For Better or for Worse
Gasoline Alley, 1/5/12
I won’t waste my time or yours trying to explain the Gasoline Alley plot that led up to this — it’s all summarized in the first two panels here, and it took months, and Slim and Clovia were very angry with each other about it — but I do think it’s worth pointing out that all this drama has very suddenly been resolved with no action on the characters’ part, and with enough time left over to slip in a joke about toilets to boot. It’s kind of disorienting to see it all end so abruptly, and on a Thursday too. I’m thinking that the original ending, which involved yelling and knives, was nixed by the syndicate at the last minute. The remaining three days until the next plotline starts will just consist of Slim and Clovia standing around awkwardly.
For Better Or For Worse, 1/5/12
Ha ha, For Better Or For Worse, remember that thing? When it stopped with the ongoing storylines and became mostly reruns of young versions of the Pattersons talking in weird fake cute-speak it stopped being all that interesting to me, but I still feel compelled to read it daily. I also feel compelled to try to figure out, based on the art, whether we’re seeing old strips or new ones injected into the old continuity, and I think these are the latter, and I’m thinking: what if Lynn Johnston suddenly feels compelled to seize the reins and start aging the characters all over again, only this time John and Elly have a contentious divorce, leaving April to vanish in a limbo of never-was and Michael and Elizabeth with terrible emotional scars? Except look how they turned out when their parents stayed married, maybe they’ll be healthy, functional adults this way, who can say. Michael’s already showing a streak of self-loathing that, with years of therapy, might serve as a counterweight to his unbearable smugness.
Gil Thorp, 1/5/12
I’m extremely amused by the low-key Mudlark reaction in panel two, though you know that deep down they’re thinking that a Pokémon tattoo would be kind of awesome. They’re also playing it cool so as not to anger the disembodied claw-thing that’s casually draped itself on Punisher t-shirt dude’s shoulder.
Mark Trail, 1/5/12
“Yes, why don’t I come and hang out with you and Sally and your blind dog for a few days? Sweet Christ, I’d do anything to get away from my wife and adopted son.”
Beetle Bailey, 1/5/12
After billions of dollars were spent, the Defense Department began to suspect that Camp Swampy may not have been the best test site for its robotic supersoldier experiment.
Your comments of the week momentarily, but first: EXCITING NEWS! As you may know if you follow along with these sorts of things in the comments and/or forums, Mid-Atlanticon, a meetup of readers in the greater Potomac/Chesapeake region, has been in the works for a while now, and the details are at least ready to unleash upon a waiting world! On Saturday, May 22, 6 p.m., dinner and drinks will be happening at the Capitol City Brewing Co., right next door to Union Station in D.C.! And who will be drinking and dining among attendees? Me, that’s who. Also, there is a zoo excursion in the works in the afternoon (which I will unfortunately not be able to attend). Details are here in the forums. If you’re coming to the dinner part, please e-mail faithful reader and tireless meetup organizer bourbon babe, unbuckled ASAP at firstname.lastname@example.org so she can get an accurate headcount to the restaurant. So excited to see you all!
Also! Faithful reader rocketbride points out that you can bid on an original work of For Better Or For Worse Art! Three days left and it’s a steal at $71! If you want to see have an original panel where John slavers over the prospect of adding more trains to his model railroading empire and, like, frame it, or burn it, or something, go nuts. Proceeds go to the Doug Wright Awards, which recognize Canadian cartoonists. There’s actually a whole bunch of Canadian art being auctioned, including this super-rad Wonder Woman comic from the super-rad Kate Beaton!
And now, your super-rad comment of the week!
“I love Sabretooth’s exaggerated dash away from the scene in the last panel just when things are finally going his way. You can almost hear him giggling as he takes off. ‘Yeah! Take that, SOCIETY! I’m totally blogging about this!’” –Bryan Bryan
And runners-up! Very funny!
