Usually we blame media desensitization for making The Kids Today numb to depictions of gruesome violence and wanton sexuality, and therefore more prone to accept or even participate in gruesome violence or wanton sexuality. But today’s Curtis presses the argument further, positing that such content more generally kills the human capacity for empathy, leaving Curtis unable to appreciate the human tragedy that has befallen his father’s mildly irritating co-worker. Either that, or he’s been watching CNBC and The Boiler Room nonstop, leaving him inured to instances of financial suffering in particular. But as is often the case with media panic, maybe we should look away from the television screen to find the origins of human cruelty: with vicious epithets like “muttonhead” in common use in the Wilkins household, it’s no wonder Curtis has built an emotional barrier between himself and the pain felt by others.
Judge Parker, 6/6/13
Judge Parker has taken a step away from “Neddy’s friends’ kidnapping crisis may be a grift” to return to its other storyline, “Judge Parker Senior and Mrs. Judge Parker Senior’s marriage is in trouble.” Today we learn the main thing they’ll fight over in the divorce trial: rights to this terrible and almost certainly highly lucrative screenplay.
I confess that baby-talk drives me nuts, even when spoken by parents to children or by actual babies — don’t get me started on adults using it with one another. I stay away from the otherwise appealing Mutts to avoid that damn lishping cat, or dog, I don’t know, I don’t care, I won’t look. So “Gwanpa” here really sets my teeth on edge. It’s not even good baby talk with that awkward N-to-P transition, and it neglects fine alternatives like Grampa or Pop-Pop that children actually use and would work really well here. Repeating the offense six times in panel nine just twists the knife.
But credit Curtis for unleashing a terrifying hallucinatory vision on a par with Funky Winkerbean‘s Rust Belt hellscape. Who wouldn’t bolt screaming from hundreds of Curtises (Curtes? Curtides?) invading your home and swarming your comfy chair, wormlike Curtid fingers rifling through your pockets for money and smokes to the pounding rhythms of “rap” music? Why are there so many, all the same age? What do their hat colors mean? And not least, how did Curtis père ever convince some poor girl to mate with him, possibly more than once? Because if that’s the kind of world we live in, I’m pulling my wool cap down over my shiny pate and going right back to bed, nightmares or no.
Judge Parker, 5/19/13
I confess I didn’t expect Judge Parker to be so fastidious in maintaining continuity. In a strip that drips out plot points like bitumen, it would be easy to dump details like the elder Parkers’ marital frictions or April’s dead Dad down the oubliette, trusting that only a handful of lunatic obsessives would ever call them on it. But courtesy of Katherine’s suspicious nature and acid tongue, here they are front and center.
Early “tomorrow”, half of the Parker-Driver universe will set sail for Randy’s and April’s Acapulco crowd-nuptial, leaving the other half at Spencer Farms to grapple with Neddy’s Ross-Thalia Niger kidnapping con. How delightful would it be if April’s shadowy dad is alive and running the kidnapping ring/con game from his seat at the rehearsal dinner? Both plots could then collapse on one another in a melee of shouted accusations, tearing hair, and gunfire, from which the Parker-Drivers would somehow emerge carrying huge bags of cash.
I confess to having been MORE THAN A LITTLE irritated with The Phantom for breaking off its Sunday series featuring crush object/murderess Savarna so quickly. But here’s Lee Falk’s other comics hero Mandrake, and he brought crush object Narda along, so I guess all is forgiven.
The story itself is, obviously, completely nuts. To safeguard the gold being trickled out of Cockaigne in cruise ships, the Walkers and the The_Magicians are embarking on a “Masquerade Cruise” that requires them to go around in different costumes every day as they browse the ship’s theaters, buffet tables, and slots parlors. Day 1 won’t be a problem, of course — they can just show up in their own outrageous get-up. But around Day 5 we should see the Phantom skulking in the shadows dressed as Marie Antoinette, and “Super Mario Brother” Mandrake gesturing hypnotically at Rainbow Brite. The “girls” will at some point dress as the Phantom and Mandrake, leading to some fun sexytimes below decks.
