Funky Winkerbean, 6/25/14
Here’s where I am with Funky Winkerbean, emotionally: I like it when the characters suffer. I mean, it’s going to happen whether I enjoy it or not, and for whatever reason I’m not going to stop reading the strip, so why not go along for the ride? It certainly helps that most of the characters are thoroughly unlikable anyway and therefore seem to deserve their fate; there tends not to be a direct connection between jerkwad behavior and suffering, but it’s nice to see everyone getting their karmic comeuppance.
What I don’t like is a particular and pernicious subset of Funkyverse suffering, which is when one of the characters suffers because he or she is simply too good, too righteous, for this fallen world. More often than not it’s the insufferably smug Les who earns this sort of martyrdom, which just serves to make him simultaneously more depressive and more self-satisfied. In this current plotline, Les is learning that when he sold the story of his wife’s painful death to a basic cable network for a substantial sum of money, he was expected to tailor the script to the conventions that the network’s audience has come to expect. Today, this sad-sack basic cable executive is explaining that, while Les is of course a great artist — perhaps the greatest artist who ever lived, though that’s a question for another time — everyone who runs and watches the cable network is a low-class garbage person who won’t be able to appreciate Les’s artistry. Les suffers, you see, but he suffers because he’s so much better than everybody else.
This plot would be enraging enough even if we hadn’t actually gotten a glimpse of Les’s script, which, it turns out, isn’t a beautiful work of art at all but rather a clunky tear-jerking slab of treacle with which he is far, far too pleased. But still, the important question remains: why aren’t people giving Les fat checks to write exactly the strain of sentimental death-porn that he wants to write, and then leaving it untouched, out of respect, even though everyone will hate it?
Beetle Bailey, 6/25/14
Interesting theory, Miss Blips, but that’s actually a crude depiction of Hexastom, the six-mawed hell-beast to whom you’ll be sacrificed at tonight’s coven.
Kids today, refusing to die for nothing in some pointless colonial war! Whatta bunch of losers!
Heathcliff’s owner-lady just looks miffed over a fun family outing ruined. But his owner-man and owner-kid — well, that’s the stare of people who’ve seen some things. The bellowing of the majestic sea giants, the fast-moving fork with its razor-sharp tines, the violations of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling and basic decency, the blood, so much blood…
Somehow, it ain’t like the old days, right everybody? It used to be that when someone said “boombox,” you had a pretty good idea what they meant: a luggable radio with a built-in tape deck, built as large as it could get while still being portable, so the huge speakers could put out really loud bass. But boomboxes have been out of favor for 20 years, so who even knows what that word means anymore, or what any word means, for that matter. Kids today and their slang and their polysemy make language a baffling morass. Is a boombox a metallic glove now? Sure, why not!
This joke, obviously, is some kind or riff on Loretta’s eggs (or maybe biscuits? what pairs with brownish goo that you need to eat with a knife and fork?) being so poorly prepared that they have the consistency of vulcanized rubber; nevertheless, my immediate assumption was that Leroy was referring to Vulcans from Star Trek, which makes sense because obviously the emotional hellscape of his failed marriage is something he desperately wants to escape by whatever means necessary. Perhaps he’s trying to put himself through the Kolinahr, the Vulcan monastic discipline under which the last vestiges of emotion are purged away. “How long does it take to complete the Vulcanization process?” he wonders aloud. “When will I become a creature of pure logic? When will these awful, awful feelings stop?”
Mark Trail, 6/16/14
MARK IS IN AFRICA, everybody, and by “Africa” we mean some nonspecific country in Africa where there is fine dining but also ladies who carry things on their heads. Mark is supposed to be meeting Jacob Hickman to save the rhinos, but Jacob Hickman has been kidnapped so Mark is just going to sulk at his hotel restaurant instead. “Now I’m stuck here! I’m bored! There’s nobody to punch!”
Rex Morgan, M.D., 5/26/14
One of the things I pride myself on is having a memory for the literal decade’s worth of soap opera plots I’ve covered in my time as American’s #1 soap opera comic obsessee, but even for me some things fall through the cracks. For example, until some faithful readers pointed it out in the comments, I had completely forgotten that Kelly was the midriff-baring, mom-sassing, evil punk dating antiheroine of a storyline from 2011, which ended with her paired up with Niki. Anyway, she’s now been thoroughly degothed, presumably on parental orders, which might make her somewhat sympathetic for her blackmailing little charge, who’s being forced by the museum to dress up like a parody French artist, complete with beret, for paying visitors to gawk at. “Your head’s hot? Oh, I hear you, kid. Check out this sweater they’ve got me wearin’. Man, I remember the days when my stomach was just free and exposed to the cooling air. That was the life.”
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite minor character in this strip. I’m obviously a big fan of Prison Guard Who Takes Time During Crisis To Weave An Evocative Metaphor, and Off-Panel Patron Of MUSEUM Who Gamely Assumes Dr. Octopus’s Arms Are Running Away From Them Rather Than Towards Their Master. But I think I’m going to have to go with Guy In Hat in panel three, who’s hanging out with Peter and MJ in some … room … where there are curtains and a floating flat-screen TV, and he’s just going to town on a sandwich. “Earth tremor? State prison? Sounds like someone’s problem, but it sure ain’t mine! [CHEWING NOISES]”
Look at this sneering criminal, using God’s loopholes to escape divine punishment for a life of crime! I can’t keep track of various Christian denominations’ stance on grace and repentance and free will and predestination and such well enough to know who exactly this strip is going to irritate the most, but I certainly hope that it prompts little children across the country to have awkward conversations with their clergy! (Ha ha, just kidding, no little children read Crock, I mean why would they.)
Funky Winkerbean, 5/26/14
Soooo … his actual name is “Chester Hagglemore”? And Holly’s going to have to haggle with him to complete Cory’s Starbuck Jones collection? And his name is Hagglemore? Because he likes to haggle … more? Eh? Eh? Get it? He probably doesn’t need another nickname, is what I’m trying to say.
Gasoline Alley, 5/26/14
So, yes, doing some “kids engage in the darndest wordplay” schtick does seem like kind of poor taste when the topic is an actual dying child! But don’t worry, if I had to guess I’d say this is the start of a “Boog gets grifted” storyline.