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Caged heat

Gil Thorp, 10/24/09

So it turns out that all imprisoned-brother-haunted ticking time bomb Duncan Daley needed to do to find emotional support was to let his idiot friends in on his little secret! Hopefully I’m not offending any current or future high school jocks by questioning how willing and eager Shep and Robb (or perhaps two other interchangeable friends with stupid names) are to help, as this isn’t a social class known for its nurturing attitudes. Even Ted Peare’s teammates pretended that he was infected with a deadly disease when they found out he was homeless!

Anyway, with the Mudlark locker room softened by this outbreak of drama-killing, touchy-feeling emotional support, we have only one place left to turn for hard-hitting narrative action: prison! Let’s hope that we just gloss over the rest of Milford’s undoubtedly doomed football season and just focus on the shankings.

Barney Googe and Snuffy Smith, 10/24/09

Good lord, now we know why the malformed child known only as “Tater” has remained an infant throughout this strip’s multi-decade run: Loweezy has been forced by rural poverty to birth a whole series of little Taters and hand them over to the greedy Silas, who as the owner of the General Store is the only resident of Hootin’ Holler who participates at all in the national non-barter-based economy, and to whom the Smif clan is presumably heavily indebted. We can only hope that this sinister shopkeep is selling the babies to parents so desperate to adopt that they won’t question too closely the size of the gene pool that spawned them, as the other possibilities are even more terrifying.

(Side note: Showing the limits of the modern information age, the name of Snuffy Smith’s store owner character is one of the no doubt many bits of data that cannot be easily found with a quick Google search. I had to find it the old-fashioned way: looking through the archives until I found a strip where one of the other characters addressed him by name. My God, it was like living in 1997!)

(UPDATE: Uh, yeah, as several posters have pointed out, Silas’s name is in fact right there in the strip. Of more interest however is the person who mentioned that his name is also in the Snuffy Smith Wikipedia article. I had of course consulted Wikipedia on this important subject, but had looked up the feature under its official name, Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, which does not include this vital data. Why on earth are there two articles on this subject? Oh, there’s an angry merge template going up on those articles tomorrow, believe you me.)

Family Circus, 10/24/09

I’m not sure what’s more unsettling: that Jeffy can’t determine the relative ages of the people he sees on the TV, or that he can’t differentiate between displays of maternal and romantic affection. For his sake, I’m hoping that his horrified parents will realize what he’s watching and ratchet the V-chip protection levels on this TV set up so high that the only thing it will get is the Weather Channel.

Ziggy, 10/25/09

Ziggy is using a slight variation on the ancient “they asked for a number to call in case of emergency, so I wrote ’911′” joke to draw attention away from the fact that nobody on Earth would lose a moment’s sleep if he were hospitalized or dead.

60 responses to “Caged heat”

  1. Digger
    October 25th, 2009 at 9:40 pm [Reply]

    Please tell me that is not how Jeffy’s mom kisses him. Otherwise, the Keane family is on a level of scariness that I don’t want to think about.

  2. Satanicus
    October 25th, 2009 at 9:40 pm [Reply]

    I noticed one of those claw machines in the grocery store has a seasonal Ziggy dressed up as a vampire.

    Poor Ziggy, everyone knows he sucks, why do they have to rub it in?

  3. Nomstrosity
    October 25th, 2009 at 9:42 pm [Reply]

    But… Silas’ name is right in the strip…? Then again, faced with an infant that creepy-looking, all surrounding information would likely drop out of my head too.

  4. Rusty
    October 25th, 2009 at 9:42 pm [Reply]

    Ziggy: Notify the cartoonist this strip is DOA.

    Snuffy: Tater looks like a slightly smaller Snuffy. Both favor the same brand of diapers.

  5. Silhouette
    October 25th, 2009 at 9:49 pm [Reply]

    But don’t tell the gals in the Emergency Room? I guess Ziggy only uses male medical personnel. Probably extreme modesty in response to all these years without pants.

