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.
Here’s a fact that I never get tired of: NCIS, a show whose pitch can be summarized as “what if there were crime … in the navy”, is one of the most popular shows in the country, averaging 20.5 million weekly viewers this past season. That puts it just barely behind Big Bang Theory in total viewership; its two spinoffs are both in the top 20. Yet literally nobody in the TV criticism world cares about it! Think of all the rhapsodic analysis of Mad Men we had to endure over the years. Mad Men had 2.6 million viewers a week in its highest-rated season. If an NCIS episode got ratings four times higher than that, think of all the people who would be fired, immediately!
Anyway, these numbers reveal that NCIS doesn’t actually do that well in the coveted 18-49-year-old demographic, which means that, as today’s panel confirms, its audience probably consists of mostly pluggers. Today’s Pluggers actually successfully surprised me with its punchline, but I still like the one I thought up before I read the real one: “Watching NCIS is plugger foreplay.” It would explain a lot!
Time jump shenanigans continue! Look: it’s pre-jump Les Moore, hawking his book about the murdered John Darling, who was the father of his (future, at this point) stepdaughter-in-law! We know, from having secret future post-time-jump knowledge, that this book was a complete flop, which may explain why he’s doing a book signing at a used book store a lady started in her attic, probably without the proper permits.
The Phantom, 6/7/16
Oh, man, I forgot to properly highlight the fact that Judge Parker artist Mike Manley has now taken over The Phantom! He’s showing his adaptability here: the Judge Parker gig has given him a chance to demonstrate that he can draw wealthy, beautiful, chesty women, but The Phantom is and always will be all about the beefcake.
Judge Parker, 6/7/16
Speaking of Judge Parker, it’s good to see the strip fully committing to its shtick of incredibly wealthy people sitting around their palatial compound complaining about how difficult it is to be judged for their incredible wealth.
Six Chix, 6/7/16
GUYS YOU BROUGHT YOUR FRIEND TO A RESTAURANT WHERE CHICKENS ARE KILLED AND EATEN, I DON’T THINK SHE’S THE ONE WHO MADE THE MISTAKE HERE