“If you rolled unmodified 3s in intelligence, dexterity, and charisma, you’re a plugger. You are required to make a daily saving throw vs. spontaneous organ failure.” –One-eyed Wolfdog
“Timmy, Timmy, Timmy — sure Olivia put up with your ‘it’s okay to touch it, we’re “married”’ for a little while, but the girl’s got prospects. She can’t wait around for you to get taller and wear less stupid hats forever.” –Megan (Best of Fates)
“Perhaps Sabretooth’s greatest ability is matching his sound effects with his own description of what he’s doing. Playing golf with him is probably a lot of fun for maybe two or three holes.” –Oavis
“Cherry’s expression in that ‘Get my hair done’ panel makes her look like she banged her head on the countertop after her usual breakfast of corn flakes swimming in vodka and lightly sprinkled with crushed Valium.” –Paul1963
“‘Getting my hair done’ is just Cherry’s code phrase for ‘getting the physical attention I desperately need, and that my husband will not provide, from Gus the gas station cashier.’ Mark’s unexpected pronouncement that he will be home for a while left her with no time to call Gus and cancel their standing Tuesday afternoon rendezvous. Fortunately, Mark will not notice that she did not actually get her hair done.” –Brian
“I hate to be catty, but what the hell is Cherry going to do to that hair that hasn’t already been done?” –mustang
“I haven’t really been following this Mark Trail storyline, so can someone fill me in on the plot points that led to an ad hoc contest for the best sexual euphemism for masturbation?” –Jester
“Are we talking about the same person? ’Cause the Lu Ann I know can barely master the intricacies of converting oxygen into carbon dioxide. If you get my drift. Which she wouldn’t.” –boojum
“I sure hope that the ‘Sassy runs off without her collar’ storyline will be settled with violence, or at least a board meeting.” –chrishocker
“The fact that Jules can make shoes that drive a man mad is an interesting plot twist. Perhaps — I hope — Judge Parker is about to move down into Lovecraftian terror, as Jules finally cobbles together that one pair of shoes that not only drives you mad, but summons the Great Old Ones from beyond? Those rugose, squamous shoes that you can hear walking across the floor in the small spaces of the night, echoing footfalls of gods of madness. It will end with murder, unspeakable depravity, and finally purifying fire. And Sam Driver will watch it all with his arms crossed and a smug expression.” –Vosh
“Honestly, this will just recycle the Rusty is nearly killed by a station wagon story we saw
30 years 6 months ago. The set up is exactly the same. Just replace ‘station wagon’ with ‘horse’: (1) Mark works on something that isn’t safe for young kids to be near; (2) Sassy runs towards the danger; (3) Rusty follows; (4) Mark yells; ‘No’ or ‘Look out’; (5) Rusty gets stuck; (6) Mark saves Rusty; (7) Rusty forgives Sassy; (8) Sassy wonders how she was foiled yet again.” –Thomas B.
“I don’t want to criticize you. I just want you to understand that you’re wrong! Horribly, horribly wrong!” –LaurenM
“Mary’s look of absolute panic in panel 1, combined with her submissive ‘I surrender’ pose, makes this entire storyline worthwhile. For a split second, Mary remembers: ‘Oh, yeah, I’m alone in the apartment of a crazy lady — one of those hot-blooded gingers, no less — and no one knows that I’m here. Maybe I’ll just give her $40 and run for the door.’ Between the first and second panels, Mary regains her smug superiority because she remembers that she’s invincible.” –Joe Blevins
“I was puzzled as to why Jack was so shamelessly kissing Margo’s ass until I got to the last panel, where it was revealed that Margo had a viselike grip on Jack’s hand the whole time, ready to snap off a finger at the first hint of anything that’s not complete compliance. ‘Don’t we always agree, Jack,’ indeed.” –Lawyerbob
“Mark Trail remains a seamless blend of new delights and old standbys; reading it is like pulling the middle lever on the soft-serve ice cream machine (when the left is ‘poo’ and the right is ‘horror’).” –Dragon of Life
“Tommie doesn’t understand why Margo and Lu Ann are fighting, but she instinctively understands it may be interesting and she has no place being part of that.” –Chip Whittle
“Pluggers may not have deep pockets, but their vacant, heavy-lidded staring at the ground indicates they sure are high.” –Keratacon
Big thanks to everyone who put cash in my tip jar! And we must of course give thanks to our advertisers:
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Mark Trail, 2/6/10
I may have missed this earlier, but it appears that the hilariously surnamed Parker brothers are hilariously named Moe and Joe. What whimsical parents they must have had, to give them rhyming names! Clearly the only way they had to rebel against their twee upbringing was to grow facial hair and generally dick it up out on the lake, with their big motors. Still, we can see a bit of their wacky heritage out on display in the rapid-fire shirt exchange they made between panels one and two, just for absurdist fun. Mark and Senator Hatcher just stand there with their hands manfully on their hips, their low-key masculinity offering a counterpoint to their desperate antics
In panel three, Joe, or possibly Moe, shows that he’s well acquainted with the most up-to-date way to effect political change, which is to buttonhole one of your elected officials and scream at him.
