Gil Thorp, 12/15/14
Guys, the Mudlarks have won its first state championship in years, so I guess it’s OK if we let the strip revel in it for another week or so instead of moving along to basketball season or whatever’s next. We may not have actually gotten to see Gil and Kaz triumphantly driving their banged up late-’90s Nissans behind the Milford Fire Departments most expendable vehicles, but at least we’re being treated to a long, hard look at the incredibly phallic state championship trophy. Go ahead, nameless Milford students! Stroke the trophy’s golden shaft, from its bulbous football-head down to its helmet-balls! You know you want to!
(If you’d like to celebrate the Mudlark’s championship season in style, the cool kids at the This Week In Milford blog have a t-shirt you might be interested in!)
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 12/15/14
I think it’s a pretty safe bet that nobody involved in the current iteration of Barney Google and Snuffy Smith (or, for that matter, any of the previous iterations) actually lives in an isolated, impoverished hamlet in the Appalachians and/or Ozarks. So strips like today are interesting because I guess they’re supposed to represent what a flatlander would think a hillbilly’s idea of a flatlander would look like? Backpacks are the key, apparently. Anyway, these effete poverty tourists are looking pretty smug for people who are about to get murdered.
Family Circus, 12/15/14
Oh, man, there are so many great things about this Family Circus. There’s Billy’s look of shame and fear as he realizes that his usual goof-off attitude towards life and school assignments has finally resulted in something unpleasant happening to him, and his teacher’s similarly stricken appearance as she realizes the magnitude of her mistake in giving her most sullen student stage time. Then there’s the way Big Daddy Keane stares blankly at his failing son, while his wife glares at him, thinking “I’m going to go ahead and blame you for this.” But the best, the absolute best, is little Jeffy pointing and grinning, as if to say “Look! I’m not the one fucking up, for once!”
Crankshaft isn’t what you’d call sentimental, but he knows one thing for sure: if you don’t lure a white-bearded drifter to your home with the promise of a hot meal and then force him to wear a dirty old Santa suit and stand on your lawn for the entire month of December, it’s not really Christmas.
A cool thing about having a daily comic strip is that you can use it to air some very specific gripes you might have that arise from your personal life! I mean, if it were me and I was taking on Geico, I’d probably go with “Why does Geico have so many mascots, like there’s the gecko and the caveman and the pig and the talking paintings and the two guys with ukeleles and I think also there’s a stack of money with googly eyes?” But, you know, “I resent the application of actuarial science to me in particular” could work too!
Funky Winkerbean, 12/11/14
I know it seems weird, but there are probably some people who only read Funky Winkerbean and not its sister strip, Crankshaft, or vice versa. These people are spared the useless mental exercise of trying to figure out how the timelines of the two Funkyverse strips now line up, as are 99 percent of the people who read both and still only have the vaguest idea that they’re connected. But even if you forgot/don’t care, Funky Winkerbean has decided that its readers are starved for delightful Crankshaft-related content, and are giving us a charming flashback to the Funkypast/Crankpresent, in which the ’Shaft deals with an obviously emotionally vulnerable little girl with his classic lack of tact. I don’t was to cast aspersions on anyone’s parenting, but it sure looks like this child came to talk to a pizza-parlor Santa with neither her father nor her mother with her, so her family situation is probably pretty dire.
Meanwhile, over in Actual Crankshaft, we learn that in the Funkyverse you never ask an innocuous question because you might get a super depressing answer.
Hey, what’s happening over in the “Amnesiac Phantom Joins The Jungle Patrol” plotline, guys? Well, the Jungle Patrol’s colonel decided to test his theory that “John X” was secretly a criminal by locking him in a holding cell with a bunch of criminals, and then our hero brutally beat them into unconsciousness. Now he’s going to be taking down to the infirmary by a leering, sexually aggressive medic. Based on the conduct of one of the country’s main law enforcement bodies, I may have to retract my assessment of Bangalla as a successful post-colonial democracy, guys.
Mary Worth, 12/11/14
Hanna and Sean are so crazed with lust for each other that they’re finding erotic inspiration in anything, even Mary’s cooking. I honestly am rooting for them to start going at it right here on the dining room table, if only to take Mary to levels of scandalization we never would’ve thought possible.
Hi and Lois, 12/11/14
“Chemicals!” shouts Ditto. “The touch of water is anathema to me! Bathe me in a cleansing tetrachloroethylene fire!”
Six Chix, 12/11/14
Hey, everyone, here’s today’s Six Chix! It is 100% grim as shit.
Pluggers usually focuses on the vaguely cheery aspects of life as an aging, downwardly mobile working-class beast-thing, but occasionally the truly grim undercurrent is made explicit. Kudos to Pluggers HQ for going there with the phrase “a small part of each plugger dies” in the caption. Usually a small part of each plugger dies when coronary blockage stops the flow of life-giving oxygen to various limbs, but the bug-eyed stare this man-bear is giving to the useless stump where an outdated piece of electronic equipment once moldered lets us know that this psychic pain is just as real.
Speaking of real pain, Crankshaft is really turning it up this week! Today we’re not even given the glimpse of a punchline, just one of our ancillary characters stewing in agony as his life’s work (which, I should say again, I’m reasonably sure we didn’t even know was his life’s work until this week) dies around him.
Anyway, it’s true that it’s a brutal environment out there for single-screen theaters. Some have been able to make it work by doing special events, live performances, and the like, though most of those are in major urban areas and not decaying rust-belt gloom-towns like Centerville. Still, I have a couple of ideas to improve Crankshaft’s Bald Friend Whose Name I Forget’s business plan: (1) your “nostalgia” flicks probably shouldn’t be widely hated slasher flicks from the early ’00s; and (2) I don’t care if you’re the owner, how about not talking while the movie is playing?