So ends the Spring 2013 Comics Curmudgeon fundraiser — thank you one and all, generous readers!
What’s that you say? Something along the lines of, “Oh my gosh Uncle Lumpy I was so busy I forgot to contribute and now I not only feel terrible but worse I won’t get an awesome refrigerator magnet and life has no meaning for me anymore and I don’t see how I can go on”? Well, listen, I really shouldn’t do this, but just this once if you click here you can still get to the Fundraiser page, make a contribution (click the banner or the email button), and qualify for your one-of-a-kind Matt Crowe refrigerator magnet. This is just between us, all right? Please don’t tell Josh — I could get in a lot of trouble!
Apartment 3-G, 5/17/13
Peter, get your mind out of your pants and pay attention — Lu Ann just told you all her secrets! Repeat after me: “She can’t remember the last time she had a hot dog with everything.” Jeez, dude.
Funky Winkerbean, 5/17/13
OK, let’s recap a little. Sneery McThumbsup here is Frank “Frankie” Pierce, former football star of Westview High bête noir Big Walnut Tech, who impregnated Les Moore’s first wife Dead Lisa (who was neither married to Les nor dead at the time, as if those are two different things) with Darin in the back of his totally bitchin’ ’70′s van — the one with that sharp knockoff Frank Frazetta mural of the sabretooth tiger and the babe with a spear on the side and the “Don’t Come Knockin’” sticker on the remnants of the rear bumper? Wow, that was a cool van. The mute thug is Leonard “Lenny” Gant, Frank’s accomplice in whatever con he’s running.
Frank, who runs “Astounding Productions” (last big hit: Vans of the ’70′s), came to Westview after seeing a TV news report about Les’s contract to convert his terrible misery porn memoir “Lisa’s Story” into a screenplay featuring excruciating dialogue like, “I can’t pretend to know what you’re going through, but I’m here for you and ready to listen as much as you need, and be your friend even if I haven’t got the right words.”
Frankie’s con cannot possibly be aimed at Darin, who works as the IT and marketing specialist for a pizza parlor (fer Chrissake), has an unemployed pregnant wife, and is therefore so poor he lacks even a van to call his own. So the con must be aimed at Les and his big deal. Will Frankie try to hijack production rights in favor of his own company? Unleash a second version of Les’s travesty upon the world? Block production entirely, claiming that Lisa’s Story somehow defames him and Darin?
To find out, I guess you’ll just have to keep reading — and whatever happens dear reader, even though I can’t pretend to know what you’re going through, I want you to know I’m here for you and ready to listen as much as you need and be your friend, even if I haven’t got the right words. If you need me for anything, I’ll be in my van.
The Comics Curmudgeon has been systematically neglecting Luann as a public service, but I’m obliged to report that Luann is still a thing that exists. The last few weeks’ strips have shown Luann to be a self-absorbed slob whose “friends” don’t really like her and whose “talents” aren’t apparent to anyone outside her own headspace. So yeah, you haven’t missed anything.
Luann schemed to hook up with crush-object Australian stereotype Quill (G’day! Sheila! Barbie! THAT’S a knoyfe!) at summer drama camp. The camp accepted Quill, rejected Luann, and accepted pretty, ambitious go-getter Tiffany, Luann’s hated rival for Quill’s affections. And so here we are.
You know how authors of long-running series grow to resent their protagonists so much they start working to subvert them? Like the way Arthur Conan Doyle “killed” Sherlock Holmes in The Final Problem? Is something like that at work here? Will we see Quill grow to love and respect Tiffany, a centered woman mature beyond her years, unashamed of her desires and undeterred by the spiteful carping of infantile, jealous rivals? Or will it just be more of the same old middle-school tee hee pretend sexxy with Luann? Oh, I think we know the answer to that question!
Mary Worth, 5/17/13
Is there anything more terrifying than Love in Mary Worth? Ignore the saccharine declarations and watch as Tom drags a flailing Beth down Charterstone’s gargantuan sidewalk to a secluded spot where he can wrench her head half off and devour her succulent brain.
Just a reminder — no Comments of the Week on my watch. Look for them Monday when Josh gets back!
