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Slylock Fox, 10/16/13
Extinct or not, when a saber-toothed tiger menaces you with its 12-inch canine teeth, do not be the one to say it isn’t technically a tiger. At the very least, don’t be first one.
Rex Morgan, M.D., 10/16/13
Sarah toils unceasingly over her book in her basement prison. Rex is moved – Stockholm Syndrome is so adorable in the very young.
Six Chix, 10/16/13
Yes, because drug addicts need a loyalty program.
Gah, both Josh and I have been neglecting the Phantom for months because it’s just been such an incoherent mess but it’s the job so here we go:
Remember the mystery aeronaut of Mozz’s dream who had been rescued during WWI by the 19th Phantom and whose spectre showed up in the Deep Woods wearing a tattoo like the logo on drug pilot Ted West’s business card? And how the Phantom went to New York and a) forgave Ted for working with the drug gang because they threatened his family, b) broke into the drug boss’s house, c) knocked out all the minions, d) took a call that told him a big caper was going down at 3:00 AM, e) recorded the boss’s admission that he had taken a hit out on West, and f) here he is at 2:00 calling the cops?
Well the plan here is to use the Phantom’s own break-in as the pretext for a search that will lead police to incriminating evidence on the boss. There are, of course, constitutional safeguards against such behavior, but Dispatch Lady seems to think it’s pretty clever nonetheless.
Unresolved are a) what’s the big caper at 3:00, and b) what’s the connection between the aeronaut and Ted West? There you go: six months of the Phantom you’ll never have to read. If only there were some way to express your appreciation!
9 Chickweed Lane, 10/16/13
If you’re speaking English, it’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier.” This is true even if you’re having a conversation in English with a German concert pianist. The only reason to switch to German is to show off, and because Germans are required by law to correct your pronunciation, nobody would ever switch to German in this context unless they were pretty damn sure their audience didn’t speak it.
What I’m saying is a couple of thug spooks can kidnap her, drag her to a dungeon, hang her up in chains, and Edda Burber will still find a way to be the biggest jerk in the room.
Of course no real pianist would say it was ‘a’ fugue in C-sharp minor. WTC Book 2 (and why not Buch Zwei Edda hmm…?) includes one and only one fugue in each of the 24 key signatures — why, that’s the actual point of the exercise, is it not? Bach certainly seemed to think so, though I suppose he lacked your chops as an underwear model. Anyway, dearie, tell all the gals back in dance class that it was ‘the’ fugue in C-sharp minor, won’t you? Or just Number Four. Goodness, I’m certainly glad I’m not in that room.
– Uncle Lumpy
Beetle Bailey, 9/25/13
Probably you were hoping that Spec. Gizmo’s sex robot would a be a shameful, one-off joke that would never reappear in the comics pages or on the Internet again. Well, too bad, because you don’t live in your perfect world! You live in this world of unrelenting horror, with the rest of us. Anyway, panel one reveals all sorts of unfortunate things. For instance, when Gizmo’s robot was first unveiled, nobody had bothered to drape human clothes over its square metallic chassis, yet now it appears to be wearing some kind of exaggeratedly girly dress with a crinoline skirt, further gendering the fembot and making it a slightly more acceptable target of Chip’s sexual lusts. The mere act of clothing it can be seen as akin to teaching it a shame-based code of sexual morality, much like the one Adam and Eve learned abruptly after eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. The fembot’s rudimentary ethics may be limited to sexual matters, as it seems more than willing to use its inhuman strength to work violence against humans, though perhaps this is a sign that its advanced circuitry understands the concept of consent and believes that attempts to violate its structural integrity may legitimately be met with self-defense.
Anyway, I was going to do a close reading of panel two along these same lines, but then I read “He has to turn off the work switch and press the love button” and so I went and lied down for an hour instead.
Mary Worth, 9/25/13
OK, Mary Worth: I enjoy making endless jokes about Wilbur’s sandwich obsession as much as the next person who blogs about newspaper comic strips, but I like to do it on my terms. Frankly, if you’re going to include an entire panel of the sort of filthy talk that you might expect to hear when you dial 1-900-HOT-SANDWICH, I’m going to feel a little bit baited.
