Main content:

Comics archive! Family Circus

Beetle Bailey Presents: The Clumsiest Fragging

Don’t forget: I’m selling slightly damaged hardcover copies of my novel, the Enthusiast, for the shockingly low price of $9! Click here for all the details, or just click the button below to buy. UPDATE: Holy cow, against all expectations, I sold out of these! Thanks so much, guys — books will ship out later this week. If you’re looking to buy non-damaged, non-discounted versions, try here or here, or, if you love the Amazonian behemoth, here.

Blondie, 8/23/16

I’m really not sure how to even begin grappling with this strip, in which Dagwood, a man who I’ve always assumed to be not too deep into middle age and in possession of a perfectly healthy set of teeth, sits through a nightmarish sales pitch for some kind of futuristic dental implant technology with a name out of a satirical dystopian sci-fi movie. Maybe his insatiable appetite is leading him into the dangerous world of body modification; once this dentist outfits him with ultra-efficient chewing tech, he’s going to show up at a hospital and demand that he be given gastric bypass surgery “only in reverse.”

Beetle Bailey, 8/23/16

Say what you will about today’s Beetle Bailey, but it does get to an essential truth at the heart of the strip, namely that all the characters are morons who also have access to military weaponry. I think it’s a nice touch that the joke focuses on Zero possibly blowing his own face off and just barely draws our attention to the box of live grenades propped awkwardly on the table, ready to tumble out at the most hilarious/violent moment.

Family Circus, 8/23/16

What character do you most identify with in today’s Family Circus? I’d like to think I’m the guy who’s just out there casually smoking a pipe while he’s sunbathing, but I’m probably more like the kid who thinks that because he’s wearing goggles we can’t tell how eagerly he’s staring at the other kid’s toy boat.

Mark Trail, 8/23/16

So, uh, the staff of Woods and Wildlife Magazine didn’t know invasive species were bad until, like, last year? I’m beginning to have some doubts about their environmentalist bona fides.

If I have been a sinner, Lord, I blame it on Your wicked, wicked world

Family Circus, 8/13/16

“Am I practicing flat-out nihilism, or some godless esoteric discipline — ha ha I’m agnostic on the question! Oh, I learned so much at Heresy Camp, Dolly, you have no idea ….”

Judge Parker, 8/13/16

Oh man, that’s some sub-Mary Worth-level advice Abbey is pitching right there, but in fairness, why would she engage seriously the efforts to “find and hold onto a man” of somebody whose 10-year romantic history reads like this:

  • Hometown squeeze Bob — he of the front-porch “tongue thing”. Neddy dumped him.
  • Julian “Beautiful Shoes Jules” Edgemont, Neddy’s “live-in boyfriend” from Paris. Neddy dumped him.
  • Retcon Mark,” Neddy’s newly-divorced former boyfriend, home from Harvard. Neddy dumped him.
  • Mark again, back from Hong Kong and proposing marriage. Neddy dumped him again, and somehow everybody was supposed to feel sorry for her about it.

So maybe the reason you can’t hold onto men, Neddy, is that you keep dumping them? Just spitballin’ here.

Phantom, 8/13/16

Mr. Walker (for Ghost Who Walks don’tcha know) drops his son off at school. I hope this branches the story into three: Heloise and sometimes Diana in New York, mother/daughter bonding and daughter/roomie hijinking under the sinister eye of Eric Sahara (the Nomad!); Kit Jr. learning Phantomry from the monks; and Kit Sr. and sometimes Diana going through the trials of empty-cave syndrome.

But I wouldn’t get too sure about that “You’re a Phantom” thing quite yet – the strip has been dropping hints for a long time:

Phantom, 4/5/06

Since Heloise routinely bests young Kit in athletic contests, maybe some kind of sibling duel-to-the-death scenario is in the offing? I’ll pop some corn.

–Uncle Lumpy

Comic strips are like old TV shows you never heard of

9 Chickweed Lane, 8/10/16

Sooner or later, courtship plots need to resolve. That’s no problem if you’re writing a book or play – just get your couple to their Big Moment before the final chapter or curtain. But when your TV serial or comic strip is built on romantic or sexual tension and lasts more than a couple years, you’ve got a problem. Recap Dick and Jane playing footsie for the fortieth time and your audience will start to get restless. But resolve the issue in the customary way and your good thing could end faster than you can say “Season 5 of Northern Exposure.”

After fifteen years of footsie, 9 Chickweed Lane finally got protagonists Edda and Amos in bed – technically “on piano” – during an interminable cello competition in 2008. Since then, the strip has dithered around with minor characters, flashbacks, and fantasy sequences, trying to get what it apparently thinks is its groove back.

The solution on offer is to clone the main characters and do the whole damn thing over. So now we’ve got Piano Amos (shaving in the john there) and Chinese Edda, with exactly the same personalities and hang-ups as the originals, going through the same tired will-they-or-won’t-they scenarios. Genius, really – how many instruments are there to rotate through? How many ethnicities to pair them with? How long before Gamelan Amos melts at the sight of Paiute Edda? Tam-tam Amos grovels before Igbo Edda? Bassoon Amos babbles incoherently when a wisp of Pole Edda’s hair brushes his face? It could go on forever!

And every so often they can sneak in a beaver joke.

Luann, 8/10/16

Luann’s solution to their Brad and Toni problem is to re-create beloved ’80’s sitcom Three’s Company, with TJ in the Suzanne Somers role and Frank DeGroot as the nosy neighbor. Hijinx ahead!

The Crush — Brad and TJ angrily blame Toni for sending them to a nonexistent party, never dreaming that it is the DeGroots’ teenage houseguest who wants them out of the way so he can have Toni all to himself!

The Love Diary — TJ is hired to type up the diary of a mystery person, which contains several steamy entries. Mr. DeGroot sees the diary and becomes convinced that TJ is enamored of him!

The Bake-Off — Brad accidentally eats the pie that TJ was entering in a statewide baking competition, then tries to substitute a ringer from the bakery!

Since Three’s Company did in fact go on forever – the shame of my generation – there are lots of premium plots like these to choose from. And Brad and Toni can freeze their relationship right where it is, to the relief of everybody.

Pluggers and Family Circus, 8/10/16

Coincidence? I think not!

–Uncle Lumpy