  6. sugarpie
    October 25th, 2009 at 9:50 pm [Reply]

    GThorp Prison Cafeteria? Or, the men’s side of Nieman’s cosmetic department. No matter, their martial arts-inspired smocks are terribly fetching.

  7. Oavis
    October 25th, 2009 at 9:51 pm [Reply]

    I suspect young Josh meant he had to search for the name of Tater, the tot.

  8. Gal Friday
    October 25th, 2009 at 9:51 pm [Reply]

    Tater kind of looks like that baby Mulder and Scully found in Kentucky on that “mutant inbreeding country extravaganza” episode of the X-Files. Creepiest thing I ever saw on TV!

  9. Oavis
    October 25th, 2009 at 9:52 pm [Reply]

    Gal Friday, you must have missed that whole Balloon Boy thing – lucky you.

  10. Gal Friday
    October 25th, 2009 at 9:52 pm [Reply]

    Except Tater seems to have the normal number of limbs.

  11. Gal Friday
    October 25th, 2009 at 9:53 pm [Reply]

    Well, the Balloon Boy thing is just sad.

  12. Indichik
    October 25th, 2009 at 9:56 pm [Reply]

    Why is Ziggy even in the hospital in the first place? He looks fine. And by “fine,” I mean more or less how I would assume a squat, bald dwarf with no pants on should look.

  13. the good ship thetis
    October 25th, 2009 at 9:59 pm [Reply]

    What the heck kind of a prison is that? Karate prison?
    Meanwhile, in Mary Worth, just which great man is it that Mary loved and lost? My money’s on Robespierre.

  14. bats :[
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:02 pm [Reply]

    Feh on The Weather Channel! Jeffy will only begin to speculate what would happen if a “boy” hurricane met a “girl” hurricane: “Is that where tormadoes come from, Mommy?”

  15. Steve the Pocket
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:02 pm [Reply]

    I went to King Features’ website to confirm that Silas is not listed on the Cast page (the first place I would have looked), and — my God, if you thought you had gone back to 1997! Frames everywhere! At least they had the good sense to give every link its own dedicated frameset page so the URL and window title changed every time I clicked, but yikes. Also the maximum width of the pages looks to be around 700 pixels, but that’s to be expected for a site whose products cater to the over-60 crowd, probably punching away on the Gateway 2000s they inherited from their kids.

  16. cj
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:05 pm [Reply]


    Wouldn’t the V-Chip (they still have those?) block out the rain graphic as suggestive?

  17. Angry Kem
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:05 pm [Reply]

    I hereby nominate that Family Circus comic for the Most Disturbingly Freudian Panel Ever Produced By Someone Other Than Brooke McEldowney Award.

  18. Oavis
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:07 pm [Reply]

    That Family Circus comic lends further evidence to my theory that Bil Keane and Eric Stanton are in fact one and the same.

  19. mollificent
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:07 pm [Reply]

    Y323 Uncle Lumpy: Well played, sir!

    Y330 Karmann: That xkcd made me laugh like a hyena. Thanks for posting.

    Happy Birthday, Odinthor! Breithlá shona duit! (Now where’s Mr. O’Malley? I need a spellcheck. ;))

    #335 bats: Really, really great. :)

    (Hmmm…my snark isn’t very snarky today!)

  20. Ukulele Ike
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:10 pm [Reply]

    Anna: See? A veritable tsunami of posting!

    Of course, the cognoscenti will wait until the Sunday Josh snark is put up. In, oh….(glaces at watch)…another fifteen minutes, I’d wager.

  21. AtomicTurtle
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:11 pm [Reply]

    While I, too, missed Silas’ name right in the comic, I went right for Wikipedia: and there he was listed with the other characters. Took all of 10 seconds on a snail-based dialup connection. Ah but then we know that Wikipedia is always wrong, right?

  22. Johnny Knuckles
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:12 pm [Reply]

    18. FC: I think the Team Keane cartoonists went to Charles Burns to swipe reference for drawing Physical Love Between Humans.

