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The Bowers/Abbotts père et fille share a private moment and a little shop talk. The thought of simply declaring her Dad’s gift and paying import duties and taxes on it never crossed April’s mind. “Can money even move in that direction — ‘away’?”, she muses. Somehow it doesn’t seem physically possible!
Welcome to the family, girlfriend – a true Parker at last!
Or maybe not? Long-running strips need to be really careful about irrevocable steps like marriages, graduations, and deaths. They upset a strip’s balance, limiting the ways characters can contribute. And if there’s one constant in Judge Parker over the last fifty years, it’s that Randy Parker is a clueless, self-satisfied tool, perpetually used and discarded by women. This principle is so much a part of the strip’s bedrock that even on the eve of his wedding, I can’t believe they’ll go through with it. I fully expect that April will die in a hail of gunfire or (more likely) disappear into the jungle at the last possible moment. Anyway, stay tuned — we’ll know in mere months!
That said, what on earth is going on in Luann? Everybody’s been moving through middle-school and high school over the strip’s 29 years, and now they’re seniors announcing college plans for the fall. Ethnic ciphers Rosa and Delta are off to Yale and Howard, most of the cast to nearby “Moony Uni” (OK sure, some kind of Unification Church outfit, I guess), and Luann to the local Community College.
Is Luann really just six months away from becoming a “college hijinks” strip, or a soaper about declining academic standards and unsustainable student debt? Is inert, self-absorbed, academically dishonest Luann even remotely plausible as a college student? All these questions will have to wait, because: OMG YOU GUYS PROM!
Herb and Jamaal, 3/20/14
Yet another newspaper drops Herb and Jamaal, and Herb blames his son for it.
“I was going to save those men — but their plight has flushed Spider-Man out of hiding! Now they can just die for all I care, for putting that stink on my beloved city!”
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Apartment 3-G, 1/27/14
Here’s the thing about me and the soap opera strips: after years of reading them, I’ve just sort of normalized their usual low-level absurdity, and so they have to get really absurd before I sit up and take notice. So, last week, when Tommie saw a deer get hit by a car and found a little baby deer and felt bad about it, with the whole thing narrated by Tommie without us ever actually seeing either deer? Low-level absurd. Tommie bringing said baby deer, who looks a lot more like a kangaroo or something, back to her small New York City apartment, to live? VERY ABSURD. This week’s going to be great! Tommie tries to figure out what the baby deer will drink from a bottle and eventually calls La Leche League! Tommie tries to laugh off all the lacerations on her hands and face from the deer’s tiny but still sharp hooves! Tommie takes the deer for a walk, on a leash! The deer poops and pees all over the apartment, despite the fact that Tommie’s been taking it for walks! OH MY GOD MARGO OH MY GOD WHAT WILL MARGO SAY I AM SO EXCITED YOU GUYS
Mark Trail, 1/27/14
Speaking of things I’m excited about: we all know Mark Trail recycles plots from its past, sometimes directly, sometimes piecing together characters and art and plot points from multiple sources to create a dreamlike world of eternal return. Anyway, one of the first great Mark Trail storylines this blog covered, more than nine years ago (ugh, I am so old) involved Birdie, a kindly, animal-loving vet who was married to a taxidermist who was using taxidermy as a front to smuggle drugs and Mark figured it out and Birdie and her husband knocked Mark unconscious and threw him in the water where he encountered some sharks. Will bird-helping Jessica Canupp’s taxidermist boyfriend also be a drug dealer? Let’s hope!
Six Chix, 1/27/14
Can you imagine if some substance that magically restored youth were discovered, but it only existed at one place on Earth and you had to travel there to get it? As soon as word got out, thousands or millions of people would quit their jobs and jump in the car, overwhelming whatever transportation infrastructure existed in the region. But the traffic jams would just be the beginning: whoever discovered the fountain and initially tried to control access to it would immediately be overwhelmed by the influx of desperate people, greedy for eternal life; similarly, whatever government ruled the territory would struggle to simultaneously maintain order in the region and fend off neighboring states for whom the temptation to conquer this miracle land would be overwhelming. Within weeks or even days of the fountain’s discovery, global society would inevitably collapse into violent anarchy. So, yes, there’s some good world-building going on in Six Chix here, though I’m not sure what the “joke” is supposed to be per se.
Oh man, I had assumed this was just a rerun of the last time the boys and the girls at Pitts High had weird, unsettling bathroom conversations, but now it appears that Knute actually has some sort of official bathroom-cleaning duties, to give the whole scenario some vague context outside someone’s very specific fetishes. Hey, remember during the 2012 Republican primaries when Newt Gingrich said that poor children should work as school janitors to make moneyl? We should send him a copy of this cartoon and watch him weep bitter tears at the horrifying unintended consequences of his schemes.
