Rex Morgan, M.D., 4/25/16
The novel I finished last year, The Enthusiast, is about, among other things, surreptitious marketing — marketing that doesn’t look like marketing, things that come together behind the scenes, things that look like coincidences but are secretly orchestrated by cunning agents working to push their clients’ wares. So, for instance, in the world of The Enthusiast, the fact that a beloved soap opera strip character is suddenly selling her book right around the time that I’m trying to sell my book, which has an entire plot about soap opera comic strips, would be no accident, but would’ve been carefully orchestrated in secret. In real life, of course, it’s a total coincidence. Do you think we’d be talking about Sarah’s dumb horsey book and not neighborhood pinhead Franco Wallace if I had that kind of pull? Come on now.
But, since the topic has been presented to us, I might as well talk a little about book marketing. Namely, my book was funded by a Kickstarter and I don’t really have a marketing team! Sarah and Dolly Pierpont don’t have a traditional marketing team either, of course, just a network of thuggish mob enforcers wandering into museums everywhere and noting idly that this new horsey book is available and would be real good seller if it were displayed prominently in the gift shop and it would be a shame if someone accidentally soaked all those Dutch Masters hanging in the east wing in kerosene and set them on fire. My only mob enforcers are you, my faithful readers, and I implore you to spread the word about The Enthusiast not with violence, but with enthusiasm! Tell your book club! Post the link on your Facebook wall! Have me on your podcast, or radio show, or daytime television program! I promise I’m pretty funny and personable. And come to my book tour, if you’re in Washington, D.C., (tomorrow!) or Baltimore (Thursday!) or New York City (next Monday!) or Buffalo (next Wednesday!), and bring a friend or three! Let’s show these gangsters the right (i.e., significantly less profitable) way to market a book.
The Lockhorns, 4/25/16
Oh, don’t worry, Loretta, he meant it in a weird “alone together in a featureless void where time has no meaning and your very corporeal form begins to bleed into nothingness around the edges but your soul remains eternally locked in a hateful relationship with your spouse who you can never leave or avoid or be apart from for a single moment” way!
Dick Tracy, 4/13/16
If there’s one thing we associate with Dick Tracy, it’s gruesome, authoritarian violence, but if there’s one other thing we associate with Dick Tracy, it’s oddly-shaped criminals with really on-the-nose names. But generally those names have at least a bit of fun wordplay involved. Like Professor Glitch! See, because he works with computers, and computers have glitches, sometimes! Or Matty Squared, who appears to be some kind of artificial intelligence housed in a basically square casing! That’s why I’m actively offended by the current boss of the strip’s bad guy hierarchy, Mr. Bribery. See, they call him that because he … bribes people? I assume? I actually don’t think we’ve ever seen him bribe anybody. Is supposed to be … ironic? Maybe?
I’m pretty sure that this joke would work better if Leroy were actually smiling. But then, this may just be a case where Loretta’s long experience with Leroy’s misery blinds her to what others see. She can parse where Leroy is on his emotional spectrum, which ranges from “suicidally miserable” to “briefly capable of seeing how a third party might enjoy my life as an ironic farce,” but to everyone else, a crumplefrown is just a crumplefrown.
Judge Parker, 4/13/16
This whole is-Rocky-cheating-on-Godiva-or-isn’t-he plot has been super boring, mostly because it’s all taken place off panel while our heroes endlessly rehash their limited information on the subject. I would argue that the way to jazz it up would be to actually show us what Rocky’s up to, and not, in the direction that we appear to be going here, to have the characters endlessly rehash their limited information on the subject while casually taking off their shirts.
Mary Worth, 4/13/16
WHEW, FALSE ALARM EVERYBODY
HARLAN JONES IS HETEROSEXUAL, BEREAVED, AND OWNS AN ADORABLE DOG
STUDENT-TEACHER MACKING MAY COMMENCE
(the less said about this strip’s first-ever attempt to depict Dawn’s boobs, and to do so from a “dog’s-eye view,” the better)
You know, last week when I accidentally mistook this storyline’s antagonist for Dr. Strange, some people got mad at me. How dare I call myself the Comics Curmudgeon when I can’t even properly curmudgeon about prominent comics characters! Well, joke’s on you people: I care a million times more about Mary Worth than I do about anything that happened in a superhero comic book ever. The fun thing about reading Newspaper Spider-Man for me is having really no preconceptions about what exactly is supposed to be happening at any given moment. Like, if I had been paying attention to the Marvel universe at all the I wouldn’t have the joyful moment of discovery today when I learned that Dr. Strange’s name is Stephen. Steve! Steve Strange! Oh, this is a delight.
Mary Worth, 3/4/16
“That’s great, Mary, great. You always have friends. I never have to worry about you being lonely. I just, sometimes … how come nobody ever worries about me? Poor, lonely Dr. Jeff. You were gone, what, six weeks? Eight? I just … I get tired, you know. Tired of this life. I gotta … I’m just gonna rest my forehead on the steering wheel for a few minutes. Just rest my eyes. Wave the other cars around us, OK?”
Mark Trail, 3/4/16
“I meant … I meant sex, OK? I regret it now. It’s stupid and I regret it. I don’t want to die in a cave!” [sobbing]
The Lockhorns, 3/4/16
If there aren’t a half-dozen improv teams named Drunk Leroy Lockhorn formed by the middle of next week, I’m going to be very disappointed.