Sometimes when I take a little break from blogging, I wonder if the comics landscape will have shifted in my absence, leaving me stranded in a world I no longer understand. Fortunately, the newspaper comics industry is incredibly ossified, so I usually have no worries on that score. For instance, Spider-Man is engaged in a battle against a super-villain, and is losing, pathetically, and in need of a bailout from another, better superhero! No changes here! Kingpin is at least being innovative in his attack on Spider-Man: he’s using a laser beam hidden in his cane to defeat the wall-crawler, rather than just bludgeoning him with the cane itself, which would surely have been just as effective and probably a lot more efficient, if less artful.
Apartment 3-G, 5/20/13
Lu Ann clearly did not take the opportunity afforded by my absence to become less of a moron. At first I was confused as to why she would be surprised that Greg, Margo’s client/love slave, was James Bond — surely this isn’t a secret to anyone at this point? But then I saw how she apparently shouldered Margo aside and grabbed hold of her freakishly huge laptop, so now I assume she thinks Greg is trapped inside the screen. “Whoa — is that Greg?! Greg, don’t worry, we’ll get Superman to free you from the Phantom Zone!”
It there’s one thing we can expect from our longrunning legacy comics, it’s that they do a good job of illustrating hoary old humor tropes. Haha, Heathcliff’s owner-boy’s trumpet (?) playing is terrible, resembling a bellow made by a yak! Specifically, a mating bellow made by a yak. Check out the hearts hovering above that yak’s head. It’s attracting yaks … for sex.
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 5/20/13
Like many isolated, desperately poor, undergoverned enclaves, Hootin’ Holler can erupt in vicious, arbitrary violence at any moment.
So ends the Spring 2013 Comics Curmudgeon fundraiser — thank you one and all, generous readers!
What’s that you say? Something along the lines of, “Oh my gosh Uncle Lumpy I was so busy I forgot to contribute and now I not only feel terrible but worse I won’t get an awesome refrigerator magnet and life has no meaning for me anymore and I don’t see how I can go on”? Well, listen, I really shouldn’t do this, but just this once if you click here you can still get to the Fundraiser page, make a contribution (click the banner or the email button), and qualify for your one-of-a-kind Matt Crowe refrigerator magnet. This is just between us, all right? Please don’t tell Josh — I could get in a lot of trouble!
Apartment 3-G, 5/17/13
Peter, get your mind out of your pants and pay attention — Lu Ann just told you all her secrets! Repeat after me: “She can’t remember the last time she had a hot dog with everything.” Jeez, dude.
Funky Winkerbean, 5/17/13
OK, let’s recap a little. Sneery McThumbsup here is Frank “Frankie” Pierce, former football star of Westview High bête noir Big Walnut Tech, who impregnated Les Moore’s first wife Dead Lisa (who was neither married to Les nor dead at the time, as if those are two different things) with Darin in the back of his totally bitchin’ ’70′s van — the one with that sharp knockoff Frank Frazetta mural of the sabretooth tiger and the babe with a spear on the side and the “Don’t Come Knockin’” sticker on the remnants of the rear bumper? Wow, that was a cool van. The mute thug is Leonard “Lenny” Gant, Frank’s accomplice in whatever con he’s running.
Frank, who runs “Astounding Productions” (last big hit: Vans of the ’70′s), came to Westview after seeing a TV news report about Les’s contract to convert his terrible misery porn memoir “Lisa’s Story” into a screenplay featuring excruciating dialogue like, “I can’t pretend to know what you’re going through, but I’m here for you and ready to listen as much as you need, and be your friend even if I haven’t got the right words.”
Frankie’s con cannot possibly be aimed at Darin, who works as the IT and marketing specialist for a pizza parlor (fer Chrissake), has an unemployed pregnant wife, and is therefore so poor he lacks even a van to call his own. So the con must be aimed at Les and his big deal. Will Frankie try to hijack production rights in favor of his own company? Unleash a second version of Les’s travesty upon the world? Block production entirely, claiming that Lisa’s Story somehow defames him and Darin?
To find out, I guess you’ll just have to keep reading — and whatever happens dear reader, even though I can’t pretend to know what you’re going through, I want you to know I’m here for you and ready to listen as much as you need and be your friend, even if I haven’t got the right words. If you need me for anything, I’ll be in my van.
