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The robots are our brothers!

Dick Tracy, 12/14/08

Dick Tracy has moved on from the “lives shattered and corpses mangled” section of the storyline to the “valuable lessons learned” portion. Liz’s ham-handed soliloquy — “Yes, Tracy, robots have a place in police work” — sounds like the sort of self-congratulatory statement you’d hear when someone in an after-school special overcomes terrible prejudice, though in this case that prejudice is against improbable, l33t-speaking robots that despite their crime-fighting value will have only occasional appearances in future installments of this strip.

Meanwhile, in typical Dick Tracy mangled-time fashion, the final panel of the last three strips has consisted of Diet Smith offering then refusing to help Dick’s wife over the phone. This is unfortunate, because it has forced us to repeatedly look at the inventor’s grotesque baby-like face.

Beetle Bailey, 12/13/08

Say, what’s more embarrassing than having only three comics acknowledge your 90th anniversary? Having a fourth add its own feeble contribution nearly three weeks after the fact, of course! That 19-day gap is, to the best of my knowledge, shorter than the lead time for strip publication, so it’s not like Walker-Browne Amalgamated Humor Enterprises LLC saw those tribute strips on November 24 and suddenly lurched into action, but I can’t offer an alternative explanation for this delayed tribute. Perhaps there’s some dispute as to the actual launch date of the strip back in the mists of time, and we’ll be seeing tributes to Gasoline Alley’s continued zombie existence dribbling out over the comics pages for weeks to come.

60 responses to “The robots are our brothers!”

  1. fishmorgjp
    December 14th, 2008 at 7:29 pm [Reply]

    Looks like Diet Smith got merged with Vitamin Flintheart in a teleportation pod. Maybe a TP is being worked on down the hall from the robot shop?

    December 14th, 2008 at 7:29 pm [Reply]

    Curtis: Is that a Hasidic Jew on the subway with Curtis? With Payiss? Maybe Curtis should introduce him to Gunk.

  3. Uncle Lumpy
    December 14th, 2008 at 7:33 pm [Reply]

    The Gasoline Alley Comic? I suppose you have to distinguish it from The Gasoline Alley Waste of Fifteen Frickin’ Seconds Every Frickin’ Day, with which it is easily confused.

  4. Wangdoodle
    December 14th, 2008 at 7:37 pm [Reply]

    From the comments at GoComics for this particular Dick Tracy strip:

    “Of COURSE robots have a place in police work, stupid. Real-life cops have been using them for years. They just aren’t talking toy tanks with character faces.”

    Meanwhile, Sunday’s Rex Morgan MD is an absolute masterpiece. June being sarcastic and verbosely nigh-hysterical, the ship’s crew throwing chairs into the ocean, and that final-panel expression…this is a keeper. I think I’ll print it poster size and frame it.

  5. dougrogers
    December 14th, 2008 at 7:40 pm [Reply]

    How did Diet Smith get a drink box stuck to his tie? Is that his next great invention?

  6. Rachel211
    December 14th, 2008 at 7:42 pm [Reply]

    “I’m not sure I can help you, Tess. Why not? Well, I seem to have somehow cut all my fingers off below the first knuckle. Try me again tomorrow!”

  7. ESJ
    December 14th, 2008 at 7:42 pm [Reply]

    If you look closely at Diet Smith’s milk carton, it says “SKIM.” Don’t believe it for a second–that guy is huge! His head alone is bigger than TRAZE-R.

  8. Bryan
    December 14th, 2008 at 7:55 pm [Reply]

    Yeah, skim milk my ass. Diet Smith drinks heavy cream, straight from the carton.

    June Morgan is smoking hot today. I despair of ever seeing her in a bikini, though.

  9. Zaq
    December 14th, 2008 at 7:57 pm [Reply]

    There’s some satisfying stuff to be had today. Mary Worth’s head-bobbling throes of satisfaction is one such example… and yesterday and today’s “Two days to throw as many twists as we can in the plot” in Rex Morgan is quite amusing, if I may grossly understate it. Then we have Dixie’s weird kneeling tackle in Judge Parker… good stuff all around!

  10. Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist
    December 14th, 2008 at 7:59 pm [Reply]

    Having a fourth add its own feeble contribution nearly three weeks after the fact, of course!

