They’ll Do It Every Time
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.
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!
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.
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.
I don’t want to come across as some kind of elitist food snob (and anyone who’s ever seen me cook and/or eat is no doubt enjoying a hearty laugh that I would ever have to preface anything I write with that sentence). But I have to say that Dagwood’s armful of foodstuffs doesn’t strike me as all that unhealthy. It’s hard to see at this resolution, but most of it appears to be the kind of fresh ingredients (including actual vegetables) of the sort that you’re really supposed to be eating, and not the boxed and/or frozen heavily processed and low-grade-corn-based stuff that most of us (myself included) actually eat. Who would have guessed that Dagwood’s love of food ran to quality, not just quantity?
Dagwood’s rejection of the modern industrial food chain might be a sign of a broader Luddism that has extended to more troubling dimensions, though. For instance, his insistence on carrying his bounty rather than putting it in a more convenient cart points to his rejection of that devil’s tool, the so-called “wheel.” Unrelated but also unsettling is the coloring error that rendered the word balloons in this strip an icy blue. As if today’s weather didn’t leave me cold enough!
Apartment 3-G, 1/21/08
Real-life chances that, in New York, a city of 8 million or so souls, a lonely, horny Margo would show up at the same bar where a lonely, horny Alan has decided to fall off the wagon with gusto, and the two would end up drunkenly making out: practically zero. Chances in Apartment 3-G’s New York, population approximately 50: very high, especially when you consider that Alan and Eric look essentially identical. If Alan’s hair settles into whatever color Eric’s was when Margo last saw him, all bets are off.
For Better Or For Worse, 1/21/08
As several faithful readers wrote me to point out, Grandpa Jim’s hand gesture in panel three is essentially the British version of giving someone the finger. While I’m not sure if the Brits left their rude hand signs in the Canadian psyche as a legacy of their Empire, it’s true that Grandpa spent most of WWII fixing up planes in the UK — plenty of time to learn how to flip off folks like a local. Once again, this poor man, trapped both in the half-responsive shell of his body and in the floundering final days of this comic strip, expresses what we’re all really feeling.
Mary Worth, 1/21/08
Dr. Drew manages to neatly combine surprise and smugness into one facial expression in panel two. “Ah, to be young and Drew Corey!” he seems to be thinking. “To be so gosh-darn irresistible that the ladies can’t even wait for you to sit down together before their need for your sweet young body becomes irresistible!” His narcissistic glow should last another five or ten seconds, until Vera starts eating his face.
They’ll Do It Every Time, 1/21/08
If my record-keeping is right, “Bob Bennett” is none other than faithful reader benro, and truly by now we should have come to expect that any TDIET that features newfangled advances like cell phones or e-mail would be from a Comics Curmudgeon reader. Cell phone glued to his ear or no, Hossbutt may have some problems hearing his wife when he calls her, considering that he and the nameless URGEd individual are apparently riding in a tiny, roofless go-cart in the middle of a multilane highway.
You’re a plugger if your intimate life becomes a terrifying Oedipal nightmare by the time you hit 45.
Apartment 3-G, 1/17/08
Not to try to apply “reality” to Apartment 3-G or anything, but: don’t these people live in New York? You know, the city with one of the most extensive and useful public transit systems in the world? I don’t know if you’ve heard, but in New York lots of people ride the subway instead of taking a cab — even middle-class white girls! By themselves! This will probably shock the A3G creative team, but post-Giuliani it’s practically like riding the monorail at Disneyland, with only a slightly higher possibility of encountering a unconscious, smelly hobo.
Maybe the route from Blaze’s apartment to Lu Ann’s doesn’t lend itself to subway travel, but it is kind of weird that you never see any of these kids on the train. I mean, obviously Margo would refuse to board public transit of any kind, but Lu Ann and Alan, with their high-paying jobs of art teacher and starving artist/part-time curator/junkie, respectively, seem like prime candidates for MetroCard ownership.
Family Circus, 1/17/08
Much as it warms my black, black heart to see a Family Circus kid weeping openly, I’m a little disturbed by the sudden shift in this feature from its standard “Little kids say and/or mispronounce the darnedest things” to some kind of Pluggers-style play on words (for certain limited definitions of “play”) by an omniscient narrator. On the other hand, I admit to being pleased by the image of a perpetually sobbing PJ being hooked to electrodes and used as an alternate source of power for the Keane Kompound after they became convinced that being connected to the utility grid kept them under the thumb of the “gummint.”
Speaking of “plays” on words: Hey, Pluggers, you get a pass on this one because it doesn’t make any sense at all, in that it’s not at all clear what if any alternate meanings of “swinger” and/or “family tree” are being referenced here, but don’t let me ever catch you inching towards doing a joke about “plugger swingers” again, OK? Ever. I mean it. There will be rage.
Mary Worth, 1/17/08
WHY YOU PUNCHIN’ YOURSELF, DR. DREW? WHY YOU PUNCHIN’ YOURSELF?
I’m assuming that Drew is assuming the “Serious High School Senior Yearbook Photo #2″ pose in panel two because he’s casting his mind back to the sweet net of physical love he cast over Vera — she thought she could escape, but her struggles have only snared her further! Faithful commentors suggested a number of more plausible reasons for Vera’s change of heart. Good: Vera’s pregnant! Better: Vera got the clap, and she knows from where! (Note that these two suggestions are not mutually exclusive, obviously.)
The Phantom, 1/17/08
I’m pretty sure that tomorrow we’ll see that the stem-less word balloon in panel three is emanating from the Phantom himself, aka Ghost-Who-Buttresses-The-Patriarchy, who’s going to tell them a little something about the Jungle Patrol, specifically that it’s not for “girls.” Diana, who’s heard this spiel before, has already taken a phone call. Possible sexism aside, everyone who thought that in yesterday’s “That’s the answer! Jungle Patrol!” they had found a catchphrase for the new millennium must now admit that “Whoa, girls! Let me tell you a little something about the Jungle Patrol!” is even better.
In other news, when I first saw panel two, I thought cop-lady was grabbing waitress-lady’s left boob. I really, really want the Phantom to be more interesting than it is.
They’ll Do It Every Time, 1/17/08
Today’s TDIET is submitted by faithful reader Harold, who pushed this family-friendly feature to the brink with his demand for red-hot just-out-of-the-shower action.
Item the first: Faithful reader Pogoer points me to this story which reveals what most of us probably had guessed: They’ll Do It Every Time will be closing up shop forever after the last of the Al Scaduto-penned panels runs on February 2. I have weirdly mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I always rail against zombie strips, and while I’m still sad over Al’s passing, the 100 or so newspapers that ran TDIET now represent 100 slots for aspiring new cartoonists to try to break into the industry. (Let’s hope the papers do give some unknowns an opportunity to find an audience, instead of “getting that Family Circus cartoon we’ve heard so much about.”) But, since Scaduto was the third artist TDIET had in its tenure, part of me wonders what it might have been like to give the feature to someone young who had a very different style and see what they might have done with it. I do hope that this blog has in some small part given the feature a bit of a send-off and resurgence in interest in what turned out to be its last few years.
Item the second: Many, many faithful readers have pointed me in the direction of Lasagna Cat. What, you might ask, is Lasagna Cat? I could tell you that it’s a series of short videos in which Garfield strips are acted out live (and which feature an actual person in a Garfield suit), each followed by a somewhat longer video that matches a light-rock favorite with images from the strip, but that doesn’t even begin to capture how awesome and bizarre the videos are. By all means, check it out for yourself before Paws, Inc.’s wrath is unleashed!