– Uncle Lumpy
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
After the serial failures of his high-tech missile, “hypno”-gas, and “adamantium” chains, Kingpin resorts to old-school methods of persuasion like threatening to stone-cold bash a woman’s face in. Spider-Man is quick to comply — but then, “not moving a muscle” is pretty much his core competence.
Dick Tracy, 5/11/13
So it looks like Dr. Sail here is reconstructing the actual Moon Maid (who died in a 1978 car crash), not just creating an imposter from scratch? This opens up a chance to revisit the action-packed Moon Strips of the 1960′s and 1970′s (the so-called “Dick Tracy Has Gone Totally Nuts” era). Does it also signal complications for Moon Maid’s nominal widower Junior Tracy, who got re-married (to Sparkle Plenty) after his first wife’s death?
Ha! As recently as two years ago (the “Late Bonkers” era), Dick Tracy would have resolved such petty conflicts by having a beloved character burned, crushed, blown up, brain-wiped, dismembered, or (my favorite) eaten. But how will the new Team Tracy handle it?
Perhaps the answer lies with the Moon-obsessed siblings introduced here. Stellaluna, named for a cute bat from a kids’ book, is probably OK. But I would keep an eye on Retik, ominously named for Commander Cody’s nemesis (“Retik, the Moon Menace”) in the classic 1952 serial Radar Men from the Moon. Will this new Retik re-kill a reanimated Moon Maid, saving Junior Tracy from inconvenience? Stay tuned!
Hey, Retik: if you’re short on ideas, I’m pretty sure “suffocated in the vacuum of space” and “vaporized by a meteor” are still available. Just sayin’.
Gasoline Alley, 5/11/13
Hm, Gasoline Alley supercentenarian Walt Wallet is hanging out at the “Comics Retirement Home” with characters like these from discontinued old-timey strips, leading one to think he might, I dunno, retire or something? Except that we’ve already been down this road, in 2006, and it came to nothing.
C’mon guys, it’s time to pull the trigger — this routine will only get even more embarrassing if you have to do it again in another seven years, when Walt is 120.
Funky Winkerbean, 5/11/13
Aw, look at Darin’s adorable pissy face! Do you suppose he broke his jaw trying not to smirk?
Hey, I’m subbing while Josh takes a break through Sunday May 19 — reach me at email@example.com if you have access or comment issues. Enjoy!
– Uncle Lumpy
Hi and Lois, 5/7/13
Sadly, one the many businesses that the Internet has changed beyond recognition is the adult film industry. Probably this shaggy-haired 19-year-old pizza dude has consumed all of his pornography in short, plotless smut-bursts, delivered in a tiny browser window, and has never seen the archetypical porn storyline in which a startled delivery guy is seduced by a sexually voracious customer. The smile on his face in panel two implies that at he’s at least read about such plots, though, or maybe heard them referenced in older literature, because he seems to realize that “Hey attractive lady, your husband can’t spend time with you but spent $12 to have shitty food delivered without bothering to even tell you he did it” is pretty much the gold standard for that particular scenario.
Family Circus, 5/7/13
Speaking of things that would be foreign to modern folk, I’ve always appreciated the fact that the Keane Kids seem to just form ad hoc play groups with whichever other kids are outside, rather than requiring their parents to set up appointments weeks in advance on the subdivision’s shared Outlook calendar. But still, I’m concerned about the seething mass of dozens of children that seems to have spontaneously assembled on the Keane’s lawn. What “game” could this tightly packed mob possibly be playing, other than “Let’s see how quickly we can fall upon and devour passers-by”? Ma Keane should shut that door as quickly as she can, then start boarding up the windows.
Funky Winkerbean, 5/7/13
Oh look, a Westview citizen has responded to a simple question with unfunny, confusing wordplay! Darrin’s bio-dad reacts not by co-smirking but with normal human irritation. I think I’m starting to like this guy.
Haha, it’s funny because Ziggy wants to have sex with a lizard, and he feels terrible about it!
