Main content:

Comics archive! Phantom

Hopefully Dick will stop by Crankshaft’s grave, to spit on it

Dick Tracy and Funky Winkerbean, 1/19/15

Welp, I had heard about this before, but had sort of blocked it out because I didn’t want to believe it was true, but here it is, something that’s really happening, in the real world and not one of my terrible fever dreams: a Dick Tracy-Funky Winkerbean crossover. You wouldn’t think these two strips would have much in common, what with Funky Winkerbean being mostly focused on a thin crust of puns and smirking atop an infinitely deep well of misery, and Dick Tracy being dedicated to a rigid and violent code of implacable justice along with, since the strip’s reboot a few years ago, endless and baffling nostalgia for the strip’s past and comics/pop culture history in general. But today the overlap in the Venn diagram becomes apparent, and it’s historic comic books. (This particular set was recovered at the end of another crossover plot involving The Jumbler, a puzzle-focused villain who taunted Dick with vaguely sexual vlogs and was eventually defeated with the help of actual Jumble artist/faithful Comics Curmudgeon reader Jeff Knurek.)

Anyway, I like panel one of Dick Tracy, where Les and Funky’s smug, punchable faces are displayed on retro-futuristic screens, because for a brief moment I though their heads had been impaled on a giant pike. Dick and Sam are clearly heading to Westview hoping to meet its two most nefarious characters, so they’re probably going to be pretty depressed at being stuck with Crazy Harry and Comic Book John.

Gil Thorp, 1/19/15

Despite teasing us with promises of Marty Moon, the Gil Thorp basketball season storyline has mostly been about the poindexter at left here, the basketball manager who years to someday be a coach and also seems to be vaguely on the autistic spectrum somewhere. Anyway, I was totally on board when his shtick was all about improving players’ skills and irritating Coaches Gil and Kaz, but now he’s branching out to blathering at innocent teens about their #brand, so he must be stopped at all costs.

Momma, 1/19/15

The setup for this joke is clunky and terrible — would any human ever make the abrupt shift in pronoun references necessary to make it work? — but I sincerely appreciate Francis’s exaggerated reaction, as he appears to not just be doing a spit-take but actually bobbling his beverage to comic effect. Also, do you think that’s supposed to be beer? Do you think that Francis is just hanging around his mother’s house while she chats with her friend, getting slightly buzzed and not talking to them even though he’s only sitting about 18 inches away? I hope so!

Phantom, 1/19/15

Meanwhile, in Bangalla, the amnesiac Phantom continues to send all ladies who lay eyes on him into an involuntary lust-frenzy. Is sexual arousal truly nature’s anesthetic? Guess our climber gal is going to find out!

Bogey and Bacall are both spinning non-sexily in their graves

Shoe, 12/11/14

A cool thing about having a daily comic strip is that you can use it to air some very specific gripes you might have that arise from your personal life! I mean, if it were me and I was taking on Geico, I’d probably go with “Why does Geico have so many mascots, like there’s the gecko and the caveman and the pig and the talking paintings and the two guys with ukeleles and I think also there’s a stack of money with googly eyes?” But, you know, “I resent the application of actuarial science to me in particular” could work too!

Funky Winkerbean, 12/11/14

I know it seems weird, but there are probably some people who only read Funky Winkerbean and not its sister strip, Crankshaft, or vice versa. These people are spared the useless mental exercise of trying to figure out how the timelines of the two Funkyverse strips now line up, as are 99 percent of the people who read both and still only have the vaguest idea that they’re connected. But even if you forgot/don’t care, Funky Winkerbean has decided that its readers are starved for delightful Crankshaft-related content, and are giving us a charming flashback to the Funkypast/Crankpresent, in which the ’Shaft deals with an obviously emotionally vulnerable little girl with his classic lack of tact. I don’t was to cast aspersions on anyone’s parenting, but it sure looks like this child came to talk to a pizza-parlor Santa with neither her father nor her mother with her, so her family situation is probably pretty dire.

Crankshaft, 12/11/14

Meanwhile, over in Actual Crankshaft, we learn that in the Funkyverse you never ask an innocuous question because you might get a super depressing answer.

Phantom, 12/11/14

Hey, what’s happening over in the “Amnesiac Phantom Joins The Jungle Patrol” plotline, guys? Well, the Jungle Patrol’s colonel decided to test his theory that “John X” was secretly a criminal by locking him in a holding cell with a bunch of criminals, and then our hero brutally beat them into unconsciousness. Now he’s going to be taking down to the infirmary by a leering, sexually aggressive medic. Based on the conduct of one of the country’s main law enforcement bodies, I may have to retract my assessment of Bangalla as a successful post-colonial democracy, guys.

Mary Worth, 12/11/14

Hanna and Sean are so crazed with lust for each other that they’re finding erotic inspiration in anything, even Mary’s cooking. I honestly am rooting for them to start going at it right here on the dining room table, if only to take Mary to levels of scandalization we never would’ve thought possible.

Hi and Lois, 12/11/14

“Chemicals!” shouts Ditto. “The touch of water is anathema to me! Bathe me in a cleansing tetrachloroethylene fire!”

Six Chix, 12/11/14

Hey, everyone, here’s today’s Six Chix! It is 100% grim as shit.

Don’t call them “Icemen,” that’s considered an ethnic slur

The Phantom, 11/30/14

Give the present-day iteration of the Phantom some credit: for a superhero adventure comic, it actually tries to do a decent job of depicting post-colonial Africa, with Bangalla a kind of idealized South Africa, black-ruled but with a sizable white minority and a diverse array of indigenous ethnic groups, all living more or less in harmony. Still, the core conceit still carries a lot of uncomfortable colonial racial baggage from the strip’s 1930s origin: the hero protecting this African land is a white man — and, more to the point, the 21st in a series of white men who, despite living in Africa since the 1500s, have all apparently voyaged elsewhere to find wives, so as to continue to produce blonde-haired, blue-eyed progeny. Anyway, this coming Sunday Phantom adventure will take our hero and his kids to … Iceland! A country so homogeneously Nordic that it’s a genetic case study! Presumably Kit is just teasing his children with the prospect of adventure, when in fact they’re going to be assigned their future Norse spouses, in accordance with Phantom Law.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 11/30/14

Rex Morgan, M.D., became Sarah Morgan Uses Her Special Mind Powers To Become The All-Ruling God-Empress Of Earth And Destroyer Of Men so gradually that most people didn’t notice, but in retrospect this strip was seen as an important signal of the coming transition.

Spider-Man, 11/30/14

Peter ignores his wife as she engages in something that interests her, makes a clumsy request for sex, then glumly reflects that showing the bare minimum of emotional support a spouse ought to be able to expect might result in his literal death. Every time I think we’ve hit Peak Newspaper Spider-Man, I am pleasantly surprised anew.