Funky Winkerbean, 5/25/13
Oh, hey, I guess I’ve been neglectful of the great Darrin/Frankie confrontation because it’s been … kind of boring? Considering the air of menace that surrounded his earlier appearances, Frankie’s ultimate goal — to put together some kind of ill-conceived reality show about his reunion with Darrin (which, say, shouldn’t they be getting footage right now?) seems relatively harmless. The worst of it is that, since all right-thinking people are assumed to loathe reality television despite its massive popularity, this plot gives Darrin and Jessica the opportunity to indulge in righteous indignation, which is my third-least-favorite Funkyverse emotion, just behind smug self-satisfaction and sexual arousal.
Kingpin is a busy, successful entrepreneur, and in his best-selling business memoir Faster! Work Faster!, he taught a generation of CEOs how to extract maximum terrified efficiencies from their employees. But recent challenges in Kingpin’s career have demonstrated that there’s more to being a great manager than just cowing your subordinates. In his new book, Not Without My Minions: Why It’s Better To Be Loved Than Feared But Being Fear-Loved Is Best Of All, he explains that organizational downturns can be used as an opportunity to build loyalty in the face of adversity and gather a fanatically dedicated core team who will stick with you when times get tough. Have your personal assistant look for in the increasingly sparse places where books are sold!
Ha ha, it’s funny because nobody likes Momma! I sort of expected that the doctor would be cowering in fear of his relentless hypochondriac nemesis, but instead he regards her with an evil grin, delighting in the way he’s unsettled her, which is frankly a much darker scenario.
Mark Trail, 5/23/13
Meanwhile, in Mark Trail, all this is happening, against a background of apocalyptic flame! Do killer grizzly bears really have adorable pudgy butts like in panel three? Because if so, awwwwww.
Gil Thorp, 5/22/13
Guys, remember when Gil Thorp plots used to be bonkers crazy insane? Well, those days seem to be long past, which is why I have been studiously ignoring the spring plotline for months. Here it is, in a nutshell: baseball player Foley Knox is the son of a lawyer and an aspiring lawyer himself, and his lawyer dad is suing the gas station owner father of another player because some guy fell down while pumping gas there, and Foley is being a dick to the other kid about it, the end. The other kid and his dad are Chaldean Christians from Iraq, and it briefly looked like that was going to be a plot point somehow, but it was dropped in favor of a B plot involving Foley’s delusional romantic pursuit of Darby, the softball team’s star pitcher who has a toddler because she was previously teen pregnant, which was briefly controversial last spring. Anyway, today at last these plots collide when Foley decides to win the heart of his fair beloved by defeating her tortfeasor in judicial combat! This will also fail.
Wizard of Id, 5/22/13
So Wizard of Id, which is usually not funny on any level, actually made me laugh in two distinct ways today? WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO? I appreciate the fact that the joke hinges on grammatical ambiguity — haha, you think “[a]re protesting” is a verb in the progressive aspect, but in fact “protesting” is a deverbal adjective modifying “drones”! But what really made me laugh was the sign that just says “NOT COOL”. It’s a sign that you can use at any protest and one that lets everyone know that, yeah, you’re politically engaged, but you’re also pretty chill.
Mark Trail, 5/22/13
Meanwhile, the AMAZING FOREST BEAR INFERNO is still going on in Mark Trail! I’m a little confused by the positions of everybody/thing in this comic, but, comparing the perspective in the two panels, if Cherry and Shelly are looking at the water and the tree is directly behind them, won’t they have to run sort of towards the bears in order to get to the tree? I mean, I get that they’re right on the shore and their options are limited. This is like the time my wife and I were in Stanley Park in Vancouver, and these raccoons emerged from the trees and wanted to go drink from the pond we were standing at the edge of, and they were heading right for us and didn’t seem scared of us at all, and we were in their way but there was no way for us to go that didn’t involve getting closer to them at least to start. Sure, they were raccoons, not bears, and nothing was on fire, but I don’t believe I ever pretended to be a brave man.
One of the things I didn’t expect when I recently worked Heathcliff into my comics rotation was the feature’s not infrequent expeditions into the inscrutable. I like this one, even if I don’t really understand it. Ha ha, Heathcliff is voyaging home via hot air balloon! It’s whimsical!
Yes, I’m sure the automated recording that delivered this platitude really feels bad after this sick burn! Basically, pluggers have very little control over their own lives and will sullenly lash out at anybody about it, whether they can hear them lashing out or not.
Family Circus, 5/22/13
“Billy and Dolly and Daddy and PJ are in the basement, right, Mommy? With all the sand? And time’s up for them? They won’t bother us ever again? Oh, also, this hourglass ran out, I guess.”
Spider-Man’s high school science teacher always hoped he’d kill or terribly injure himself in a lab accident.
Sometimes when I take a little break from blogging, I wonder if the comics landscape will have shifted in my absence, leaving me stranded in a world I no longer understand. Fortunately, the newspaper comics industry is incredibly ossified, so I usually have no worries on that score. For instance, Spider-Man is engaged in a battle against a super-villain, and is losing, pathetically, and in need of a bailout from another, better superhero! No changes here! Kingpin is at least being innovative in his attack on Spider-Man: he’s using a laser beam hidden in his cane to defeat the wall-crawler, rather than just bludgeoning him with the cane itself, which would surely have been just as effective and probably a lot more efficient, if less artful.
Apartment 3-G, 5/20/13
Lu Ann clearly did not take the opportunity afforded by my absence to become less of a moron. At first I was confused as to why she would be surprised that Greg, Margo’s client/love slave, was James Bond — surely this isn’t a secret to anyone at this point? But then I saw how she apparently shouldered Margo aside and grabbed hold of her freakishly huge laptop, so now I assume she thinks Greg is trapped inside the screen. “Whoa — is that Greg?! Greg, don’t worry, we’ll get Superman to free you from the Phantom Zone!”
