Funky Winkerbean, 4/18/14
Oh, whoops, it looks like Jess did read Les’s book after all. It’s just that she thought she could make a documentary that would explore the motivations behind her father’s murder without talking to her father’s murderer! Which seems … like it wouldn’t have worked very well? We learn by doing, I guess!
Anyway, given the air of understandable seriousness in this strip, you’re probably finding the phrase “aka the Plantman” kind of jarring. Well, thanks to faithful reader/novelty Twitter handle owner BatLesMoore, I can now reveal to you the strip where John Darling’s killer tried to take out Les:
Funky Winkerbean, 8/4/97
I have literally no idea what led up to this or followed it — presumably we’ll learn more later in this storyline — but it’s an interesting look at the Funkyverse as it transitioned from zany and whimsical to realistic and grim. Which is a nice way of saying it’s completely bonkers! Les is being tied up and held at gunpoint but a guy dressed up as a plant! I am now very much looking forward to Jess’s jailhouse interview with this maniac. The first question I’m eager to see answered: is he allowed to wear his plant costume in prison, for “religious reasons”?
Another important thing to note about that old strip is that the killer is Peter Mossman, not Pete Moss, and his alter ego was Plantman, not the Plantman, so maybe it’s more accurate to say that Jess skimmed Les’s book.
So Momma is hanging out with … Tina? Or some other random young woman who’s never been in the strip before and never will be again? Whatever, the important thing to note is that Francis is so excited about his “theme music” that he’s vibrating like a tuning fork. Psychotic breaks from reality that cause you to believe you’re on a TV show and an unseen audience is watching and enjoying your every move can be fun, kids!
Oh look, it’s Jughead’s cousin/homunculus “Souphead”, who isn’t any more beloved by the people in this comic strip than he is by us! Anyway, the most disturbing thing in this strip is Archie’s throwaway joke in panel one, which I guess is meant to be a gentle jibe but comes across much more harshly to me. “We have too many Jugheads already! The optimal number of Jugheads: zero. Why do you persist in occupying space and time in our universe, and thus resisting our beneficial Jughead-quantity-rationalization program?”
Judge Parker, 4/9/14
Oh hey, in case you were wondering, Randy and April managed to get officially married before the Gardia brothers’ mercenary force arrived by helicopter gunship, firing dozens of air-to-ground missiles into the screaming wedding party. As you can probably tell from the first panel here, Randy and April wrote their own vows, and I have for the most part spared you from their blandness. I’ll just say that I’m a little disappointed that the phrase “on top of a pile of money that people gave us for no good reason” did not appear.
Ha ha, it’s funny because Momma called Francis a tramp! You probably think it’s funny because Momma and/or Mell Lazarus are old and are thus using “tramp” to mean “a person who travels from place to place and does not have a home or much money,” rather than “a woman who has sex with many different men,” which is probably the primary meaning in English today. But considering that Oedipal nightmares are one of this strip’s primary sources of humor, you may be wildly, horribly off-base.
Usually Momma focuses on Momma as an overbearing, controlling monster who insists of being negative about every aspect of her children’s’ lives, and to my mind, the strip doesn’t spend enough time exploring another aspect of her personality: her bottomless greed. She’s often distressed that Francis doesn’t have a good job, or (because of her strict adherence to traditional gender roles) that MaryLou’s suitors don’t have good jobs, and this is generally presented as being an aspect of the whole controlling-her-children’s-lives thing. But as this dream sequence reveals, Momma also just straight up wants money, and since she’s old and unemployable and presumably living on some combination of Social Security and her late husband’s meager pension, her only hope of accessing money comes from her children. I mean, look at this! She’s literally sitting in a boat full of money with dollar signs floating over her head sailing towards what appears to be a gold-plated mansion and she’s never been happier in her life. It’s like she’s in a rap video, for pete’s sake.
None of the Crock characters have anything resembling psychological depth, and Captain Preppie, whose whole personality can be summed up as “Handsome, cartoonishly narcissistic ladies’ man”, is shallower than most. Still, today’s strip is intriguing, exploring what happens to someone like this forced to live for years in an isolated desert fortress. The throwaway panels demonstrate his slide from garden-variety egotism to madness, as his love for his own handsome mug summons up eerie visions of dozens of identical Preppie-faces, grown in petri dishes in some awful lab somewhere. Only marginally less disturbing is the main action, in which the crazed Captain obsessively combs the sand around the fort for imperfections, ranting about “clutter,” while his soldiers look on.
Awww, looks like J.J.J. has decided that Spider-Man is too pathetic to kill! This won’t be the lamest victory Spidey has ever scored, but it’s definitely in the top decile for lameness.