The Comics Curmudgeon has been systematically neglecting Luann as a public service, but I’m obliged to report that Luann is still a thing that exists. The last few weeks’ strips have shown Luann to be a self-absorbed slob whose “friends” don’t really like her and whose “talents” aren’t apparent to anyone outside her own headspace. So yeah, you haven’t missed anything.
Luann schemed to hook up with crush-object Australian stereotype Quill (G’day! Sheila! Barbie! THAT’S a knoyfe!) at summer drama camp. The camp accepted Quill, rejected Luann, and accepted pretty, ambitious go-getter Tiffany, Luann’s hated rival for Quill’s affections. And so here we are.
You know how authors of long-running series grow to resent their protagonists so much they start working to subvert them? Like the way Arthur Conan Doyle “killed” Sherlock Holmes in The Final Problem? Is something like that at work here? Will we see Quill grow to love and respect Tiffany, a centered woman mature beyond her years, unashamed of her desires and undeterred by the spiteful carping of infantile, jealous rivals? Or will it just be more of the same old middle-school tee hee pretend sexxy with Luann? Oh, I think we know the answer to that question!
Mary Worth, 5/17/13
Is there anything more terrifying than Love in Mary Worth? Ignore the saccharine declarations and watch as Tom drags a flailing Beth down Charterstone’s gargantuan sidewalk to a secluded spot where he can wrench her head half off and devour her succulent brain.
Just a reminder — no Comments of the Week on my watch. Look for them Monday when Josh gets back!
– Uncle Lumpy
Click the banner to contribute to the Comics Curmudgeon. Details here.
Oh my gosh you guys! Comics panel hero Matt Crowe, in awe of Comics Curmudgeon readers’ generosity, has agreed to create enough additional Judge Parker and Rex Morgan, M.D. refrigerator magnets to cover the overwhelming demand we’ve experienced. But it’s the final day of the Spring 2013 Fundraiser, so contribute $15 or more now to receive your very own one-of-a-kind comics keepsake. Thank you, generous readers! And hurry!
Sherman’s Lagoon, 5/16/13
Lead characters Sherman the shark and Fillmore the sea turtle have been furloughed from Sherman’s Lagoon due to sequestration budget cuts, leaving Hawthorne the annoying crab and Ernest the generic fish to pick up the slack. Now when I type “Sherman’s Lagoon site:” (just before adding “wikipedia.org” obviously), the Google helpfully completes it as “Sherman’s Lagoon site down”, so maybe Ernest made good on his implied threat to crash the servers?
Anyway, I’m not sure Sherman’s Lagoon will be improved by laying off its main characters, but a lot of other comic strips sure would: imagine 9 Chickweed Lane with Solange the cat free of the other characters’ insufferable yammering, or Mark Trail relaunched as a suave urban romance between Bill Ellis and Kelly Welly — stiff competition for Apartment 3-G, I bet!
It could happen: after all, Snuffy Smith elbowed Barney Google out of his own strip long ago, and Funky Winkerbean‘s eponymous “hero” isn’t much more than an overweight, depressed walk-on anymore. Likewise, Blondie has pretty much morphed into Dagwood, and Sally Forth into Ted.
Badass pirate-fighter Savarna could easily replace the Phantom, who is frankly turning out to be a real wuss. And who wouldn’t prefer reading Terrible Actress Mary Jane Parker to The Amazing Spider-Man? Rebooting Crankshaft as Pam and Jeff could show us the tender rebirth of marital love after the deaths of hated, intrusive parents. Crime-fighting gardener Carlos Alora in Charterstone Confidential could document the seedy underside of America’s retirement communities without some old bat second-guessing his every anguished, ethically dubious move. Helga the Wïdöw could inspire us with the daily struggles of a proud, resourceful woman against the murderous oppressive Viking patriarchy. And finally, clearing all the characters out of Crock (retitled Empty Sahara) would give us a welcome visual and mental break every day.
Hi and Lois, 5/16/13
Awe-struck by the miracle of Creation, Ditto Flagston professes his atheism.
Apartment 3-G, 5/16/13
The Governor of New York is a desperate stalker who talks like a six-year-old and doesn’t need to be in Albany for anything important, no siree. Lu Ann will be right down.