It there’s one thing we can expect from our longrunning legacy comics, it’s that they do a good job of illustrating hoary old humor tropes. Haha, Heathcliff’s owner-boy’s trumpet (?) playing is terrible, resembling a bellow made by a yak! Specifically, a mating bellow made by a yak. Check out the hearts hovering above that yak’s head. It’s attracting yaks … for sex.
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 5/20/13
Like many isolated, desperately poor, undergoverned enclaves, Hootin’ Holler can erupt in vicious, arbitrary violence at any moment.
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Action a-plenty in the midweek comics — let’s dive right in!
Judge Parker, 5/15/13
Ho ho, quite the little geopolitical economist our Sophie, eh? Here the economy of Niger is portrayed as a giant Ponzi scheme, substituting modern easy-to-trade firearms for old-timey low-liquidity postal reply coupons. Next step is to formalize it as a multi-level marketing enterprise, recruiting unclaimed hostages as kidnappers to build the downline and create a never-ending upward spiral of guns, hostages, and ransom money. Then fire up the sales team by giving everybody a logo t-shirt with the slogan: “Guns go ‘POW’ — ask me how!”
Hey Spider-Man! Take a tip from lawyer Matt Murdoch on the first rule of questioning a witness: “Don’t ask a question if you won’t like the answer.”
Mark Trail, 5/15/13
Slylock Fox, 5/15/13
Pluggers, Jr. meets The Daily Jumble. As a plugger himself, dog-man is merely alarmed by his neighbors’ atrocious table manners. Out-of-town visitor parrot-man, on the other hand, is downright disgusted. Guy looks like he’s ready to KORF his ROPTAR all AELTP the RNCO — and that NIKAPN ain’t gonna help much.
Dennis the Menace, 5/15/13
OK, is it me, is it cartoonists, or is the Bad Girl really always the hottest in the room? And we’re talking about a room shared with Alice Mitchell, so SRSLY! Dennis, cut the crap and pay some attention here — you won’t be 5 forever.
Oh, ha ha — I forgot. You will be 5 forever. Kindly resume the crap.
Rex Morgan, M.D., 5/15/13
Payback time at the Morgans’. I hope Sarah has more success with her little project than June had with Rex.
– Uncle Lumpy
After the serial failures of his high-tech missile, “hypno”-gas, and “adamantium” chains, Kingpin resorts to old-school methods of persuasion like threatening to stone-cold bash a woman’s face in. Spider-Man is quick to comply — but then, “not moving a muscle” is pretty much his core competence.
Dick Tracy, 5/11/13
So it looks like Dr. Sail here is reconstructing the actual Moon Maid (who died in a 1978 car crash), not just creating an imposter from scratch? This opens up a chance to revisit the action-packed Moon Strips of the 1960′s and 1970′s (the so-called “Dick Tracy Has Gone Totally Nuts” era). Does it also signal complications for Moon Maid’s nominal widower Junior Tracy, who got re-married (to Sparkle Plenty) after his first wife’s death?
Ha! As recently as two years ago (the “Late Bonkers” era), Dick Tracy would have resolved such petty conflicts by having a beloved character burned, crushed, blown up, brain-wiped, dismembered, or (my favorite) eaten. But how will the new Team Tracy handle it?
Perhaps the answer lies with the Moon-obsessed siblings introduced here. Stellaluna, named for a cute bat from a kids’ book, is probably OK. But I would keep an eye on Retik, ominously named for Commander Cody’s nemesis (“Retik, the Moon Menace”) in the classic 1952 serial Radar Men from the Moon. Will this new Retik re-kill a reanimated Moon Maid, saving Junior Tracy from inconvenience? Stay tuned!
Hey, Retik: if you’re short on ideas, I’m pretty sure “suffocated in the vacuum of space” and “vaporized by a meteor” are still available. Just sayin’.
Gasoline Alley, 5/11/13
Hm, Gasoline Alley supercentenarian Walt Wallet is hanging out at the “Comics Retirement Home” with characters like these from discontinued old-timey strips, leading one to think he might, I dunno, retire or something? Except that we’ve already been down this road, in 2006, and it came to nothing.
C’mon guys, it’s time to pull the trigger — this routine will only get even more embarrassing if you have to do it again in another seven years, when Walt is 120.
Funky Winkerbean, 5/11/13
Aw, look at Darin’s adorable pissy face! Do you suppose he broke his jaw trying not to smirk?
Hey, I’m subbing while Josh takes a break through Sunday May 19 — reach me at email@example.com if you have access or comment issues. Enjoy!
– Uncle Lumpy
Slylock Fox, 5/9/13
Now, you might think that little Johnny falling asleep in mid-arithmetic is the sign of some serious medical condition, but just check out that menu hanging on the wall next to him. Lobster? Quail? Paté? The child’s slovenly clothes aside, this is clearly some sort of school for the ultra-wealthy, so probably this little one-percenter has just dozed off after a particularly rich lunch, served to him on butter-drenched platters brought to his mahogany table by a steady stream of manservants. The school nurses must be experts in treating gout and other diseases usually associated with bewigged 18th-century British gentry.
Haha, all the drama and excitement you’ve been enjoying over the past few weeks, as a mind-controlled Daredevil battled Spidey and brought him to the Kingpin, have been a fraud! Everyone was faking and nobody was ever in any danger. The main takeaway here is that Kingpin’s “Faster! Work faster!” management strategy is a failure, since it just causes your underlings to produce sham, non-functional products and then plot with your enemies to destroy you.