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Comics archive! They’ll Do It Every Time

Metapost: They’ll do it every time … in Austin!

Hey, everyone! As I may have mentioned here in the past, I’m going to be at the South by Southwest Interactive festival for the next few days (I’m actually typing these very words on a plane winging its way from Baltimore to Austin)! I’ll be on a panel about the future of blogging (if such a thing exists) on Saturday morning, and generally going to dorky panels and bumming around town. So if you want get together and talk about, I dunno, new media, or money-making schemes, or what not, shoot me a line maybe we can meet up! I’ll also be documenting my experiences in a show diary for ITworld.com, if for whatever reason you can’t enough of that sort of thing. I will be doing my darndest to fit my normal comics-mocking into my busy schedule; apologies in advance if posts are late, or if more of them than usual have titles that include the words “quickies” or “one-liners.”

And now, to justify the existence of this post for the vast majority of you don’t care about anything in that last paragraph, here are some awesome vintage They’ll Do It Every Time panels sent in by faithful reader Rachel! (And those of you who have started reading this blog in the last few years, after the death of the feature’s final artist — well, check the archives, for awesomeness.) We begin in 1943, with the feature’s core creative mission — savage complaints about minor inconveniences, often tinged with sexism — was already well established. From a historical/anthropological viewpoint, we also learn that butter used to have its own counter at stores, and it took a long time to buy butter, for some reason?

Also of note is the mysterious Chinese take-out box on the counter labelled “oysters.”

Here’s another one from 1943 that offers a more interesting historical look at World War II than the last six months of 9 Chickweed Lane. Apparently it was common for serving GIs to hear drunken tales of exploits from World War I? Irritating, but the bowler-hatted fellow’s advice to drug the man’s drink seems a bit excessive.

Now let’s jump ahead to 1956. Here we’ve arrived at the two-panel ironic whiplash we know so well from the Scaduto era, though the subject is at this point rather quaint. Also familiar to longtime TDIET will be the “Howcum?” interrogative that starts the thing off.

Here’s another 1956 installment with a lot of features that would be right at home in the panels from the ’00s: the wacky, on-the-nose names (“Pothooks” and “Bigdome”), the generic white-collar office setting (though again the specific gripe is now thoroughly outdated), and, tucked away in the thanks-to note at the lower right, an (imagined?) act of savage violence.

And finally, a top ten list of gripes, again ranging from the familiar (bosses suck!), the familiar but probably no longer considered suitable for the comics (your husband spends the household budget on booze for his buddies!), and the archaic (burning trash befouls your line-dried laundry!). Not sure if the numbers are meant to be tongue-in-cheek; if not, they say a lot about the readership the trip once had — and the everlasting pettiness of the American people.

Burn, Brad-y, Burn

Luann, 1/30/08

Advancing character development in a comic strip is actually a fairly tricky thing to do, and so I give props to Luann for getting Brad out of the house and the fast food industry and into the Fire Department a few years ago. And real-life firefighters face seriously traumatic situations, which, combined with a no-doubt prevailing tough-guy ethic, means that seminars like “Your Mental Health” are important. But could we please see Brad and/or Tony attending fewer seminars and elementary school safety presentations and instead, you know, putting out fires now and then? Chopping through doors with axes, pulling screaming children from burning rooms, leaping out of second-story windows as the smoke billows — and then, when they get back to the firehouse with adrenaline still singing through their veins, letting nature take its course? Even Herb and Jamaal has featured firefighting scenes this month, for Pete’s sake. It would sure be a hell of a lot more interesting than this “saving Toni a seat at the mental health seminar” crap.

Funky Winkerbean, 1/30/08

Hey, let’s check in with our friends in the whimsical Winkerworld! Now-near-deaf former band leader Harry Dinkle and his wife have decided to check out the bright lights of Las Vegas and see what all the fuss is about! But Harry doesn’t gamble, and for some reason he can’t really enjoy himself as he wanders the casino floor, seeing the dead-eyed elderly pouring the last of their savings into bleeping electronic devices designed by teams of experts to fleece them. Then Harry makes a pun! And his wife smirks, or she may just be suffering a stroke.

Gasoline Alley, 1/30/08

Speaking of whimsy, in Gasoline Alley our postal protagonist imagines that if he were murdered by his wife in an argument over money, that would be for the best. This sort of logic is why so many post offices have bullet-proof glass in front of the counters.

Mary Worth, 1/30/08

Ha ha, I like Drew’s pissy little face in panel one, but I love his “Groan!” thought balloon in panel two. It of course puts him in fine company with tweaker Tommie, one of the greatest Mary Worth characters in recent memory. Let’s hope we’re witnessing stage one of his slide into drug addiction!

As for our ad agent lovebirds, is there any dumber romantic scenario than a whirlwind public romance with your boss, particularly if your boss is a possessive weirdo who “accidentally” shows up two hours early for your date? No, nothing good can come of this for anybody involved except for Mary, who is almost certainly at home lining up the platitudes she’s going to unleash once this whole thing goes south.

They’ll Do It Every Time, 1/30/08

Al Scaduto held back his most politically charged work, asking that it only be published after his death.

Also: Thanks to a faithful inside tipster for this story detailing the shocking truth about Gil Thorp’s Andrew Gregory!

Take this non-Jungle Patrol job and shove it

Phantom, 1/23/08

This Phantom storyline may be turn out to be as dumb as the last one, but it’s really stepping it up in the hilarious quotables department. For those somehow still not satisfied with “That’s the answer! Jungle Patrol!” and “Whoa, girls! Let me tell you a little something about the Jungle Patrol!” we now have the awesome “Who’s tougher than lady cops and waitresses? Not pirates!” And, if you insist on your catchphrase including the words “Jungle Patrol,” you can always console yourself with “I quit! We’re joining the Jungle Patrol!

I’ve always been wary of jobs that might require you to wear a nametag, but panel three shows that they definitely have one distinct advantage: you can hurl the nametag at your boss when you quit to join the Jungle Patrol.

Momma, 1/23/08

Uh, I hesitate to say this, because it shows that I’ve been thinking about it, and it’ll make you think about it too, but … well …

Does anyone else think that Momma has been even more disturbingly and openly Oedipal than usual lately? Just askin’.

(Please note that “it” in my first sentence refers not to the unhealthy relationship between Momma and her sons, but to Momma the comic strip as a whole.)

They’ll Do It Every Time, 1/23/08

Today’s TDIET comes from faithful reader pogoer, who no doubt looks good with that tiny, tiny white kangol hat on his enormous beefy head. My question about Grandma is, what exactly is she going to do with ten pounds of litter, five pounds of sugar, and lots of canned food? Is her Campbell’s Chicken Soup not sweet and/or gritty enough? I think it’s time to put her in a home.

Comics-unrelated promotion: Hey, want to read a possibly funny thing I wrote about Internet history? Check it out at ITworld.com.