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Comics archive! Beetle Bailey

Is Harlan unscrewing the top of his water glass there or what

Archie, 4/18/16

Who says you can’t learn valuable historical and cultural data from Archie reruns from the early ’90s? Take today’s strip, for example. Archie and Jughead spend so much time together that they’ve exhausted just about every possible topic of conversation, leading Archie with nothing to ask Jughead about except dietary supplements, and this awkward conversational gambit reminds us that there was at one point a craze for shark cartilage pills as a cancer cure. This quackery was promoted by Sharks Don’t Get Cancer, a 1992 book whose Wikipedia page hilariously notes that “despite its title, the book does not claim that sharks never get cancer.” Anyway, shark cartilage does not in fact cure cancer, but the idea that it might is frankly more believable than the conceit that it might make you extra bitey.

Mary Worth, 4/18/16

If we ever needed proof that Dawn is Wilbur’s daughter, we wouldn’t have to get some fancy paternity test; we can just watch her rub her hands together in deranged anticipation of shoving that sandwich in front of her into her eager gullet, just like her dear old dad would. I’d find it a little dubious that Dawn is now openly eating lunch with her professorial crush object in front of her classmates, but clearly the only erotic stirrings she’s feeling at the moment are for what’s on the tray in front of her. “I, uh, think lunch is pretty awesome too!” says Harlan Jones, suddenly realizing Dawn will never look at him the way she looks at a cafeteria BLT.

Beetle Bailey, 4/18/16

I had a vague memory that Beetle Bailey’s resident psychologist had a hilariously shticky name, and I was right: It’s “Dr. Bonkus”! And I assume that, like all joke psychologist characters dreamed up in the 1950s, he’s a strict Freudian, which means he probably would have some pretty interesting things to say about Sarge’s subconscious life.

Fragile masculinity Saturday

Crankshaft, 4/16/16

Hey guys, remember Ed Crankshaft, the almost wholly unlikeable protagonist of the comic strip Crankshaft? Well, Crankshaft and Mary, who is a perfectly nice person, have been going on dates, and other people have noticed, and somehow Crankshaft is the one who finds this embarrassing, though he claims that it’s only because his relationships all seem to go south whenever they’re recognized or acknowledged, in some kind of Romantic Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle or something. Anyway, Mary now knows she’s truly been claimed by the ’Shaft, because her relationship is now being labelled with a terrible and unfunny malapropism, in line with his personal beliefs and lifestyle.

Beetle Bailey, 4/16/16

Haha, it’s funny because Sarge would rather look like a dope and fail to clean his stinky feet than appear even slightly feminine, even for a moment, and oh my god wait is he just full on nude in the comics pages??? That water droplet is extremely strategically placed so as to obscure his entire butt crack, but that doesn’t make this acceptable at all.

IT KEEPS HAPPENING: The Beetle Bailey Story

Beetle Bailey, 4/14/16

You might not believe it based on the nonstop stream of cruel vitriol I heap upon comics creators daily, but writing this blog over the years has actually given me a lot of sympathy for the people who write these things. Coming up with a joke a day within the same little world, every day, for years and years is hard, man, even for the team of people they have down at ol’ Walker-Browne Amalgamated Humor Industries LLC. I mean, I get it. Some days you’re just staring at a blank panel and are trying to figure out how you can wring a few laughs out of it, and clearly, as the deadline loomed, today’s jokesmith could think of nothing except for falling off a cliff into the sweet embrace of death, which might be something they should talk to a trained therapist about. But anyway, I’d argue that the second panel here is wholly unnecessary. Beetle and Killer dully contemplating the fact that their fellow soldiers just can’t stop falling off cliffs, while staring at a handwritten note on a bulletin board that, in a plea for sanity that will surely go unheeded, urges everyone to “AVOID CLIFF”, is the funniest thing in the comics today, and probably the funniest thing to happen in Beetle Bailey ever.

Gil Thorp, 4/14/16

Boy, the softball action in Gil Thorp sure is a lot more exciting when it’s drawn like an German expressionist film, right? Pitcher and catcher stand at opposite ends of some long corridor, then suddenly are practically on top of one another, representing the way the emotional space between us can sometimes collapse into sudden moments of terrifying intimacy.

Pluggers, 4/14/16

The look of profound shame on those he-pluggers’ faces makes me think that the caption to this panel should actually be “plugger moms seem to be the only ones in the house who actually use toilet paper.”