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Now that’s a damn shame

Beetle Bailey, 4/15/05

Normally, I try to avoid just calling out comics artists on their failings, on the logic that they’re human too, etc., but really, Walker brothers (or whoever you are): this is just pitiful. I’m sorry. What the hell is this supposed to be? Were they Camp Swampys mangled up by the sign dropping on them? Is the “construction” to fix the severe damage that they’ve already suffered, or is the construction process actually the cause of their current distressed state? What’s with the bomb — has Camp Swampy actually come under attack? What the hell? I mean, really, what the hell? The only even vaguely clever thing is the little bandage X on the cloud. Still, the whole thing smacks of “Uh oh, tee time rapidly approaching!” On the other hand, there’s a very slight chance that that’s the top of a NUDE MISS BUXLEY sticking up from behind that sign.

52 responses to “Now that’s a damn shame”

  1. Engelbert Humperdinck
    April 17th, 2005 at 8:21 pm [Reply]

    As David Letterman would say:

    “Look here. It took two people to write this comic.”

    Maybe he [they?] saw Get Fuzzy’s use of the TV test pattern a few weeks back and decided, “Hey, I can make a joke out of not having an idea or a punch line. How postmodern!”

    And, yes, that would be the full extent of Greg & Mort Walker’s understanding of postmodernity.

  2. N
    April 17th, 2005 at 8:31 pm [Reply]

    Seriously, this is the worst comic I have ever seen. i am not kidding.

    Does the sign exist in their universe, or is it an artistic postmodern trick to cover up the damage? Why are so many disparate elements present in the picture? The woman wailing and shouting indicates this was no wargame gone wrong, but an actual surprise attack. So why “construction”? Why…?

    Oh, forget it. Seriously, it is the lamest, most pitiful thing ever.

  3. katmando
    April 17th, 2005 at 8:39 pm [Reply]

    Uh, what?

  4. edgewood
    April 17th, 2005 at 8:54 pm [Reply]

    the insurgents have attacked, and one can only hope killed off this cast… perhaps it is a subtle critque of the US army?

  5. Curious George
    April 17th, 2005 at 9:03 pm [Reply]

    OK, so we have this crap adorning our funnies pages, plus Chris Browne isn’t even drawing Hagar these days.
    The new and wonderful offerings from the syndicates consist of “Todd The Dinosaur”, “Brewster Rockit” and “Unfit” a heap drawn by Scott Adams buddy.

    So who in the syndicates has ever lost their job as a result of their crud judgement? The last I looked, all the submissions editors were the same as years ago.

    These guys get 10,000 submissions a year, and they pick this shit?

  6. Dr. Zoidberg
    April 17th, 2005 at 9:10 pm [Reply]

    And that’s to say nothing of the fact that Gary Larson did it (better) many years ago with a single frame cartoon that was packed with various characters and had a large “Out of Order” sign stuck on the front.

  7. grover96
    April 17th, 2005 at 9:12 pm [Reply]

    Me thinks it’s the beginning of a BB “Crisis on Infinite Earths” storyline thread. It will end with the deaths of Otto, Zero and Chaplain Staneglass.

  8. grover96
    April 17th, 2005 at 9:18 pm [Reply]

    BTW, why is there urine coming out of the Jeep?

  9. Spugnology
    April 17th, 2005 at 9:32 pm [Reply]

    I have to say this is truly the most frightening comic strip I’ve ever seen in my entire life, and that includes Chester Gould’s “Dick Tracy” at the height of its “moon people” insanity.

    I mean, DAMN, this is pretty heavy stuff for a light-hearted comic strip, and in the post-9/11 era. Beetle looks DEAD. Miss Buxley is seemingly being attacked. A freakin’ MISSILE has crashed into H.Q. , a tank looks melted, and a jeep has crashed badly into the sign. Do we – or the colorist – even really know that the Walkers intended the pool coming from the wreck to be gasoline, or is it blood? There’s a chilling stillness to the scene that makes me unable to look at Sarge and Otto as being anything but dead as well.

    It’s almost like this giant sign has suddenly fallen out of the sky, or interdimensionally transported in, bringing chaos in its wake. (Just like in DC’s Watchmen…. but stupid.)