Herb and Jamaal, 9/25/13
I genuinely enjoy how insanely excited our nameless white-collar drone/Heart and Soul customer looks in the first couple of panels as he sets up his joke about how meetings make you doze off, ha ha, amiright people. He’s really going the extra mile here, and I appreciate it when people put effort into their sarcasm.
“Except for a period from the 1870s, when European powers began the wars of conquest referred to as the ‘Scramble for Africa,’ until the process of decolonization really took hold in the 1960s! I mean, the British, man! I couldn’t leave a skull mark on the chins of the entire British Empire, you know what I’m saying?”
Pluggers remember a time, now thankfully in the distant past, when they had to engage in brief bouts of physical movement every half hour or so.
Rex Morgan, M.D., 9/5/13
Sorry I haven’t been keeping you up to date on the latest developments in the “everything comes too easy to Sarah Morgan and she’s wracked with ennui over it” plotline! Rather than questioning the circumstances of her existence (in which Morgans get everything they want with zero effort, just like the Spencers and Parkers and Drivers in the next universe over), she’s starting to question herself. Why is she different from other kids? Is it because of the way she was raised? Is it because of something inherent in her nature? Is she too different, too different from the other children? And since — let’s stop beating around the bush here — we’re using “different” to mean “better,” if she’s too different from her peers to function as one of them, isn’t she their natural leader? Shouldn’t she have an exalted social status — as a monarch, or a God? “Thanks, mom, this has been a good talk. Don’t worry, you’ll have a place of privilege in the coming Eternal Glorious Prosperous Sarah-Empire!”
I also haven’t been keeping you up to date on the action in the Phantom, which has involved, like, adventure and gunplay and punching and whatnot. Today we learn how tiring it can be taking on semi-competent criminal syndicates year after year. “Come on, guys, you need at least two people on guard duties at all time! Is this … is this just not going to be a challenge for me at all? Again?”
When? America demands to know. When will we get Crankshaft making dickish puns about New York City, like we were promised? Well, it seems that after a week of Crankshaft being an asshole at the airport, we now have to deal with a week of Crankshaft being an asshole on a plane. Today’s strip actually nicely encapsulates what I frequently find off about the tone of this strip: this is a fairly zany gag, and an impossible one at that — you can’t actually open one of those doors in mid-flight by accident. It should be played pretty broadly. And yet everything about the art is actually pretty serious. Like, instead of just looking bored or wry or something, the flight attendant is actually running towards the back of the plane in panic. And Crankshaft’s face! That’s the face of a man who knows with absolute certainty that he’s about to die horribly, due to his own poor decisions. It’s the face I’ve wanted to see on Crankshaft for years, so I guess I’m not sure why I’m complaining so much about this.
Judge Parker, 6/27/13
Speaking of things that have been dragging on for two weeks against all expectations, Judge Parker Senior is still really mad about a bad review of his trashy mystery novel! The war criminal who dared disparage it is a professor at Princeton and Yale, which (a) isn’t a thing that happens, generally, but (b) should provide the Parker-Spencer-Drivers, who are fantastically wealthy and always get everything they want without putting forth any effort whatsoever, with a great opportunity to rail against “elitists.”
The Phantom, 6/27/13
UGH, the Phantom thinks World War I was still happening in 1919. Can we trust the veracity of any of the information from the Chronicle Chamber now?
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!
– Uncle Lumpy
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!
Judge Parker, 5/3/13
Say, remember when Sophie was a lilac pantsuit wearing spookily adult-like child-nerd, but then cheerleaders were mean to her and so she decided to become a cheerleader, as revenge? Well, as Uncle Lumpy once demonstrated, strip time flows extremely slowly in the Parkerverse, but that all happened like four or five years ago in real time, so we’re pretty much right on schedule for her to have flowered into a designer sunglasses-wearing, road-raging mean girl. I love Sam’s “OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I CREATED” look in panel three.
Aww, isn’t that cute! These kids think that if they find a little toddler and sacrifice him to Marmaduke, he won’t devour them too! (He is totally going to devour them.)