    Lame, but I guess compared to 90 years three weeks is a pretty small error.

    The best thing about the little-remarked Gasoline Alley 90th is there’s no way it can be as painful as the hideously overextended self-tribute for Marvin‘s 25th.

  11. Isaac
    December 14th, 2008 at 8:01 pm [Reply]

    Next week, Beetle Bailey will salute Blondie on its 75th anniversary.

  12. Crankenstank
    December 14th, 2008 at 8:05 pm [Reply]

    We’ll see how many people show up for Mort Walker’s funeral. He’ll make Eleanor Rigby look popular.

  13. Sue T.
    December 14th, 2008 at 8:06 pm [Reply]

    Last Wednesday, Lio “saluted” G.A. in its own special way…

  14. richbachelor
    December 14th, 2008 at 8:06 pm [Reply]

    So is that sentence hanging above the Gasoline Alley gang a disembodied dialogue balloon, or some sort of toxic word-cloud that Beetle, hungry for advancement in the ranks, has devised, proposing to sell it to the highest bidder?

  15. He Brought Queenie Baby Jesus
    December 14th, 2008 at 8:09 pm [Reply]

    I find babies to be hideous, but I have to admit that calling Diet Smith’s foul pate “baby-like” is a grievous understatement and a libel against babies everywhere. I’ve never seen a baby with such unbalanced jowls, and babies’ mustaches are far more tasteful. I’m not even touching those eyebrows; it’s bad enough looking at them.

  16. Lithros
    December 14th, 2008 at 8:11 pm [Reply]

    Diet Smith clearly lost his eyebrows in a lab accident. That’s the only possible explanation for why his current pair seem to be ready to dance a jig off the front of his face, and have already got the boots on for it.

  17. Joe Blevins
    December 14th, 2008 at 8:18 pm [Reply]

    Man, whatta day for guest appearances in the funnies. The Gasoline Alley gang in Beetle Bailey and Mr. Tony Bennett in panel 2 of Dick Tracy

  18. Digger
    December 14th, 2008 at 8:22 pm [Reply]

    Sarge: “Wow, Beetle, you managed to find three schlubs who are even more useless than you are. Are they going to fix the jeep or just pose stupidly with it?”

  19. Oavis
    December 14th, 2008 at 8:24 pm [Reply]

    I don’t know much about Dick Tracy, as my local papers have never carried it. Can someone please tell me the provenance of the name “Diet Smith”? I gather he’s Dick’s Q, but what I don’t know is if “Diet” is his real name of a nickname given because of the skim milk he’s frequently seen drinking.

    Also: Is Tess’s last name still Trueheart, or is she Tess Tracy?

  20. Wangdoodle
    December 14th, 2008 at 8:32 pm [Reply]

    Diet Smith is an old-time Dick Tracy character; his name and his habit of guzzling gallons of “skim” milk from tiny cartons is supposed to be somehow giggleworthy.

    10. Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist
    hideously overextended self-tribute for Marvin’s 25th

    There are two things so horribly, horribly wrong with this. The second one is that anyone would celebrate the first, even the creator.

  21. Erik A.
    December 14th, 2008 at 8:37 pm [Reply]

    I’m a wee bit new to Dick Tracy – is Diet Smith always drawn so ridiculously? How is he holding the skim milk? Is the straw going directly into his chin?

  22. Scanman
    December 14th, 2008 at 8:47 pm [Reply]

    At least Gasoline Alley’s tribute isn’t as lame as Mr. Wilson’s paper, That put the news of Gasoline Alley’s 90th anniversary as the headline of the sports page!

  23. ChristianPinko
    December 14th, 2008 at 8:48 pm [Reply]

    Chief Liz’s stilted dialogue and blank stare: evidence that Dick Tracy’s creators are incompetent, or evidence that the robots have enslaved her will? Truly a deep and dark mystery.

    @ 20: Wangdoodle, such a thing did exist, and it was as awful as you can imagine. I’ll never forget that one Sunday strip with Jay Leno making a guest appearance.

  24. Artist formerly known as Ben
    December 14th, 2008 at 8:49 pm [Reply]


    9CL: No, I’d guess that they’re locating the hidden cameras in the trees so this time they can each show off their best sides during lovemaking. What’s that? You don’t think Julia would peep on her own daughter with boyfriend? Clearly you haven’t been reading.

