We live in a world where everyone is eager to #engage with #brands, but it can be difficult to tell if the resulting #conversation is #authentic. For instance: this week, the syndicated comic strip Marvin has been featuring its own versions of the lovable Minion characters from the successful Despicable Me franchise. In order to find out if this represents true #engagement or just paid-for corporate #synergy, we need to do a little sleuthing!
- Marvin is syndicated by King Features, which is owned by the Hearst Corporation, which is privately held by a trust created by William Randolph Hearst himself.
- Despicable Me and its sequels and spinoffs (including Minions, headed to theaters on July 10!), is distributed by Universal Pictures, a subsidiary of NBCUniversal, which is in turn a subsidiary of the publicly traded Comcast Corporation.
Now, although the Hearst Television subsidiary does own several local NBC affiliates and has some joint television production ventures with NBCUniversal Television Distribution, the two parent companies are not significantly entangled, and so it seems unlikely that this week’s Marvin strips represent corporate-directed buzz-building. Thus, we can enjoy them for what they are: just some wacky jokes using someone else’s characters to make the point that Marvin is a huge dick.
“Why is nothing ever easy?” The cry … of a hero!
Hi everybody, I am back! Thanks to Uncle Lumpy for his fine fill-in work! And thanks to all of you who participated in the spring fundraiser to help keep the lights on around here! You’ll be getting personal thank-yous in the next few days, plus links to a fancy-schmancy Google Forms questionnaire that will make it hopefully easier for me to get rewards out in a timely/organized fashion. BUT FIRST: BACK TO THE COMICS!
Apartment 3-G, 4/29/15
Hey, guess who else is back? Gabriella’s mother, apparently! Gabriella, your mother isn’t sick any longer — she’s a foul, undead abomination, shuffling from the graveyard towards the still-living family that her rotted brain just barely remembers, moaning with a hunger that can never be sated. It’s the best news of all!
the undead continuity strips: Uncle Lumpy tends to pay Newspaper Spider-Man exactly as much attention as he deserves (none), but I can’t look away from it, and I feel compelled to share with you another great example of Newspaper Spider-Man’s Spider-Powers Being Real Crappy, from last week:
Panel from Spider-Man, 4/22/15
Oh, Spider-Man, your spider-sense is literally of no use to you in situations where more than one person is around! It’s a good thing people generally dislike you and try to avoid you!
Anyway, after a little light breaking and entering and security-guard-webbing, we arrive at today’s strip:
Haha, the potential for super-heroic combat has quickly withered away, and now we’re just left with Spider-Man arguing with the pajama-clad heir to an industrialist’s fortune about the mental health professionals he’s consulting. I love how quickly this strip finds its level in every plot!
Hagar the Horrible, 4/29/15
I’ve often wondered when exactly the action in Hagar the Horrible takes place vis-à-vis the conversion of the Norse from paganism to Christianity. Well, fun fact: when the Vikings became Christian, they started burying their dead instead of cremating them. So, does today’s installment definitively place this strip in the age of Norse paganism? Not necessarily: perhaps Attila, still loyal to a polytheistic pantheon, is taunting Hagar, whom he knows has converted to the faith of the “civilized” world and, by implication, has gone soft, by sending him an object to remind him of his pagan warrior past. Quite a sick barbarian-on-barbarian burn, eh? I mean yes, the pagan Huns didn’t practice cremation themselves. Also, Attila lived a solid four centuries before the Viking Age. Look, just let me have this, OK?
Dennis the Menace, 4/29/15
Whining to the neighbors and asking them to call for help because you got stuck up a tree? Not menacing. Making your neighbors, who probably hold you in justified contempt for your irritating antics, question their own moral worth as you force them to confront the fact that, in their heart of hearts, they value the life and safety of an animal over that of a little boy? Extremely menacing.
Herb and Jamaal, 4/29/15
Herb’s expression of evil plotting as he contemplates an extremely minor transgression against conventional morality is definitely the funniest thing in the comics today. “I’m pretty bad at golf … but based on this scorecard, the world will think I’m only mediocre at golf! None will be the wiser! All will tremble before me! MOO HA HA HA HA HA HA HA”
Oh, give me a break, Greg. Facebook is for people who have a pathetic, insatiable hunger for the attention of friends, relatives, acquaintances, and people they met at a party once three years ago to feel like they matter. People who have a pathetic, insatiable hunger for the attention of strangers use Twitter. In unrelated news, did you guys know you can follow me on Twitter? I make tons of funny jokes there and sometimes post pictures of my cat! Follow me! Love me! I need this!
Gil Thorp, 4/10/15
Hey guys, it’s base/softball season in Gil Thorp! Trust me: you don’t want to know why they call Addison Radley “Boo.” It’s a story that starts twenty years ago … on a night, and a softball diamond, just like this one, when promising pitcher Addison Radley died in a tragic accident. Ever since then, her shade has haunted the field, pitching balls at superhuman speeds. You see, they call her “Boo” because, even though she doesn’t know it, she’s … a ghost. ADDISON RADLEY: TEENAGE GHOST PITCHER: SUNDAYS THIS FALL ON THE CW.
No, wait, they call her that after the character Boo Radley from the beloved classic To Kill A Mockingbird? Huh. Not sure why we wouldn’t want to know that, unless we’re trying to avoid falling afoul of Harper Lee’s lawyers.
Herb and Jamaal, 4/10/15
Oh my God, Eula is a reverse chrononaut, using dark magic or forbidden science to travel backwards along her own timeline! And she’s on the verge of revealing her causality violation to a time-standard individual! Chances of a class-three temporal paradox are up to 85 percent, we need an intervention from the Time Corps, stat.
This is your occasional reminder that, after decades of doing jokes about babies pissing and shitting, Marvin introduced some dog characters so it could do jokes about dogs pissing and shitting. I’m not sure which would be worse: if “go potty” were a euphemism imposed by the syndicate in a desperate attempt to impose some kind of sanity, or if that’s how the joke was originally written, too make it “cute.”
My number one biggest laugh in the comics pages today came from seeing Spidey wordlessly peacing out in the first panel of today’s strip. “Welp, I’ve put Mary Jane under the protection of the Black Widow, and probably nothing can go wrong! My fellow superhero certainly isn’t going to, say, push her off a building, that’s for sure. Later, everybody!”