Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 4/24/13
You know, sometimes the tropes built into a strip’s visual aesthetic become so all-pervasive that probably the artists don’t even think about their meaning anymore. For instance: almost all the clothes worn by the denizens of Hootin’ Holler sport visible patches; the community is isolated from the worldwide trading networks that bring incredibly cheap third-world produced clothes to the United States, so the town’s inhabitants must thriftily keep the garments they do have wearable long after a flatlander would have simply thrown them away. But I think we’re meant to believe that this shirt Clovis is wearing is new, and is the sort of “shirt-with-a-logo-on-it” that fancy city folk wear, much to Snuffy’s confusion. Yet even this shirt is already patched at the elbows! Perhaps “Life Is Bodacious” was a slogan that never caught on in the world outside Hootin’ Holler, and now all these shirts, ratty from years sitting in a warehouse somewhere, have been dumped at Silas’s general store, like the “SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS SUPER BOWL XLVII CHAMPIONS” hats being worn by unsuspecting people across Latin America and Africa?
(Confidential to Barney Google and Snuffy Smith: I probably wouldn’t have spent so much time thinking about this if there had been an actual joke in today’s strip? Like, if Clovis’s shirt had spelled out something different that was still a word with the suspenders blocking part of the writing. Something different and funny! Just a suggestion.)
As usual, there’s an adventure happening in the Phantom that I haven’t really been keeping you up to date with. But I thought today’s strip was kind of poignant. How did the adorable young nerd in panel two, wearing a bow tie out in public and eating an ice cream cone, grow up to become the tough drug dealer in panel one, with his tank top and hoop earring and bicep-wrapping tattoo? It’s almost as if a law enforcement system based on vague fears of an immortal ghost who lurks in the jungle isn’t particularly effective in getting at the root causes of crime.
Wait, is this plugger just now putting his pants on, right here in the middle of the living room? Was he sitting in that recliner spanking it to the obituaries? Pluggers you disgust me beyond my ability to describe
Rex Morgan, M.D., 4/9/13
NEW REX MORGAN ADVENTURE, the second in a row with actual medical overtones! Milton is the filthy rich hard-charging British capitalist who married the Morgans’ nanny some years back, and he’s walked into Rex’s office this morning declaring that he was soon going to die. Rex seems suspicious, and I think the key words that are arousing his suspicions are “if I don’t slow down.” “Rex, it’s literally impossible for me to cease being a tightly wound business executive, even though I’m already fabulously wealthy! DEATH IS THE ONLY ANSWER.” On the other hand, if I were looking at the terrifying inky black eye sockets in panel two, my main concern about Milton’s heart would be how many centuries ago it stopped beating, since he’s clearly some kind of horrifying undead ghoul.
Wizard of Id, 4/9/13
Does this checkout counter’s old-fashioned mechanical cash register bother anybody else? I mean, I guess a 21st century electronic checkout station wouldn’t fit into Id’s pseudo-medieval milieu, but neither does its 20th century equivalent, so now I can’t tell if the artist is being deliberately anachronistic or is just afraid that the Wizard of Id readership will panic if confronted with terrifying high technology on the comics page. Anyway, we shouldn’t let this question distract us from the main point, which is that the Wiz is using his incredible powers to bend matter and energy to his whim to be a dick to underpaid service workers.
“…and we pray that you will bless this food. And God bless the cook, too! Seeing how the cook is a chicken and I’m a dog and I might want to use her as food someday. Just trying to keep all my bases covered here.”
Family Circus, 4/9/13
“Also, aren’t these ladies your best friends? How come we’ve never met them? How come they never come around here? Is it our fault?”
Funky Winkerbean, 4/9/13
please please please let “cable movie entertainment” be a softcore porn channel
OK, here is the deal with my relationship with Pluggers, basically: Pluggers presents folksy, down-home bits of wisdom from rural and exurban types that have as an unspoken contrast the way that I and my fellow liberal urbanites conduct ourselves (e.g., we have acquaintances from multiple ethnic backgrounds, we have a passing familiarity with popular culture, we own and use paper towels, etc.); I take this contrast as implying that pluggers think they’re better humans (or human-animal hybrids, whatever) than me and everyone else who doesn’t know how to fix a car and likes living somewhere where you can get Indian food delivered, and I resent it and blow whatever implications are there completely out of proportion.
Every once in a while, though, I encounter a Pluggers that isn’t so much “infuriating” as “baffling,” and today’s Pluggers is one such instance. I hesitate to call this a universal experience, but it certainly has no class or cultural significance that I can detect, unless pluggers assume that we fancy city folk only wear space-age velcro sneakers. I do actually enjoy the drawing of the vaguely poindextery cat (always the go-to man-animal for Pluggers cartoons that aren’t quite plugger-y, as near as I can tell) clearly being sent into paroxysms of obsessive-compulsive anxiety as he feels one of his shoes hugging his foot slightly more tightly than the other, and wondering if he should retie the other one now and if so which set of books under which arm he should set down first to do so.
