners become citizens of Mudlark Nation, where young women are hurtled into the air to resemble the wrathful Valkyries of old. Anyway, this year someone who I’m pretty sure is “Jarrod,” still tenuously holding onto the starting quarterback job, is trying to cement his leadership role with a crazy-eyed rant in which he promises to crush Milford’s traditional rival. True Standish is more mellow. “Probably some EPA regulation,” he says, explaining why his previous school didn’t burn a massive pile of perfectly good timber in order to propitiate the worship-hungry Gods of Victory. Of course, the EPA is a federal agency and its regulations apply to the entire country, but it’s likely that the U.S. government long ago declared Milford a “purge zone” where laws don’t apply, in hopes that its inhabitants would finish each other off with violence and/or pollution and not trouble the rest of us.

Pluggers, 9/16/14

Meanwhile, today’s Pluggers shows us what happens when a population voluntarily cuts itself off from the recreational habits and cultural output of society at large without having the numbers or creative capacity to come up with an alternative entertainment industry. Once you’ve rejected recreational drugs as scary and bad, books as fit only for snobs, and all television and movies produced since 1975 as devilment, how else are you supposed to keep yourself entertained?

Mary Worth, 9/16/14

The Mary Worth creative team knows you need a breather between the excitement of “Mary and Toby talk about Olive” and whatever thrill ride is coming up next, so they’ve provided today’s strip, in which you can read the dullest conversation ever included in an ostensible entertainment product and just relax a bit. Mary is so bored that she looks like she’s trying out a little plugger-style eyeball fun in panel one.

Heathcliff, 9/16/14

Hey, remember when vuvuzelas were a thing people made jokes about, four years ago?

MaryLou’s funereal ensemble is not helping

Momma, 9/15/14

I don’t mean to intensely overanalyze a few stray sentences in an ephemeral work of art … no, wait, it turns out that’s exactly what this blog is for, so I think I’ll do exactly that with today’s Momma! Anyway, I find Momma’s pronoun use somewhat unsettling in this strip. Perhaps MaryLou’s line was originally “I’d like to eat dinner out for a change,” with dinner cut for space reasons, but as it stands Momma is resolutely refusing to explain to her daughter what, exactly, she will be required to eat, and it’s freaking me out. There is only the mysterious, terrifying it. “Too late! It’s ready to eat. You’ll hate it … but you’ll EAT it. Don’t you understand? IT must be C O N S U M E D”

Shoe, 9/15/14

I have to say that I appreciate the fact that there’s a banner halitosis headline on the front page of today’s Treetop Tribune health section, as the Perfesser’s question thus actually sort of makes sense in context now, rather than just being an off-the-cuff joke setup. Maybe Tribune staffers are being tasked with starting real-life “viral” conversations about the paper’s content, in order to compete with these newfangled internet sites and their social media reach? Anyway, Biz the cantankerous old bird-man is chiefly concerned with not dying, so maybe, considering audience demographics for print newspapers, the Tribune health editor ought to be assigning more stories on that topic.

Funky Winkerbean, 9/15/14

Way back in the mists of time, Bull Bushka was not the amiable if slightly dim fellow who appears in the current iteration of the strip, but rather a vicious bully whose narrative purpose was to make Les’s life miserable. Anyway, it’s good to see that, despite his change of heart, he still likes to pull elaborate little pranks to make teenagers feel terrible about themselves.

Sunday panels

Panel from the Lockhorns, 9/14/14

One of the things I like about the Lockhorns is the work ethic implied by the format of its Sunday installments: instead of using the extra space to do larger, more expressive, possibly multipanel strip, or just being lazy and doing one enormous panel, the Lockhorns creative team just churns out five more Lockhorns, each of which could stand on its own in a daily panel, because, fuck it, making more Lockhorns is our job, right? Anyway, this panel from today is close to the ultimate Lockhorns installment. “Marriage is like a perpetual I.R.S. audit,” Leroy says, and no detail (Loretta probing into the family finances, say) is provided to imply that this is part of some vaguely clever metaphor; “I.R.S. audit” here is just literally a synonym for “something unpleasant.” That’s the next, and presumably final, step: every Lockhorns strip, regardless of the setting or action, just having the caption “Marriage is unpleasant.”

Panels from Marvin, 9/14/14

Meanwhile, something profoundly unpleasant seems to have recently happened in the throwaway panels of Marvin. In panel one, the whole family, including Marvin, is sporting, grim, thousand-mile stares; in panel two, Marvin sits alone in the Punishment Corner. Does the level of distress on display here mean that whatever transpired was much worse than Marvin’s usual poop-related antics? (No, of course not, Marvin’s bowel movements are the stuff of the worst kind of nightmare.)