"Heathcliff's hot air balloon rises into the clouds. He doesn't look back. 'He never overstays his welcome,' says a woman wearing a skirt and blouse the exact color of her neighbor's house. She has no hands. A white cat stands on two legs. Fin." --Nate
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!
I don’t expect any of you to understand what’s happening in this strip, seeing as I read the Phantom daily and can barely tell you what’s going on. But I am super charmed by the fact that pilot Ted West (who is flying jet airplanes for drug dealers, I think?) has a card in his wallet with a picture of an old-timey balloon on it where he refers to himself as an “aviation professional.” I guess sinister African drug lords really appreciate whimsy!
You know, sometimes the tropes built into a strip’s visual aesthetic become so all-pervasive that probably the artists don’t even think about their meaning anymore. For instance: almost all the clothes worn by the denizens of Hootin’ Holler sport visible patches; the community is isolated from the worldwide trading networks that bring incredibly cheap third-world produced clothes to the United States, so the town’s inhabitants must thriftily keep the garments they do have wearable long after a flatlander would have simply thrown them away. But I think we’re meant to believe that this shirt Clovis is wearing is new, and is the sort of “shirt-with-a-logo-on-it” that fancy city folk wear, much to Snuffy’s confusion. Yet even this shirt is already patched at the elbows! Perhaps “Life Is Bodacious” was a slogan that never caught on in the world outside Hootin’ Holler, and now all these shirts, ratty from years sitting in a warehouse somewhere, have been dumped at Silas’s general store, like the “SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS SUPER BOWL XLVII CHAMPIONS” hats being worn by unsuspecting people across Latin America and Africa?
(Confidential to Barney Google and Snuffy Smith: I probably wouldn’t have spent so much time thinking about this if there had been an actual joke in today’s strip? Like, if Clovis’s shirt had spelled out something different that was still a word with the suspenders blocking part of the writing. Something different and funny! Just a suggestion.)
As usual, there’s an adventure happening in the Phantom that I haven’t really been keeping you up to date with. But I thought today’s strip was kind of poignant. How did the adorable young nerd in panel two, wearing a bow tie out in public and eating an ice cream cone, grow up to become the tough drug dealer in panel one, with his tank top and hoop earring and bicep-wrapping tattoo? It’s almost as if a law enforcement system based on vague fears of an immortal ghost who lurks in the jungle isn’t particularly effective in getting at the root causes of crime.
Wait, is this plugger just now putting his pants on, right here in the middle of the living room? Was he sitting in that recliner spanking it to the obituaries? Pluggers you disgust me beyond my ability to describe
Yes, the passage of time and renewed romantic attentions of Martin Magee have bleached, rectified, and WASPicated our favorite Roma/Filipina/Chicana firecracker, to the point where things like “Bless you, Mr. Cooper” actually come out of her mouth.
Now I understand that as we approach the End Times, there needs to be a certain amount of convergence among God’s creatures in preparation for our ultimate unification with the One. Heck, the guys in Apartment 3-G have been interchangeable for years! So it’s not that I’m against the End of the World as a concept, or even as a near-term possibility. I’m just not ready for the Omega Point to look quite so much like Mary Worth.
In the fifth month of the daily Phantom game Who’s Got the Lioness?, Evil Miner Logician rudely dismisses his colleague’s naïve “argument from absence of evidence” without considering alternatives:
Surely 500 years of the “Man-Who-Cannot-Die” legend provides some evidence of absence, no?
Alternative hypothesis: the Phantom may be a vampire or zombie, and therefore dead already. Vampires and zombies are very popular right now — he should at least consider it!
All right, a single null result is inconclusive. So why not add more trials and widen the scope a bit: try hanging, burning, shooting, drowning, poisoning, or simply boring him to death. God knows it’s working on us.
For the past several days Marvin’s been having a late-night chat with “his worst nightmare” on the right here. Today we learn that “Marvin nightmare” = “Marvin bowel movement”, i.e., the visitor is in fact Marvin’s own poo come to terrifying life. This being Marvin, such a development was of course inevitable. But we should still be grateful that Disney’s ironclad trademark control over the name “Poo” keeps the newcomer from having his own spinoff strip.
