Today is Mother’s Day across most of the world (British “Mum’s Day” is celebrated during Lent, in retribution for their cooking). Because of its ability to trigger a laugh riot of misunderstandings, dysfunction, and resentment, Mother’s Day is a huge deal in the comics, on a scale with Thanksgiving. Let’s see how some of our favorite families celebrate:
Edge City, 5/12/13
Obsessive neurotic Abby Ardin demands smooth sheets and an unsullied mattress, even if it means forgoing all the messy pleasures that sustain bonds of love. Husband Len submissively abets her every whim. It’s a mystery how those children got here.
Jeremy Zits-Duncan promises to give his mother the tolerance and respect she most desires, but fails utterly in the execution. SPANG!
Mary Worth, 5/12/13 (panel)
Beth Kinley celebrates her mother’s special day by ditching Elinor to enjoy some incompetent afterdinner macking on new beau Tom Harpman. Hey, Tom: Beth is a real girlfriend — quit trying to inflate her.
Lockhorns, 5/12/13 (panel)
Leroy cranks up the hypocrisy to give Loretta’s mom a proper greeting. Brrrrr…
Dennis the Menace, 5/12/13 (panel)
Henry and Dennis get it right … and so, as always, does Alice. But c’mon — Dondi was more menacing than this!
Funky Winkerbean, 5/12/13 (panel)
Darin and Jessica bring flowers to the grave of somebody named Lisa Moore whose ashes weren’t scattered in New York’s Central Park the way Darin’s mom’s were.
Jeff Murdoch congratulates himself for overspending at the Hallmark: “Surely now my mother will love me?” Ha ha, nope!
Happy Mother’s Day — give Mom a call!
– Uncle Lumpy
Funky Winkerbean, 4/27/13
Is “being Nordic” a thing people say to mean “being pessimistic?” Wouldn’t people in the Funkyverse just say “being a normal human who understands the horrorshow that is our existence, as we writhe under the savage attentions of a cruel God?” Meanwhile, at Westview’s only motel, a guy who seems with increasing likelihood to be Darrin’s birth dad is checking in … and answering a straightforward question in a way that will annoy and confuse the clerk. “So you want the room … forever? I don’t … I don’t think there’s a way to put that into our system…”
Meanwhile, over in the “fun” Funkyverse strip, Pam shares her mental map of the park with her friend! Naturally, it’s a map of agony.
Panels from Momma and Crankshaft, 4/17/13
Occasionally here at the Comics Curmudgeon, we must remember that we exist to praise the comics as a visual medium, and so here we go: two comic panels that deftly convey what it’s like to be eating food and then you realize the food is terrible and you’re thinking about the social consequences of spitting the food out, maybe onto your plate or maybe just into your hand. Momma is having dinner at her son Thomas and his wife Tina’s house; one of the weird dynamics of the strip I’ve always queasily enjoyed is that Momma is terribly cruel to her daughter-in-law, and narratively it’s pretty clear that our sympathies are not supposed to be with her, and yet her number one complaint — that Tina’s cooking is awful — is also always presented as legitimate. Do you think that she deliberately feeds Momma disgusting food, as revenge, for everything? Meanwhile, in Crankshaft, the terrible food is coming from Lena, the bus drivers’ transportation manager, and her emotional relationship to the people who loathe her baking is an underdeveloped Crankshaft plot element. Still, does she lash out with crappy food because of the toxic psychic environment created by Crankshaft’s mere presence? Almost certainly.
Gasoline Alley, 4/17/13
If, like me, you suddenly realize you have no clear picture of how all the characters in Gasoline Alley’s aging, sprawling cast are related to each other, check out this sweet family tree, which has a 2004 copyright date and a 1995 web design aesthetic! Anyway, it turns out addled supercentenarian Walt Wallet is grandfather-in-law to Slim, against whom I’ve always harbored an unreasoning hatred (well, there are a few reasons). More to the point, despite his encroaching dementia and general good nature, he clearly holds the same low opinion of Slim that I do, which warms my shriveled black heart.
Slylock Fox, 4/17/13
Usually the Slylock Fox true/false trivia strips do a pretty good job of offering questions that could plausibly be either true or false. Still, today’s second question is just way, way too specific to be false, though that would be hilarious. “2) False. The Global Soap Project is an art collective that steals soap from hotels and uses it to create ephemeral bubble-sculptures that are displayed at invitation-only events at exclusive private art galleries in lower Manhattan. After everyone goes home, the remaining soap suds are flushed down the toilet. Suck it, soap-poor nations!”
