Judge Parker, 12/1/13
Congratulations, Judge Parker! You’ve offered us many tantalizing hints that the story of Neddy’s Kidnapped Do-Gooder Friend And His Sad Wife might end in some interesting way: that they might be scam artists, that the husband might be a scam artist without his wife’s knowledge, that Neddy might have to part with enough of her trust fund to make a dent in her lifestyle to pay the ransom, that there might be some moral dilemma involved in sending heavily armed U.S. special forces into a densely populated city, etc. But instead, you stuck to your core competency: none of that happened, and the plot was wrapped up as boringly as possible, even considering said wrapping up involved the phrase “extraction team”! Obviously we don’t actually get to see all this derring-do; if this strip isn’t going to even bother showing us a main character’s triumphant cheerleading routine, it certainly isn’t going to let us see a bunch of people we barely even know shooting guns and/or getting shot. I guess there could be more to this, but the final panel sure seems to promise more boring times to come, unless you find the idea of obscenely privileged twentysomething heiresses dropping out of art school and moving back in with their easily irritated parents exciting. (Having typed that out, I think I might actually find that exciting, so hooray for Neddy’s return, I guess?)
This is a good example of a cartoon where the throwaway panels at the top entirely change the complexion of the strip. Notice that Archie says that he was stung by a bee as he was walking in to the bowling alley. Either those throwaway panels take place in the moment just before he made the fateful decision to stick his rapidly swelling thumb into the bowling ball, or, more likely, he’s just in a foul mood because once again he’s gone on a date with Veronica that’s amply demonstrated that they’re totally different people and he actually finds her quite irritating and he’s really only attracted to the idea of her, but he can’t admit that to anybody, not even himself, so instead he’s come up with some completely cockamamie story so he doesn’t have to talk about what’s in his heart.
Panel from Mark Trail, 12/1/13
“Deer are native to every continent worldwide! Except for, you know, two of them. Out of seven! But still, that’s solid 71% continent coverage. Good job, deer!”
I know this isn’t news to anyone who’s spent any time reading the adventures of the Riverdale gang, but Archie, the ostensible protagonist of the long-running Archie comics franchise, is kind of unbearable. Normally this is most obvious in the shabby way he treats the multiple young women who for reasons unknowable are in love with him, but his attitude towards his male pals is frankly not much better. Today’s strip is particularly poignant: Archie’s class-based anxieties are on full display as he attempts to worm his way into Veronica’s high society world, and he apparently thinks that loudly mocking his best friend’s poor-person habits is his key to gaining the one percent’s acceptance. Fortunately, Jughead once again proves that the most radical form of resistance to the economic elite is a complete lack of shame over the so-called “manners” they deem so important.
Wizard of Id, 11/19/13
I don’t know what’s more slapdash about this: that all three quotes are from J.R.R. Tolkien (who, for the record, is not the only author in history who has written about wizards), or that the strip freely admits to not bothering to figure out what the second quote even means.
Mark Trail and Mary Worth, 11/19/13
Meanwhile in Mark Trail and Mary Worth, true terror is in progress: old people are falling down! Say what you will about the soap opera strips, but they seem well aware of the main anxieties of their primary audience.
I love that Mr. Weatherbee looks nothing but horrified in each and every panel of this strip. Right from the beginning he’s hunched over and anxious and clutching tightly onto his lapel; it’s not like he’s under any illusions that the superintendent has anything good to say about Riverdale High, after all. And yet the actual report is obviously much, much worse than even he had imagined. Sure, the final panel, in which he’s broken out into full-on panic sweats, is great, but it’s the second panel, in which he realizes that he’s only beginning to understand the meaning of terror and his mind won’t stop screaming inside his skull, is one of my favorite things in Newspaper Archie ever.
Wait, did today’s strip and yesterday’s get swapped? Or are Francis and MaryLou just going to keep making Momma go out into the snow until she freezes to death for real?
Mark Trail, 11/14/13
These two panels of insect talk are preeettty boring, so just imagine how dull the two days of fly fishing we’ve mercifully skipped over must’ve been!
