Mary Worth, 12/2/13
As Mary Worth whines to Broadway has-been Ken Kensington about how she misses New York’s “former charm,” let’s do a little age-math, shall we? I have a strong memory (though I can’t find it now) of some official or semi-official King Features source describing Mary as “perpetually 60.” Maybe she’s a little older, but surely not past her mid-60s. Mary has said earlier in this storyline that she used to live in New York when she was a young woman; again the dates are fuzzy, but we can say with relatively certainty that this period in her life was somewhere between 30 and 40 years years ago. The years from 1973 to 1983 were, of course, the Taxi Driver/Bernie Goetz era in New York City, so you probably need to rethink whatever you were imagining when Mary wistfully recalled the city’s “former charm.” Presumably she’s one of those people who can’t go through Times Square without muttering about how it looks like a God-damn mall now that that asshole Giuliani shut down all the porn theaters. “After your experience with that mugger, it may be hard for you to agree!” “I’ll be okay, Ken. I’m shaken … shaken by how half-assed that mugging was. What self-respecting New York City thug would just give up when confronted by a portly actor? Why aren’t I lying dead in a puddle of my own blood right now?”
How exactly are those lids staying on the trash cans as the Garbage Ape swings them to and fro? Don’t those owls look like they were just cut and pasted from another drawing and plopped onto a picture of a pine tree without regards for what exactly might be holding them up? I hate to say it, but rampant Garbage Ape mania has upped the demand for this lovable/mysterious character so much that the strip is churning out some slapdash art to keep up.
Beetle Bailey, 12/2/13
Article 115 of the U.S. Military Code of Justice, “Malingering,” says that “Any person subject to this chapter who for the purpose of avoiding work, duty, or service feigns illness, physical disablement, mental lapse or derangement … shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.” So, good news for everyone who ever wanted to see Beetle Bailey locked up in a military prison. Camp Swampy is clearly not a “hostile fire pay zone” but I’m guessing that the military still considers us to be living “in time of war” for legal purposes, so he’s looking at three years of hard time!
Ha ha, look at how terrified that little blonde child is! “He’s heavy! So heavy! Heavier than anything alive from our space-time continuum has any right to be! You’ll die in agony, your bones crushed to powder under a pile of impossibly dense meat, all while he sleeps his ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep!”
Judge Parker, 12/2/13
“I don’t think it matters that we live in a world where mysterious, incredibly skilled black ops troops with no obvious allegiance to any nation-state can swoop into anywhere in the world, with tactical data gained from omnipresent and near-omniscient surveillance tech, and snatch up anyone they want, killing dozens of insurgents, criminals, and terrified bystanders in the process! Just don’t worry your pretty little head over the fact that unimaginable military power will protect you, so long as some member of the ultra-rich mega-elite takes a shine to you and orders your rescue on a whim! The important thing is that Ross is safe! You know, for now.”
Readers of this blog are aware that the primary theme of Marmaduke is that Marmaduke is a nightmarish demon-god who hungers for human flesh (and human souls) and keeps the populace of his sleepy suburban town in a state of constant terror. You’re probably also aware of a secondary theme: namely, that Marmaduke’s owner is Hitler. But there’s also a tertiary narrative strand that pops up very occasionally, involving terrifying space monsters who occasionally wander into the panel. Are we meant to understand today that this seemingly innocent-looking fire hydrant is secretly a space-travelling robot probe, with a mission to scan Earth and report back to its interstellar masters? Or is it just an ordinary fire hydrant that, in a desperate bid for survival, spontaneously achieved both sentience and the power of spaceflight in order to avoid being doused in Marma-urine? (Marma-urine is more corrosive than the most powerful industrial acid known to man, because, as noted, Marmaduke is a nightmarish demon-god.)
Dennis the Menace, 9/1/13
Citizens! Are you adequately terrified of looming and unspecified disasters and crises? Are you monitoring government-approved warning systems at all times? Have you and your neighbors made a plan to flee your homes forever, abandoning all your worldly possessions and leaving entire cities empty, if the “need” arises? This adorable towheaded tyke wouldn’t lie to you! The threat is real! Vague but real! Dennis’s menacing factor has increased an order of magnitude.
Wizard of Id, 9/1/13
The best panel in this strip is definitely the second in the third row. The Wiz and his treasured pet gaze at one another with the sort of pure, unembarrassed love that it seems people can only experience with animals. There’s going to be a new way for the two of them to be affectionate! Isn’t that great! Then, of course, comes the tearing flesh and the venom seeping into open wounds. And the screaming. So much screaming.
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.)