  10. Jay Nickola
    April 17th, 2005 at 9:52 pm [Reply]

    Buxley’s pose has got me thinking, “Guernica homage,” which is clearly giving these two lackwits far too much credit. Still, it shows how desperately my brain is flailing for an explanation.

  11. Smitty Smedlap
    April 17th, 2005 at 10:07 pm [Reply]

    For some reason, one particular “Nancy” strip has stuck in my memory. This was from the Ernie Bushmiller days. In panel one, Nancy and Sluggo are standing in waist-deep water. Nancy says to Sluggo, “Hey, let’s give Ernie an easy strip to draw today!”

    In panel two, the kids have ducked their heads under the water, so that all you can see are the tops of their heads. Ernie Bushmiller’s signature appears in the lower right corner, and a word balloon pops out of that signature, saying “Thanks, kids!”

    This is the worst strip I’ve seen since that one.

  12. Smitty Smedlap
    April 17th, 2005 at 10:12 pm [Reply]

    Although if it turns out that Beetle, Sarge and Otto are indeed dead — or if Miss Buxley is indeed naked — then this immediately transforms into the BEST strip I’ve ever seen.

  13. johnwhorfin
    April 17th, 2005 at 10:12 pm [Reply]

    I would suspect the yellow liquid flowing from the jeep is anti-freeze. But maybe this is just the result of the streaker disaster at the war games earlier this week? “We’ll show those enlisted bas****s what real war is like!” I don’t see any officers involved in this mishap. As for Miss Buxley, maybe Gen. Halftrack is finally… oh, that is too sick to consider. Sorry.

  14. Dave G
    April 17th, 2005 at 10:36 pm [Reply]

    What makes this strip particularly sad and annoying is the knowledge, gained by intuition but no less certain, that Greg & Mort Walker themselves have no particularly good idea what they are trying to do.

    Does anyone remember when Larson did that one panel where the caption was “Cow tools”? No one understood what the hell it meant, but you at least knew that Larson meant *something*, because Larson had proven himself to have comedic talent. You knew that there was a joke there but he had somehow overthought it or missed the mark.

    But this… this is just sad. Maybe they’re trying to be postmodern without knowing what postmodernism is. Maybe they’re trying to make a statement without anything to say. Maybe they’re failing at a joke that wouldn’t be funny anyway.

    It’s just sad.

    And it’s annoying that this strip still takes up space in the world when there are doubtless countless other artists who could at least make sense.

  15. Incident
    April 17th, 2005 at 10:38 pm [Reply]

    “Me thinks it’s the beginning of a BB “Crisis on Infinite Earths” storyline thread.”

    Does that mean ‘Hi & Lois’ is Earth-2?

    Also, I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought of Guernica.

  16. L. Nemo
    April 17th, 2005 at 10:45 pm [Reply]

    A camp swampy orgy. Finally the rest of the staff tries to catch up with the general (The legs sticking up)by going on a three day drunk. Note the urine running out from the trunk, the adled look on the sarge’s face, Otto’s spilled beer and the general litter and disarray. Beetle himself appears to be more stunned than drunk. Perhaps he arrived back from an inteligence briefing in Washington only to to stumble upon Otto and Miss Buxley foolin’ around behind the sarge’s back?

  17. Blog Jones
    April 17th, 2005 at 10:56 pm [Reply]

    So, are those feet on the top of the frame supposed to be Sarge’s feet? Has he been spending some time on the rack in federally mandated torture sensitivity training sessions?

  18. Bill Reid
    April 17th, 2005 at 11:10 pm [Reply]

    Maybe he’s finally revamping the cartoon to reflect modern times. Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that the series has long been sexist, racist and completely out of touch with modern reality? Not to mention that it draws a completely unflattering picture of the armed forces without addressing the serious difficulties present there today… What was the name of that techno-dweeb that was the last lame attempt to make it relevant? Didn’t that guy have an old school plug style earphone crankin his ipod or whatever?

    Let’s hope the placeholder is there because he needed additional time to bring this train wreck out of the 50s.

  19. Lysana
    April 18th, 2005 at 12:32 am [Reply]

    To potentially buttress the idea that this strip is the sign of some changes to come, the Sunday strip has Sarge being bumped to private as the punch line. We’ll see if it sticks.