Judge Parker, 5/16/13
Ah, wars interest Sophie (and judging by her jacket she’s backing Team Mali) — but money interests Sam. And he seems pretty darn upset that sometimes it takes months to work out a ransom! Surely a smart lawyer should be able to fix that — think, Sam! There must be a way to accelerate ransom negotiation and delivery to increase hostage-inventory turns and drive up cash flow. Reverse-auction Web portal? Third-party escrow service? Exchange-tradable ransom futures?
All that seems like far, far too much effort to our Sam. No doubt he’ll just fall back on the strip’s traditions and have secretary Gloria Sanchez draft a letter: “Dear Kidnappers — I am Sam Driver of Spencer Farms, Parkerville ST. I have not yet received from you a large suitcase filled with cash, for no reason. Please correct this situation at once! Sincerely, Sam Driver, Esq. PS. My pal Randy Parker says hi and thanks you for his cash.”
“Fedex that tonight, Gloria. Phew, that was a lot of work — Hey Abby, is dinner on yet, or do I have time for another nip of that Shiraz?”
– Uncle Lumpy
Click the banner to contribute to the Comics Curmudgeon. Details here.
Update — Well, we ran out of JP and RMMD magnets mid-afternoon EDT on Tuesday, May 14. Thank you generous (and fast!) readers! Contributors at the $15 level will now receive a favorite Josh panel from the last few months, matted for framing and signed by Josh, or at their option a Margo bracelet. Thanks again!
Hey, it’s the Comics Curmudgeon Spring 2013 Fundraiser! It’s your hard-earned money — squander it here, and receive a one-of-a-kind Judge Parker or Rex Morgan, M.D. refrigerator magnet for contributions of $15 or more. Thank you!
Apartment 3-G, 5/14/13
“You don’t understand, Margo: I don’t want to be transported to the frontiers of ecstasy in the masterful hands of some handsome Italian Lothario — I want to have FUN. With my MOM.”
Meanwhile, Lu Ann sees herself in a mirror!
Ah, but some daughters know what fun is, and a mother’s role in it. As Sonya speaks, Marylou Hobbs imagines herself tanned and radiant in half of her revealing new swimsuit, striding confidently toward her lover across the deck of his yacht lying at anchor in azure waters gleaming under a benevolent Mediterranean sun — her mother nowhere aboard, in mind, or accessible even in the deepest reaches of her memory.
Sonya’s bullying logic shocks her from her reverie, and she struggles to respond:
||“Evaluate the truth-value of the postulate!”
||“Conditional! False for at least one value of X! Specify range of X!”
||“For all values of X, dammit — evaluate for all X!”
||“True, true for all X, oh God yes it’s true I will totally bang any dude with the money to rent a canoe it’s true please let it be true for me just once and free me from this hell … (sob).”
Heathcliff’s campaign to bend mice to his will is well documented, but only now does its purpose become clear. The mice are but pawns in his scheme to scare the neighborhood elephant into wreaking Heathcliff’s terrible vengeance upon the hated dogs. Who will be next? Are we humans safe? I don’t think we’re safe.
Gil Thorp, 5/14/13
Gil Thorp spices up its spring baseball story with a little constitutional law. You know, to make it interesting.
Wizard of Id, 5/14/13
Id spearchuckers have terrifying asses.
– Uncle Lumpy
Apartment 3-G, 5/13/13
Oh, look — the Apartment 3-G creative team is taking a tax-deductible “research” trip to Italy! Oops, I mean — Tommie’s mom is coming back!
You know, for the longest time after A3G debuted in 1961, moms were thin on the ground. Perhaps the proto-moms of that bygone day disapproved of their single daughters living independent lives in the big city (like WHORES). But let a mere half-century flit by and suddenly the joint is crawling with moms: Margo’s eccentric ethnic fortune-telling and/or stuffy whitebread matriarch bio-mom Gabriella, her murderous lunatic stepmom Bobbie, Lu Ann’s colorful Texas bio-mom “Aunt” Ruby and her disdainful rancher stepmother, and now Tommie’s homebody drudge-mom. (Unlike her roommates, Tommie has never been adopted, because duh.)
Watch for Thompson mère et fille to scour Italy for the familiar comforts of home, trudging from McDonald’s to Starbucks to Holiday Inn: “You call this ‘coffee’? Everything here is so old! Forty kinds of pizza and no Chicago-style? What is that, another church? What do you mean, you don’t have meatballs? That statue is buck naked — right out in public! Where’s the ketchup? Why don’t they just speak English? This is nothing like the Bellagio! Well don’t call it a ‘piazza’ if you don’t have anything to eat!”