For Better For Worse, 2/6/10
FBOFW reruns are like comics methadone: not as good as the real thing, and yet I still can’t seem to taper off. I do enjoy them for their sociological insight into late ’70s/early ’80s Canada, anyway. Today we learn what the main characteristic of a dark, seedy Montreal jazz club of the era was: omnipresent menacing mustaches.
Come now, Marmaduke’s lovingly curated collection of human femurs is a work of art, not a mere job. I mean, I at least hope that nobody’s paying him for it.
Beetle Bailey, 1/16/10
I guess General Halftrack is supposed to be a one-star general — he has a single star on his uniform, anyway, and it’s kind of hard to imagine him getting promoted. It now appears that he has chosen this star as his logo, as if he were a supervillain or some kind, buying an enormous and hideous stained glass star window for his front door to boast of his status as a general officer. This may also be the origin story of the general’s starry pajamas, although those may indicate that he secretly harbors fantasies of someday becoming a 147-star general.
Also, have you noticed that very few people send personal letters anymore, which means that bills and bulk mail make up of most of what you get in your mailbox? That’s pretty funny, right? Right?
Apartment 3-G, 1/16/10
Is it possible that Ruby’s friend/casual sex partner Lyle is a bit player from Mark Trail? Because she seems to have acquired that strip’s random bolding syndrome. Remember, kids, always use protection when getting intimate with a cartoon character, because you too can fall victim to the heartbreak of RBS.
Panel from For Better Or For Worse, 1/16/10
Speaking of getting intimate, if you feel like your overactive libido is interfering with your life, why not print this panel out and look at it whenever you need to make those erotic feelings vanish in a puff of disgust? Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go wash my mustache for the next nine hours.
Funky Winkerbean, 12/11/09
Ever since it became clear that Summer was going to take up gainful employment at Montoni’s, Funky Winkerbean followers have asked themselves, “How will this plotline end in a terribly depressing conclusion?” The answer emerges today: age-inappropriate romance! Summer (who is supposed to be 16-ish) will against all odds fall for the smooth moves of morose loser Mopey Pete (who is supposed to be 26-ish) not because of the smoothness of said moves but because he has the advantage of not being a 16-year-old boy (and in Westview, sullen kleptomaniac Corey Winkerbean is apparently the best on offer in that department). Awkward, furtive romance will ensue, with possible negative outcomes including but not limited to: teen pregnancy, father-daughter rift, parent-on-boyfriend assault, statutory rape charge, parent-on-boyfriend assault interrupted by parental heart attack, ill-advised secret wedding, and (unrelated, but still inevitable) cancer.
Dennis the Menace, 12/11/09
While I’m all for stickin’ it to the man, I would argue that Dennis should stop focusing on the logical paradox that the sign represents and instead point out that happy family of three keeping on the grass right over there, on that hill. This police officer is regarding Dennis with a weary squint that says to me that he’s looking for an excuse to bust some heads, so its probably best to deflect his hostility rather than to explicitly ask for it.
Joey’s sartorial choices are always interesting! A short-sleeved sweater over a short-sleeved dress shirt is a remarkably bizarre outfit for a child, but, as ever, someone has got to make Dennis look menacing, if only by comparison.
For Better Or For Worse, 12/11/09
I must give props to today’s FBOFW new-run for depicting what it’s like to be a tiny person whose mother looms over you terrifyingly and ruins all your fun. In panel one, Ellie’s menacing pelvis is particularly striking.
Mark Trail, 12/11/09
It seems now that each new Mark Trail will offer another installment in the hilarious series of opportunities Mark is being given to let Rusty drown. While each obstacle is easy enough to overcome individually, when taken as a whole they should perhaps be understood as the universe itself wanting Rusty dead. Still, I’m sure Mark will courageously do some breaking and entering in order to find a special sand-compatible car jack, which leads me to wonder just how badly Mark will be willing to violate his moral code in order to save Rusty’s life. What if the urchin’s only hope is for Mark to grow a beard that the little twerp can grab onto so as to be pulled to safety? Would Mark make that ultimate sacrifice?
