Mary Worth, 10/10/13
So Shelly is getting an award for her work volunteering at the homeless shelter (the Nobel Peace Prize? probably!) and who else is she going to thank other than the person who was most responsible for all the good work she’s done over the years: Mary! After all, what’s the more selfless and grueling task: working every day without pay to serve New York City’s vulnerable and sometimes difficult homeless population, or casually telling someone else to do it? The second one, right? It’s only just that Shelly thank Mary in her award speech, but shouldn’t the award just be going directly to Mary? Shouldn’t the homeless carry Mary about the streets of Manhattan on their shoulders, then raise her up and set her on a makeshift altar in an abandoned subway tunnel, worshipping her as their dread Goddess and Mistress?
“Pain in the neck” is pretty clearly a back-formed euphemism for “pain in the ass,” and it’s very rare for anyone to use either phrase to describe actual discomfort in the specified body part, unless they’re being cute; it always refers to someone who’s annoying. The only way this joke works at all, it seems to me, is if the guy dressed as a wizard were an actual doctor making a medical inquiry. But he’s not! Not that you’d have any reason to know this unless, like me, you’re a damned soul/frequent Shoe reader, but the guy dressed like a wizard is the local computer repair guy. Ha ha, because computers are confusing and fixing them is like dark magic! Anyway, long story short, I’m pretty sure the Perfesser is a robot.
So it looks like my earlier theory — that the Perfesser has covered his floor in newspapers because he’s a bird, and shitting on newspapers on the floor of their home is what birds do — was something of a reach. It turns out that he’s just a hoarder whose home has reached such a state of chaos that he’s desperate to escape it. If you’re want an insight into his increasingly glum mental state, note that in the months since that cartoon linked above, he’s devolved from eating chips to picking from a bag of mysterious “SNAX,” presumably because he self-loathingly thinks that a guy with empty pizza boxes and tires strewn around his living room doesn’t deserve better than ambiguous snack-like foodstuffs to eat.
I’m not sure what this comic is supposed to be getting at in the context of Momma’s usual themes — maybe that the fly mistook Francis for a fellow loathsome pest? My preferred reading is that we’re being reminded that all creatures have a sense of self and will to survive, and that we perpetrate a thousand murderous tragedies a day without even realizing it.
Mark Trail, 10/5/13
Whoa you guys, Mark is using high technology to defeat his enemies. And by “high technology” I mean “a cell phone that appears to have a seven- or eight-inch screen.” That counts, for this strip! Hiding an enormous tablet-slab might be slightly trickier than stashing away a smaller phone would’ve been, though.
The tragedy of today’s Mark Trail is the terrible coloring job. Mark appears to be wearing a charming western jacket with arrows embroidered on it. Do you expect me to believe that the whole thing is just a dull brown? For shame, King Features colorists! We want to see Mark’s jauntiest outfit ever in all its glory!
Beetle Bailey, 10/5/13
Normally, if a beloved long-running family comic strip that runs in thousands of newspapers had a character openly arranging an orgy, you might think that was kind of noteworthy, you know? But now my attitude is “Well, at least all of the women he’s planning on having sex with are biological life forms and not crudely anthropomorphic robots,” so well played, Beetle Bailey!
This bird-lady and her bird-husband went on a second honeymoon and, despite her husband’s advanced years, they were able to have all the intercourse they wanted, thanks to modern pharmaceutical science.
This isn’t the first time that Loretta and Leroy have gone to see one of the Twilight films, but it’s always jarring and delightful when a smidgen of contemporary pop culture forces its way into the Lockhorns’ eternal 1962, isn’t it? I am also 100% in love with the fake Twilight poster hanging up at the Lockhorns’ local cinema. It reimagines Robert Pattinson’s dull, pasty visage as the brooding face of a proper Weimar-era expressionist vampire. And the graphic design! Doesn’t the striking image of the undead fiend’s face floating over the single word “TWILIGHT” have a million times more impact than, say, this piece of overbusy airbrushed garbage? Kudos, Lockhorns, for daring to imagine a better world than ours.