Marvin disgusts himself, bringing the total to … EVERYBODY.
Slylock Fox, 5/13/13
Slylock — a crack prosecutor as well as detective — always goes the extra mile to keep his indictments entertaining and educational as well as utterly damning to the accused. Look at how engrossed Mr. Turtle is in the fascinating account that will soon cost him his freedom: “Wow, I never knew reptiles like me can’t get fevers — you learn such interesting things in court! I wonder how I came up with that fever story, anyway, if I’ve never had one? Well, there was that one time I scratched myself on the plastic palm tree in my habitat and my shell got all inflamed. I felt really hot and stayed in bed for days! That was when, exactly — late March or something? Hey, do you suppose my lawyer could use that somehow during cross-examination? Where is my lawyer, anyhow? Wait, my lawyer is Max Mouse? I didn’t know defense attorneys could work for the prosecution — that’s two new things I’ve learned today — I’m sure glad I came!”
Mark Trail, 5/13/13
Gah, how much stuff do these people take “camping”? I realize they flew in by seaplane and Shelley likes her comforts and all, but here we’ve got full beds with mattresses and pillows, a cookstove with a 20-pound propane tank, not to mention table, chairs, canopy, rods, waders, and creels, plus Mark’s no-doubt impressive armory. And look at the size of that tent — I bet you could bowl in there.
Thank goodness Shelley and Cherry found room to pack their matching tailored Bettie Page loungewear, adding a note of retro luxury to the idea of “roughing it.” Anyway, as soon as all the baggage and trees burn up in the coming forest fire, it will be refreshing to see Shelley save the day with a quick call to the rangers from her much-maligned cell phone. After their ordeal, none of our adventurers will stray beyond two bars of reception ever again. It will make a GOOD story!
– Uncle Lumpy
Funky Winkerbean, 4/29/13
Oh, hey, it looks like it’s a long-absent father party at Funky Winkerbean! First Darrin’s bio-dad took up residence in a local motel, determined to ruin everybody’s lives by being a jerk in some ill-defined way, and now Jessica is determine to find her own dad, John Darling. SPOILER: HER DAD IS IN A CEMETERY SOMEWHERE, OR PERHAPS A COLUMBARIUM, BECAUSE HE IS DEAD. He was the main character in a Funkyverse spin-off strip drawn by Marvin creator Tom Armstrong. The title character was a hilariously clueless TV newsman, and, according to Wikipedia, when Tom Batuik got into a dispute with the syndicate over ownership rights to the character, he just had the guy stone cold murdered in the strip’s second-to-last installment! Les later solved the crime in Funky Winkerbean, and last we had heard about the whole thing was two years ago when Jessica said she was making a documentary about him. So I guess Jessica has suddenly remembered that she was supposed to be doing that? Or maybe she’s going to dig up her father’s corpse and reanimate it using dark magic and/or perverse science, so it can defeat Darrin’s bio-dad in single dad-on-dad combat.
Is Unbearably Smug Archie a thing in whatever era of Newspaper Comic Strip Archie we’re in the midst of now? Anyway, Archie really is looking unbearably smug in that last panel, presumably because he’s been waiting all day to unleash this terrible pun on somebody. Or maybe multiple somebodies, as the guy in the hat in the foreground of the first panel looks like someone who just heard a terribly pun smugly delivered.
Apartment 3-G, 4/29/13
Governor Pete is determined to bed Lu Ann, so now he’s upped his game to some next-level mind trickery. “Peter, I generally find you distasteful and skeezy, so…” “Stop saying that sentence Lu Ann! What would you say if I asked you to … watch a movie with me?” “THE GOVERNOR GOES TO THE MOVIES LIKE AN ORDINARY HUMAN OH MY GOD THE IMAGE IS SO SURPRISING I LITERALLY CAN’T HOLD ANY OTHER THOUGHTS IN MY BRAIN RIGHT NOW LIKE THOUGHTS ABOUT HOW GROSS AND TRANSPARENT THE GOVERNOR IS ABOUT WANTING TO DO ME”
Yes, obviously the cleverest place to hide your secret lair is on a tiny island that’s also a high-profile national park visited by 1.3 million people a year! Probably the best thing you can say about Newspaper Spider-Man as a hero is that he rises to the level of competition provided by his villains.