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
Family Circus, 5/10/13
It’s generally a good bet that any given Family Circus cartoon features lightly repurposed art and/or jokes from times gone by. That’s why I’m fascinated by the TV floating in Daddy’s groggy dream-bubble, the dream-bubble about to be so cruelly burst by Jeffy’s hoe. (Side note: who on Earth thought it was a good idea to give Jeffy a blade at the end of the long stick? If it can break up clods of dirt it can cut through flesh!) What clip-art library did it emerge from? The television is all black and 2-D depthless, like a modern flatscreens, but seems to have a DVD player or cable box perched impossible atop it. Maybe in his half-awake state he’s conflating all the TV technology he’s encountered in his lifetime, much as the strip itself does. We could do a better job of placing the timeframe of this reverie if we could just see how long the basketball players’ shorts are.
Mark Trail, 5/10/13
In different kind of comic strip, when two people stumble through a lonely forest away from their crashed plane and find an abandoned cabin, inspiring a “bad feeling” in an experienced woodsman, it would herald some truly terrifying adventures to come! In Mark Trail, it just means that Mark and Wes are going to do some canoeing, whee.
Mary Worth, 5/10/13
Aw, isn’t that cute, Beth is holding onto Tom’s left hand! In other Tom hand news, in panel one we can see that on his right hand he’s wearing a glove made out of human skin.
Heathcliff’s plan to foster a cult of personality among his house’s rodent population seems to be moving along nicely! I enjoy the fact that his owner-lady and owner-son (grandson?) are looking at this enormous cheese-idol with wide-eyed awe, but his owner-man is pissed off. Never mind the theological implications here; dude is just mad that this huge blob of no doubt stinky cheese in occupying space in his living room, where it will presumably get moldy and even more disgusting in short order.
Mary Worth, 5/8/13
Meanwhile, the world’s most awkwardly intense first date proceeds apace! Sure, let’s sit on the same side of the table, that’s not weird at all. Haha, I’ll just blurt out that I love everything you said, even though you clearly phrased the sentence as a counterfactual! I sincerely hope that Beth goes and gets a ukelele, hands it to Tom, and watches him try to act like he knows how to play it.
Tropical rain forests support more than half the world’s species of plants and animals — and according to this cartoon, all those species are terrifying. Pave it now! Replace it with Wal-Marts and strip malls with nail salons and Little Ceasars franchises! IT’S THE ONLY WAY TO BE SAFE.
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!”
Mary Worth, 4/30/13
Oh my goodness, you guys, it looks like we are about to get Mary Worth’s version of the immovable object/unstoppable force problem! You see, on the one hand, the thing that Mary likes more than anything else is seeing young people matched up into happily heteronormative couples — particularly couples like Tom and Beth, who she has selected for eternal happiness with her inscrutable Mary Powers. ON THE OTHER HAND, there is nothing Mary Worth hates more than lies and dishonesty. But what if the only way to ensure that Beth and Tom could get to know each other better, in a romantic but wholesome way, would involve Mary lying? What path will she choose? I sure hope she chooses lying, because (a) Mary lying, even in the cause of love, should be delightfully awkward, made even more so by the fact that (b) Mary, Tom, and Beth’s mom Elinor all live in the same condo complex, so there’s a good chance that the lying will take the following form:
MARY answers the door. ELINOR is standing in the hall.
ELINOR: Have you seen my daughter Beth? I’m worried that she’s whoring herself over at that man-slut Tom’s apartment.
MARY: Oh-h-h-h, of course not, Elinor! Beth is here in my apartment tonight.
ELINOR: Oh. Can I come in and see her?
ELINOR: Why not?
MARY: [Stands silently, smiling, for a long time, like, a really long time, things get uncomfortable real fast but she just keeps standing there silently, forever]
Well might Grossie’s Friend Whose Name I Forget (sigh, sadly “Grossie” is a name that will never, ever leave my brain) look dubious in panel three. If Grossie is so good at spotting plastic surgery from so far away, shouldn’t she notice her tablemate’s nose, pointing up at an impossibly taut angle, presumably being held in place by some kind of industrial-strength facelift technology?
This week’s “Marvin does variations on a dumb joke all week” involves the li’l scamp uploading “feet photos” onto Facebook. Can someone confirm or deny to me that this is an actual thing that people do? I tried Googling “feet photos Facebook” and got some extremely traumatizing results so I had to go take a walk and not look at the computer for a while.
(Side note: remember when CrySpace was the baby-themed social network of choice in the Marvinverse, back in 2009? I guess we can’t pretend that MySpace is relevant enough to be spoofed anymore. Not that we could pretend this in 2009 either, but you know.)
Ha ha, wouldn’t it be funny if they made an Indiana Jones movie in the modern day, with Harrison Ford playing the title role, even though he is an old man? Wait, what? In 2008, you say? Huh.