Main content:


Archie, 8/22/09

Friends, Romans, comics-lovers, I come to praise the AJGLU-3000 today, not to bury it in scorn! I admit to feeling a frisson of compassion for Mr. Lodge, as his anxious loathing of Archie has reached such a level of intensity as to somehow create some sort of psychic link between the amiable everyteen and Riverdale’s richest man. Just as Harry Potter’s scar surges with pain when his evil nemesis Lord Voldemort is plotting something, so too does Mr. Lodge break out into an anxious sweat whenever the Andrews boy approaches his palatial compound, the route the lad is taking towards shameless moochery off the Lodge fortune burning brightly in his mind. He’s so distracted that he can’t even focus on the financial news, which includes a feature on how the current financial crisis has ruined fellow cartoon plutocrat Rich Uncle Pennybags.

For my money, though, the most intriguing aspect of this cartoon is the way that the Lodge manservant (this is Archie, home of the most painfully obvious nomenclature in English-language literature outside of Pilgrim’s Progress, so I’m pretty sure his name is Jeeves) is lurking half-heartedly in the third panel. I’m not sure if he’s supposed to be hiding himself at the edge of the doorway so as to leap out and bludgeon his employer’s teenage tormentor to death at an opportune moment, or if he’s just realized that he needs to lean over a bit to be visible in the frame, so it doesn’t look like Mr. Lodge is rambling insanely to nobody in particular.

Curtis, 8/22/09

If you were going to start running Curtis in your newspaper and felt like you needed to offer a quick primer on the feature to your readers, you could hardly do better than today’s installment. About two-thirds of the strip’s themes — Curtis doesn’t want his dad to smoke, Curtis likes a girl who can’t stand him, Curtis is emotionally manipulative, Curtis wants money — are packed into just four panels. Add “Barry is even more manipulative” and “Every Kwanzaa the strip goes on a delightfully entertaining two-week long mescaline binge” and you’re all set.

Mark Trail, 8/22/09

So, after investigating environmental misdeeds, witnessing an attempted murder, and then tracking down an assassin, vigilante-style, Mark has turned matters over to … the Department of Homeland Security? Sure, why not. I was going to smugly go on about how ludicrous this was, but DHS is such a huge, baffling catch-all bureaucracy that it may in fact have some kind of division responsible for organized crime intimidation related to illegal disposal of toxic waste for all I know.

I’m sort of impressed by the way the Sheriff Whosit’s word balloon emerges from more or less the same spot in both panels, even though the second is the usual Mark Trail extreme critter close-up. It’s as if the first panel were shot through some sort of x-ray telephoto lens, and then the second was taken after the camera zoomed all the way out but remained otherwise stationary.

55 responses to “Archiephobia”

  1. AeroSquid
    August 23rd, 2009 at 11:12 pm [Reply]

    I Hate Mondays…featuring: The OLD ONES

  2. Old Goat
    August 23rd, 2009 at 11:17 pm [Reply]

    MT: What, a story ending with no Fist o’ Justice? The lack of facial hair on the antangonist must have somehow been protective. Attention all potential perpetrators of crimes in Lost Forest and environs: Shave if you want to avoid The Fist.

  3. AeroSquid
    August 23rd, 2009 at 11:19 pm [Reply]

    MT: Mark does NOT like to be ‘Kept informed’. Being ‘Kept informed’ does NOTHING for his FOJ.

  4. Rusty
    August 23rd, 2009 at 11:19 pm [Reply]

    Elrod has robbed us of seeing Mark drag the Reluctant Assassin out of the woods. Unless he did show that and I missed it, since I refuse to follow the strip unless it is posted here.

    Another Curtis theme: Barry’s teddybear has an inexplicable high-top fade and sunglasses. And “Onion”.

  5. Aviatrix
    August 23rd, 2009 at 11:25 pm [Reply]

    I love the chipmunk. I think as far as Jack Elrod is concerned the characters are interchangeable mannequins saying “blah blah blah blah blah” to one another and the real strip is about giant animal closeups. Why does he do this? Are his giant animals not quite good enough for him to be a wildlife illustrator? Is there really no work for someone who can draw individually charismatic chipmunks but can only distinguish between people through hair colour and placement?

  6. Andrew Leal
    August 23rd, 2009 at 11:26 pm [Reply]

    Archie: The Lodge family butler is Smithers (and for the record, though Jeeves has become a cliched name for butlers, it was originated by novelist P. G. Wodehouse in describing a valet or gentleman’s gentleman). And I laughed audibly at the cameo by Rich Uncle Pennybags.

