Hi and Lois, 9/25/14
I generally spend as little time around children as I can manage, so I often have hard time either figuring out how old kids are without being explicitly told or knowing what exactly the appropriate behavior and/or cognitive development is for whatever age they end up being. Figuring out the ages of the extremely stylized children of the comics is even harder. I’ve always pegged Dot and Ditto at around … eight? Or ten? Eight to ten, maybe? Anyhoo, I guess what I’m trying to say is that even if Ditto is nine-ish, I’m not sure if that’s an age where you’re supposed to earnestly walk through a Socratic dialogue designed to logically prove that your children should follow the ethical systems you’ve established, of if you should just announce “because I said so” and send them to their rooms. At any rate, I suppose Ditto is perfectly capable at understanding the locally prevailing moral code, considering he’s developed an elaborate persona specifically to circumvent it.
Marvin, for all its other faults, spares you any need to try to map any of its baby-characters onto the real developmental timeline of actual human infants, since it’s less concerned with verisimilitude than it is in creating a horrifying dreamscape of infantilized scat humor. “What could be worse than the strip’s constant focus on diapers?” you might say. “Maybe if the strip’s baby-characters were sexually attracted to each other, and one decided to flirt with another by complimenting her diaper?” you’d say. “That’d be awful,” you’d say. “Surely no punchline to such a strip could make the initial premise worse,” you’d say. You’d be wrong, though!
Mark Trail, 9/25/14
“I’ve heard the horns of those rhinos are aphrodisiacs, and customers in China will pay big money for them! I’ve got to harvest as many horns as I can before the species is driven to extinction!”
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.)