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 email@example.com 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!
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Herb and Jamaal, 11/14/12
Jamaal mangles the ancient punchline, “… twelve people too stupid to get out of jury duty”, and outs himself as an idiot.
… b-but the joke is that Spaniel-man is spending exactly the same time looking for his glasses and wearing them. Right? Am I missing some subtlety here? Oh, wait — it’s Pluggers.
It’s time for Hide the Lion — and anybody can play! Hot Queen is ticked, and the mighty Llongo warriors look all mopey. Everything is proceeding as Pissy Elder has forseen.
Garfield is disgusting. Oh, wait, this is Heathcliff. Well, Garfield is disgusting too, but this is Heathcliff.
Apartment 3-G, 11/14/12
Hey, it’s Six Differences time again! Can you spot the changes Greg has made to Mrs. Bloom’s apartment? Moving the invisible piano doesn’t count. (Hint: he locked the Taser® up with the sex toys. Margo’s in for one hell of a night.)
Yes, Peter — Sherry would have dug Genghis Khan, and you would have dug out the yak wallow behind his yurt.
OK, stay with me here. The “panic to keep the modern world at bay” is a bunch of pissy Llongo elders’ plan to undercut their hot queen’s rare-earth mining deal with a story about a vengeful immortal lioness who protects the tribe’s sacred land. The plan requires hardworking Llongo warriors to secretly release a captured lioness near the village, publicly kill her, privately dispose of the carcass, and then go find a matching replacement lioness — repeating the cycle to keep the “immortality” myth going until either they run out of lionesses or the queen relents and shuts down the mine.
The miners’ ace counterplan is to lock the corpse of the next-to-die lioness in a cage, confronting the tricksy elders with steamy, maggot-infested proof of their bad faith, and breaking the cycle. Despite the toll on the poor decomposing lioness, the Phantom is apparently cool with this, since he doesn’t want anybody horning in on his family’s own long-running “mammal-who-can-never-die” scam.
PS. To Wambesi terrorist and Phantom arch-nemesis Chatu “The Python”: before your next attempt on the Phantom’s life, buy a nice strong cage, and maybe some air freshener.
PPS. Have I mentioned how much I like saying “lioness”? No? Lioness, lioness, lioness …
Gasoline Alley, 11/10/12
Despite appearances, this isn’t yet another tiresome “bullying is bad” lesson-comic. Boog’s helicopter mom Clovia smothers him in glurgy mash-notes and three-cupcake lunches to stupefy and fatten him into the image of his father, idiot-whale Slim Skinner. But these three young heroes will have none of it, bravely staging an intervention to keep their pal tough and slender.
Hey, grotesquely-drawn moppets gotta stick together, am I right?
Update — Boog’s mom is Hoogie, not Clovia, and Slim is his grandfather. Other than that, the story was accurate!
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 11/10/12
Did you know that tomorrow is Veterans Day in the U.S.? Snuffy Smith does! And he has every right to join that parade, since he not only shares the nickname of a genuine WWII Army hero, but served in the Army his ownself:
So what explains Snuffy’s descent from stalwart Defender of Democracy in the 1940′s to the shif’less no-’count skonk we know and love today? The world’s longest-running case of PTSD? Bone laziness? My money, as always, is on the likker.
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