    MW: Okay, everybody who said that Lynn’s friend Greg got himself Aldo-ized pat yourselves on the back. You were just kidding? Well, she doesn’t seem to be, so it still counts.

    HtH: What, Hagar’s got Kevlar under his bearskin jumper?

    H&L: In further hilarity, Lois also did all her grocery shopping online. No food in the house until the roads thaw out. Who will survive?

    SFx: So the thief was not satisfied with whatever slap on the wrist the petty robbery would have gotten him. No, he had to go in for operating without a license and potential 2nd degree murder. Now his dumb ass will go to doggy Oz. Don’t follow his example, kiddies.

    S4th: A true classic today.

    BH: “My last date was with Jack the Ripper, and he didn’t think I was worth ripping?” That’s the nastiest image the comics have tried to put in my head in some time.

    Baldo: Oh no, Papa. Tia Carmen is going into the Oxycontin market. No more relying on church bingo for her retirement fund.

  25. Baron Bizarre
    December 14th, 2008 at 8:53 pm [Reply]

    Beetle Bailey: What’s really weird here is the way that Skeezix appears to be morphing into Tintin.

  26. Black Drazon
    December 14th, 2008 at 8:56 pm [Reply]

    The slow trickle of Gasoline Alley 90th Anniversary strips will of course end in 2018 with a picture of Marmaduke holding a fender between his teeth.

  27. Mibbitmaker
    December 14th, 2008 at 9:02 pm [Reply]

    DT: Nevermind Diet’s “grotesque, baby-like face”, how about his grotesquely-stubby, baby-like hands? He can’t even hold on to his milk carton, for Margo’s sake! And I forgot last night to mention the middle panel, where we see Dick Tracy’s doppelganger working on Dick Tracy’s doppelganger. Weeeeeeeiiirrrrd!

  28. Shlomo
    December 14th, 2008 at 9:13 pm [Reply]

    Beetle Bailey- Mort Walker is hoping that when they reach a special milestone, someone will make a special tribute to them. I can just see Mary Worth meddling in Sarge’s life to find out why he carries around a strange picture of his dog and Beetle in a compromising position.

  29. Jnoble
    December 14th, 2008 at 9:15 pm [Reply]

    Beetle Bailey: Does this strip only take place in the ’50s or something? The army replaced Jeeps with the Humvees years ago

  30. Braniff
    December 14th, 2008 at 9:19 pm [Reply]

    While we’re on the subject of cross-overs and anniversaries, let’s remember that the Family Circus will probably be celebrating its 50th anniversary in less than two years. Of course, Billy is still seven and the others have not changed much (save for topical references and Mommy’s hairdo).

  31. Tom the Pirate
    December 14th, 2008 at 9:29 pm [Reply]

    I don’t know the men from Gasoline Alley, nor do I want to. But I do find myself wondering why the guy on the far right has his ass on backwards. Is that normal for him?

  32. Warofthebees
    December 14th, 2008 at 9:41 pm [Reply]

    Being that Beetle Bailey seems to think that the Army still looks like it did in 1955 and doesn’t seem to know there’s an actual war on right now, we should be glad that the writers at least got the year of Gasoline Alley‘s anniversary correct.

  33. Poteet
    December 14th, 2008 at 9:42 pm [Reply]

    # 3 Uncle Lumpy — I congratulate you on condensing your daily GA experience into fifteen seconds. By the time I stare, analyze my deep repulsion, and mutter a few bad words, I think it’s more like twenty-five wasted seconds for me.

    # 30 Braniff — Thanks for the warning. Arrrgh.

  34. Wanders
    December 14th, 2008 at 9:42 pm [Reply]

    The Condo Board has approved “Some Things Last a Long Time” by Daniel Johnston for the Charterstone Jukebox at, but I suspect they won’t let it stay for long.

  35. Islamorada Girl
    December 14th, 2008 at 9:48 pm [Reply]

    DT: If you shaved King Kong, he would look like Diet Smith.

  36. Aitherion
    December 14th, 2008 at 9:51 pm [Reply]

    Walt seems to be having an awful lot of fun pretending to drive that Jeep. Somehow I get the feeling it’s not going to get it fixed, though- if anything he’ll damage it more with his extreme girth. Least he’s all comfy on his wallet.