Funky Winkerbean, 5/4/13
Oh, man, Darrin’s bio-dad is just not going to give up on his mission of assholery, is he? I have literally no idea what he thinks is going to happen if he goes public with the knowledge that Dead Lisa had sex as a teenager and had a kid and gave it up for adoption. Will the Westview citizenry gather in the town square and ritually burn all copies of Lisa’s Story, as is the accepted fate for Whore Literature? Fools, they already bought the books, and Les already got paid! You bought the book too, Darrin-bio-dad! You bought it in hardcover!
Mary Worth, 5/4/13
Haha, awesome first date strategy, Tom. “I know how to eat better! I just didn’t bother because I didn’t care if I lived or died! I wanted to commit suicide the slowest, most passive-aggressive way possible. But after one trip to the grocery store, one awkward dinner with your mom and some random old lady in our apartment building, and 10 minutes of orange food prep, I know I want to live! You’re the only one keeping me alive, Beth! NEVER LEAVE THIS ROOM OR I’LL KILL MYSELF WITH A VEGETABLE PEELER I SWEAR TO GOD”
Herb and Jamaal, 5/4/13
Herb’s mother-in-law lives with his family and works at the soul food restaurant he runs with Jamaal, but we don’t really know much about her social life. Did she always live in this town, or did she uproot herself from her social networks to come here? Does she have a circle of friends her own age that she spends time with? Are they the ones that she apparently got hella drunk with last night?
I mean, we’re all imagining Kingpin speaking in a gravelly, menacing voice, dramatically stretched out over two panels, right? “Now, and only now, it’s time — to awaken Spider-Man! …in the dullest, most pedestrian way possible, by splashing him with water out of a mid-sized Rubbermaid container. HAHA, I was soaking my sore feet in this all afternoon, the water is totally gross! Take that, wall-crawler!”
Mark Trail, 5/2/13
Sorry for not keeping you up to date on what’s up in Mark Trail! The short version is that Mark and Wes flew off to go look at some sheep but then they crashed and Wes broke his foot and now they’re trapped and will no doubt resort to cannibalism soon enough. That leaves the ladies to chill back at the campsite! Don’t panic, Shelly, those wolves are perfectly harmless, not like the villainous wolves of several storylines ago. You should be more concerned about this mysterious pink mist that’s rising out of the river and filling up your tent and campsite, quite honestly. Is a mid-’80s glam-metal concert about to break out?
Dick Tracy, 5/2/13
Sorry for not keeping you up to date on what’s up in Dick Tracy! The new creative team has been pretty relentless in bringing back characters and plotlines from the strip’s storied past, and are now apparently moving on to the extremely wacky late ’60s period where Dick went to the moon repeatedly and Mysta, the daughter of the Governor of the Moon (no, really), married Dick’s son. Later she was blown up by by a car bomb, but now has apparently been … “recreated”? Except for her face? Whatever, any excuse to have a character say “No! I’ve had enough of your world! I want to take my family to my real home. Back on the moon!” is a good excuse as far as I’m concerned.
Beetle Bailey, 5/2/13
I’m a pretty big dummy about military stuff but there isn’t a single vehicle in the U.S. arsenal, past or present, that looks remotely like whatever Beetle and Plato are driving, right? Like, a mid-sized hatchback with big tires and double gun turret on top and some other guns randomly sticking out windows? That’s not a thing, right? Also, this town probably doesn’t have any trouble with parking because it appears to be one vast, featureless parking lot, though predictably it does have a lot of trouble with traffic flow.
So Heathcliff’s “pickup lines” are so effective that he has nine lady cats following him around in a neat formation, waiting in still, eerie silence for him to sex them up, individually or perhaps together? I’m not sure what it would take to make this joke funny, but adding a whole bit where he asks a lawyer for intellectual property advice isn’t it.
Funky Winkerbean, 5/2/13
Just leaving this here to remind you that Les’s creative endeavors have failed humiliatingly before, so there’s hope that they will again! Actually, the success of Lisa’s Story must gall Jessica more than it does the rest of us. “Hey, sorry my book about your dead dad was a flop! Did you hear that my book about my dead wife was a big success? I guess we know whose dead relative is better, huh?”