  23. seismic-2
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:16 pm [Reply]

    y320 – Ed: Being of the “Pluggers” generation, my comics god was Carl Barks, and I lived for each new Donald Duck or Uncle $crooge story. Does that make me a “feathery”? Or (and I think everyone who knows me would agree with this designation), a “downer”?

    MW: Oh joy, Adrian is going to declare her love for Scott by reciting Herman Hesse, and Mary is going to relate the details of all the passions of her youth. Is it possible for someone who is in a coma to die of boredom?

  24. Joe Blevins
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:18 pm [Reply]

    GT: This might be the first recorded instance in which someone has reacted to the suggestion of croquet with the classic “that’s so crazy it just might work” facial expression.

    BG&SS: Yeah, they grow up so fast. Except Tater here, who hasn’t aged a nanosecond since Roosevelt — I crap thee negative, Franklin Delano Roosevelt! — was in office.

    FC: Sadly, Barfy understands this program on a level that Jeffy and PJ never will.

    Z: I heard recently on NPR that a third of what we spend on health care is waste (unnecessary procedures and tests). And I’m guessing at least a third of that third is spent on Ziggy, who regularly feigns illness and injury purely to have an excuse to talk to women.

  25. Stev0
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:18 pm [Reply]

    Assuming Josh meant “Baby” and not “Shopkeeper” (the latter whose name can easily be found by looking at the second panel), the very first google hit for “Snuffy Smith Baby” brings this:, which not only mentions Tater but also their nephew, Jughaid (sic).

  26. Alan's Addiction
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:20 pm [Reply]

    I can’t get over the hilariously unreal dialogue of today’s “Gil Thorp.” “If you’ve promised your imprisoned brother that you’ll be a boy scout, we’ll give it a go, too.” Because we all know that pressure from a socially inept outcast is the best way to deter high school boys from doing reckless-yet-fun things. Speaking of which, who would ever go square dancing while sober? Anyway, we get some light in the last panel, which promises a gritty comparison between prison life and life in a public high school. I remember my high school experience as being extremely similar to prison. I mean, there wasn’t any shower-room rape, but most everyone is deeply psychologically scarred thanks to the showers after gym class.
    I think that the most disturbing thing about Tater’s appearance, after the fact that he appears to be a shaved proboscis monkey, is the fact that he seems to have thumbs coming out the side of his head. Then again, so does Silas, so perhaps there’s a family relationship there. Actually, we KNOW there’s a family relationship there because all the residents of Hootin’ Holler have the same family tree… and it’s a straight line.
    It’s so nice to see Jeffy struggle with his Oedipal issues. I’d never before seen a comic strip make fun of a minor, common psychological issue most men grow out of, but I commend the writers’ boldness.
    It’s a true fact that over 50% of medical personnel have admitted to “pulling the plug” on patients who were declared brain dead or had virtually no chance of recovery rather than see the patients continue a tortured, painful existence. I can only hope that these people see Ziggy immediately.

  27. Sheila Sternwell
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:24 pm [Reply]

    #3 Nomstrocity and #25 Stev0, I was going to jump in with My Important Thoughts on this Silas vs Tater sitch, but I’m nursing the mother of all hangovers right now so I don’t know much of anything. Two glasses of wine and I’m finished nowadays. Don’t get old, folks.

    P.S. If you haven’t seen The Weather Channel recently, you may not have noticed it’s rapidly turned PG and is headed for PG-13 territory pretty soon. Like Marge Simpson said, it turned into a hardcore porn channel so gradually that nobody noticed it.

  28. Stev0
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:25 pm [Reply]

    In #21′s link to Wikipedia, the article contains this comic that has both Snuffy Smith AND Barney Google in it: . What’s shocking isn’t so much the actual appearance of Barney Google, but rather the casual reference to menstruation.