  37. True Fable
    December 14th, 2008 at 10:13 pm [Reply]

    I used to read Gasoline Alley back in my pre-Roopville youth in the 1960′s. I was a comics junkie even then. I did not realize few other people shared my obsession until I thought to make polite conversation with my Uncle Tommy one day, and asked him about the Wallet family tree. He kind of hemmed and hawed and finally admitted, “Well, I don’t read that stuff. I don’t know of anyone who does except you and your papa.”
    You don’t?!?!
    After that I kept my comics obsession to myself until I discovered this particular little wonderland here. Papa Fable would have loved the internet, especially CC. Talk about a snarker…!

  38. Steven
    December 14th, 2008 at 10:14 pm [Reply]

    Diet Smith looks a lot like Col. Sanders.

  39. survivor
    December 14th, 2008 at 10:21 pm [Reply]

    Beetle, is the jeep fixed yet?

    If by ‘fixed’ you mean ‘converted from a rugged military vehicle into a one-seater children’s toy’ … then yes.

  40. dyslexic dog
    December 14th, 2008 at 10:23 pm [Reply]

    #38 — Steven:
    …with duck tats.

  41. NoVan
    December 14th, 2008 at 10:24 pm [Reply]

    While we’re talking about Friday’s comics, was I the only one disappointed by Prickly City? I was really getting into the budget cut storyline over the past two days. 40% of Prickly City seems like the perfect solution to our problems.

  42. Victor
    December 14th, 2008 at 10:26 pm [Reply]

    Today’s Garfield must be PAWS, Inc.’s attempt at winning back the younger audience. Being bold enough to show a gay interspecies kiss (and right after a straight interspecies peck-on-the-cheek) is something that’ll get you lauded for your forward thinking – right before it gets you kicked off the comics page by the kind of people who are actually reading it.

  43. Joe
    December 14th, 2008 at 10:38 pm [Reply]

    CiC: Binx seems to be saying what we all have been wondering: “How long, O Kitty Kin, will you abuse our patience?”

    BVB: I love the snowmen fighting over the the salad in the first panel. Nicely drawn croutons I might add.

    CR3: Yes, because we know garbage truck drivers always discuss the dating controversy of Beowulf.

    FGO: Binga, Binga –Shug, Shug! (Ha, ha)

  44. Dr. Weird
    December 14th, 2008 at 10:57 pm [Reply]

    #32 Warofthebees – I read an Beetle Bailey anniversary collection in the 80s with commentary by Mort Walker and he made a point of saying that the strip deliberately does not keep up with advances in military technology. I do recall one strip that badmouthed the (then) new “coalscuttle” helmet by comparing all the useful things that can be done with the pot helm vs. just being able to wear the modern one.

    I DO wonder how BB survived through the intense anti-military sentiment during and after the Vietnam War… Though I do recall a strip in which Beetle started a rumor that the whole camp was being shipped out to ‘Nam…

  45. Li’l Bunnë FooFoo
    December 14th, 2008 at 11:18 pm [Reply]

    Count me among those more disturbed by Diet’s fingers — those stubby fingers that seem to be cut off at the knuckle, making no use of that opposable thumb, just touching the milk carton to it seems to hover at the neck, and meanwhile Diet’s drinking from a straw stuck into the far side of the bottle. It’s like some sort of M.C. Escher visual brain teaser, though not in a good way.

  46. Mischief Maker
    December 14th, 2008 at 11:24 pm [Reply]

    Yes, Tracey, Robots do have a place in police work. Like the ED 209.

  47. papa zita
    December 14th, 2008 at 11:24 pm [Reply]

    RMMD: C’mon guys, don’t throw stuff overboard – loot the ship, rob the passengers, set them adrift on the lifeboats! You don’t have to be Somali to be a pirate.

  48. Dagger
    December 14th, 2008 at 11:34 pm [Reply]

    Of course we won’t have to worry about Traze-R in future Dick Tracy installments. It was shortly after this strip that the police discovered the true use of robots in their line of work: making them hammer away at car bombs until they go off.

  49. GROAN..
    December 15th, 2008 at 12:03 am [Reply]

    Actually, Locher’s just been watching “Blade Runner” too many times;
    “I’m not sure I can help you, Tess.”
    Tess, of course, being a Nexus-6 herself….