    Mark Trail: The enormous chipmunk lies in wait, biding his time for the right moment to STRIKE!

  7. Larry Fine
    August 23rd, 2009 at 11:27 pm [Reply]

    Yes, Homeland Security is involved now, and they’ve called in their top gun: The giant squirrel, ably assisted by the Jackelrod ball.

  8. commodorejohn
    August 23rd, 2009 at 11:31 pm [Reply]

    It’s as if the first panel were shot through some sort of x-ray telephoto lens, and then the second was taken after the camera zoomed all the way out but remained otherwise stationary.

    “Uh, what’s with the chimp and the bug? Can we get back to me?
    The Emperor’s New Groove

  9. Aaron
    August 23rd, 2009 at 11:31 pm [Reply]

    I, for one, was disappointed to learn that this whole Mark Trail plotline was just an elaborate tie-in to McDonald’s new McTrail advertising campaign.

  10. Nekrotzar
    August 23rd, 2009 at 11:32 pm [Reply]

    Add ‘The joke about how the barber never gets his name right never gets old, as far as the writer is concerned,’ and you can pretty much securely ignore Curtis for the next 5 years (as I have for the last 5).

    At first I thought that mention must be made about the white guy with the eyes in the wrong place, until I realized that he’s got to be part of the mescaline binge.

  11. Digger
    August 23rd, 2009 at 11:46 pm [Reply]

    I think Curtis’ dad should grow a backbone and give a long-overdue ass-paddling to his snotty, mouthy kid.

  12. Poteet
    August 23rd, 2009 at 11:47 pm [Reply]

    MT — At least the ginormous chipmunk is sort of approximately the right color. Mammals fare much better than birds in Colormonkeyland.

  13. Mik
    August 23rd, 2009 at 11:50 pm [Reply]

    This is nitpicking, but it kinda looks like Mark is waggling his eyebrows suggestively at that strong-cheekboned man.

  14. papa
    August 24th, 2009 at 12:02 am [Reply]

    … taken after the camera zoomed all the way out …

    Zoomed out from where? The secret DHS base hidden in the hollowed-out tree limb?

  15. Aviatrix
    August 24th, 2009 at 12:16 am [Reply]

    Papa, the camera with the zoom lens is in the hands of a mustachioed man wearing orange “camouflage” clothing and perched in a tree just behind the chipmunk. It wasn’t supposed to be in the shot, but thanks to that focus-stealing squirrel, photobombing is all the rage amongst Sciuridae these days.

  16. True Fable
    August 24th, 2009 at 12:16 am [Reply]

    Mark doesn’t understand the hostility.

  17. Johnny Q
    August 24th, 2009 at 12:22 am [Reply]

    ARCHIE: Of course, Mr. Lodge’s servant Smithers is the namesake of Mr. Burns’ factotum Smithers on THE SIMPSONS.

  18. It's time to pay the price
    August 24th, 2009 at 12:31 am [Reply]

    Et tu, Jeeves?
    Actually I wouldn’t mind seeing an strip where Mr. Lodge conspires with all the other grownups to kill Archie for the good of Riverdale.

    Lord knows he’s not doing the town any good, walking around and doing the YMCA dance.

  19. Ktrout
    August 24th, 2009 at 12:33 am [Reply]

    The Bel Air Rule of Butlery Anachronism tells us that if GPS exists, manservants can’t.

  20. Poteet
    August 24th, 2009 at 12:33 am [Reply]


    MW — Gaah! My memories of Edinburgh are besmirched. I hope the Undynamic Duo will stay the hell out of York, which I hope to visit in a few years.

    FW — Gaaah! More memories besmirched! I wore a hat like that in Japan to amuse my little nieces.

    JP — Gaaaah! Why is the narration box yelling at me?

    Crankshaft — Gaaaaah! If the Crank does to county fairs what he did to corn, torment lies ahead.

  21. Ron Rotten
    August 24th, 2009 at 12:35 am [Reply]

    “We put a guard on both the victim and the shooter?”

    Wait, that’s no police guy! He’s some wannabe assistant basketball coach castoff from Gil Thorpe!

  22. Raymo
    August 24th, 2009 at 12:40 am [Reply]

    Jeez, Josh! What’s the deal? About time for a new thread already! What, unlike me, do you have a life or something?

  23. Racing Js
    August 24th, 2009 at 12:47 am [Reply]

    MT: I love this sheriff. He ends every sentence with “MARK!”

