Barney Google & Snuffy Smith
Herb and Jamaal, 5/21/13
I don’t expect naturalistic dialogue from Herb and Jamaal, but wow guys this is some badly-translated-from-the-Slovak weirdness right here. Herb’s facial expressions as he stares at the money and then ever so slowly pulls out his wallet and slips the cash inside it are also pretty creepy. Especially his heavy-lidded zonked-out look in the final panel. Pretty sure he plans on “blocking out the memories of the experience” with powerful opiates, which are what he needs the money for.
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 5/21/13
Speaking of unnatural dialogue, “Another anniversary, Elviney?” is certainly a weird way to offer congratulations to your best friend and her husband! “Another anniversary, Elviney? I thought you swore you’d be widowed or divorced by now?” “I married Lukey fer life! An’ I assumed that our community’s poor medical care and unusually short life expectancy would either kill off my husband or leave me in the sweet embrace of death long ago!”
Normally when someone brings a baby to a movie theater — which, let me just mention, is one of the worst things you can do as a movie goer, what the hell could you possibly be thinking — you can’t blame the baby. You should blame the parents, for being thoughtless morons. But … look at Marvin’s face. That evil smile. He’s looking forward to disrupting the cinema experience for everyone involved. The question is, will he start off by crying, thus driving everyone around him into a rage right away? Or will his opening move be a massive diaper dump, filling theater patrons with disgust and nausea?
Sometimes when I take a little break from blogging, I wonder if the comics landscape will have shifted in my absence, leaving me stranded in a world I no longer understand. Fortunately, the newspaper comics industry is incredibly ossified, so I usually have no worries on that score. For instance, Spider-Man is engaged in a battle against a super-villain, and is losing, pathetically, and in need of a bailout from another, better superhero! No changes here! Kingpin is at least being innovative in his attack on Spider-Man: he’s using a laser beam hidden in his cane to defeat the wall-crawler, rather than just bludgeoning him with the cane itself, which would surely have been just as effective and probably a lot more efficient, if less artful.
Apartment 3-G, 5/20/13
Lu Ann clearly did not take the opportunity afforded by my absence to become less of a moron. At first I was confused as to why she would be surprised that Greg, Margo’s client/love slave, was James Bond — surely this isn’t a secret to anyone at this point? But then I saw how she apparently shouldered Margo aside and grabbed hold of her freakishly huge laptop, so now I assume she thinks Greg is trapped inside the screen. “Whoa — is that Greg?! Greg, don’t worry, we’ll get Superman to free you from the Phantom Zone!”
It there’s one thing we can expect from our longrunning legacy comics, it’s that they do a good job of illustrating hoary old humor tropes. Haha, Heathcliff’s owner-boy’s trumpet (?) playing is terrible, resembling a bellow made by a yak! Specifically, a mating bellow made by a yak. Check out the hearts hovering above that yak’s head. It’s attracting yaks … for sex.
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 5/20/13
Like many isolated, desperately poor, undergoverned enclaves, Hootin’ Holler can erupt in vicious, arbitrary violence at any moment.
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 4/24/13
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
Mark Trail, 4/22/13
Mark and Wes are off to go “look at some sheep” (if you know what I mean) (and I think you do) (I’m talking about sex with sheep) and they’re a little worried about leaving the ladies alone! Don’t fret, fellas, they’ll be fine, just fine, having a grand old time stone cold shooting at things. Better make a lot of noise as you approach the camp when you come back! They might get a little trigger happy (if you know what I mean) (and I think you do) (I’m talking about them getting crazed with bloodlust and pumping anything that moves full of hot lead).
Apartment 3-G, 4/22/13
Margo usually doesn’t think about niceties like “sleep” or “working tomorrow” when there’s a hot piece of duly elected man meat in her sights, but for once she’s sticking to the girl-bro code. She and Lu Ann promised each other they’d double-team the governor, and she’s not going in alone!