  50. Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist
    December 15th, 2008 at 12:22 am [Reply]

    Wangdoodle@ 20: The second one is that anyone would celebrate the first, even the creator.

    Oh yes, it happened, and it was very very wrong. Paralyzed-faced Jay Leno wrong.

  51. Shermy Glamrocker
    December 15th, 2008 at 10:23 am [Reply]

    “I’m in favor of it.”
    - John McKay, coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976, when asked about the execution of his team.

    “I’m all for it.”
    - The Coach dude in B.C. comic strip on Dec. 15, 2008, when asked about the execution of his team.

    B.C. Stealing 33-year-old quips for 100 years.

  52. AMC
    December 15th, 2008 at 11:14 am [Reply]

    Mary Worth – “Oh NO! She’s going to . . . touch me! Ghaaa! I only meddle from afar. I am the cruise missile of meddling. A drive-by advice giver. This is so Un-Methodist of her! This messy touchy-feely stuff should be handled by others, after my passive-aggressive bromide-terrogation! No! No! I’m meeeeeellllllltttttttiiiiiinnnnnnngggggg.”

  53. Paul1963
    December 15th, 2008 at 1:33 pm [Reply]

    Skipping to the end: I like the little “& Bill” tacked onto the signature on Beetle Bailey, suggesting that neither Greg nor Mort Walker were capable of rendering recognizable likenesses of Skeezix, Walt or Slim.

    Note that I said “recognizable,” not “good.” The mysterious “Bill” falls a bit short there in my humble estimation.

  54. The Klute
    December 15th, 2008 at 1:34 pm [Reply]

    I have no idea which one is Walt, which is Slim, or which is Skeezix… but then again, neither does the rest of America.

  55. Fashion Police
    December 15th, 2008 at 2:04 pm [Reply]

    Can’t resist commenting on Liz the Police Chief, even in a dead thread. When she was a mere flatfoot her wardrobe screamed “dike!” but in an attractive way. Sure, she favored neckties and mannish jackets, but usually with a pencil skirt and stilettos. Liz probably holds the world record for the 40-yard-dash in 4-inch heels.

    Now that she’s an executive, the full-out drag uniform is just, well, a drag.

  56. TurtleBoy
    December 15th, 2008 at 2:13 pm [Reply]

    #3 Uncle Lumpy: word. The whole “tribute” has the feel of a pilot episode in which characters are intentionally and blatantly overcharacterized in order to brand them. Given that no non-Curmudgeons under the age of 90 are likely to know who in the f**k these tow-headed anachronistic zombies are, I suppose this bit was necessary.

    What I wouldn’t give for an extended Tony/Control-like expository exchange:

    “Why yes, Gasoline Alley! Is that not the comic strip whose 90th anniversary is now being celebrated?”

    “That is indeed so, Beetle. That selfsame strip was created in 1918 by Mr. Frank King and featured lovable characters like those who have just finished repairing our equipment.”

    “That was ever so kind of them.”

    “I dare say it was, Beetle.”


  57. Carly
    December 15th, 2008 at 6:26 pm [Reply]

    Maybe it was important to acknowledge GA but not important enough for Walker-Brown Inc. to interrupt their very important zen-like flow of bad jokes for. They had to wait for just the right break in the action, you know?

  58. bensdad00
    December 15th, 2008 at 10:52 pm [Reply]

    There is an easy explanation for the Beetle Baily lag time – the oft-ignored Russo-Communist influence on Gasoline alley wherein the creator refused to acknowledge the Gregorian calender. Just like the October revolution occurred in November, the November debut of GA ‘really’ occurred in December.

  59. Powers
    December 17th, 2008 at 8:52 pm [Reply]

    Look, people, a little bit of research would reveal that the starting date for Gasoline Alley is indeed not known for certain. It started as a corner of a four-panel feature called “The Rectangle” and was split out into its own daily feature sometime between August 1918 and January 1919.

    So don’t knock Walker-Browne Amalgamated for getting the date wrong. No one knows the actual date.

  60. Tamper evident labels
    January 16th, 2009 at 2:44 am [Reply]

    A good spot to discuss, recommend, and slag on online comics, as well as those that will never find themselves wedged between Cathy and Dilbert due to their free use of profanity, nudity, and/or postmodernism.

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