And speaking of poo:
Mary Worth, 2/20/13
John Dill has finally digested his prizewinning cake.
OK, so the Phantom adheres to the quaint old ‘50′s-TV-cowboy “shoot the guns from the bad guys’ hands” ethic, while Savarna just stone cold kills the bastards, no fuss. But the Ghost Who Negotiates ought to know that while employers may set terms and conditions (like uniforms, mmm…) for their workers, they can’t go around telling independent contractors like Savarna how to deliver their services. What I’m saying is if he hasn’t got a W-2 job on offer here, he’d better let Savarna continue her reign of bloody 1099-MISC slaughter, or there’ll be hell to pay with the IRS.
Lockhorns panel, 2/17/13
At last we know what keeps the Lockhorns together: as devout Catholics, death is the only permissible exit from their loveless hell of a marriage. But really, Father — a penance enhancement for Leroy? Isn’t Loretta enough? You’ve just heard the endless catalog of her horrifying sins against this poor man; have you no mercy? Don’t pretend you can’t hear me, Padre, I know you’re still in there!
Sally Forth, 2/17/13
Ted tries desperately to charm Sally out of her Seasonal Affective Disorder. I know you’re probably wondering, “Why should Ted and Sally have all the fun? Why can’t I enjoy the full-on Charles in Charge theme song karaoke binge experience?” Well, faithful reader, wonder no more:
Rex Morgan, M.D., 2/17/13
Apparently cancer stripper Dolores’ gender-sniffin’ powers work only on the preborn, otherwise how could she have missed out on Honey’s Big Secret? Or maybe Honey is always extra-careful to put the seat back down? Seriously, is there any other way to read this? “Rex, I want you to know I’m not like the other girls. Not like other girls at all, CHECK IT OUT DOC!”
Poor Rex instantly shrivels back to his tiny prepubescent boyhood, to relive his psychosexual development in light of this revelation, and maybe get it right this time.
This has nothing to do with women, or of course humor — I just thought you’d enjoy seeing Ed Crankshaft in pain. Was I wrong? I don’t think so!
Hey, Josh is once again abandoning you for his annual winter sojurn at scenic Undisclosed Location. No fundraiser this time around, but I’ll be here through next Sunday. If you have any site issues, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do what I can to help.
OK, so when his cultured wife Lady Winnifred died, Lord Grunyard fell apart, leaving Lockbramble’s lush but chilly northern lands in the hands of greedy, archery-obsessed overseer Roger Runetyne, who impoverished them in a vain attempt to grow tea, which he figured Britons might like. Moral: marketing insight is no substitute for operational capability!
Ace archer rebel Rhoda Red Hood plans to enter and win Lockbramble’s archery tournament in disguise, humiliating Runetyne so the rebels can reinstall Grunyard as their puppet ruler. One of those Hunger Games-y “win the contest and save the land” plots.
And oh yeah Val and Gawain wander in, get caught and released by the rebels, and allay Runetyne’s fears that the royals are onto him by showing up at the castle plastered.
But mainly, after this week in Rex Morgan, M.D., I figured you’d just want to stare at that first panel for a little while.
While the daily Phantom putters along playing Who’s Got the Lion?, the Sundays loop back to the year-and-a-half-long Diana’s Rescue story, in which gun-totin’, pirate-hatin’, Phantom-lovin’ Captain Savarna played a prominent role.
Once the Phantom finds that skeleton in the final panel, he’ll search for proof it’s Savarna’s: the purple notebook she always carried, filled with her 785 practice signatures — Mrs. Savarna Phantom Walker* in loopy schoolgirl script, with little hearts above all the i's and j's.
In the Bandar tongue, which consists mostly of i's, j's, and punctuation — the Bandar are an excitable people, and their language reflects it.
Funky Winkerbean, 11/18/12
Hey, let’s look in on the happy couple!
With his daughter off at college, Les married Cayla as a replacement foil for his execrable pun-like utterances. But Cayla is a take-charge ex-baseballer who doesn’t mind taking down a rival, or a mere annoyance like her new husband. And she is so done with his Lisa shit. Three strikes and you’re out, buddy.
That’s it for me: Josh will be back later today with Comments of the Week, and regular posts starting Monday. Thanks for a fun week!