Prince Valiant, 11/18/12
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!
Prince Valiant, 3/13/11
In the dark ages before mobile phones, a sorceress with a beef could hex a passing oaf, daub ZOMG U R A HOAR!!11! on his tunic, and send him lumbering off to her rival’s lair. A good catfight would choke the streets of Camelot with oaves trudging to and fro through the dung and offal wearing STFU, 4Q 2U2, and 182, or lounging in the market as ZZZ or BRB.
Maldubh, sorceress wife of Val’s rival Draco, recently oafed Val and Aleta: V@L+A1337A — FOAD Y NOT? KTHXBAI, and here we see the reply: OMFG MAGIC FAIL NEENR NEENR.
Dick Tracy (panels), 3/13/11
Dick Tracy and Dick Locher say goodbye. Aww, nice. “High-speed”, heh!
The Lockhorns (panel), 3/13/11
Loretta Lockhorn brags about her plan to sex her husband to death. Sorry, Loretta — Anna Nicole Smith you are not.
– Uncle Lumpy
Prince Valiant, 3/28/10
A couple minor setbacks in the inky gloom is all it takes for Val to ditch Aleta and high-tail it back to the surface: “Hey, Arn, I tried, all right?” No matter, though — these guys who seemed so scary back in October come off up close like cranky grey Smurfs or tiny Burghers of Calais or something.
And while it’s sad to see Aleta’s slow-mo trail-marking striptease come to an end, under the circumstances a “loss of prudence” may be exactly what she needed.
Slylock Fox, (panel) 3/28/10
Sly, enraged that inamorata Cassandra Cat prefers his well-endowed rival Buford Bull, lashes out with yet another flimsy, jewelry-related pretext for jealous revenge. I ask: who’s the real heel here?
Only Max notices actual thief Reeky Rat, whose hiding place is becoming his tomb. “Squeak!” “Squeeeeeeeeak!”
Comics for Kids?—I think not!
The Lockhorns (panel), 3/28/10
Loretta corresponds online with Darkness Itself, who logs off in haste and horror.
Mary Worth (panel), 3/28/10
In an otherwise undistinguished recap of the week’s non-events, Mary vents her disgust and resentment at Bonnie and Fine Ernie Johnson, with their to-themselves-keeping, intrusion-resenting, arrogant lowness of key. Just who the hell do these people think they are?
Hey, yeah, still me. Heh, heh: y’know, Josh, amirite? Monday for sure, I’m told.
– Uncle Lumpy
I never paid much attention to the art in comic strips before I discovered Josh’s site. Most of it doesn’t seem very good. It must be hard for an artist to work with today’s cheap newsprint, fuzzy water-based inks, and tiny spaces, especially in the dailies. The Web may help, or it may not. I’ve spent a lot of time this week compressing strips to make them fit the bandwidth budget – and the better the original art, the more compression seems to hurt it.
It’s easy to blame the artists, but it’s not always right. Look at what Mary Worth‘s Joe Giella can do:
Yes, that’s our Toeby on the left. Helluva right hook, too. And merciful Heavens, look what they’ve done to the girls in Apartment 3G:
You can say that again, Margo! This clip, by the way, is from the excellent Prof. Mendez retrospective on photo-realistic strips that’s been cited before in these pages.
I wouldn’t be much of a Curmudgeon — even a substitute — if I didn’t think things were going to hell in a handbasket. But there’s always hope. Manga Patrick Nagel June in Rex Morgan, the Sunday Phantom, the clever frame-bending in Get Fuzzy and 9 Chickweed Lane, the pixellated iconography of Diesel Sweeties – artists are finding new ways of working within their constraints. But still, I don’t think we’re going to see anything like this again:
My, how I do go on. But big news: Josh is back! Look for a satisfying wallow through the Sunday comics tomorrow! And everybody, thanks for a delightful week – see you in the comments!
