B.C. and Marvin, 11/24/13
If Thanksgiving’s coming, it must be time for one of my least favorite comics tropes: terrifyingly self-aware animals begging not be eaten. Today’s B.C. is a particularly gruesome example of the genre, made all the more vivid by the poor victim-turkey explaining in great detail the real-life unsavory conditions under which many factory farmed animals are raised. For sheer narrative power, though, you can’t beat panels two and three of Marvin: first, we see a panicked turkey, unable to speak English but still obviously aware of his coming fate; then we see Marvin’s family feasting on his corpse.
Panels from Mark Trail, 11/24/13
The whole Ben-Franklin-wanted-the-turkey-to-be-our-national-bird thing is a myth, pretty much. Franklin never made a serious political proposal to this effect or anything; he just wrote a letter to his daughter, in which he said that the eagle in the proposed design for the Great Seal of the United States looked like a turkey, and then, in typical witty Frankly fashion, wrote a couple of paragraphs about how turkeys are better and more noble than eagles anyway. I do like that Mark doesn’t bother correcting Rusty but also doesn’t go out of his way to really affirm his incorrect beliefs either. “Yeah, I remember hearing that when I was young and stupid like you, Rusty. Now sit back and shut up, because I’m gonna drop some turkey facts on you for the rest of this strip (not pictured).”
Apartment 3-G, 11/24/13
I know I haven’t been keeping you up to date on what’s happened in Apartment 3-G this week, so, uh, here’s what happened in Apartment 3-G this week, pretty much! Thanks, Sunday summary Apartment 3-G! The only new information we get in this strip is that Dr. Bentley likes to tickle teenage girls under their chins, which, grossssss.
Funky Winkerbean, 11/24/13
“Let’s just say your father was a terrible, hateful person and that we’re all glad he’s dead! We’re protecting you from this knowledge, but the strip sure isn’t doing the same for its readers!”
Funky Winkerbean, 11/18/13
Ahhh, another generation is about to be added to the great cycle of birth and death and misery, all of which takes place at Montoni’s pizza, just like everything else that happens in this awful town! Today’s strip makes for an interesting study in the passage of Funky-time: when Lisa gave birth to Darrin, she reacted to the first pangs of labor with obvious distress and Les was so startled that he jumped out of his chair, sending a slice of pizza a-flyin’. But the imminent birth of Darrin’s own child can prompt no reaction in Jessica other than heavy-lidded sarcasm, and Darrin himself barely gives a little jerk in his chair. With any luck, this illustration of the increasingly blasé reactions to major life events over time proves the acceleration of emotional entropy, with the heat death of the Funkyverse blessedly approaching.
Better Half, 11/18/13
The Better Half has seen the box office returns and knows the score: the real money for comics properties is in big-budget movie adaptations. Today’s panel represents a puzzling decision to try to convince David Cronenberg to create a Better Half film that focuses on nightmarish body horror.
At last, Spider-Man gets to live out his ultimate fantasy: instead of just yelling at someone on TV, he’ll get to yell at someone on TV while he is also on TV. “I’ll send him crawling back to print media!” he declares, that being the worst insult he can come up with.
Funky Winkerbean, 11/15/13
I don’t know why, but I was under the impression that Lisa’s Forbidden Diary, the one that will help Les get inside his late wife’s head and unlock her cinematic secrets, was from, like, a time in her life when she and Les weren’t married and spending all their time together. Turns out nope! It’s just a record of all the stuff that Les probably would’ve known if he’d been paying attention at the time. Anyway, the very first passage Les reads consists of Lisa making a clunky joke and then noting smugly that the people she made it at didn’t seem to get it, probably because they weren’t smart enough. “That’s my girl,” Les thinks, smirking in her memory, smirking because she cannot. “That’s my girl.”
So it took me a while to figure out exactly what’s going on here, mostly because Heathcliff’s jeans have been colored the exact same shade of orange as his fur, and I was going to berate the syndicate colorist for doing this, but really, has Heathcliff ever worn pants before? Wouldn’t his sudden decision to do so cast an unflattering and frankly disturbing light on the years of pantslessness that led up to this point? Anyway, what’s going on here is that Heathcliff, who is wearing jeans that are the exact same shade of orange as his fur (and, side note, imagine leaving the house wearing only garments that precisely matched your own skin tone, imagine how everyone would look at you in mingled fascination and horror), is no-hands eating a turkey leg, and gorged himself to the point of bursting his pants button at exactly the right time for said pants button to hit a dog in the face. It seems like an awful lot would have had to go exactly right here for this plan to work out, but I guess Heathcliff is bored with his usual dog-harassment and wanted to take on a real challenge, you know? “He gets them with girth” says a nearby child, to give an example of another thing I’d rather not think too much about.
Dick Tracy, 11/15/13
I’m sorry, did you think Dick Tracy was an anachronistic square-jawed fascist wholly unfamiliar with American pop culture? Dick Tracy wants you to know that he’s cool, or at least was cool, back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. You know, back when he was young, taking in the post-punk and early new wave scenes in New York, hanging out with all those guys before they were famous, doing coke in the bathroom at CBGB with Patti Smith, what have you. Later he had them all arrested, of course.