    This is great, MARK!!! I’m going to talk like this all the time. MARK!!!. After every sentence I’m going to say “Mark!”. MARK!

    Me: What’s for breakfast Honey, Mark!
    Wife: What?
    Me: I said ‘what’s for breakfast’. Can’t you hear? Mark!
    Wife: Mark?
    Me: Nevermind…I’ll just have coffee, Mark!

    Mark Trail just changed my life. Mark!

  24. Godjesus
    August 24th, 2009 at 12:49 am [Reply]

    Curtis’ dad angrily lashes out at his son and makes fun of his skinny penis. In an instant, all of Curtis’ illusions about his father are shattered, and for the first time in his life sees him for what he is: an angry and dejected sadist who spends his idle time after work slowly killing himself and lashing out at anyone who expresses concern for his well-being. Having reached this point of no return in his relationship with his father, Curtis sees only the opportunity for material gain. I hope he spends that 15 bucks on cigarettes.

  25. GarrisonSkunk
    August 24th, 2009 at 1:09 am [Reply]

    Yes! Thank you for identifying the character by his proper name Rich Uncle Pennybags! For the last few years the game company has been trying to convince the world that his name is the moronic “Mr Monopoly”.
    I refuse to call him by that stupid name!
    I can’t!
    I won’t!

  26. Jason1981
    August 24th, 2009 at 1:10 am [Reply]

    11 (Digger) : Actually, Curtis’s dad has at least spanked him more than a few times for his “smart” mouth.

    The mom, however, needs to grow a brain and finally start punishing Barry for HIS crap (Curtis usually has a VERY good reason for wanting to pound the little turd, even though Barry lies to the mom about that)

  27. Derdrom
    August 24th, 2009 at 1:25 am [Reply]

    weep weep weep
    boo hoo weep
    Isn’t creative onomatopoeia grand?

  28. Mars
    August 24th, 2009 at 1:58 am [Reply]

    Mr. Lodge’s butler is indeed named Jeeves. Well, sometimes. It depends on who’s writing at the moment. Other times his name is Smithers.

    I didn’t really need to say that, did I? Shoulda been obvious.

  29. NoahSnark
    August 24th, 2009 at 2:01 am [Reply]

    Pursuing physical beauty instead of love, willing to put aside a principled moral stand for cash – Curtis has all the traits needed to become a successful hooker.

  30. kwigibo
    August 24th, 2009 at 2:16 am [Reply]

    So are we now meant to assume that the universe of Mark Trail exists on a microscopic speck floating through a macroscopic wilderness a la ‘Horton Hears A Who’, seen through a hypothetical camera alternately zooming in and out between the two.

  31. kwigibo
    August 24th, 2009 at 2:18 am [Reply]

    The Suessian rhyming of the above was unintentional, honest

  32. Roto13
    August 24th, 2009 at 2:27 am [Reply]

    You know, I never thought about it like this before, but could this whole “toxic waste dumping in the Lost Forest” storyline be a setup for an explanation for all of the giant talking animals?

  33. Jym
    August 24th, 2009 at 2:28 am [Reply]

    =v= Archie: The streets named by Mr. Lodge give some clue as to the location of Lodge Manor. It’s in a fairly swanky location, if the satellite view is any indication. The Lodges apparently have enough influence to keep Google’s “street view” wagon from rolling by.

  34. Canaduck
    August 24th, 2009 at 2:52 am [Reply]

    Haha, nice reference, commodorejohn. (#8!!) I love that movie.

  35. Greenbrastic
    August 24th, 2009 at 3:51 am [Reply]

    Archie: I believe the AJGLU-3000 has evolved into an editorial cartoon generation program; the ominously lurking butler is obviously a personification of Mr. Lodge’s newspaper headline, “Financial Crisis Looms.”

  36. Sheila Sternwell
    August 24th, 2009 at 4:09 am [Reply]

    Archie: All butlers in any medium should be held to the Hirsch Standard. If they don’t measure up to Ian Wolfe, then they aren’t really butlers.

    I feel confident in posting this, as the new thread is already up and therefore no one will read this and wonder what the hell I’m talking about.

  37. Vince M
    August 24th, 2009 at 8:19 am [Reply]

    36: Sheila – I take it you mean a proper butler should always have a sotto voce contemptuous retort to their boss’s outbursts? I agree – ‘Very good, sir’ is so hackneyed.

  38. Gerry
    August 24th, 2009 at 8:19 am [Reply]

    Looks like the Riverdale News, suffering the same fate as papers across the country, has resorted to running front page–worthy articles on the back page in lieu of advertising. Sure, it’s an article that was timely a year and a half ago, but declining ad revenue forced out the good editors years ago.