Mary Worth, 9/27/13
“The specific reason is that I have no friends and no life and writing advice to people desperate enough to send me letters is literally the only thing that gives my existence the barest shred of meaning! Uh, I guess I sort of covered that earlier, but that’s the much more specific version.”
Family Circus, 9/27/13
“I mean, he’s a competent adult and he could just learn how to cook properly, but I guess he figures that if he does, that’ll undermine the whole patriarchal structure that gives him power. So, your parents abandoned you at the world’s dullest mall kiosk too, huh?”
Huh, had it been established in this strip that the Perfesser’s mother is still alive? I guess it never hurts to introduce a new character in order to set up a hilarious joke! In this case, the joke is that an old man dropped dead during a social event for senior citizens, which probably cast a real pall over the rest of the evening.
Meanwhile, the streets of Riverdale are haunted by roving packs of vicious feral dogs.
Congratulations, Luann: for the first time in years, you have caused me to feel actual empathy for your title character! I worked in libraries for much of my high school and college career, and I always enjoyed those gigs and saw them as a haven from the stressful food service jobs taken by many of my peers. I sure would’ve been upset if I had lost that job because of budget cuts, and particularly upset if I had lost that job because the library decided to spend money hiring H.R. Giger to design ever more elaborately phallic Billy the Bookworm costumes.
Usually when you see liver on a menu you’re being offered some kind of bird liver, right? What I’m saying is that this is another instance where Shoe’s goggle eyes of horror are wholly justified. “What am I, chopped liver? No, seriously! Am I to be this lunchtime’s sacrifice, my gut slit open and my organs chopped to bits and cooked for the culinary delight of my fellow bird-men? Has the day when I become chopped liver finally arrived?”
Hi and Lois, 9/23/13
I’ve seen few things in the comics more harrowing than Trixie’s expression in panel two. Her hands folded in her lap are a nice touch. Pretty sure she’s been sitting there, staring at that leaf, rolling the concept of mortality around in her mind, for several hours now.
Mary Worth, 9/23/13
“Hi Mary … it’s Wilbur! How are you? Are you making a sandwich? Are you making one right now? MY SANDWICH SENSE IS TINGLING”
Mark Trail, 9/15/13
Did this little plant get its name from the past? That may be the case. It’s possible, sure. But isn’t it just as possible that it got its name from the future? After all, the Indian Pipe bears a strong resemblance to the 60-mile-high towers that were built in the southern foothills of the Himalayas in the late 21st century, which harvested charged particles from the ionosphere and provided the cheap energy that catapulted India’s economy to #1 in the world by 2110. Add in the successful time travel experiments conducted at the Indian Institute of Technology in the mid 2090s, and this theory is sounding more and more probable.
Family Circus, 9/15/13
Today’s Family Circus is a commentary on modern American affluence: the Keane Kids have never once in their lives had empty bellies, and can’t even conceive of anyone going hungry involuntarily, thus forcing them to recontextualize the ancient nursery rhyme. But there’s one Keane family member who knows all about want, and that’s Sam the dog. Presumably Sam’s care has been placed in the hands of the children, in an misguided attempt to teach them “responsibility,” and meals have been pretty irregular ever since. Sam would chew off all of PJ’s toes without a second thought. Sam would eat all the Keane Kids, if they would just hold still for long enough.
The comics pages that Skyler is so ostentatiously reading add a real note of poignancy to this strip. Skyler is trapped in comics time, an eternal present. He’s never going to get past the opening salvos of the sexual awakening he’s experiencing right now; and, as long as the syndicate can find artists who can more or less approximate Jeff MacNelly’s style, he will never die.
Panel from Better Half, 9/15/13
HERE IT IS EVERYBODY, THE MOST DEPRESSING BETTER HALF EVER, LET’S JUST GO HAVE A NICE LIE DOWN NOW FOR THE REST OF THE DAY