B.C. was groundbreaking in a number of ways when it debuted in the late 1950s, but if you were born in the ’70s or ’80s, probably your chief memory of it is how it came to reflect creator Johnny Hart’s sincere and also somewhat aggressive Christianity. Hart died in 2007, with a new creative team led by Hart’s grandson taking over, and after a rough start B.C. has settled back into the groove as a perfectly serviceable legacy syndicated comic strip that will continue to extract declining revenue from the print newspaper industry until that industry inevitably collapses in the next 10 to 15 years.
Anyway, while I have no clue as to the religious convictions of the current strip creative team, the universe of B.C.’s cavemen has been free of Christianity or indeed any other identifiable religion from our own world over the past seven years. But today’s strip reveals that the characters are still subject to the whims of a capricious and cruel deity — specifically, of MASON, whose signature stands in for the ineffable godhead like the flaming Aleph of Jewish mysticism. “APRIL FOOL’S” the god-name announces, as one of its puny creations, expecting only a pleasant swim, plummets to an agonizing death, his final moments spent in confusion and terror.
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 4/1/14
Meanwhile, poor Uriah the mailman, the only representative of the hated Federal government who dares to set foot in Hootin’ Holler, is about to be subject to a much more human prank. What lurks in that mailbox? An angry baby rattlesnake? A rabid raccoon? A low-grade explosive device? Whatever it is, it’s bound to be hilarious, for people who aren’t Uriah!
Mark Trail, 3/31/14
As was foretold in prophecy Friday, Mark has shrugged off a sucker-punch to the face and responded with fisticuffs of his own, somehow managing to wind up and knock Marlin down with a right hook despite literally being an inch and a half away from him. Still, this victory is bittersweet, as Mark looks poignantly at the avalanche of sea turtle eggs cascading comically out of Marlin’s green poachin’-sack. Yes, there’s an exclamation point at the end of his dialogue, but based on his stricken facial expression I would guess that this is as close as we’ve ever come to seeing Mark on the verge of tears, bereft over the senseless loss of endangered animal life.
By the way, is sea turtle egg-poaching an actual thing? Like, could those eggs ever hatch now that they’ve been removed from their nest and plopped in a big pile in a bag? Do people try to keep sea turtles as pets? Do people eat sea-turtle eggs? Have we been reading the wrong meaning of “poaching” in this storyline all along?
Apartment 3-G, 3/31/14
Thank goodness Tommie has rented a freakishly enormous car from the 1940s so that there’s plenty of room for her deer friend to … sit? stand? … in the back seat. I love the way Tommie just talks to Lily like she can understand English, while the deer stares ahead with its black soulless eyes, thinking about murder.
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 3/31/14
Good lord, Snuffy’s disgust with Jughaid is palpable. “I don’t care if he is kin, I ain’t gonna have no aesthete living under my makeshift roof!”
Pluggers are just straight-up car thieves and don’t care what you think about it.
Gil Thorp, 3/26/14
The interminable winter Gil Thorp plot about … wardrobe malfunctions? or something? … has blessedly ground to a narratively unsatisfying halt, and now we’re getting the run-up to the spring plot, which, though it appears to be equally brain-dead, at least features one of the irritating teen characters being repeatedly and comically injured. Sadly, panel three here depicts zany and accident-prone baseball star “Lucky” Haskins being doused with root beer after suffering two self-inflicted black eyes — I say “sadly” not because I object to this humiliation (I most certainly do not) but because at first glance it might look like he’s being taken over by the sinister “black oil” virus from the X-Files, which would make for a more interesting plotline by an order of magnitude.
Mary Worth, 3/26/14
[GASP] TOMMY YOU CAN’T GO DOWNTOWN!!! DON’T YOU KNOW WHAT AWAITS YOU THERE? Mary Worth went downtown once, years ago, and barely escaped with her life! How can a vulnerable young addict, still fragile in his recovery, grapple with a hellscape like this and expect to escape with his soul intact?
Panel from Mary Worth, 8/7/05
Stay safely in the suburban zones, Tommy, if you value your life … and your sanity.
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 3/26/14
I can’t imagine any USDA inspectors or other allies of the “revenooers” attempting to do their jobs in Hootin’ Holler, so I have to assume that the inhabitants have established their own method of agricultural regulation to make sure they don’t poison each other with the produce of their tiny, hardscrabble farms. While surely we can see the advantages to such a system, there are disadvantages too, as Loweezy is discovering. And anyway, isn’t even a local and voluntary rating system for butter a shadow of the encroaching and sinister government Leviathan? Why don’t the Smifs just fill out an IRS Form 1040 Schedule F (Profit or Loss From Farming) while they’re at it? Looks like some folk are going to have to decamp to an even less accessible holler before this whole place goes to hell.
Apartment 3-G, 3/26/14
For the record, Tommie is taking several days to describe how she tracked down a large animal vet by talking to a minor government official in a small town in Upstate New York, so, you know, don’t worry, because suspense isn’t really going to be involved in this equation.