Beetle Bailey, 9/25/16
“Beetle and/or Sarge and/or sometimes one of the other characters dangle helplessly from a tree branch protruding from a cliff” is a common trope in Beetle Bailey, but to my knowledge we’ve never seen what happens before those hilarious hijinks … until now! Apparently they trip over a rock. Or “the rock.” There’s just the one, so well known that it can be used as a landmark. You’d think they’d be better about not tripping over it, to be honest.
Mark Trail, 9/25/16
Look, Woods and Wildlife Magazine has to boost circulation, and they’re going to do it the only way they know how: by upping their Swimsuit Issue to three times a year. If you know a better way to get people to renew than to have Mark and Cherry pose sexily while keeping you up to date on important nature facts about, uh, sand or whatever, let’s hear it.
Peter’s married now and long out of the dating game, but it’s great to see he hasn’t forgotten classics like the old “Ooops, I ‘forgot’ my wallet” maneuver!
The Lockhorns, 9/22/16
It’s actually pretty complicated trying to figure out how old someone is in a legacy comic strip, because you have to juggle a variety of narrative, cultural, and personal cues. Take the title hell-couple in the Lockhorns: they’re a long-time married couple still of working age, so probably no younger than 35 and no older than 55. That’s a span I’m right in the middle of! The seem older to me, because I’ve been reading The Lockhorns on and off since I was a child, plus their character design has been more or less set since they debuted almost 50 years ago, but today’s Leroy Lockhorn, the one who coexists with up-to-the-minute hipster stereotypes like our barista here, came of age in the 1960s at the very earliest. He has never sent or received a telegram in his life. And if he’s like literally every 35-to-55-year-old person I know, he sends text messages all the time. Basically Loretta can’t turn her back on him for more than 15 seconds before he starts just being a dick to someone for no reason.
Mark Trail, 9/22/16
At last, we’ve found out the relevance of this island makeout session from two years ago (strip time)/eleven weeks ago (real time): this couple brought invasive fire ants with them, as passengers on the firewood they burned to warm their writhing bodies. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture keeps a meticulous log of the movement of every vessel everywhere on the seas, and was able to track down the culprits. After twenty hours of interrogation in a black-site USDA detention center in an unnamed Balkan country, our nautical lovebirds confessed to their woodcrime and will, after a tearful hour-long self-criticism session on TV, be sent to the labor camps where all Invasive Species Enablers are detained indefinitely until the War On Gross Bugs finally ends in victory.
Hi and Lois, 9/13/16
One mark of many a sitcom and comic strip with middle-class American characters is the dad working a generic, nonspecific white-collar job at a generic, nonspecific large company of some sort. So shoutout to today’s Hi and Lois for answering multiple decades-old questions in a single strip: Foofram Industries manufactures nuts, bolts, and other fasteners, and Hi is works in its PR department. This should provide lots of opportunities for gags where Hi, dead-eyed and emotionally exhausted, builds up the strength to churn out 500 peppy words about a revolutionary new alloy that Foofram Industries is going to start using in its screws to increase their stress tolerance by a full 8% or whatever. What I’m trying to say is that based on how boring his usual duties must be, Hi should be thrilled about the opportunity to write about something exciting like this lawsuit, which, for the record, Foofram is getting hit with because one of their nuts didn’t fit properly onto one of their bolts, causing the bleachers at a minor league baseball game to collapse, killing twelve people.
Mark Trail, 9/13/16
Having been denied the use of the company credit card to rent a boat, Mark has decided to rent a helicopter (apparently the risk of choppersplosion is already priced into the insurance?) to get to Abbey Powell’s Mysterious Invasive Species Island Which Is Also Volcanic Even Though It’s Near Kauai And Thus Not Really In The Right Spot For That. I’m particularly fond of Mark’s slightly put upon expression in panel three. “Women! Always thinking they’ve discovered signs of invasive species, amiright? And taking so long to get ready for a date? Eh?”
So the tale of the kid who fell asleep on Crankshaft’s bus never … actually got resolved? Last we saw Crankshaft was grouchily driving him home while his mother desperately drove by the bus in the other direction, presumably in a panic that her child had disappeared. Anyway, today it looks like the kid never did get reunited with his family and has had to live on the bus ever since, quietly training himself in the violent arts at night and awaiting his day of vengeance. That day … has arrived.