Comics are an incredibly conservative art form — not necessarily in a political or ideological sense, but in that they preserve visual tropes from the comics that current artists grew up with, thus sometimes presenting a world that vanished long ago. Thus, just as Dagwood’s suburban neighborhood is lousy with semi-feral dogs, so does Heathcliff view going to the bathroom as a primarily outside activity. This was the the norm for pet cats for most of their millennia-long period of domestication, but with the invention of clay kitty litter nearly 70 years ago, the idea of a cat doing its business inside the house became … well, significantly less worthy of a joke in a cat-themed comic, let’s just say that.
Funky Winkerbean and Dick Tracy, 1/22/15
The intrusion of Dick Tracy into the Funkyverse is having interesting effects on the Funky-space-time continuum. This reality has already been able to accommodate multiple discontinuous time-tracks, as seen by the apparent coexistence of the Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft timelines 10 years apart, with the one only occasionally bleeding into the other. But now with Dick and Sam in town, the timeline seems to have rapidly bifurcated into two closely linked parallel streams: in one, they crack vaguely wise at one another about comic books; in the other, they growl menacingly about how they totally have the right to just shoot this guy in the gut for “resisting arrest.”
Slylock Fox, 1/14/15
I’ve spent literally years contemplating the strange, animal-dominated world of Slylock Fox, wondering about the terrible, transformative Event that separates it from ours. The lens I’ve seen things through has usually been scientific, but what if I should be thinking theologically instead? In the Genesis flood narrative, God famously promises Noah that He won’t destroy the world with a flood again, which is pretty specific and seems to leave some loopholes. The spiritual “Mary Don’t You Weep” famously warns “God gave Noah the rainbow sign/ no more water/ the fire next time,” but God’s ways aren’t necessarily what we would expect. What if God chose to cleanse Earth of awful humanity by simply moving his favor down a rung to the animals, transforming them into beings capable of both moral reasoning and displacing us? If that was the goal — if Slylock Fox’s anthropomorphic beasts were an attempt at resetting the clock and creating a new Eden — then today’s strip reminds us that the fatal flaw, the indelible link between knowledge and sin, was baked into the design from the beginning.
Dick Tracy, 1/14/15
Aw, it’s funny because patriarchy dictates that detective prowess, like names, can only be transmitted down the male line! And also because none of these clowns are going to be the world’s greatest detective. Batman is the world’s greatest detective. Seriously, wouldn’t it be funny if they did a Batman movie where Batman was dressed up in a rubber bat suit but instead of punching bad guys and driving around in a tank-car he just looked for clues with a magnifying glass? It’d be a lot more entertaining than whatever they’ve got planned for Ben Affleck, that’s for sure.
Sure, you could look at this as Heathcliff just reusing the exact same joke twice in six days. But I choose to imagine that Heathcliff has been clawing viciously at the bars of the bird’s cage for nearly a week now, while his owner-family does nothing, leaving the bird to crazed with terror but still clinging to the household etiquette rules.
Apartment 3-G, 1/14/15
“Meanwhile, at two in the morning, after having been exiled from their home by Margo’s drug-powered mania, the girls wander the streets of Manhattan (?), talking to each other vaguely.”
Gil Thorp, 1/12/15
There’s been a definite and sad decline in the number of Marty Moon plotlines in Gil Thorp lately, which is really too bad because he’s an amazing character who’s engaged in lots of fun hijinks over the years. Like the time he got grifted at golf by a Ben Franklin lookalike and ended up passing out drunk in his car, or when he had a public access TV show dedicated entirely to talking smack about Gil but then his bosses got tired of his routine and replaced him with a pair of dumb teens. He even once pretended to be a kid’s dad, in order to trick Social Services into believing that kid had a stable home life! But lately he’s been reduced to asking Gil occasional pointed questions and doing his play-by-play from a inside a wooden packing crate. So I’m excited about Gil warning his naive young player about Marty’s unscrupulous journalistic practices, because hopefully that means we’re going to be treated to some actual unscrupulous journalistic practices, or at least Gil rousting himself from his usual ennui to yell at Marty Moon for perceived transgressions.
Mark Trail, 1/12/15
Just based on this strip you might think this alligator attacking Bald Ponytail False Flag Ecoterrorist is some kind of coincidence, but in fact Mark spent most of last week carefully luring this villain to an “alligator mound,” which I guess is a mound that … alligators … live … in or near, or something, and as someone who gets most of his nature info from Mark Trail, I’m going to go ahead and believe this is a Real Thing. Anyhoo, I’m a little disappointed that our baddie has turned into a stiff, expressionless Ken doll at the moment the beautiful and violent alligator lunges at him, but I am quite charmed by the evocative final panel, as his useless pistol falls to the earth while he’s presumably being devoured off-panel.
Apartment 3-G, 1/12/15
There was a point, early in this blog, where I used to do some jokes about how Margo loves cocaine. It never really became that much of a running bit, but, just for the record, she still really loves cocaine.
If being rolled up into a giant Wicker Man-style effigy made out of snow and worshipped like a god by mice is wrong, then Heathcliff doesn’t want to be right.