  20. T
    April 18th, 2005 at 12:58 am [Reply]

    This has the intense reek of the ‘new Coke’ fiasco wafting from it. Medic!

  21. Jay Nickola
    April 18th, 2005 at 3:20 am [Reply]

    Dave G — there’s a funny chapter on “Cow Tools” in “The Prehistory of the Far Side.” Larson explains what went wrong, and admits that he blew it. Then he notes that what with all the publicity, The Far Side became even more popular.

    I don’t think this will work for the Walkers.

  22. JelloSubmarine
    April 18th, 2005 at 3:21 am [Reply]

    And, since he’s been re-promoted by Monday morning, probably not.

  23. EricW
    April 18th, 2005 at 3:51 am [Reply]

    It looks like one of those begging strips that pop up on the “User Friendly” site. Then you wait 30 seconds and, theoretically, something funny shows up. Or at least something that’s a different kind of bad.

  24. Curious George
    April 18th, 2005 at 3:58 am [Reply]

    Want to start a discussion about NeoCon strips?
    i.e. strips that are new and are a con.

    Ellington Way, for example. F*cked if I could see anything funny there.

    Where’s the Next Big Thing? It ain’t down Ellington Way.

  25. Dave Lartigue
    April 18th, 2005 at 7:28 am [Reply]

    You know what doesn’t get any hits on a Google Image search? “nude miss buxley”. Color me surprised!

  26. Ah Xia
    April 18th, 2005 at 7:30 am [Reply]

    Although Beetle Bailey almost always looks dead, especially after Sarge has finished on whomping on him.

  27. grover96
    April 18th, 2005 at 9:17 am [Reply]

    I also just noticed the giant bong/cigarette thingie coming out of the barracks on the left side. So now we have beer, drugs, whoring and possible beastiality (what to you think is happening to Otto behind that sign). Me thinks that this might also have a Sodom/Gamorrah slant to it. TURN AWAY BEFORE YOU BECOME A PILLAR OF SALT!!!

  28. Bill Peschel
    April 18th, 2005 at 9:20 am [Reply]

    Let me expand on Jay’s comment about “cow tools.” Larsen said that he never meant the tools to mean anything; he drew what he thought cows would make if they decided to make tools. And since cows aren’t very smart, they’d make dumb tools.

    But he forgot that humans aren’t very smart either, and we kept trying to make sense of what, in his mind, was a nonsensical cartoon. Like Jay says, the uproar over it gave a boost to the Far Side, so it was all good anyway.

  29. Spugnology
    April 18th, 2005 at 9:34 am [Reply]

    Actually, believe it or not, Mort Walker drew – and released as a limited edition series of art prints – a nude Miss Buxley.

    Check it:

  30. Anonymous
    April 18th, 2005 at 9:52 am [Reply]

    This is like a “Dead Piro Day” at Megatokyo, except with less angst.

  31. daChipster
    April 18th, 2005 at 10:06 am [Reply]

    For those of you who, like me, managed to heretofore miss the quintessential existential toon of our time, I provide…

  32. Patrick
    April 18th, 2005 at 10:09 am [Reply]

    Hm. I thought this was one of those things artists throw out there after falling prey to The Desperate Deadline Doom.

    You know, “We gotta submit SOMETHING…

    …How about a cartoon showing that we didn’t have our $#*! together?”

    Remember the Larson Far Side that was captioned “It was late and I was tired”?

  33. WoodrowFan
    April 18th, 2005 at 11:39 am [Reply]

    Spugnology, I expected Miss Buxley to be more, well, Buxley.

  34. Nik
    April 18th, 2005 at 11:41 am [Reply]

    Clearly you’re all missing the point — Walker is decrying the collapse of our society in the face of the pope’s death. Subtext, people, subtext! See the gold star? That’s the Pope’s spirit ascending toward heaven. My god, this is genius.

  35. Ronin
    April 18th, 2005 at 12:50 pm [Reply]

    “BTW, why is there urine coming out of the Jeep?”

    Because it was pissed.