- Uncle Lumpy
Not that I’m married to factual accuracy or anything, but I just thought I’d correct one misstatement in my Prince Valiant entry of a few days ago: the current author of that strip and managing editor of the Atlantic is named Cullen Murphy, not John Cullen Murphy. John was Cullen’s father, who also worked on Prince Valiant, and he just recently passed away. You can read more about them both here. Thanks to Robin for setting me straight.
Thanks to everyone who’s been reading this little blog over the past few weeks. In what has been a fairly major shock to me, I seem to have attracted a core group of several dozen readers. So now I’m going to probably throw all that away by going on vacation for two weeks. I’ll be in France, and thus away from my computer and the comics section, until Friday, August 27. In theory, I could go to an Internet cafe and post about the comics in the International Herald Tribune every day, but I’m, like, not going to.
For everyone bereft by this news, I have a homework assignment. Those of you who are interested should keep track of one of the soap opera comics discussed here so far (Apartment 3-G, Mary Worth, The Phantom, Rex Morgan, M.D., or Mark Trail) over the next two weeks and send me a summary of plot developments on the 26th. Whoever can sum up two weeks of action most succinctly and amusingly gets their version published here. I’ll bet you can do Mary Worth in a sentence.
Au revoir, y’all!
Prince Valiant, 8/8/04
Click here to view the full-sized comic in a new window.
I made a cheap shot last week when I cited Prince Valiant in an entry about the comics and “failed” classicists (though as a failed classicist myself, it was largely meant to be self-deprecating). As a well-informed but anonymous reader pointed out, the storylines for Prince Valiant are written by John Cullen Murphy, a medieval history major in college and current managing editor for the Atlantic, the hem of which publication’s robes I am not worthy to touch. Prince Valiant is in fact one of my great, non-ironic pleasures in the comics. Back when I was in grad school, in the waning days of the Clinton administration, my specialty was in what was then trendily called “the Late Antique” (no doubt it has a different name now), which covers very broadly the period from about the third century A.D. to about the seventh. It’s later than the Ancient Rome of I, Claudius, and it’s earlier than the knights-in-armor-and-damsels-in-distress middle ages; and so, while burdened with the dire poverty, grinding workload, and blighted social life that afflict all graduate students, I also had the additional problem of describing to normal human beings what the hell it was I actually studied.
Now I wish that I had been familiar with Prince Valiant then, because if I had, I just could have said, airily, “Oh, you know, it’s the stuff that happens in Prince Valiant.” In a country where anything that happened before World War II is generally considered ancient history, in the comics pages every Sunday we have a strip dedicated to goings-on sometime in the middle of the 500s A.D. While of course the characters’ adventures happen more or less outside the realm of real history, in my several years of following it I’ve yet to spot any real historical goofs.
One thing I’ve noted over time is the absence of any references to the magic and wizardry that most people associate with the time of King Arthur. In addition, although the characters live in a world that is obviously Christian (Galan is seeking the Holy Grail, after all, and has met with the Pope on his quest), that aspect is significantly underplayed. The current action features a hermit on the spot where Moses supposedly received the Ten Commandments reading from an unnamed “sacred book.” He tells the story of the Assyrian seige of Jerusalem from 2 Kings 18-19 — except that where the Old Testament has the Assyrian army struck down by an angel of God, our hermit attributes the victory to the King of Judah’s ingenuity in blocking up a spring. One imagines that the people who are up in arms about creeping secular humanism in the funnies are shooting off angry letters to the editor about this comic (written by a major player in the East Coast liberal media elite, no less!). Personally, I’m just glad to have a counterweight to Johnny Hart.
Of course, Prince Valiant is beautifully drawn, too. It’s impossible to find current strips online, though, which is why I haven’t commented on it earlier. I ended up scanning this one from the paper myself, cutting it up and reassembling in with image editing software, which was a big pain in the ass. So I insist rather forcefully that you click on the link to the full-sized comic above and appreciate the artwork, particularly in the dark and moody middle panel.