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.
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.