This would just be another “Ha ha, Ziggy is foolish” panel if not for dark bags under Ziggy’s eyes. As it is, it’s pretty harrowing. What botanical horror has been going on at this house, leaving Ziggy unable to flee and yet still fearful of the ever-proliferating zucchini? Is it an Invasion of the Body Snatchers-type situation, where each of those pods contains a gestating duplicate of one of Ziggy’s innumerable pets? Ziggy has been awake for days, knowing that he’ll be replaced by a soulless pod person the moment he dozes off. This exterminator was his last hope. Nobody can help you, Ziggy. Nobody can help you.
Luther’s wife’s look of face-melting terror in the fourth panel is one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in this strip in years. Still, her reaction at the end of the strip just goes to show how numb she and her husband have become to presence of the caniform hell-demon in their midst. Better the devil you know than whatever she was imagining, am I right? I mean “devil you know” literally, of course. Marmaduke is the Prince of Lies, and everyone in the neighborhood knows him quite well, having been close enough to him to smell the damned souls on his hot, awful breath.
Speaking of monstrous dogs: would I endorse this monstrous dog eating every single one of the recurring Marvin characters one by one, each of them screaming as they slide down his gullet? Yes, yes I would.
Luann used to be one of those strips whose archives I would read when I got back from vacation, because maybe I had missed exciting developments! But slowly I realized that, enh, Luann, and I stopped doing it. So I have literally no idea how concerned the DeGroots should actually be about their teenage daughter spending so much time online, but I do find it pretty amusing how vague they’re being about it. As if they’re not really sure what this whole “online” thing is about — they’ve heard about computers, obviously, but wouldn’t actually use one, because they’re for young people — and so can only go by what they read about in articles when it comes to imagining what their daughter might be doing in so-called “cyberspace.” What did this article, which presumably ran in a print publication, say? Did it reveal that sometimes people on the Internet take on personas different from their real-life lives? Was Mr. DeGroot shocked to learn that, with some cunning “search engine” work, a cyber-naut can find images and videos of people in various states of undress, or even engaged in sexual acts? We can’t know. He doesn’t dare speak it aloud, even to his wife. It’s too awful.
Apartment 3-G, 2/25/13
Once upon a time, Margo’s dad was a wealthy two-timing cad who knocked up the family’s ethnic-of-some-sort maid and forced her to give up the baby (our Margo!) to his wife to raise, but then years later Margo found out about everything and then later still her bio-parents started hanging out together and then his wife became a pill-crazed maniac. I bring this all up because, even if Margo’s parents have suddenly been retconned into bland, kindly old WASPs, we can at least take solace in the fact that her dad is still rich! Rich enough to pay for luxury suites for Margo’s friends, anyway. (Hope you’re enjoying your stay at a single-room occupancy hotel paid for by Red Cross vouchers, everyone else in the building!) Anyway, it’s nice to see that this “luxury suite” has the same fussy 1950s interior design as the girls’ apartment, since we wouldn’t want them feeling aesthetically unmoored during this trying time.
The few seconds a day it takes to read Newspaper Spider-Man is literally the longest I’ve ever spent with Daredevil as a character, so I was somewhat chagrined to learn upon doing a bit of research this morning that his “radar sense” is indeed a thing, though more recent interpretations just sort of have it as a super-intense version of the whole “blind people’s other senses are heightened” thing and thus not something that can be detected by, say, a missile. Spider-Man’s “spider-aura”, in contrast, seems not to be a thing, since three of the first four Google hits for the phrase are to a non-Spider-Man themed discussion from 2011 on an Ultimate Fighting Championship message board. I guess they’re talking about his spider-sense and just didn’t want to say “sense” twice in the same panel? Haha, Spider-Man is forced to resort to clumsy circumlocutions in his own comic strip! Anyway, this strip is notable because it features two superheroes deciding to go with the classic “let’s split up and hope it goes after you” technique.
Gil Thorp, 2/25/13
“Birseed” in the final panel is almost certainly a typo, but if you want a realistic in-universe explanation for it, you can go ahead and imagine that Gil is just kind of drunk.
Haha, it’s funny because Marmaduke’s owner is terrified of Marmaduke and is laboring mightily to obey his woofed commands! SHOVEL, PUNY HUMAN, SHOVEL OR THE SNOW WILL BE STAINED RED BY YOUR SCATTERED VISCERA
Since the dawn of time, mankind has wondered: is there any creature more powerful than Marmaduke, our awful tormentor, who rules over this plane of existence with gore-drenched fangs? Today’s strip suggests intriguing possibilities. Who is this mysterious creature, this “intruder” that we never get a clear look at, who is rummaging through Marmaduke’s exterior death-temple? How does it command the powers of lightning to repel Marmaduke’s attack without the two beings ever coming into contact? Does this entity represent a possible ally for terrified humanity in its struggle against its awful Marmadukean overlord, or will we puny mortals merely suffer as collateral damage in the struggle between the two infinitely powerful hell-beasts?
Judge Parker, 1/6/13
The ultimate Judge Parker strip: The Parker family stands around their well-appointed kitchen, marveling at an enormous check.