Judge Parker, 12/11/09
I would like it if any of my readers in the law enforcement of criminal lawyering industries could back me up here on just how insane the current Judge Parker plot developments are. To recap: Sam has dispatched one his firm’s lawyers to his client’s house so as to remove evidence from the scene that would exonerate said client. Had the police found the note — and had, say, lawyer Steve made a point of being present when the note was found — it would have become part of the evidence of the case, available to both sides in the trial, and there would have been a paper trail describing when and where it was found. But now it’s in possession of the defendant’s lawyers, which means that the prosecution can just say it’s a post facto fabrication.
Now, if the local police were terribly corrupt, Sam might have legitimate fears that they would “lose” any evidence damaging to their case, in which scenario Sam might gamble that getting the note illicitly would be better than nothing. Local law enforcement is corrupt, of course, but it’s corrupt in the sense that it favors Sam and his rich asshole friends, so this move makes even less sense. Calling the cops and taunting them by describing his painfully stupid move immediately after he made it is just moronic icing on the legal misconduct cake.
Apartment 3-G, 12/11/09
OH SNAP MARGO JUST GOT PAID! She’s putting on a halfway decent show for Tim — “if I purse my lips like this, that … that looks like grief, right?” — but clearly she’s already counting the money. Now that’s she independently wealthy, she can give up all of her half-assed attempts at earning a living and dedicate herself to plotting evil full time, which is going to be pretty fantastic.
For Better Or For Worse, 11/19/09
I’ve been staring at this vintage Foob strip for a while, trying to figure out if the seatbelts have been only been drawn in for 21st century reprint purposes. I kind of think they have been, especially based on the final panel, where Ellie’s shoulder strap sort of vanishes abruptly at the edge of her shoulder rather than fading into the zip-a-tone murk as one might expect, and Michael’s lap belt and shoulder strap stay wrapped around him despite his being dragged bodily into the next seat. So, yeah, neither of them were wearing seatbelts when this strip was drawn, presumably in the late 1970s or early 1980s, and that’s OK! It was the style at the time! I can distinctly remember that when I was roughly Michael’s age here — an age at which, I assume, a child today would be lashed into a rear-facing car seat — we had a peppy Plymouth Champ, with a buzzer that would go off if the passenger seatbelt wasn’t fastened; so, my mom would let me fasten it before I got in the car and then I would just sit on top of it. And that was totally normal! She didn’t want me to die or anything! One can be nostalgic for an earlier time with, though you probably wouldn’t be if you had a kid who died in a car accident because they weren’t strapped down properly. Still, does it make me a monster if I wish that newly regenerated young Michael were cruising along unsecured as his mother attempts to drive under the influence of whatever the 1970s Canadian equivalent of NyQuil was? Because we’ve seen what’s in store for him, and maybe it would be better if he just went face-first into that lovingly rendered radio.
Rex Morgan, M.D., 11/19/09
Ha ha, hilarious fisticuffs delivered! It appears that Tim is rapidly devolving into some kind of feral monster; poor Cue is right to be scared! Unfortunately, if his crib wasn’t capable of keeping out a couple of deranged old people, it certainly won’t provide shelter from whatever kind of violent, hideous gnome Tim has become. I know that sometimes if men act heroic and protective it will cause the ladies to swoon, Tim, but I think Becka will cease to be aroused right around the time you start chewing off Cue’s face.
I’m assuming this is one of those “I walked into a doorway” domestic violence cover-up stories, because I’ve never actually seen Leroy and Loretta in church. And really, why would they go? Why would they worship any deity who has placed them into a universe of such intense and unmitigated misery?
Mary Worth, 11/19/09
Normally statements along the lines of “my life was an empty desert of existential meaninglessness until I started nurturing new life inside my uterus” enrage me, but I’m willing to allow it here on the off chance that Delilah is subtly trying to insult the childless Mary Worth. “Mary, don’t you wish you had come to your senses sooner … before your once bountiful womb became withered and barren?” Thus perhaps this isn’t a Delilah-centered story we’re starting; rather, she may just be returning in a cameo to put the real plot in action. Just as Tommie the Tweaker reappeared just to prove that Ella Bird’s psychic powers were legit, so too will Delilah’s child-bearing smugness primarily serve to send Mary into a funk that she can only solve one way: by forcing Dr. Jeff to steal a baby for her.