Family Circus, 4/7/13
Yes, thought Billy. Books. Learning. His teachers and parents had put forth so much effort trying to convince him that he needed to take some time away from the TV to expand his mind a little. He had reacted with sullen, stubborn resistance, as always. But eventually, one day when he was bored, he started picking up some of these books everyone seemed to think were so great. Just to pass the time, you know. And soon he was hooked. There was so much to know! Each fact lead to another. Something new to learn. And each new fact, each new field of study, contributed to his understanding of the world and his future place in it. Specifically, his future place in charge of it. How could he come to rule over all unless he were the smartest man alive? So Billy kept reading. Kept learning. Kept planning. The world didn’t seem so big anymore. Didn’t seem so strange and inexplicable. It was a problem you could solve. It was small enough that you could shut it up in a box, a box with a locked door, and only Billy would hold the key. You hear that, world? You’d better stay on Billy’s good side. You’d better be real nice to him. Because someday, he’s going to be in charge of how much air and sunshine you get.
Judge Parker, 4/7/13
Ha ha, looks like Judge Emeritus Parker isn’t changing his mind about the unmitigated hellscape that is marriage! That face in panel four is one of the greatest examples of humiliated petulance on an adult that sequential art has ever seen. Glory in it!
This being Judge Parker the judge is also right to assume that this pith helmet is the best money can buy. Like, literally. If you used advanced mathematics and materials science and economics to create the most durable, lightweight, and expensive replacement for old-fashioned pith available, you would get the stuff in that helmet. It’s probably made from the bones of endangered tropical birds, tempered with the tears of children attending America’s top-rated non-boarding private schools, and forged in CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.
Panels from Spider-Man, 4/7/13
There are other panels that come between these two, but you don’t need them. “Well, I tried and failed to find the bad guy. Now it’s the other guy’s problem! I wonder if he’ll have time to grab a bite to eat, what with his busy schedule of being a better superhero than I am.”
They say that keeping physically active is a great way to stave off dementia as you get older, though obviously it doesn’t work in every case.
Mark Trail, 4/1/13
“On behalf of tournament officials, we’d like to apologize to you, Mark … apologize that your beloved ward was kidnapped and almost killed by one of our contestants! Ha ha, just kidding, we don’t feel responsible for that at all, and it doesn’t seem like you were that worried about it anyway, so why should we care? We do feel bad about the cheating, though, as that will make us look bad to your readers, who don’t give a rat’s ass about children but are passionate about the integrity of fishing tournaments.”
“Don’t worry, you do a good job … most of the contestants are honest fishermen — guys like Rod are the exception! When it comes to cheating at fishing, I mean. Rod’s pretty typical when it comes to kidnapping little kids. I don’t know what it is, but fisherman just can’t get enough of luring children into their vans. ‘Landfish,’ they call them. And Rusty wonders why I don’t take him fishing more often! Ha ha!”
As sad as “Crankshaft replies angrily to the punning TV newscaster” makes me, I think that “Crankshaft sullenly gets in on the punning TV newscaster’s pun-theme” is much, much worse.
“Get it, because burnt food gets all black and crispy? No, but seriously, Roz sells burned and expired food to the poor and desperately hungry, in defiance of local health department regulations and consumer safety laws.”
Family Circus, 4/1/13
Boy, Billy sure is angry at a pagan nature spirit! Nyaaah, where’s your omnipotent patriarchal creator deity now, Billy?
Better Half, 3/25/13
Hello, and welcome to this journey I’m on, which is called “Josh learns that the Better Half is so, so much more harrowing than the Lockhorns will ever be.” Remember: Leroy doesn’t mind when Loretta criticizes him because he’s a loveless shell of a man who can’t feel emotions anymore. Stanley doesn’t mind when Harriet criticizes him because he desperately craves her attention, and he may not know how to fix the sad dysfunction that his marriage has become, but he at least knows that if he screws up Harriet will acknowledge his existence, and maybe even make eye contact with him and oh my God I’m crying right now pretty much.
Mark Trail, 3/25/13
There was a minute where I thought this was one of those things where the antagonist and protagonist have a stand-off and they both know a secret and they each know the other knows, but everyone pretends not to know, to heighten dramatic tension. Then I remembered that Mark and Rod Bassy were both extremely dumb and also Mark Trail doesn’t really do dramatic tension, so I guess Rod thinks he’s being pretty slick here. Remember, Rod thinks that blurting out “Are you saying that I’m doing something illegal” with no provocation is “slick,” so it makes sense that his instinct is to totally downplay a child being missing for … hours? days? Who even knows at this point. You know, kids today, so lazy that they just wander off away from their families, just going somewhere to be lazy and also have no way of acquiring food and shelter, amiright?
Herb and Jamaal, 3/25/13
By the way, Kopi Luwak is so expensive and famous because it’s been pooped out by civets. So I guess kudos to Herb and Jamaal for not going for the poop joke, though also I guess this joke isn’t very funny, so, I dunno, maybe we should’ve tried out a poop joke and seen how it went.
“I mean, how could a lawyer help defeat a villain with no superpowers who runs a large criminal organization? It makes no sense!”
Haha, that Crankshaft, he sure literally sucks the joy out of the life of everyone he knows!