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“MacDonald’s,” yes, that’s part of Ian’s Scottish heritage

Mary Worth, 8/4/15

I’ve gone through a lot of fads and obsessions over the eleven (!) years I’ve been writing this blog, but Mary Worth is, and always has been, my lodestar. A quick peek at my stats shows that fully a quarter of the posts I’ve ever written discuss this strip. And you know what? It deserves all the attention. Today’s strip, in two efficient panels, encapsulates everything great about it: the overblown narration box, the crazy dutch angles in panel one as Ian pulls his hair out in consternation, and Toby’s twisted rage-face making her look like she’s planning on slitting Ian’s throat with that X-Acto knife. All this drama, of course, is turning on a relatively minor dispute, which could be resolved in one of several wholly acceptable ways — Ian could apologize and reschedule, Ian could cook something simple himself, Ian could explain his own error and ask the University Director what kind of takeout he’d like. But no, the Camerons have mutually and angrily decided to spin a terrible web of lies, in which Toby will attempt to pass off restaurant takeout food as her own, for literally no good reason at all. We can only hope this all unravels terribly and violently over dinner and Ian’s quest for academic advancement is ruined, ruined, but no matter what I am salivating to see what comes next, just as Ian probably is at the thought of takeout food.

Judge Parker, 8/4/15

Judge Parker’s joys are more subtle, but still worth savoring. Obviously when Sam’s close personal new friend (with whom he will never interact again, not once) gave him a skeet gun as a gift, it was a $20,000 Italian skeet gun. Unlike Sophie, I have no desire to Google anything about skeet gun models or their cost or nation of manufacture, so I’m just going to enjoy Sam’s rapid change of heart between panels one and two. “Hey, Sophie, this’ll be a chance for us to bond, and … wait, it cost how much? Yeah, keep your grubby hands off my high-quality, luxurious gun.”

Rex Morgan, M.D., 8/4/15

Speaking of class war, I too like my whiskey neat, and one of my go-to jokes about that is to say “in a glass” when people ask me how I like it — a joke I will now immediately stop making after seeing an addled British aristocrat say it in a soap opera comic strip. I’m pretty sure our put-upon servant is wearing gloves so that he doesn’t leave prints when he eventually throttles Avery.

Hi and Lois, 8/4/15

Having Lois’s head stick appear in front of the bottom of Dot’s word balloon is an interesting visual choice, but the fact that said word balloon covers up the house shutters makes it look like Lois is sticking her head right through that window. Anyway, I’m focusing on this minutia because I don’t want to deal with the fact that Hi and Lois’s long marriage is riddled with lies and deception.

Pluggers, 8/4/15

GOD DAMN IT PLUGGERS I’M NOT A HUGE FAN OF THE BIG BANG THEORY OR ANYTHING BUT IT’S BEEN ONE OF THE HIGHEST-RATED SHOWS ON TV FOR EIGHT YEARS. THERE’S NO WAY IT CAN BE DESCRIBED AS “THE LATEST” ANYTHING. EIGHT GODDAMN YEAAAAARRRRRSSSS

Margo, as is her wont, soothes herself by wandering around a classic car show

Dennis the Menace, 8/3/15

You know, my usual schtick with Dennis the Menace is to reinterpret innocent kid whimsy as something more adult and unsettling and slap a “menacing rating” on it, but, you know what? Today the strip’s doing it for me. Dennis has learned that if he preys on other people’s vanities and insecurities, he can get things from them. And from his facial expression, he’s not conflicted about this at all. It’s great! It’s also extremely menacing. He’s a straight up sociopath!

Crankshaft, 8/3/15

Meanwhile, today’s Crankshaft has decided to bypass a punchline more or less entirely and just go for straight up ennui. Ha ha, it’s funny because Lilian (or is it Lucy, I can’t keep them straight) uses a turn of phrase the girls don’t understand, and they just stare at her blankly, a widening gulf between them mocking everybody’s attempt to have a single moment of human connection!

Apartment 3-G, 8/3/15

I always assume that Margo is terrible at all the aspirational creative service industry jobs she tackles — publicist, art gallery owner, etc. — but being a wedding planner seems like the one that would be least up her alley. After all, weddings involve human affection, which is anathema to her. Just look at these panels! She makes a start at figuring out how she can help her parents finally establish the permanent partnership that has eluded them all their lives, but by panel two all she’s thinking is REVENGE REVENGE REVENGE

Funky Winkerbean, 8/3/15

Yes! Crazy Harry has brought an advanced piece of 21st century technology back to his high school days! The timestream’s going to be totally disrupted! The sadness-spiral Funkyverse we all know and loathe will never have existed.

Ugh, building a private skeet range at Spencer Farms is going to cost a mint

Judge Parker, 8/2/15

Oh, hey, remember like three and a half months ago (honestly, doesn’t it seem like longer? It seems like a lot longer) when Sam and Dalton where mortal enemies? Welp, now they’re best of friends, and Dalton is just handing over some firearms, as show of fealty. I’m gonna gloss over my coastal liberal anxieties about “licenses” and “permits” and that sort of jive and just focus on the fact that Judge Parker, the soap opera strip where literally nothing ever happens and it happens extremely slowly, is going to be the ultimate test of the Chekhov’s Gun principle. Perhaps it will need to be rewritten for this context to something like “If you hand someone a shotgun in the first act, it needs to go off sometime in the next seven to twelve months, or maybe never if you get distracted by something else.”

Funky Winkerbean, 8/2/15

Ha ha, it’s funny because Holly would love her husband more if he were the funny, charming young man he used to be instead of the bitter old grouch he’s become!