The cruise ship is, of course, headed for Acapulco, which means the gold of Cockaigne will wind up with the Parker-Spencers, unless of course April’s dad steals it first.
Dick Tracy, 5/19/13
Update: Dr. Sail’s experiment is confirmed as Insect-Kewpie Mysta “Moon Maid” Tracy — cue Junior Tracy marital discord and ’70′s-era madness. It’s not yet clear how the Parker-Drivers will make a buck off this.
That’s it for me, folks — look for Josh to return on Monday with a new round of comics and your Comments of the Week. Thanks for a fun time, and your generous response to the spring fundraiser — see you next time!
– Uncle Lumpy
Mark Trail, 5/18/13
Girl fight Girl fight GIRL FIGHT!!!
Mark Trail is a pretty punchy guy, as you can tell from this collection of a few of his greatest hits. But Cherry, despite her reputation as a coffee-and-pancake-bearing hausfrau, is actually quite the little badass herself. Our gal can cinch up a pack mule, nail a beer can dead center in mid-air with a rifle no sissy shotgun for her no sir — and look damn fine doing it. As we see here, she can also slap the clear light of reason right back into an effete city-dwelling hysteric overcome by panic over some teensy forest-consuming sea of fire.
Or maybe not? Maybe Cherry isn’t trying to focus Shelley’s attention so much as rebuke her for disrespecting Wes? “Don’t you dare speak that way about your husband, Mrs. Wesley Thompson — what part of ‘Love, Honor, and Obey’ don’t you understand? And my own husband Mark loves these backwoods, ablaze or not: I will not stand for you to call them ‘stupid.’” Maybe behind all her woodsy competence, Cherry really is that traditional hausfrau, impatient for this annoying inferno to end so she can get back to her man’s side where she belongs?
Nah, I’m going with “badass.”
Curtis struck a pose for his class picture so outrageous that even Chutney, despite her lifelong crush on him, doesn’t want a copy. But this strip works another way, too: on the very day Chutney finally decides to put Curtis behind her, he shows up with a photo of himself as a gift. She savors the moment and the memory of what felt like love for so long, then, true to her decision, sends him on his way — a loser in every important sense of the word.
Unfortunately, that would make Barry the strip’s principal character, and I’m pretty sure nobody wants that.
Mary Worth, 5/18/13
Oh man you guys Mary Worth has been such a garden of visual delights lately I can’t get enough of it. Check out the disembodied hand watering Elinor’s windowsill — maybe that’s Beth’s leftover hand from panel two? Speaking of which, our monopod young lovers may as well wrap up their tryst — those bushes have already engulfed Tom’s private parts.
Wizard of Id, 5/18/13
Opening for Bung at the Laugh Zone tonight will be Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart singing The Whisky Ain’t Workin’.” Frankly, it’s not doing much for The Wizard of Id, either.
Family Circus, 5/18/13
“It’s a nice day.”
“I like ice cream.”
“It is pleasant to be outdoors this time of year.”
“Punchlines are overrated.”
– Uncle Lumpy
Dennis the Menace, 3/18/13
Oh, man, the knowing glances Dennis and Mrs. Wilson are exchanging here speak volumes. Mr. Wilson’s look of peaceful repose, hands crossed contentedly over his chest, can only mean one thing: he’s been dead for months, and Mrs. Wilson hasn’t told anyone so she can keep collecting those sweet Postal Service pension checks. Dennis found out, naturally, but just as naturally is happy to keep her secret, as long as Mrs. Wilson keeps the cookies coming. Preserving Mr. Wilson’s corpse through some no doubt ghastly home mortuary science was not strictly necessary for running the scam, of course; that’s just to allow Mrs. Wilson and Dennis to glory in their satisfaction at the old crank’s death.
Seeing as 90% of Curtis strips are variations on the same five or six jokes, I would not have picked it as the first newspaper comic to use the resignation of Pope Benedict as fodder for a punchline. Only five weeks after he quit, too! In the world of syndicated comic strips, that’s an amount of time that can only be detected with the most delicate of scientific instruments.