Hello, faithful readers! Your Comics Curmudgeon is back, and will keep on doing that thing he does in 2014, seeing as, against all odds, the print newspaper universe and its ancillary industries, like syndicated comics and bridge columns, have not shut up shop! Let us take this first of the year to give thinks for this triumph of hope over experience and/or analysis of various balance sheets, and to review the comics of the last couple of weeks.
Panel from Apartment 3-G, 12/23/13
As expected, Lu Ann’s inexplicable crush object Cole left for an upstate brain hospital, never to be seen again. Margo is trying to teach her how to use her facial expressions to mask ordinary emotions like sadness and longing, because those mark you out as weak. “Really? That’s the best you can do?” she asks, as she twists her own face into an inhuman horror-rictus.
Panel from Judge Parker, 12/23/13
You probably aren’t surprised to learn that the ultra-pampered mega-rich Parkers live in such a ennui-haze of instant gratification that the only way they can experience even a glimmer of excitement is to be in terrible mortal danger.
Mark Trail, 12/24/13
In Mark Trail, the story of the World’s Stupidest Currently Active Indian Artifact Thieves proceeds apace! It sure was dumb of Mark to turn his back on Jeff. But Jeff just knocking Mark unconscious and leaving him alive in this cabin was probably … infinitely dumber?
Rex Morgan, M.D., 12/24/13
On to Rex Morgan, where young Sarah found her babysitter making out with her boyfriend Niki (who also happens to be Rex’s former “fishing” “buddy”). What did you ask Santa for this Christmas? Was it Sarah Morgan acting like a creepy adult-child, only this time about sex? Well, you got it, by God.
Panel from Spider-Man, 12/25/13
Or maybe you wanted some Mark I Iron Man armor? Newspaper Spider-Man’s narration box seems to think that this is a festive thing, for some reason!
Gil Thorp, 12/25/13
Or maybe you just wanted some Christmas greetings from Coach and Mrs. Coach Thorp. Remember when the annual Thorp Christmas card featured their beloved children? Well, those kids are gone now, never mentioned, presumably removed from the timestream altogether thanks to advanced chrono-science or maybe just sold to a glove factory somewhere, which gives Gil and Mimi lots more free time for drunken Christmas partner-swapping with Coach Kaz and Kelly. Wait, is Coach Kaz’s girlfriend actually named Kelly? Whatever, I’m not bothering to look that up. The point is, they’re all going to swing.
Panel from Luann, 12/25/13
I’m quite sure nobody wanted to see Brad and Toni giving each other “sexy” Christmas gifts, and yet here we are. Why would anyone give or wear a t-shirt that says “this stud taken” on it? Is there … is there supposed to be wordplay involved, somehow?
Mark Trail, 12/25/13
OK, fine, maybe Jeff failed to kill Mark and left him to his own devices, but at least he left him permanently disabled, because he tied him up with rope! There’s no way he can escape from … oh. Oh.
Panel from Mary Worth, 12/26/13
Mary Worth continues to writhe in ecstasy due to her continued exposure to high levels of Ken Kensington’s erotic aura. “How could such a silver-haired fox still be single?” she hisses, bug-eyed, as she crams an entire cracker into her mouth without chewing. “Is it a trap?”
Mary Worth, 12/27/13
Yes, Mary, it is! Ken Kensington is a soothsaying wizard like Nostradamus of old! Flee from him now before he brings you to his witch’s coven, to be sacrificed!
You may have noticed that there have been exactly zero strips from Curtis’s insane hallucinatory Kwanzaa storyline in this post. Well, there’s no easy way to tell you this, so I’m just going to come out and say it: Curtis-Kwanzaa (Curwanzaa?) is cancelled this year. Instead, the Wilkins parents are going out on a New Year’s date and Curtis and Barry will be babysat by the most religious woman in th’ world, who will presumably tell them that there’s no mention of any so-called Kwanzaa in the bible and they’ll have to go through an emergency exorcism for even mentioning it.
Funky Winkerbean, 12/30/13
Funky’s son Cory is back from Afghanistan, with his army buddy/fellow comic book aficionado Rocky, with whom he may or may not be romantically involved. When did your dad get so charming, Cory? Probably when he decided he wanted to fuck your girlfriend!
Gil Thorp, 12/30/13
Speaking of unwanted sexual advances, everyone wants to have sex with Wynn Wiley’s sister, who is a very good dancer! That appears to be literally the entire basketball season plot. Should be a fun next couple months!
Mark Trail, 12/31/13
“Mr. Trail, I’m tempted to kill you! I was tempted earlier, during the many, many opportunities I’ve had to do so! Almost as if it would make my life easier, somehow!”
Mark Trail, 1/1/14
But, nope, he’s just going to make Mark carry his canoe for him instead. Say, is that a beehive? We all know about Mark’s special relationship with eusocial insects. Nice knowing you, Jeff!
Apartment 3-G, 1/1/14
What? What could be better? A marriage to an Italian man? A fling with an Italian girl? An explanation as to how the Professor lost fifty pounds and de-aged thirty years? Whatever it is, we’ll all discover it in 2014, together!