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Comics archive! Dick Tracy

At least Wilbur’s sandwiches will always love him

Mary Worth, 4/15/14

Last week Wilbur urged Iris to apply tough love to her layabout drug dealing son who may or may not be working hard to find a job (a task which, for the record, is often quite difficult for ex-cons), and she blew up at him about it, putting Wilbur’s sad love life in jeopardy. But ever since then, Iris has been musing about whether maybe she should be harder on Tommy. And who’s there to swoop in and catch her at the moment she’s ready to speak these uncomfortable truths aloud? Wilbur? Don’t be ridiculous. It’s Mary. Mary’s been watching her from afar all this time, patiently waiting for the moment when Iris is ready to split at the seams, when she can turn Iris to her way of thinking with just an innocent, nonspecific question. This right here is a meddling master class. Run along and write your little advice column, Wilbur; the pros are working here.

Dick Tracy, 4/15/14

So God bless the new Dick Tracy creative team for the great art and reverence for comics history and all, but sometimes the plot gets so reverent of comics history that it’s literally impossible for anyone but comics obsessives to follow. At the moment, for instance, the strip is switching back and forth between what appears to be a search for Little Orphan Annie, a followup to an earlier plotline that references characters and scenarios from the strip’s loopy sci-fi era of the 1960s and 1970s, and a fictionalized take on intra-comics industry feuding that started in 1942. Anyway, I’m just glad today’s strip sticks to the core Dick Tracy brand of Dick being a remorseless killer. “Soooo … these guys went out into deep space and … probably suffocated in terror?” “It looks that way, Diet,” Dick nods, satisfied.

Six Chix, 4/15/14

Six Chix appears to be using the week leading up to Easter to feature a a series cartoons about the birth and death of bunnies, with each strip guaranteed to disturb and unsettle! Anyway, all I’m going to do with this one is give you the phrase “rabbit cloaca” and rest easy in the knowledge that you won’t be able to extract it from your mind for days.

Beetle Bailey, 4/15/14

I spent a long time staring at this Beetle Bailey cartoon and trying to figure out what it meant. Then I realized I should follow Plato’s lead, which is to say: recognize it as inane nonsense, and wander off to find something better to do.

What’s past is prologue

Apartment 3-G, 3/23/14 (panels)

“Listen, you idiot! I have found a need to fill: as a nurse, at this hospital! In fact, I think I’ll take your job, since it’s so obviously vacant! Sheesh, who do you think I am — Lu Ann?”

Dick Tracy, 3/23/14

When Chester Gould launched Dick Tracy in the 1930′s, newspaper comic strips were a big deal. Like reality TV today, comics had prima-donnas, feuds, alliances, bitter contract disputes, knockoffs, parodies, the whole megillah. One of the best parodies was Al Capp’s Fearless Fosdick comic inside his own L’il Abner. Fosdick “ran” from 1942 through 1977 and spun off comic books, TV shows, endorsements (Wildroot Cream-Oil), jazz compositions, and toys. And here it is again, reparodied in its own source as “J. Straightedge Trustworthy” by in-strip cartoonist Vera Alldid. Wheels within wheels.

Anyway, I hope that Dick Tracy tries to recreate the entire 1930′s comic-strip ecosystem, especially if it makes good on the hint in panel 2 there.

Hi and Lois, 3/23/14

Hi and Lois entertains the Boomer fantasy that their nostalgia represents the apex of culture, but has the wisdom not to push it.

Mary Worth, 3/23/14 (panel)

“Gee whiz, weed and booze are already taken …. I guess it’s meth for me, then!”


Time for me to toddle off into that good night: Josh will be back Monday with your Comments of the Week and brand-new comics snark. Thank you for the wonderful response to the fundraiser, and for a fun week!

– Uncle Lumpy

The future lies ahead

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Judge Parker, 3/20/14

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!

Luann, 3/20/14

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.

Spider-Man, 3/20/14

“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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– Uncle Lumpy