Rex Morgan, M.D., 11/15/13
You guys, there is literally nothing Rex Morgan likes hearing better than “it’s going to cost them triple,” especially when the person reaping those tripled costs is a member of the Morgan family whose finances Rex is responsible for. Look at how pleased he is in that third panel, to hear about all the money his lawyer will be extracting from a local nonprofit arts organization! I’ve literally never seen him so happy. Just for comparison, this is the face he makes when a patient thanks him profusely for saving his life:
Mark Trail, 11/15/13
I take back what I said yesterday about the Mark Trail bug talk being boring — at least, boring in some conventional sense. Now I think it’s boring in a fascinating sense, like a five-hour Central European art house film where a village is increasingly infested with flies that represent the legacy of Communism or maybe just man’s own inherent corruption, and the inhabitants endure the plague with grim stoicism. There’s a shot of several flies on an old man’s face that goes on in silence for nearly two minutes. “Is he ever going to brush them off?” you wonder. He does, eventually. But they come back again a moment later, and he realizes that swatting them away was futile. The moose may seek shelter, but humanity has the self-awareness to know that it’s all hopeless.
Funky Winkerbean, 11/13/13
I’ve settled into a sort of Stockholm Syndrome thing with Funky Winkerbean, where I’ve decided that, since I’m apparently going to keep reading it indefinitely, and it’s going to keep being an endless pit of misery and death indefinitely, I’ve got to figure out how to enjoy it. My current strategy is to enjoy it when the misery and death happen to characters I particularly dislike, so this week’s plot, which has been focused on Les’s inability to write a maudlin direct-to-cable movie about his wife’s death, has been pretty pleasing to me. You might recall that this story began months ago with Les getting a fat check and then getting smug about some of the clunkiest dialogue ever written. But now he’s realized that he can never write a script about his beloved dead wife, because he can’t really imagine what her thoughts were, probably because when she was alive he was too busy thinking about how her various life tragedies were affecting him emotionally to really get to know her. Somehow this didn’t prevent him from writing a best-selling memoir about her, of course, but to write a screenplay he needs to know her every thought, since obviously movies focus much more closely on characters’ internal emotional lives than books do.
Anyway, the Les-suffering is unfortunately about to end, because now he’s going to read Lisa’s diary! The diary he swore never to read, for some reason! This will solve all his problems and probably he’ll just take big chunks of prose out of the diary and use them in his screenplay and he won’t even have to pay Lisa for it, because she’s dead.
Apartment 3-G, 11/13/13
Speaking of death, I’m dying with laughter at Governor Sexy having his extremely public marriage proposal interrupted in one of the most humiliating ways possible. The YouTube video of this delightful moment will of course go viral, with the autotuned version “I Have To Take This Call (It’s Marty)” becoming a surprise novelty hit on iTunes.
Dennis the Menace, 11/13/13
Everyone in the Mitchell family takes on whatever chores need doing, dividing them up equitably without regards to outdated gender norms, and Dennis doesn’t care who knows it! He truly is a menace — to the patriarchy.
Frankly, the whole “Momma was very cold outside” angle of this strip seems overly complex, don’t you think? I mean, Momma is haunted by the grim spectre of death at all times and would presumably be quick with a depressing quip in response to a “Isn’t it great to be alive” no matter what the circumstances, though she might lean less towards “Let me check to see if I’m still alive” and more towards “I am alive and it isn’t great at all; it’s actually quite awful.” Still, the way MaryLou is leaning on the question, combined with Francis’s sly look, makes me think that something more is up here, like maybe they dumped her a snowdrift a mile away and made her walk back home, and are now trying to subtly ask her if she’s dead or not.
Ha ha, it sure is hard to keep up with the slang that the kids today use! In unrelated news, Alexander suffered some kind of traumatic brain injury at football practice.
Funky Winkerbean, 11/5/13
One of the downsides of the thick, suffocating blanket of omnipresent gloom that covers the characters in Funky Winkerbean at all times is that it’s often difficult to know how exactly how we’re supposed to be reading their facial expressions. I think “Maybe we should’ve known!” is supposed to be a light-hearted “Maybe we should’ve known that Cory would love old comic books, just like his dad, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, ha ha!” But with everyone looking so glum in that final panel, it comes across much more like “Maybe we should’ve known, oh God, we never knew our son at all, we wasted the sort time we had with him, and now he’s almost certainly going to die in some God-forsaken desert cursing our names, we’re monsters, we’re all sad, broken monsters.”
Family Circus, 11/5/13
The expression on the face of the checkout clerk here is a bit easier to parse. “Listen to how excited that little kid is about grocery bags! What a terrible bleak home life he must have, devoid of the ability to choose anything for himself, or have fun of any kind!”
Mark Trail, 10/30/13
Good news, everybody! The weird, svengali-like power Johnny Walker held over the poor innocent senator has at last been fully explained, now that he’s a smear of human hamburger at the bottom of a cliff. Fortunately, Johnny’s death will immediately remove this pall hanging over our heroes. Once the authorities learn that Johnny was responsible for all the wrongdoing, and that he died under bizarre circumstances with only the senator and his close friends and family as witnesses, the case will be closed and everything will go back to normal, just like it was before!
Normally I’d make fun of this strip for completely abdicating on actually drawing a Miley Cyrus costume and just leaning on “haha, it’s funny because they said ‘twerking’”, but then I thought: do I want to see Team B.C.’s idea of what a teen girl ant wearing a Sexy Miley Cyrus outfit would look like? Does anyone? Answers: No, and, I’m reasonably certain, no. Let’s just enjoy the bullet we dodged. Ha ha, those prehistoric ants just said “twerking,” everybody! They’re just like us!
Family Circus, 10/30/13
I love Dolly’s expression of vague disdain. God damn it, Jeffy, do you want to learn how to huff or not?
Funky Winkerbean, 10/30/13
Ha ha, those army guys sure have a sense of gallows humor and/or complete lack of historical knowledge! Anyway, Cory and his whole platoon are going to die.