  29. Dagger
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:33 pm [Reply]

    FC: Where are their eyes? MY GOD WHERE ARE THEIR EYES

  30. Jacob
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:34 pm [Reply]

    (Oct. 24)

    Mary Worth: “Life has many twists and turns. It’s sometimes impossible to predict what’s going to happen!… Wow, Mary is sounding more and more like the Joker. I would expect a wing of the hospital to explode immediately after the delivery of that line.

    Mark Trail: Oh no! Jack Elrod is being chased by one of those horrible racoons! Look out!

    (Oct 25)

    Dennis the Menace: In the second-to-last panel, it looks like Dennis is the one addressing his father by first name and telling him to shut up.

    Crock: Wait, they make a man crawl four twenty miles to bring news of the battle but they have cellphones?

  31. Austin
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:42 pm [Reply]

    I skimmed this whole entry before reading just to see what was being examined today, and misread “and to whom the Smif clan is presumably heavily indebted” as “to whom the Smif clan is presumably heavily inbred”. Considering the Smif clan, both phrases could be true.

  32. seismic-2
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:47 pm [Reply]

    Well, maybe Jeffy considers Mom-son passionate kissing to be the norm, but today we see tell-tale evidence that Dennis the Menace not only engages in passionate mouth-to-mouth action with Alice, he also gropes her boobs.

  33. Black Drazon
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:51 pm [Reply]

    Look at the look on that woman’s face in Ziggy. Tell me she doesn’t like what she sees. A lifetime of odd circumstances have left her with a lacking sense of morals about receptionist-patient relations and a nose fetish the size of Pangaea. We can only imagine what’s going through her head when she asks about emergency contact numbers, but we can tell that Ziggy’s reply (in his usual half-asleep monotone) is probably just encouraging her, that sly casanova.

  34. Uncle Lumpy
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:52 pm [Reply]

    #30 Jacob –

    That’s a raccoon. Totally different crowd.

  35. Jacob
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:54 pm [Reply]


  36. kallista
    October 25th, 2009 at 10:54 pm [Reply]

    Gil Thorp: I think life is pretty simple at the Old Country Buffet. How complex is it to choose between wizened beef and leathery ham?

  37. It's time to pay the price
    October 25th, 2009 at 11:00 pm [Reply]

    As long as it isn’t the international weather channel. Otherwise he might learn that the Lord doesn’t constantly pelt the godless heathans of the East with waves of hail and frogs. Years of indoctrination down the toilet.

  38. Red Greenback
    October 25th, 2009 at 11:05 pm [Reply]

    BG&SS: Great rubber alligators! Look at the honker on that baby! Loweezy’s tittie milk must be at least 150 proof.
    Hey, new post!

  39. Nekrotzar
    October 25th, 2009 at 11:16 pm [Reply]

    Gil Thorpe: Like an American Girl(R) movie, only warmer and fuzzier.

  40. FOOBed again
    October 25th, 2009 at 11:17 pm [Reply]

    26 Alan’s Addiction: Um, as a socially inept person myself, why would Duncan’s brother necessarily be socially inept, just because he’s in prison?

  41. Dicky
    October 25th, 2009 at 11:29 pm [Reply]

    GT: Ok, that guy’s look in the second panel just screams “Score!” What kind, however, is up to the reader at this point. My version is gay internet porn, maybe with an orgy, and a resulting sports scandal, ripped from the headlines of the last year. (?)

  42. Ranger
    October 26th, 2009 at 12:07 am [Reply]

    I don’t know Josh, even those Weather Channel ladies dress a bit too provocatively for the Keane family. It might be time for the Keanes to chunk all technology and join the Amish.

  43. Zijjo
    October 26th, 2009 at 12:12 am [Reply]

    Jeffy’s so stupid that he doesn’t even know what an Oedipus complex is.

  44. KarMann
    October 26th, 2009 at 12:13 am [Reply]

    FC: Aren’t we overlooking one obvious thing here? How is it that these people on the TV have heads that are so… un-round? Is it actually an interdimensional portal to the realms of the non-melon-headed? Is that the only way romantic kisses can be seen from within the confines of the Circle?