  39. mr 12 oz can
    August 24th, 2009 at 8:33 am [Reply]

    i think andy chasing the chipmunk would be a more entertaining story then this nonsense that has gone down the last 2 weeks.

  40. Harold
    August 24th, 2009 at 8:50 am [Reply]

    The markings on that door make it look like Mark Trail is doing an eyebrow-bobble.

  41. Victor Von
    August 24th, 2009 at 9:21 am [Reply]

    I think the chipmunk is named “Mark.” It’s a reasonably common name, and who would you rather talk to? Mark Trail, or a cute little chipmunk? The choice is clear.

  42. Larry Fine
    August 24th, 2009 at 9:33 am [Reply]

    Seeing the storyline end without an opportunity to use his Fist O’ Justice, Mark returned to Lost Forest and dealt with his frustration by punching out a deer.

  43. Edgy DC
    August 24th, 2009 at 9:38 am [Reply]

    Listen, enough about the Lodge family Butler. Mark Trail’s eyebrows have motion lines. I don’t know what they’re trying to convey from the affectless Trail, but Elrod’s trying to indicate something. I thing he smells a beard nearby and is about to spring back into action.

    By the way, why does Elrod draw Sherriff Scott Glenn to look like he’s so twisted and malevolent that he can’t go five minutes without committing some sadistic violence? He’s really jonesing to do some fracturing in that frame.

  44. DavidMac
    August 24th, 2009 at 9:41 am [Reply]

    ARCHIE: Isn’t the guy in the newspaper (panel one) the same guy who’s in the game of Monopoly? And later, in the video game Tycoon?

  45. Mollie
    August 24th, 2009 at 10:29 am [Reply]

    That Curtis is missing the ol’ misuse of quotation marks (pretty remarkably, when you look at how many words it includes). But I’m not sure whether that’s truly a theme of the strip or just part of its inimitable charm. It may be “better” to let it “sneak up” on the new “reader” over time. The annoyingly inaccurate and overdone onomatopoeias in this strip are enough for the new reader to process.

  46. Slymon
    August 24th, 2009 at 11:17 am [Reply]

    Unfortunately, the “Curtis” template is missing one other thematic constant- ‘Curtis, turn that “rap” junk down’.

  47. Olz
    August 24th, 2009 at 12:20 pm [Reply]

    MT) What is this wildlife porn. That chipmunk is obviously humping that branch. Everyone saw that right … right? Please tell me someone else saw it.

  48. Alegna
    August 24th, 2009 at 12:21 pm [Reply]

    Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The squirrel knows…

  49. David Schraub
    August 24th, 2009 at 12:58 pm [Reply]

    “It’s as if the first panel were shot through some sort of x-ray telephoto lens, and then the second was taken after the camera zoomed all the way out but remained otherwise stationary.”

    That, or the institution is run by one of the Keebler elves, seeing as the alternative is that the case is being run out of Homeland Security’s little known cloud fortress of doom.

  50. trey le parc
    August 24th, 2009 at 1:17 pm [Reply]

    Curtis: Curtis would be a far better strip if Curtis wasn’t in it. And if he wasn’t in it there’d be no need for a strip called “Curtis”. I’m glad I took debate in high school.

  51. Zaratustra
    August 24th, 2009 at 1:36 pm [Reply]

    Seeing the last panel, I am forced to conclude that it’s not the animals and plants that are giant, but that Mark Trail lives in an ant-sized town in the trees, where curious chipmunks watch him maul other tiny people.

  52. fluffy
    August 24th, 2009 at 2:05 pm [Reply]

    The other missing Curtis theme is the annual struggle to get Curtis out of bed on the first day of school.

  53. Thomas B.
    August 24th, 2009 at 2:12 pm [Reply]

    MT: Uh Mark, I think Homeland Security will be much more concerned with the 5000 foot chipmunk and giant tree branch poised to destroy your city.

  54. walty
    August 24th, 2009 at 3:34 pm [Reply]

    “Homeland Security’s got an officer out there now, Mark! Special Agent Charles ‘Chip’ Munk. I hear he’s the best—expert in camouflage and quick on his feet, but his tactics can be kind of nutty…”

  55. Lisa
    August 24th, 2009 at 7:44 pm [Reply]

    Given the way Mr. Lodge gets so bent out of shape every time he sees Archie, I can’t help but wonder if he has naughty dreams about him at night.

Comments are closed for this post.