Main content:

Comics archive! Crankshaft

Not paying attention

Click the banner to contribute to the Comics Curmudgeon. Details here.

It’s the Comics Curmudgeon spring fund drive! You can bet we pay close attention to generous readers like you!


Do you ever get the impression comic strip creators aren’t always meticulous about consistency and continuity? I do! Let’s see why:

Crankshaft, 5/3/16

Remember how elated Jeff was about neighbor Lillian naming her bookstore on Sunday? Well, turns out that was just a short while after his mother Rose suffered an episode of syncope that even today has him moping around the home where he spent his miserable childhood. He takes a break from self-pity to enjoy himself on weekends? Lack of commitment — sad!

Anyway, we’re lucky Ed wasn’t around to say, “I guess it’s syncope or swimcope for Rose now!”

Rex Morgan, M.D., 5/3/16 (panel)

Hey, it’s adorable gifted artist Sarah Morgan and half of her Dad!

Rex Morgan, M.D., 4/30/16 (panel)

And here she is last Saturday — last night in strip time. Does she want to see the damn house or not? Is the strip’s author confused? Is Sarah? Knowing the character, these flip-flops are probably part of whatever con she’s running.

Mary Worth 5/3/16

Hey, it’s beloved secondary character Wilbur Weston, Dawn’s Dad! Check out his uniquely neglectful parenting style: “Dawn, is this older man you’re spending all your time with trying to use his influence and position of authority to take advantage of you in some way? No? Okay, welp, grub’s getting cold GLOM GLORP SMACK.”

Always four hairs, all across the years — somebody’s showing commitment to the project! The intern who draws Crankshaft’s blackheads could take a lesson.

Luann 5/3/16

But for a truly neglectful relationship, consider the one between Josh and Luann: he has sworn a terrible oath to ignore the strip entirely, so these periodic updates fall to me. Hey, it’s the job.

Leslie (“It’s Les!”) Knox is a bully because he ignored Knute’s order not to enter a men’s bathroom Crystal was using, moments after Knute himself left it, and despite the fact that guys hanging out while girls pee is totally a thing here. Anyway, Knute attempted to choke Les as he walked in, but Les knocked him down, presumably did his business, and left. Got that? Les is the bully.

In an amazing feat of circumstance, he is also the nephew of Mr. Gray, who is both the taciturn and possibly mobbed-up former Las Vegas club manager who saved Luann’s parents’ nightclub and the lethargic swain of Gunther’s Mom. Small world. So Gray is calling in a favor from Luann’s parents by having them hire Les to work at the in-club restaurant TJ manages.

TJ is probably just checking his calendar there to show us that Les is compounding his bullyhood with tardiness. But I prefer to think the gang took Les to the vet to have him chipped, and that TJ is checking his BullyTrax® app.


– Uncle Lumpy

Self-congratulation Sunday

Hey, it’s Spring, and May, and Sunday … and from the look of things, everybody’s feeling pretty darn good about themselves.

Crankshaft, 5/1/16

Here, Team Crankshaft congratulates itself for its tortured “blacksmith/booksmith” wordplay by showing in-strip proxies Lillian and Jeff gushing over it. But adopting Crankshaft’s sloppy malapropism will doom Lillian’s fledgling used-book business.

Sure, throngs of would-be readers will stream through Lillian’s quiet residential neighborhood, walk past her second-floor shop, and glance up at her sign. But being literary folk who know full well that a booksmith is a person who makes books, they’ll pass on the chance to climb all those stairs only to find an author, a publisher, or a bookbinder shooing them away.

Perhaps they’ll mutter as they pass by, “If only this town had a decent bookmonger — somebody could make a lot of money!”

The authors also missed the obvious opportunity to call the place “Mom’s attic” and sell old comic books. It’s like they lost track of the strip’s core mission.

Phantom, 5/1/16

Appearances aside, that’s not Disco John Belushi. It’s Hojo, recently destereotyped and crossing over from Lee Falk’s other creation, Mandrake the Magician. Hojo is fluent in six languages, head of global crimefighting outfit Inter-Intel, and a 10th-degree black belt in some martial art or other. But here, he’s just pleased as cheese to be out in the Seven Nations working together with his good buddy Phantom to suppress political opposition to Lothar’s brother. Lucky we can’t see his face when he learns they whupped the wrong guy; poor fella must be shattered.

But hey, why is that Phantom-cam shot of Otanko taken from the perspective of someone flat on his back? That can’t be good!

Rex Morgan, M.D., 5/1/16

June squicks out Rex as a form of bedtime recreation; it’s the only kind she gets. “Because you’re a doctor and she respects your judgment — despite your hilarious discomfort with anything even remotely biological. You think reproduction is icky, ‘doc,’ take a whiff of this guy.”


– Uncle Lumpy

Fragile masculinity Saturday

Crankshaft, 4/16/16

Hey guys, remember Ed Crankshaft, the almost wholly unlikeable protagonist of the comic strip Crankshaft? Well, Crankshaft and Mary, who is a perfectly nice person, have been going on dates, and other people have noticed, and somehow Crankshaft is the one who finds this embarrassing, though he claims that it’s only because his relationships all seem to go south whenever they’re recognized or acknowledged, in some kind of Romantic Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle or something. Anyway, Mary now knows she’s truly been claimed by the ’Shaft, because her relationship is now being labelled with a terrible and unfunny malapropism, in line with his personal beliefs and lifestyle.

Beetle Bailey, 4/16/16

Haha, it’s funny because Sarge would rather look like a dope and fail to clean his stinky feet than appear even slightly feminine, even for a moment, and oh my god wait is he just full on nude in the comics pages??? That water droplet is extremely strategically placed so as to obscure his entire butt crack, but that doesn’t make this acceptable at all.