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 4/22/13
Man, even the butterflies are aggressive and foul-mouthed in Hootin’ Holler.
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 4/10/13
A new character came to Hootin’ Holler a while back; I can’t remember how long ago now — months? years? Most residents of the Holler are a mite suspicious of calendars anyhow, tied as they are to the Revenooers tax-collection cycle. But anyway, this kid! His name is Arlo! He’s Jughead’s … cousin, I think? And he’s a damn goody goody. Yesterday he was caught enjoying book-learnin’; today he’s teaching Jughead to enjoy the process of economically productive manual labor. And he wears a tie! Could he be a Revenooer himself? My prediction: either he’ll artfully convince Hootin’ Holler to once again become a productive economic unit, or he’ll be chased out of the community at the business end of a shotgun by the end of the month.
Mark Trail, 4/10/13
Oh boy oh boy Mark Trail! It turns out that Sexy Wes is in fact a major investor in Woods and Wildlife Magazine! And since WWM’s last big advertiser, the pro bass tournament circuit, has pulled out all its money now that Marks has exposed their corruption, that leaves our journalists no choice but to dance to their paymaster’s tune. Which I guess will involve Mark flying to Wes and Shelly’s fussily decorated mansion and personally explaining to her how awesome it is to appreciate the outdoors. (Watch the sparks fly when Mark finds out what sick sex thing “appreciate the outdoors” is code for.)
Rex Morgan, M.D., 4/10/13
Haha, so not only did Milton’s cardiologist not tell Milton he was inevitably going to die, he didn’t even bother doing any actual medical-style tests on the patient before filling his head with terror. Still, his negligence works out to Nurse Becka’s benefit. Just in time for the show, she seems to be thinking in panel three, the sexy naked silver-haired millionaire show.
Special message to Baltimore-area readers: Psst! Don’t forget to come see me do comedy at Magooby’s, tonight!
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 4/3/13
You know, not to get too meta about my own shtick, but sometimes I get into so much of a groove exaggerating a strip’s tropes for humorous/queasy-making purposes that I forget that those tropes don’t always even need exaggeration! For instance: did you know that much of the intended humor value in Barney Google and SnuffY Smith derives from the fact that all the characters are desperately poor? It’s true! Like, I don’t think I ever fully grasped it, but instead of having “rooms” in their shack, the Smiths just have a tattered curtain running across the middle of the interior, providing rudimentary privacy when Snuffy and Loweezy want to get away from each other — when the latter’s resentment towards the former for never, ever helping around the house reaches a seething crescendo, say.
Mark Trail, 4/3/13
So Rusty is holding some kind of taxidermied monkey’s paw on the end of a long stick, right? There’s no way that withered hand at the bottom of panel two is (a) connected to his shoulder by an ordinary arm or (b) is a human hand or (c) is living tissue with blood pumping through it. What a strange, upsetting little boy. Mark at least seems to understand that Rusty is best experienced in small doses, though his attempt to express the idea using normal human syntax is somewhat unsuccessful. “Consider that a deal, friend! And remember, we can’t visit you if we don’t go home first! So we’re going home! Trust me, once you stop looking at Rusty, that weird inexplicable tension you have in your jaw will go away!”
Edge City, 4/3/13
Fine, Uncle Lumpy, fine, you’ve got me hooked on Edge City’s obsessive neurotic stylings! Anyway, today obsessive neurotic Abby Ardin’s hopes for a little emotional intimacy with her husband have been dashed, even taking into account the extremely low bar she’s set for herself.
Mary Worth, 4/3/13
After a busy day of not giving Tom’s lovelorn messages to her daughter, Elinor relaxes by reading the Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe and rattling her beloved bottles of prescription meds. This raises the question: How will Tom die? Tied to a table and eviscerated by a huge swinging blade? Or from a mysterious pill overdose?
Dennis the Menace, 4/3/13
Dennis and Joey are dragging a wagon of garbage around the neighborhood! Yes, Margaret, you are right to be horrified.