Beetle Bailey, 4/14/16
You might not believe it based on the nonstop stream of cruel vitriol I heap upon comics creators daily, but writing this blog over the years has actually given me a lot of sympathy for the people who write these things. Coming up with a joke a day within the same little world, every day, for years and years is hard, man, even for the team of people they have down at ol’ Walker-Browne Amalgamated Humor Industries LLC. I mean, I get it. Some days you’re just staring at a blank panel and are trying to figure out how you can wring a few laughs out of it, and clearly, as the deadline loomed, today’s jokesmith could think of nothing except for falling off a cliff into the sweet embrace of death, which might be something they should talk to a trained therapist about. But anyway, I’d argue that the second panel here is wholly unnecessary. Beetle and Killer dully contemplating the fact that their fellow soldiers just can’t stop falling off cliffs, while staring at a handwritten note on a bulletin board that, in a plea for sanity that will surely go unheeded, urges everyone to “AVOID CLIFF”, is the funniest thing in the comics today, and probably the funniest thing to happen in Beetle Bailey ever.
Gil Thorp, 4/14/16
Boy, the softball action in Gil Thorp sure is a lot more exciting when it’s drawn like an German expressionist film, right? Pitcher and catcher stand at opposite ends of some long corridor, then suddenly are practically on top of one another, representing the way the emotional space between us can sometimes collapse into sudden moments of terrifying intimacy.
The look of profound shame on those he-pluggers’ faces makes me think that the caption to this panel should actually be “plugger moms seem to be the only ones in the house who actually use toilet paper.”
Rex Morgan, M.D., 4/11/16
Well, looks like we’re done with the “Rex Acquires Real Estate and Breaks Hearts” and “Dementia Sure Is Depressing” storylines for the moment and are moving on to your favorite and mine, “Everything’s Coming Up Sarah Morgan — Forever.” The relationship between Sarah and her minder is reaching new heights of passive aggression: Kelly notes with with cheerful surprise that Sarah hadn’t been physically assaulted on her first day of school, despite her terrible personality, and Sarah demands to transcend her physical limitations and sit up front like the big girl she has bullied her private school administration into declaring her to be.
Mark Trail, 4/11/16
Oh hey guys, I know it’s been a while since we checked in with Mark Trail’s exciting cave adventure! And today we have … uh … Karst processes … gypsum … you know what, I’ll just let you know when the punching starts up again.
Well, this seems relatively harmless, and … wait, what’s that say?
I’m not a fan of either playing or watching golf, but after reading this article, I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that what most people think of the particular artificial landscape created for golf courses is actually an attempt to reproduce the natural environment of coastal Scotland where the game was invented in the 1400s. You can see another strange echo of the now worldwide game’s connection to a particular place in today’s Shoe, in which a bird-woman is wearing a tam o’shanter. This is, I suppose, to provide a setup for the feint that produces the strip’s punchline. Did she purchase this faintly absurd hat, which Americans probably primarily think of as a goofy thing you wear ironically while playing golf, as a part of her decision to try to share her husband’s passion for the game? No. Her marriage is a nightmare nest of suspicions and deceit, but the hat is unrelated to any of that, and we’ll probably never know why she’s wearing it. Its inherent whimsy now merely serves as a sad counterpoint to the bird-woman’s depressing home life.
Dennis the Menace, 3/22/16
To maintain some poor soul in a rapidly decaying flesh-prison, to create a ghastly living portrait of Dorian Gray, in order to grant yourself an ageless existence as a sinister, eternal child — I would be hard pressed to imagine something more menacing than that. “Please, you’ve got to believe me!” Mr. Wilson gasps, smelling the stench of decay arising from his own flesh. “I’ve been bewitched by his foul magic! I’m only 35 years old!”
You’re a plugger if the only thing in your sad, plodding existence that can inspire you to muster up any sense of occasion or formality is when someone dies.