Hagar the Horrible, 10/14/16
You know I’m fascinated by Hagar strips about the transition from Norse paganism to Christianity, but today’s strip is a particularly unsettling entry it that canon. Traditionally, Scandinavians believed in a sort of vaguely defined afterlife that resembled Greek and Roman versions of the underworld; the idea that there was a distinction between Hel and Valhalla, with only the latter allotted to brave warriors, comes from a late, post-pagan source, and is now widely discredited. So the idea that death might be followed by some kind of divinely ordained reward for virtue — or, in this case, awful, eternal punishment for inadequacy — is a new one, and one that some are apparently embracing with more gusto than others.
Gil Thorp, 10/14/16
Speaking of things that displease the gods: I had been holding out that we hadn’t yet seen the ritualistic season-kickoff bonfire in Gil Thorp because it precedes our heroes’ home opener. But here we are, with Milford playing its first game at Mudlark Field (note: may not be actual name of stadium) without having received the ordained benediction by fire. Already we can see the divine punishment beginning: that pouring rain will not cease until Coaches Gil and Kaz, the entire Mudlark team, and the heretical Milford school board that nixed the bonfire as a cost-cutting and public safety measure are wiped from existence in an awful cleansing flood.
Beetle Bailey, 10/14/16
One of the running bits I did in the early years of this blog was that the secret subtext of Beetle Bailey was that Sarge and Beetle were lovers, which I eventually dropped because, with changing mainstream mores and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the idea got a lot less transgressive. It’s good to see that the strip agrees with me and is upping its game when it comes to these two. I’m not sure what exactly is happening here today, but it’s definitely unspeakably perverse.
Hagar the Horrible, 10/9/16
“Yes, Hagar, I found this mermaid tangled in a fisherman’s net, and yes, she promised me any price to free her. And so I took what was my due: her daughter, who I’m going to bring to the zoo to sell to the zookeeper. Don’t judge! I’m tired of the dangerous world of being a Viking. Do you know how many gold pieces I can make from selling her? Enough to never live in hunger or fear again! She said I could have anything if I freed her! Anything! I kept my end of the bargain!”
Judge Parker, 10/9/16
Years ago, I went on a date with a woman who picked the movie we would see: My Best Friend’s Wedding. The plot, if you’ve never seen it, involves Julia Roberts realizing she’s in love with her best friend, Dermot Mulroney, right as he’s about to marry Cameron Diaz, and she decides to sabotage their relationship. The date was unsuccessful, in part, because of our wildly differing reactions to the movie. She wanted Julia Roberts’ character to be more sympathetic, when in fact she becomes less so over the course of the movie. I, on the other hand, had fallen in love with the movie at a particular turning point, when everything I knew about conventional movie narratives taught me that Julia Roberts was about to confess the truth of her evil plotting to Dermot Mulroney and they would start growing closer; instead, she decides to double down on the madness. I thought about my dad describing to me the first time he saw the Stanley Kubrick version of The Shining; towards the climax of that movie, Scatman Crothers arrives at the Overlook Hotel to rescue the protagonist, only to be immediately murdered by Jack Nicholson. This doesn’t happen in the book, and my dad, who had read the book before seeing the movie, told me that when he saw this he thought, “Oh my God — anything could happen now.” That’s what I thought during My Best Friend’s Wedding (it’s the scene where Julia Roberts starts telling people Rupert Everett is her fiancé), and it’s a narrative high I’ve been chasing, and aspiring to in my own writing, ever since.
Anyway, there’s been a distinct shift in narrative tone in Judge Parker since Ces Marciuliano took over writing duties a few weeks ago, but I hadn’t experienced that feeling until now, looking at the next to last panel, when those shipping containers — containers Neddy browbeat her engineer/lover-to-be into using as the building blocks of her factory, then browbeat some poor sap into selling her below cost — collapsing in an awful ballet of twisted metal and, I hope, shattered bodies. Anything can happen now, you guys. Anything can happen.
Hagar the Horrible, 9/26/16
I’ve slowly come to believe that the episodes of Viking life we see in Hagar the Horrible aren’t disconnected vignettes in some timeless comic-strip eternal now, but actually a coherent story told out of sequence, if only we can piece it together. Today, I think, comes somewhere close to the end. Usually it’s Hagar and Eddie and their band who are raiding castles, as you would expect from a mobile band sustained by plunder. But now they find themselves in the position of defending a castle. Presumably they managed to capture a stronghold, somewhere in the temperate south, and after butchering everyone inside decided to trade their thatched fjord-side huts for the chance to live like Frankish barons. And what did they get for it? Just the responsibility of fighting off the next band of Norsemen who came sailing up the river in their longships. The men have gone all soft, expecting the comfort of prepared food instead of just scarfing down whatever could be hunted or gathered. Was it worth it? Was this really victory?
Dick Tracy, 9/26/16
Ooh, looks like Dick Tracy is going to do an Aliens Are A Metaphor For Those We Deem As “Others” plotline, beloved in scifi and scifi-ish franchises everywhere! Haha, who could’ve guessed that when Dick Tracy did a plot where the government set up internment camps, Dick would be against them.