After all these years of mocking this strip, I still can’t tell if the central conceit is supposed to be “pluggers are lower-middle-class exurban reactionaries” or just “pluggers are old.” Honestly, I think it wavers from day to day. Today’s panel I’m tentatively putting into the second of those two buckets, because while I wasn’t aware of this particular joy of aging, I also can’t imagine that it has anything particularly to do with anybody’s socio-cultural position within the American mosaic. So, leg-baldness is a thing? A thing that I’m going to have to look forward to? Greeeat.
Dennis the Menace, 2/27/14
Dennis has a known hatred of books and learning, so I guess it’s no surprise that his distorted, terrified vision of his own literate future involves hours of slogging through endless words in dull, aniconic tomes. Still, you can understand why he’s sad about giving up his current reading material, since it looks super rad. Is it about lions driving cars? Lions attacking cars? Just a bunch of lions, stone-cold flipping over cars, and mauling any panicked passengers attempting to flee?
Gasoline Alley, 2/27/14
Gasoline Alley has always been a strip of gentle, low-stakes whimsy — it once had a plot about trying to get a DVD player working that lasted for more than a month — and so it’s always thrilling with the action suddenly bursts into insane violence. When Slim hired a mercenary to drop tons of space-rock on some basketball-playing teens who annoyed him, the story was at least kind of cartoonish. Today’s strip, in which, as predicted, society has completely broken down into chaos due to rumors of the existence of an immortality elixir, seems much more realistic. The foregrounding of the actual jackboots of the billy-club wielding police charging into the melee to brutally restore order is a particularly vivid artistic choice.
Remember when that dolphin swam into Brooklyn’s extremely polluted Gowanus Canal and then died, more than a year ago? The creators of innumerable parody Twitter accounts, along with the creators of Curtis, hope you do! Curtis has been sad about these poor trapped dolphins all week, but now Magical Caucasian Gunk will rescue them with his Flyspeck Island powers, after stripping to the waist! I’m mostly just relieved to learn that Gunk’s nipples, unlike his eyes, are configured in the usual way.
Speaking of half-naked people in the icy cold, it looks like Crankshaft has somehow managed to lock himself out of his house wearing only a towel and set off the burglar alarm trying to get back inside, ruining his family’s vacation in the process! Thanks to Big Government, we’re not allowed to print a drawing of Crankshaft’s exposed junk in the newspaper, but panel three uses a clever reaction shot to illustrate what an unpleasant experience it would be for you if we were.
Dennis the Menace, 2/21/14
Ha ha, it’s funny because literally nobody wants to spend any time with Dennis! Looks like the person he’s really been menacing has been … himself.
Dennis the Menace, 2/19/14
To the extent that anyone anywhere thinks about third-tier characters in Dennis the Menace, they probably have Gina pegged as “vaguely tomboyish but not gender-binary-threateningly non-feminine girl who Dennis finds to be an acceptable companion and maybe nascent crush object, in contrast with Margaret.” But panels like this give us a glimpse at what one must assume was her other traditional role in the strip: as a symbol of the changing face of middle-class America, a sign of the times circa 1960 when the white people of suburbia found that other, slightly different kinds of white people wanted to be their neighbors. And Dennis is on the forefront of this bold social experiment! Papists are A-OK by him! Don’t worry, Joey, this Italian cheese-butter-noodle glop may have a crazy name that ends in a vowel, but it’s pretty much the same cheese-butter-noodle glop we enjoy right here in the USA.
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 2/19/14
I was going to compliment this Snuffy Smith for really getting at something profound and intriguing about the nature of human memory. When I try to remember what my classmates from elementary school look like, even when I feel like I can visualize them pretty clearly, they don’t look like children in my head, and when I look at old yearbooks I’m shocked by how young everyone is. However, I think that’s probably giving the strip far too much credit, and it’s really more likely this is just an ill-fated attempt to launch a Hootin’ Holler Babies spinoff.