Uh-oh, look at that graph. Dithers Construction Company’s profitability is tanking despite robust top-line growth. That indicates significant diseconomies of scale, probably because tightwad Dithers underinvested in staff and equipment for so long. Now every new project increases the company’s reliance on outside contractors, who take advantage of tight supply and exact their revenge for Julius’ endless chiseling by driving their prices relentlessly upward. The staff is right to be alarmed — Dithers’ panicky plan to “grow his way out of trouble” only advances the day when savage job cuts will fall without warning. But yeah, how about those Olympics?
Dick Tracy, 8/11/16
Whew! Team Tracy finally slowed its march through the character archives long enough to give us a week-long standoff between Dick and aspirational nemesis Abner Kadaver at Switzerland’s Reichenbach Falls, scene of Sherlock Holmes’ (temporary) death at the hands of Professor Moriarty.
Kadaver is a high-end hit man whose body is actually decomposing from some ill-advised makeup experiments during his former career as a horror-show host. His mouth is strangely unaffected, maybe because he runs it nonstop.
Gasoline Alley, 8/11/16
There are two humanoid species in Gasoline Alley. The Round-Eyes include patriarch Walt Wallet, daughter-in-law Nina, granddaughter Clovia, the annoying Frank Nelson character, and various animals, children, and cops. The Coal-Eyes include sons Skeezix and Corky, Clovia’s husband Slim, and the Bump family here, Rover, Hoogy, and Boog.
Now of course a Coal-Eye mother may deliver a Round-Eye baby, that’s only natural and God’s plan and why would you ever ask such a thing. But I always thought they developed in the usual, uterine, fashion. Now we see that a Round-Eyeling actually inhabits its Coal-Eye mother as an insatiable parasite, consuming the body of its host from within until its eyes glare out from her hollowed-out sockets, silently shrieking “How long ’til I am born, to shed this skin-prison and feed free?”
Wow, the comics teach you something new every day, don’t they?
Sally Forth, 8/11/16
Hilary Forth has the exact same schtick as her father Ted. In any confrontation that makes her confront her future — here, confronting her literal future self — she panics and spews any nonsense she can think of to change the subject. And it works! Present Hilary can take comfort from the fact that Future Hilary apparently didn’t think it was a problem worth solving.
Maybe its just the thought-bubble and the scowl, but I think Egghead and Ant-Man are the same guy! I mean, ants lay eggs, right? — it totally makes sense. Egghead probably hatches twice the number of evil schemes he really needs and blames Ant-Man for the 50% that fail because of stupidity or bad luck. Then he writes a tiny, tiny note saying “I quit! Signed, Ant-Man” and leaves it where Spider-Man will find it and blab his “scoop” to the Bugle. Investors will then flock to Egghead’s schemes, figuring that with Ant-Man out of the picture they’ll be 100% successful!
I’m beginning to respect the evil genius of this Elihas Starr, even though he talks down to people with those big impressive $100 words like “equivalent” and “commence.”
So it turns out Marvin’s dad didn’t go to jail, and is now planning on taking his wife and child on vacation to the extremely cheap destination of “Swindletopia.” Today, his father-in-law gloms onto the trip using transparent emotional manipulation! The brief forays this strip takes into the lives of its adult characters makes you long for its usual witty and subtle baby poop jokes.
Gasoline Alley, 7/7/16
I’m trying, I’m really trying to not get worked up over the various historical horrors going on with this coin. I won’t goggle at the fact that the strip managed to accurately learn that Nero’s full name began with “Nero Claudius” but get everything else wrong: that he was never referred to as such on coins, only as “Nero Caesar”; that the picture looks almost nothing like Nero’s real coin portraits; that the “A.D.” dating system wasn’t developed until the 6th century A.D. and the pagan Romans wouldn’t have used it as a dating formula in 64 even it was around. I am, however, going to get mad about the fact that this terrible coin changes size radically between panels, appearing to be about the size of a quarter in panels one and three and about the size of a smallish plate in panel two.
Gil Thorp, 7/7/16
Oh, man, looks like Boo’s death is setting up a wacky summer Gil Thorp plot in which the kids discover nihilism! Watch them veer wildly between sullen inaction and wild self-destructive behavior, all while muttering “What’s the point of the playdowns? What’s the point of the annual bonfire? What’s the point of anything?”
Mary Worth, 7/1/16
This Mary Worth story isn’t just going to be about Wilbur forcing the Japanese to express emotions or Mary ghostwriting Wilbur’s column or Mary managing the help; it’s also about Wilbur’s girlfriend Iris and her ex-con son Tommy moving from one apartment to another! You might remember Tommy as an an aspiring meth entrepreneur (that panel’s from four years before Breaking Bad came out, people: Mary Worth is once again an innovator) who had cool hair; later, after he got paroled, he sold out and got a haircut so he could get a job as a janitor and a sandwich emporium. It’s nice to see that gainful employment hasn’t prevented him from growing it out again, although from the look of things maybe he’s just trying to match his mom’s hairstyle, presumably because they’ve joined some kind of cult together.
Gasoline Alley, 7/1/16
Since this coin is supposedly nearly 2,000 years old, you think Skeezik would want it examined by … I dunno, maybe an academic of some kind, rather than a pawn shop? I bet he regrets voting “Yes” in the referendum on the Expel All Intellectual Eggheads From Gasoline Alley Act now!
Judge Parker, 7/1/16
“Or maybe she just doesn’t like you! Have you considered that she might not like you? Often the most obvious explanations are also the correct ones.”
[at the Tribune Company, 1993]
“…and we’ll illustrate the reader ideas with whimsical half-person, half-animal creatures.”
“That sounds great. One thing that occurs to me, though: won’t a lot of these reader ideas involve pets? The ordinary folks we’re targeting with this strip love their pets! Won’t that be extremely unsettling, as we’ll be implying a world where the division between humans and beasts isn’t a bright line, a world where there’s a muddled continuum of sapience?”
“No, I don’t think that’ll be a problem at all.”