Comics and other media that present us with a world of anthropomorphic animals generally elide the problem of what that universe’s relationship between predator and prey is like. But it’s hard to avoid if you spend any amount of time thinking about it. Take the birds of Shoe, for instance: the Perfesser is an osprey, according to this unsettlingly detailed chart on the strip’s Wikipedia page. What about the sea life that forms his natural diet? Did they have hopes and dreams? Did any of those fish or mollusks have mothers that they loved? Did they ever feel the stirrings of romance or the icy breath of their own mortality? Today we learn the awful truth: that the squid do indeed have their own independent society, an undersea counterpart to the Shoe gang’s Treetops, and that its leaders are happy to lead predator birds to the regions of that nation where the most vulnerable take shelter. The poor, the mentally ill, the squid who fall through the cracks? They aren’t Squidtown’s problem. They’re food for someone else. And if the squid leadership looks the other way, then the rest of their culture is left alone. This is the worst kind of nightmare.
Apartment 3-G, 1/31/14
Speaking of the worst kinds of nightmare, who on earth could look at the awful top half of that deer head and think “she’s beautiful” and not “AHHH AHHH AHHH GET IT AWAY FROM GET IT AWAY FROM ME”? To be fair, Lu Ann used to be (still is? who even knows) a kindergarten art teacher at a fancy Manhattan school, which means that she probably needs to be very good at smiling and saying nice things about little monsters.
Judge Parker, 1/31/14
Ha ha, look at Judge Parker Senior’s face in that last panel! I’ve decided I’m just going to stop worrying and learn to love his hilariously oblivious privilege-stumble through danger. Car chases? Whee! Snakes? Lovely! Forming an uneasy alliance with narco-terrorists? Charming! It’s not like he’s in the law enforcement game anymore, is he?
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.