Family Circus, 7/8/16
One of my favorite things about the way the Family Circus constantly reuses art that’s decades old is that somewhere along the line some editor realized, “Oh, crap, everyone is supposed to wear seat belts now! The Family Circus, as an incredibly influential part of today’s media, can’t afford to send the dangerous message that not wearing your seatbelt is ‘cool!’ Looks like we’re going to have to add seat belts into all the old art, when we inevitably reuse it!” This has produced laughable results like today’s panel, in which, if I know my classic American station wagons, Dolly is supposed to be sitting in the “back back” or “way back,” i.e., the storage area where there’s no seat of any kind, where all of us kids born before 1980 or so were free to just roll around without any restraints or safety equipment and died in droves. Anyway, please join me in enjoying that seat belt, coming out of nowhere, hooking over Dolly’s back, and connecting to nothing. It almost makes me sad that once we got to the era when all children under the age of 10 had to be in car seats everyone involved in the production of this strip was just like “Enh, screw it.”
Mark Trail, 7/8/16
Hey, remember when Mark’s face accidentally fell on Carina’s face, back in the cave, and she tried to get him to do sex things with her, and the first thing he thought of to make her stop trying was to say “Yes, Carina, I am happily married”? Well, that definitely counts as being “made” to decide take some time off and invest in his relationship with his wife. Presumably they’ll voyage to the mysterious South Pacific, to frolic on a beach where they’ll discover these lovebirds’ mouldering corpses.
The Phantom, 7/8/16
I’ve sort of assumed that Kit Jr. was going to Tibet but I think they’ve only been saying “the Himalayas” so I guess it’s possible he’s headed for a Buddhist monastery in the northern fringes of India, or Bhutan or Nepal, which would qualify, barely, as “the subcontinent.” Still, has he considered that the monastery probably doesn’t have Internet? Also, you know where there’s Internet? The Skull Cave! He could learn a lot about the subcontinent back at the Skull Cave, is what I’m saying.
Mary Worth, 6/22/16
I don’t want to engage in any stereotyping, but my understanding is that Japan is a more reserved and stoic culture than the United States. Thus, I would have to assume that those in Japan who survived the terrible tragedies of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident would like few things less than to have some American lunge at them in sympathy, Wilbur style, and try to get them to emote for “I Shouldn’t Be Alive!”, his terrible and widely syndicated newspaper column. Anyway, pretty much all you need to know about Mary Worth is that our upcoming storyline is much less likely to be “Wilbur rambles around Japan re-traumatizing earthquake victims” and more likely to be “Mary replies to someone who wrote into a newspaper advice column.”
Family Circus, 6/22/16
The “Billy subs for his dad on Fathers Day” bit has a long and storied history in the Family Circus, but does it usually last an entire week? Anyway, the layers of metafiction in these exercises are always exhausting — like, grown-up Jeff Keane is pretending to be the 7-year-old version of his real-life brother subbing for their father, who died in 2011 — and this strip just adds some messed up family dynamics to the mix. “No, it was Billy who made a crude fat joke about your child-self, Dolly! Billy, age 7!”
Looks like Kit Jr. (or Kit XXIII, I guess) will be spending the next four years in Tibet, cut off from his home and family. So at his goodbye party, he’s enjoying the sort of Bangallan treat he’ll be missing: a raw unpeeled potato, fresh from the bowl!
The Phantom, 6/11/16
The Phantom is of course the 21st in a sequence of Walkers who’ve dished out vigilante justice to southern Africa from their cave HQ over the past 480 years. Over that time, he and his forebears have had to adjust to certain social and technological changes in order to keep up. For instance, at some point some Phantom traded in his flintlock for the modern-day pistol he now carres. The Internet is a recent enough development that I assume that it was the current Phantom who somehow got hundreds of miles of cable laid from the nearest city all the way into his Animal Head Room over at the Skull Cave, then erased the technicians’ minds with “Bandar medicine” so they could never reveal his location. As a modern superhero, he knows that he can’t do without the Internet’s research capabilities; but as a man of action, he’s got to resent that he’s now starring in scenes like this, where he’s sitting in front of his computer and then flashes back to an earlier point in time when he was also sitting in front of his computer, only back then he was wearing his skin-tight purple costume for some reason.
I admit to never having actually watched the Gotham TV show, but I do like the idea of an “origins” series, where you see the world we live in bit by bit become a well-known exaggerated, cartoonish fictional universe. So while Crankshaft remains in general the sunnier of the two Funkyverse strips, I enjoy it when you can see hints of the dystopian horror that lies 10 years off in Funky Winkerbean, like when stone-faced cops forced terrified children up against their squad cars.