  36. Smokey Stover
    April 18th, 2005 at 12:51 pm [Reply]

    Elsewhere on the relevancy front we find Saturday’s La Cucaracha:

  37. johncomic
    April 18th, 2005 at 1:57 pm [Reply]

    For decades, Walker and Browne (Seniors) have been my mentors and inspiration. I have long been, and remain, the one who continues to defend their legacy.

    But this… possibly this is a piece lacking sufficient explanation, upon which it would reveal itself to be subtle and deep and incisive beyond most mortals’ ken… but more likely it is exactly what it seems to be: a strip that is utterly and irredeemably “What the FUH??!!”

    I tell ya, I am at a loss here……

  38. Joe
    April 18th, 2005 at 2:22 pm [Reply]

    Urine a lot of trouble, Ronin

  39. :eyeroll:
    April 18th, 2005 at 2:45 pm [Reply]

    Now we’re ALL pissed!


  40. Thomas
    April 18th, 2005 at 3:21 pm [Reply]

    My newspaper replaced this comic with another Beetle Bailey from a while ago. Thank you, newspaper editors.

  41. Anne Nonymous
    April 18th, 2005 at 5:53 pm [Reply]

    Don’t you just love newspaper censorship of the comics???

  42. Monkeys Uncle
    April 18th, 2005 at 7:23 pm [Reply]

    This is the… Well obviously they.. You know when this happens… Oh forget it. This is lame, so very, very lame. Are you telling me they cant crank out another Beetle goofs off Sarge beats him up joke?

  43. Matt McIrvin
    April 18th, 2005 at 9:26 pm [Reply]

    Yeah, I think it’s nothing more than a rehash of the Larson “Out of Order” strip mentioned above, only with the joke executed badly enough that it no longer makes any sense on the intended level, and just looks like some sort of giant-sign-induced carnage.

    The only other thng I can figure is that they *may* have intended the CAMP SWAMPY CONSTRUCTION AREA sign to be a reference to the “Under Construction” icons that were everywhere on badly made web sites ten years ago, thus updating the Larson joke for the Internet age; but if so, it’s both out of date and too garbled to be really recognizable.

  44. Bill Peschel
    April 18th, 2005 at 10:05 pm [Reply]

    Recently, I picked up one of Mort Walker’s books on cartooning (but I put it down again, bam-bom!). He had a stable of four or five guys whose sole job was to come up with a week’s worth of gags for the various strips he was working on.

    It appears it’s down to these two guys, and this is what we get.

    As Joel used to say on MST3K: “Sad, really.”

  45. nobody
    April 19th, 2005 at 12:03 am [Reply]

    Well, I, for one, find it very funny.

  46. nobody
    April 19th, 2005 at 12:03 am [Reply]

    Well, I, for one, find it very funny.

  47. Mike Kuypers
    April 20th, 2005 at 5:52 pm [Reply]

    Mort Walker puts the P in JEEP.

    My best guess: The sign originally said something else and had to be changed (i.e., CAMP SWAMPY ORGIE SATURDAY). Otherwise there would be tools and other signs of construction lying about.

  48. Sourbelly
    April 20th, 2005 at 8:45 pm [Reply]

    The “Under Construction” thing occurred to me too.

    But no. This just fucking sucks.

  49. Tamex
    April 21st, 2005 at 12:39 pm [Reply]

    Pres. Bush read this comic and is having the “Iraq Construction Area” banners printed as we speak!

  50. Kip W
    May 1st, 2005 at 12:11 pm [Reply]

    As a new reader of the site, I don’t know if this has been covered already, but Beetle Bailey has been plagiarizing from itself for a while. I don’t know how often, but several times I have caught the Walker Brothers swiping from BB strips that I have in paperback anthologies. How many other cartoons did they swipe from non-anthologized originals?

    I thought of this again the other day when Dennis the Menace recapped a panel I first saw in the 60s, with Dennis yelling “QUIET YOU GUYS! MY DAD’S GONNA PUTT!” (Reading that as a kid, I thought the joke must be that his dad was going to let one off. Ah, youth.)

  51. Holden
    August 29th, 2005 at 5:41 pm [Reply]

    That Farside was weird. Uh, why DOES the cloud have a bandage??

  52. highway
    June 16th, 2008 at 11:08 am [Reply]

    ah, my google search for “nude miss buxley” just paid off.

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