Mark Trail, 6/27/16
Oh man, so after dragging on for a really long time, the Mark Trail cave adventure ended … extremely abruptly? Mark swam out through an underground passage and then Gabe and Carina followed shortly afterwards and they all emerged in the Rio Grande, the end! Suddenly, two years earlier, some wealthy couple is wrapping up their South Seas cruise on their gynormous yacht. The key questions we need to ask ourselves: Why are we seeing this in flashback? Will Mark and company stumble upon the wreckage of this yacht in the present, and need to figure out why it exploded? Because let’s make one thing absolutely clear: that boat is definitely going to explode.
Slylock Fox, 6/27/16
Oh my God, this is the most horrifying Slylock Fox mystery solution yet. We now know that the animapocalypse granted sapience to animals at all levels of the food chain, no matter how short their lifespan. “Here, try this so-called ‘magic potion,'” Slylock says to the mayfly, its mind already in a constant whirling panic over its impending mortality. “Maybe you’ll be able to stave off your inevitable death for another few days! Please, it’s for science.”
Newspaper comics creators have of course sworn a solemn oath to protect their shrinking revenues from print syndication: they must never read newspapers online. Some of them refuse to even acknowledge that newspapers put their articles on the internet; others, like Crankshaft, realize that this is an important part of the modern media landscape, but have no idea how online news works, per se. Fun fact: my very first grown-up job was at an “online magazine” where we published like 16-20 articles a month, and we published them to our website all at the same time, on the 20th of each month! This was in 1999.
Funky Winkerbean, 6/27/16
“What? No, they’re going to cut our funding. What the hell is wrong with you?”
The Phantom, 6/11/16
The Phantom is of course the 21st in a sequence of Walkers who’ve dished out vigilante justice to southern Africa from their cave HQ over the past 480 years. Over that time, he and his forebears have had to adjust to certain social and technological changes in order to keep up. For instance, at some point some Phantom traded in his flintlock for the modern-day pistol he now carres. The Internet is a recent enough development that I assume that it was the current Phantom who somehow got hundreds of miles of cable laid from the nearest city all the way into his Animal Head Room over at the Skull Cave, then erased the technicians’ minds with “Bandar medicine” so they could never reveal his location. As a modern superhero, he knows that he can’t do without the Internet’s research capabilities; but as a man of action, he’s got to resent that he’s now starring in scenes like this, where he’s sitting in front of his computer and then flashes back to an earlier point in time when he was also sitting in front of his computer, only back then he was wearing his skin-tight purple costume for some reason.
I admit to never having actually watched the Gotham TV show, but I do like the idea of an “origins” series, where you see the world we live in bit by bit become a well-known exaggerated, cartoonish fictional universe. So while Crankshaft remains in general the sunnier of the two Funkyverse strips, I enjoy it when you can see hints of the dystopian horror that lies 10 years off in Funky Winkerbean, like when stone-faced cops forced terrified children up against their squad cars.
Here’s a fact that I never get tired of: NCIS, a show whose pitch can be summarized as “what if there were crime … in the navy”, is one of the most popular shows in the country, averaging 20.5 million weekly viewers this past season. That puts it just barely behind Big Bang Theory in total viewership; its two spinoffs are both in the top 20. Yet literally nobody in the TV criticism world cares about it! Think of all the rhapsodic analysis of Mad Men we had to endure over the years. Mad Men had 2.6 million viewers a week in its highest-rated season. If an NCIS episode got ratings four times higher than that, think of all the people who would be fired, immediately!
Anyway, these numbers reveal that NCIS doesn’t actually do that well in the coveted 18-49-year-old demographic, which means that, as today’s panel confirms, its audience probably consists of mostly pluggers. Today’s Pluggers actually successfully surprised me with its punchline, but I still like the one I thought up before I read the real one: “Watching NCIS is plugger foreplay.” It would explain a lot!
Time jump shenanigans continue! Look: it’s pre-jump Les Moore, hawking his book about the murdered John Darling, who was the father of his (future, at this point) stepdaughter-in-law! We know, from having secret future post-time-jump knowledge, that this book was a complete flop, which may explain why he’s doing a book signing at a used book store a lady started in her attic, probably without the proper permits.
The Phantom, 6/7/16
Oh, man, I forgot to properly highlight the fact that Judge Parker artist Mike Manley has now taken over The Phantom! He’s showing his adaptability here: the Judge Parker gig has given him a chance to demonstrate that he can draw wealthy, beautiful, chesty women, but The Phantom is and always will be all about the beefcake.
Judge Parker, 6/7/16
Speaking of Judge Parker, it’s good to see the strip fully committing to its shtick of incredibly wealthy people sitting around their palatial compound complaining about how difficult it is to be judged for their incredible wealth.
Six Chix, 6/7/16
GUYS YOU BROUGHT YOUR FRIEND TO A RESTAURANT WHERE CHICKENS ARE KILLED AND EATEN, I DON’T THINK SHE’S THE ONE WHO MADE THE MISTAKE HERE