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Sinister squirrel (not in Mark Trail for once)

Archie, 9/16/09

You know that scene towards the end of Stanley Kubrik’s version of the Shining, when everything’s going all crazy and Shelly Duvall is running screaming through the demon-haunted Overlook Hotel, and she suddenly turns and sees two figures in a side room, one in a tuxedo and one wearing some kind of bear suit? Apparently exactly who or what these people/ghosts/things are is discussed in detail in the novel (which I haven’t read), but their weird, jarring, unexplained appearance in the movie was unspeakably creepy to me.

Anyway, I think it’s pretty obvious why I’m bringing this up, which is because HOLY CRAP WHAT IN GOD’S NAME IS THAT GIANT SQUIRREL FURRY DOING LURKING BEHIND ARCHIE IN PANEL ONE? As if its unexplained presence weren’t unsettling enough, we also have to deal with those eyes peering silently out of its neck-hole, and the fact that it appears to be carrying a truncheon of some kind. Does this hell-monster exist only in Archie’s mind, lurking on the periphery of his subconscious? Is he savagely smacking his own skull in the hopes that the shock will drive the nightmarish vision back into the depths from which it came? It’s all so unsettling that I almost didn’t notice Betty’s t-shirt, which appears to depict a fork-tongued devil-cat. Jesus, this strip is terrifying.

Hi and Lois, 9/16/09

I really don’t watch a lot of TV, and I’m always hesitant to say that because I don’t want to be One Of Those People who smugly says, “You know, I don’t watch a lot of TV, which makes me better than you.” Really, I don’t! I mean, my mindless evening entertainment generally consists of reading and correcting Wikipedia articles about obscure European nobility and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes, which I in no way think of as being morally superior to, say, watching According To Jim. I only bring this up because I have no idea what Hi and Lois are on about as they stare numbly at their TV set and talk about “pop-up ads on TV.” What can this even mean? Like, do little ad-bubbles actually appear on screen in mid-show now, obscuring part of the programming you’re watching? When did that start? Why didn’t Americans, well known for their TV-loving ways, rise up in violent revolt against it?

But, casting that aside for the moment, the second panel of today’s Hi and Lois indicates that the Flagstons live in a Matrix-style computer simulacrum, and are probably themselves either poorly programmed AI constructs or Cheeto-encrusted gamers sitting in a dark room somewhere playing the most boring MMORPG imaginable. How their mysterious puppetmasters intend to monetize in-game ads aimed at infant avatars ought to be a troubling question for the venture capitalists providing the funding for this enterprise.

Gil Thorp, 9/16/09

Huzzah for the now annual scene of fiery anarchy that will apparently be heralding the arrival of football season each fall! Remember, it doesn’t matter if your team is terrible if you get to immolate half the town before any games are even played. Then you can blame the losses on the third-degree burns covering the bodies of most of the starters!

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