Aw, it turns out that the Great Spidey Milk-Drinking Caper wasn’t just a typical Newspaper Spider-Man time-wasting tangent, but is actually related to the main plot! I mean, the idea that you could “mix” Peter Parker’s DNA with a mind-control gas to make it Spider-Man-specific is laughable, but I guess it’ll do. The Kingpin probably just has the science-y aspects all mixed up in his head, anyway. He’s not a micromanager! He just wants results!
Hi and Lois, 4/5/13
For the life of me I cannot figure out why Ditto looks so God-damned smug in the second panel. Surely he’s not that impressed with his own terrible pun. Is he proud that he carries the youthful six-pack of an eight-year-old, unaware or unconcerned about the flab he’ll start to develop when he hits puberty?
Herb and Jamaal, 4/5/13
As Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged, unless we’re talking about someone who won’t cough up money for the collection plate. Go ahead and put that guy on your shit list.”
Marvin is a gross, mean, hateful baby, so I take comfort in the fact that he’s already haunted by the grim spectre of death.
Cats are a species that are always suspect when it comes to Real American Authenticity, so naturally the cat-plugger tends to be an outsider in the world of pluggerdom. Speaking as a cat-type myself, I’m not sure what exactly this panel is all about — are there baseball cards that don’t come with bubble gum? are they “fake,” somehow? wouldn’t old cards sold at a garage sale have stopped smelling like bubble gum years ago, assuming they aren’t in their original wrapper? — but it’s fun to see how sad the cat-plugger is at having his wares rejected. Haha, cat-plugger, your attempt to sell off these tiny bits of your childhood and some of your furniture in order to stave off economic catastrophe has been met with only scorn! Why don’t you go back to gay communist France, with your bogus baseball cards?
Mother Goose and Grim, 3/16/13
One of the central schticks of Mother Goose and Grimm is that Grimm the dog and Attila the cat cordially despise each other, but even still, Grimmy isn’t a narc. He knows that snitches get stitches! (Or more stitches, in this case.)
Rex Morgan, M.D., 3/16/13
Nearly eight years after Mary Worth threw down the gauntlet, Rex Morgan looks poised to be the first syndicated continuity strip to feature a graphic vomiting scene. Just in time for a large-format full-color Sunday strip, too!
Mary Worth, 3/16/13
You guys, I’m starting a new meekcore band called Beth Kinley, and the title of our first single will be “I’ll Just Have Regular Water (If It’s Not Too Much Trouble)”.
We make fun of Newspaper Spider-Man as a character here a lot, and for entirely justified reasons. But we must save some pity for the other characters exiled to the Newspaper Spider-Man universe as well! Take for instance the Kingpin, whose main villainous super-characteristic seems to be his bulk. In a fair comic-book universe, he might be expected to display his displeasure by, say, theatrically bending an iron bar in half or something; instead, he’s reduced to busting up his entirely ordinary white-collar workstation. Tune in tomorrow when Ted King, assistant director of the accounts receivables department, must sheepishly ask IT for a new keyboard!
Mary Worth, 3/6/13
I think we can say with a certain degree of confidence that Nice But Nervous-Looking Lady Moving Into 3E will end up helping Tom Harpman forget his ex-wife and love again, despite the arbitrary disapproval of Mean-Faced Old Lady Also Moving Into 3E Who Is Probably Nice But Nervous-Looking Lady’s Mother. Still, I think it would be great if this were an entirely new storyline, and the Tale of Tom Harpman were at nine days the shortest Mary Worth plot on record. “Turns out the guy keeps to himself because he’s sad and divorced. Likes soup, though. Let’s never talk about him again. So, how about Apartment 3E, right?”
Edge City, 3/6/13
I have significantly less tolerance for dwelling on Edge City’s obsessive neurotic antics than Uncle Lumpy does, but I do admit a certain queasy fascination with seeing how explicit this “the characters explore B&D” storyline will get, so, here you go: obsessive neurotic Abby Ardin tops from the bottom.
Plugger diversity is when a bunch of different brands of tires are owned by white people.
Flea track and field.
Better Half, 2/19/13
Hey, Stanley — send that app on over to the folks at 9 Chickweed Lane, wouldya? Save ’em some typing.
9 Chickweed Lane, 2/19/13
Thanks, Stan. I’m sure they appreciate it — just look at those big smiles!
Rex Morgan, M.D., 2/19/13
Oh, poo. Looks like Our Honey isn’t challenging any normative gender constructs after all; she’s once, twice, three times a — well, I guess lady isn’t quite right either. Anyway, she made quite an impression on Rex there: look at him covering the smoking socket of the eye that was exposed to her naked ladyparts, or maybe he’s trying to pluck it out per Matthew 18:9? Either way, if that image could be pasted over the first panel of every comic ever, this blog wouldn’t need to do much else:
Funky Winkerbean, Mary Worth, Judge Parker, Crankshaft, 2/19/13 (panels, modified)
UPDATE — Hey, check out Faithful Reader Druj Nasu’s Automatic Rexifier, which Rexifies many, many more strips, and Faithful Reader Nehemiah Scudder’s Rex Agony Blank, which lets you play along at home. Thank you, Faithful Readers!
– Uncle Lumpy