Slylock Fox, 3/18/13
More haunting evidence of the terrible cataclysm that wiped out humankind and left Earth in the
hands paws of sentient beasts: although New York survived more or less intact, elsewhere whole mountain ranges were submerged by massive flooding. Typically, these creatures may be wearing hats and sailing boats and thinking they’re the ones in charge, but they’re still very keen to dig up some of the valuable remnants of the far superior civilization produced by the late lamented Homo sapiens.
This camel is outraged that a bird wants to use his hump for sex.
It’s nice to see that Heathcliff and his owner went through the trouble of putting up a festive banner in their living room, to create some holiday context for just staying home and getting bombed out of their skulls.
Panel from Slylock Fox, 2/10/13
Guys, it’s been a long time since we’ve checked in with Slylock and Cassandra Cat’s wrong-side-of-the-law romance. So, what’s up? Hmm, it seems that Cassandra has drunkenly driven up on Sly’s lawn in the middle of the night, and is now making up a fairly pathetic story about why exactly she’s there. “I just … I just happened to be driving this way and then … this squirrel, Granny Squirrel, I always knew she was trouble, she just … she just ran me right off the road! Do you live here? I didn’t even know you lived here. I must have forgotten, or whatever. Oh, hi, Max, you’re here too, I guess that’s not a surprise. Anyhoooo, I gotta … lemme just put this into reverse … unless … you want me to stay? I could … I mean, of course not, God, I’m so stupid, let me just … [weeping]”
Funky Winkerbean, 2/10/13
I know it seems kind of dumb to say this, but … I’m kind of worried about Funky Winkerbean? Like, look, it snowed, and there’s a flurry of activity and people are shoveling out and then A SAD OLD MAN SITS IN A DARKENED ROOM IN A WHEELCHAIR ALONE, LOOKING DOWN AT EVERYTHING HE CAN’T PARTICIPATE IN BECAUSE HE HAD A STROKE. I mean, that’s the punchline. That’s the punchline. This is one of those moments where I think, “Oh, is my stock joke about one of the strips I cover really accurate?” and then realize “Yes, it’s more horribly accurate than I could ever have wanted it to be.”
Whoa, instead of doing a boring old report about some guy he looked up on Wikipedia, Curtis wrote a media studies paper, examining racial attitudes in the United States through the lens of popular cinema! Sadly, this probably will in fact get him in trouble in elementary school.
Better Half, 1/4/13
Here’s a fun fact, if by “fun” you mean “soul-shattering”: there is a rare condition called the Capgras delusion, in which the sufferer suddenly becomes convinced that a loved one — often a spouse or parent — has been replaced by an impostor. I’ve always been irrationally fearful of developing this myself, and have wondered if just knowing that the condition exists is enough to keep it at bay or at least understand what’s happening if it occurs, or if the delusion is so powerful that all rational thoughts flee your mind and your life becomes an unending paranoid horror. Anyway, Harriet seems to have been seized with this terrible mental illness and is demanding desperate measures to try to hold onto some tiny shred of reality, or maybe she’s just being extremely sarcastic how Stanley has become such an unattractive loser.
Dick Tracy, 1/4/13
Oops, I forgot to catch up on Christmas-week developments in Dick Tracy’s “costumed vigilante” plot, but I guess I don’t need to now because today’s strip provides a wall of text that gets us all pretty much up to date. Thanks, wall of text! I’m more concerned about that shadow lurking behind Dick, though, which may presage how he’ll adapt to the costumed chaos in his fair city. Has the new Dick Tracy creative team spent month meticulously recreating the classic vibe of the original strip, just so that they can abruptly turn it into a Batman comic when their editors stop paying attention to them?
Mary Worth, 1/4/13
Yup, those cake pics you’re looking at sure reflect the beauty of nature, Mr. Dill! With their … pink and white frosting … and garlands … and such. Yeah. Nature cakes. Hoo boy. This guy’s screwed. You’ve shackled yourself to a loser, Mary, do you hear me? A loser!
I was going to complain that this year’s Curtis Kwanzaa tale wasn’t insane enough, but that was before an adorable tiny primate stone cold stabbed a lady in the neck.