This week’s Marvin plot has involved Marvin’s parents taking him on a cruise and Marvin’s dad contemplating various ways to get rid of the awful hell-baby who’s cramping their style, up to and including just dumping him in the ocean. Today, Marvin is mysteriously absent, so presumably he’s been put into the ship’s Babysitting Isolation Chamber or something, giving Jeff the opportunity to remind Jenny that they had sex at some point in the past. Has Marvin’s absence really lulled him into complacency? Has he forgotten what those previous sexual acts produced? They produced Marvin, Jeff. MARVIN. Jenny knows. Jenny remembers. Jenny would rather her flesh be scoured from her bones by the unforgiving mid-sea sun than risk producing another baby from the same genetic template.
Apartment 3-G, 9/19/14
“I mean, I’ve always been fascinated by the weird colletions of guts and goo inside the fleshsacks and bonecages that came into the hospital, and was pretty good at repairing damage and killing off unwanted parasitic organisms, but it turns out I’m supposed to care about these meatslabs? Like, they’re living, thinking beings, just like I am, apparently? Who knew? Shoveling horse manure on this farm has really taught me a lot about myself. Specifically, it taught me I should go into pathology so I can tinker with the dead ones down in the morgue and not have to worry about anyone’s so-called ‘emotions.’”
Panel from the Lockhorns, 9/14/14
One of the things I like about the Lockhorns is the work ethic implied by the format of its Sunday installments: instead of using the extra space to do larger, more expressive, possibly multipanel strip, or just being lazy and doing one enormous panel, the Lockhorns creative team just churns out five more Lockhorns, each of which could stand on its own in a daily panel, because, fuck it, making more Lockhorns is our job, right? Anyway, this panel from today is close to the ultimate Lockhorns installment. “Marriage is like a perpetual I.R.S. audit,” Leroy says, and no detail (Loretta probing into the family finances, say) is provided to imply that this is part of some vaguely clever metaphor; “I.R.S. audit” here is just literally a synonym for “something unpleasant.” That’s the next, and presumably final, step: every Lockhorns strip, regardless of the setting or action, just having the caption “Marriage is unpleasant.”
Panels from Marvin, 9/14/14
Meanwhile, something profoundly unpleasant seems to have recently happened in the throwaway panels of Marvin. In panel one, the whole family, including Marvin, is sporting, grim, thousand-mile stares; in panel two, Marvin sits alone in the Punishment Corner. Does the level of distress on display here mean that whatever transpired was much worse than Marvin’s usual poop-related antics? (No, of course not, Marvin’s bowel movements are the stuff of the worst kind of nightmare.)
I like to make fun of the Goggle Eyes of Horror that often accompany Shoe punchlines, but I don’t mean to neglect their complement, the Heavy Lids of Despair, which the Perfesser is sporting in both panels here to excellent effect. Never mind why Roz is asking Cosmo the kind of question normally posed in a job interview — she probably sees him every day and he’s the only one in the restaurant, so lord knows it’s not surprising they long ago ran out of things to talk about. The facial expression accompanying his response is pricelessly appropriate: he’s in late middle age, working in a dying industry, and living in filth with a nephew he barely tolerates. What does she think he’s going to be doing in five years? The same stuff, obviously, only with more heart blockage and worrying letters about the state of the Bird Newspaper Guild pension fund he’d been counting on for his meager retirement. He’s asking Siri, which is notoriously terrible at understanding anything but the most basic and restricted questions, what the future holds, but his face tells you he’s only doing it because he knows the answer all too well.
Mark Trail, 8/20/14
New Mark Trail scribe James Allen may be shaking things up in the storied strip, but he knows how to give readers what they tune in for: namely, colossally moronic villains who just leave evidence of their misdeeds lying around in publicly accessible unlocked crates, and Mark saying “What th’!” And we can also see a new tradition forming: the shocking moment of revelation in each poaching-related storyline will include Mark sadly verbalizing exactly which animal part or byproduct is being poached. Anyway, Chris “Dirty” Whathisname is gonna get punched real soon. Note that even before finding evidence of his guilt, Mark refused to use the man’s ludicrous self-appointed nickname in his internal monologue.
Gil Thorp, 8/20/14
Welp, this summer’s high-stakes storyline about star football prospect/retro architecture aficionado True Standish considering going to Milford has ended with … True Standish going to one of Milford’s conference arch-rivals! And all because Coaches Thorp and Kaz refused to ratchet up the pressure and try to force the Mudlarks to become a high school football powerhouse that could really highlight True’s skills, an admirable attitude that also nicely dovetails with their desire to do as little work as possible. I’m guessing this isn’t the last we’ll seen of True, but even if it is, we’ll always have panel three’s ludicrously awkward handshake to remember him by.
Dick Tracy, 8/20/14
Hey, remember when Dick Tracy’s wife couldn’t get an email for days and days because her ISP had a virus? You might think that represents a terrible technical failure on their part, but now that we know that Dick sends all his emails as large video files of him talking rather than just text like a normal person, I’m beginning to have some sympathy for the pressure this particular customer puts on their infrastructure.
Dennis the Menace, 8/20/14
This would be an extremely non-menacing installment of Dennis Misunderstands Very Common English-Language Turns Of Phrase In the Darndest Way were it not for the look of genuine terror on his face. “But — Mr. Wilson! Mrs. Wilson reported that you’d already chronovoyaged to 1935 and were living undercover backwhen to prevent General Murchinson’s grandparents from ever meeting one another! Our upstream agents report that the timeline is still polluted and there’s a 95% possibility likelihood that the coup will have occurred in the next six to nine weeks! Unless — have you been ricocheted back to nowtime by a paradox-eddy? Have-will President-for-Life Murchinson’s own time-scientists perfect(ed) the technology to set up a Time Travel Exclusion Zone around certain dates? We thought we will have taken every precaution!”
Marvin has taken a break from its usual array of poop jokes this week to focus on one of the more recent and unpleasant additions to its cast: Marvin’s grandparents’ unpleasant little dog. Today we learn that Marvin’s grandparents’ unpleasant little dog is openly obsessed with racial purity.