Mark Trail, 11/1/13
Ha ha, that’s a good one, Cherry, but we all know that Rusty doesn’t have any “friends”! Still, the story is plausible enough to satisfy Mark, who after all has managed to come home from his adventure, narrate the entire tale of that time he and a senator grappled with political corruption and then watched a man die, and then sit down to a delicious dinner of whole turkey and white globs before realizing that his beloved ward wasn’t around. Do you think it would’ve taken him this long to notice that Andy was missing? Anyway, that bear has already stumbled upon Rusty’s shallow grave and is right now disposing of the problem, and Cherry knows it’ll be easy enough to find another funny-looking orphan who’ll answer to “Rusty” if he knows what’s good for him.
Yup, just another installment in the Terrible Ennui Of Living In Riverdale! “Must be nice to date the captain of the football team!” Betty says to Veronica. “Must be nice to not be inexplicably trapped in the romantic orbit of Archie Andrews, who’s mildly handsome and sort of nice and not particularly smart! God, what a couple of sad chumps we are!” But it turns out Midge finds her romantic links with Moose to be nothing but a crushing embarrassment. Love is nothing but shame!
Family Circus, 10/29/13
You can criticize the Mommy and Daddy’s decision to keep the Keane Kids forever bottled up in the Keane Kompound, with the resulting stunting of their psychological, intellectual, and physical development obvious in every Family Circus panel. Still, you have to marvel at how even in their stunted circumstances, their imaginations soar. Sure, they’ve been denied contact with any biological texts outside of Genesis 2:20, but that hasn’t stopped them from coming up with their own charming and whimsical explanations for what they observe of the natural world. What would their parents say if they could hear their precious children’s simple just-so story? Probably it would involve scouring the Kompound for hidden radios to try to stop any further knowledge of “Halloween” reaching the children.
Funky Winkerbean and Pluggers, 10/29/13
Tuesday a day of a week, so here’s a couple of comic strips making ham-handed jokes about Facebook! Rachel (her name’s Rachel, right? it’s actually remarkably difficult to find a complete list of Funky Winkerbean characters online) is trying to engage Funky on how he’s coping with Cory, his disappointment of a son (stepson? I’m honestly kind of pleased with my inability to pull up Funkyfacts from memory), being deployed in Afghanistan. As you can tell from Funky’s disgusted facial expression, he doesn’t want to talk about it! Yesterday he claimed that he’s never been on Facebook because “I’m an adult” (fun fact: the average age of a Facebook user is 41). Today he expressionlessly make a joyless sup-pun about how Skype, another technology he can’t be bothered to deal with, allows soldiers in a war zone to still feel connected to loved ones back home, and perhaps hold onto a little bit of their sanity. As long as those loved ones aren’t Funky Winkerbean, anyway! Funky has no desire to learn about fancy screen-phone whosits. Funky is also incapable of feeling affection for another human being, so what would the point of talking to him even be.
Pluggers, in its typical way, is taking a much simpler route to a laff. Whether you’re talking about a scary “web site” on the computer thingie that we guess we have to look at if we want to see the grandkids’ pictures now, or an actual physical book written by nerdlingers who think they’re smarter than us, “facebook” makes us sleepy! Zzzzz.
How terrifying must it be to be poor, simple Archie Andrews? Imagine being so acutely aware of your own intellectual limitations that you live in constant terror of your mind being erased by some awful cerebral event, but too dumb to know what what such an event might feel or sound like!
“You’re the governor. And the governor belongs in the governor’s house. Or, as most people call it, the governor’s ‘mansion.’ I mean, it’s a pretty big place. Why undersell it? It’s also in Albany, which, I can’t emphasize enough, is hundreds of miles and several hours of driving away from New York City, which is where this strip ostensibly takes place. So probably you couldn’t get there tonight anyway. So why not stay here, sure, whatever, fine, I guess. Don’t you have a girlfriend? No, never mind, I don’t want to know.”
“And by ‘all of the sudden’ I mean ‘for the entire time this strip’s been around, even though I’m really only noticing it now.’ Jesus, are those antenna? Are you even human?”
Pop’s outdoor cafe strategy includes some serious fire safety code violations