Funky Winkerbean, 3/4/15
Here’s a confession: despite my boldly assuming the title “the Comics Curmudgeon” back in 2004, I got into this gig entirely from reading newspaper comics and haven’t read the much more popular genre of comic books with any regularity since I was about 10 or so. Nevertheless, I feel like I’ve absorbed a certain amount of information about the business by cultural osmosis, and thus I feel confident in saying that it’s completely believable that some comics publisher would want to take a zany character from the ’60s or ’70s called “The Amazing Mister Sponge” and do a “dark,” “gritty,” “edgy,” “relevant” reboot of him, with the hope of convincing a studio to turn it into a murky movie where everyone is sad all the time. I draw the line at Doctor Centipede, though. You don’t get to call yourself “Doctor Centipede” unless you’re actually a freakish being with dozens of legs protruding from your multiple body segments (and also have either a medical degree or a PhD in one of the hard sciences). Just being a hundred times smarter and stronger than usual? Not okay. The “pede” stands for foot, buddy. How much of this guy’s time is spent snippily justifying his nom de supervillainy? “No, see, the hundred limbs in this conceit are metaphors for the power I wield thanks to my enhanced str–” [is absorbed by The Amazing Mister Sponge]
In even dumber superhero news, Spider-Man has been saved by a timely faked Skype call! That’s the best way to get a hold of your wife on a movie set, straight-up Skype-calling some random laptop that you hope is vaguely nearby, probably. You certainly wouldn’t want to call her on, say, the cell phone she’s holding in panel three. While this cheap trick obviously hasn’t fooled Mysterio, it will probably fool everyone else, because they’re morons, which I kind of love. Everyone will just be all like, “Welp, I guess we’ll never know who Spider-Man really is” and Mysterio will shout “You fools! I just told you! It’s Peter Parker!” and everyone will say “Ha ha, but there was a Skype call!” I also love that even in his entirely justified rage, Mysterio stays on-brand and keeps referring to himself in the third person.
Mary Worth, 3/4/15
“Kids adapt and trust the flow of life more than grown-ups do! Why, the thought of having to baby-sit on short notice makes me fly into a rage, but Gordon is totally fine with suddenly having two new men in his life that he’s been ordered to address as ‘dad’ and ‘granddad!’”
Judge Parker, 3/4/15
Were you worried that this strip wasn’t spending enough time on Neddy Spencer’s burgeoning sexuality and what older, volatile men think of her? Well, the next six to eight uncomfortable weeks are for you, my friend!
This week’s Curtis has features Curtis’s dad going on and on about this collection of music “I grew up with” as performed by extremely non-specific “legendary” artists, who, we learn today, are not rappers. One assumes that these legendary artists are never named so that this plotline can be trotted out every few years while keeping Greg the same age, but the whole thing already seems on the edge of believability: with a couple of pre-teen kids and a wife not notably younger than him, it seems unrealistic to have Greg be much older than his mid-40s, which would mean he hit his musical stride right as hip-hop was starting to enter the musical mainstream. Ten years from now, it will be actively strange if he grew up not listening to rap, although who knows, maybe it’ll be just as strange if Curtis is listening to it.
See, Curtis? Even Pluggers is admitting that most people in the plugger demographic in 2015 were filthy hippies in their youth. Just admit that Curtis’s dad likes old-school rap already.
Judge Parker, 2/4/15
Any chance that this angry fellow, who claimed earlier to have some pull with important politicians, might actually have pull with important politicians has just gone out the window as he used “the fed” to refer to some random non-Federal Reserve government agency. Sam, whose returns on capital vary between the staggering and the completely flabbergasting based on Fed decisions on interest rates and quantitative easing and such, is very much not impressed. It would be fun if this guy really were talking about the actual Fed, though. “We need the Fed working on this! Do you think fiat money can clear that road? Only a strong gold-based currency can restore our nation’s highways!”
In today’s fractured media landscape, there are still specialized audiences who aren’t being catered to — fans of watching angry, unsympathetic old men being sexually humiliated in public, for instance. One bold comic strip aims to meet this need.
For a brief moment, Francis catches a glimpse of what it might be like to feel real human joy — and sees just enough to know that the experience is completely beyond him.
Mary Worth, 1/20/15
Uh oh, looks like there’s trouble in flute-playing paradise for Hanna and Sean! Why doesn’t Sean want Hanna to tag along with him to the nearby medical center? Does he want to keep the details about the medical ailment for which he’s seeking treatment secret from his new beau, because they’re embarrassing (incurable VD) or emotionally traumatizing (incurable impending death)? Is “nearby medical center” actually a euphemism for “the retirement home where one of my other girlfriends lives”? Is Hanna just starting to cramp his style? Is he going to blurt out “STOP SMOTHERING ME,” shattering this fragile happiness forever?
Judge Parker, 1/20/15
Every decade or so the soap opera strips need to offer up their backstories to new readers (haha, the soap opera strips think they have “new” readers) so I guess we’re going to hear the true tale of Neddy and Sophie, Tragic Orphans! I like the phrase “while Sam and Abbey were figuring out what to do with us,” because it conjures up the image of the destitute hobo family, rounded up by Spencer Farms security and locked in the holding cell deep beneath the stables, while Sam and Abbey watch the panicked trio on a hidden camera. “What should we do with them?” asks Sam. “We can’t let them go. They’ve already seen too much.” Then the grandfather dies. As the terrified children wail, Abbey rubs her chin. “I think … I’m pretty sure they’re going to grow up sexy, Sam. I think we can keep them.”
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 1/20/15
Jughaid is beginning to realize that his socio-economic class is so widely despised that contempt for it is engrained in the English language itself.
Dick Tracy, 1/20/15
Good news! The Dick Tracy-Funky Winkerbean crossover is going great. In today’s strip, our cop heroes use the implied power they have to imprison and punish to make Funky feel awkward and scared over a harmless joke.
Mark Trail, 1/20/15
I admit that I don’t fully grasp all the nuances of the villains’ scheme in the current Mark Trail plot, though I think it’s a safe bet that they’re all extremely stupid. So I don’t know why exactly this boat blew up, but when a Mark Trail installment consists entirely of a single-panel boat explosion, you’d better believe I’m going to report that to you.
Herb and Jamaal, 1/20/15
This punchline would’ve been a lot more obvious if Herb were looking at a smartphone or one of the other “modern technological advancements” Jamaal name-checks (a fax machine, maybe?). But frankly I like it how it stands. Herb doesn’t need your fancy high-tech geegaws to be a dick.