  45. NoahSnark
    October 26th, 2009 at 12:37 am [Reply]

    Lousy joke aside, I am glad Ziggy is finally addressing his anal leakage problem. As is every one else who rides the bus.

  46. Johnny Q
    October 26th, 2009 at 12:42 am [Reply]

    THE FAMILY CIRCUS: This reminds me of an early DENNIS THE MENACE cartoon where Dennis is watching a soldier and a woman hugging and kissing on a park bench and says to Joey (or someone) “Sure, they’re fighting! He’s a soldier, isn’t he?”

  47. Nekrotzar
    October 26th, 2009 at 12:59 am [Reply]

    If someone still has a copy of that Slylock Fox/Cassandra Cat spoof that Josh had to take down (you know the one I mean!) it would be great to photoshop that onto the TV screen in FC.

  48. Jessie
    October 26th, 2009 at 1:23 am [Reply]

    Duncan Daley is clearly exploiting his brother’s predicament as a path to realizing his bicurious identical twins fantasy. Croquet indeed, boys; break out those mallets!

    Meanwhile, Jailbird Daley provokes a guy who regrets patronizing Prince Valiant’s barber.

  49. yeff
    October 26th, 2009 at 1:37 am [Reply]

    Today’s FC makes me nostalgic for the days of the “Dysfunctional Family Circus” ( Because a strip like that would have been pure raw fodder for the DFC crowd, either with a different caption (probably involving a mention of tongues) or a dirty follow-up line (something like “I guess’s Daddy must hurt his little man a lot.”)

    Ah, DFC, where is thy sting now?

    - yeff

  50. Ed Dravecky
    October 26th, 2009 at 4:49 am [Reply]

    At first blush, I chuckled at the jab at Wikipedia but after reading both articles I added descriptive “hat notes” to each pointing to the other and added appropriate non-angry merge templates to both. Since most of the Snuffy Smith article is about the strip and the strip article is lacking even a basic character list, there is a clear case for merger.

    I’d confess that being a Wikipedia admin marks me as an enormous geek with too much free time but my regular posting here makes that revelation redundant.

  51. KarMann
    October 26th, 2009 at 5:01 am [Reply]

    Ed: Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Though I rarely put on my admin hat over there these days.

  52. Patrick
    October 26th, 2009 at 7:36 am [Reply]

    I know it’s easy to find the homoeroticism in Gil Thorp, but when three beefy guys are giving each other sidelong glances after the discussion turns to prison, I can’t think that “bowling,” “croquet,” and “square dancing” are anything but euphemisms for greasy party sex.

  53. Victor Von
    October 26th, 2009 at 8:57 am [Reply]

    WTF? Are those two people kissing in Family Circus, or two packing peanuts? I’m going to have nightmares now.

  54. Barbara P
    October 26th, 2009 at 9:23 am [Reply]

    No channel is safe, not even the Weather Channel. “Storm Stories” can give kids nightmares about tornadoes. The Nature channel shows animals eating each other and mating (and with the praying mantis, both at once!). The History Channel goes on endlessly about Nazis. Even the Food Network, which I thought HAD to be the safest channel going, had an episode of Iron Chef where they chopped off the heads of live fish (and don’t get me started on Paula Deen and her “2 pounds of butter per episode” recipes)

    It’s simple: You have to turn off the damn TV and let your kids read the newspaper (but make sure you redact Family Circus first).

  55. Dr. Novakaine
    October 26th, 2009 at 10:15 am [Reply]

    Small wonder you couldn’t find much information about the Snuffy Smith characters in a Google search. Google hasn’t been in the strip in ages, he probably repressed all those memories.

  56. JustAGuyGuy
    October 26th, 2009 at 12:34 pm [Reply]

    Of course, being a one panel comic means they can’t show the logical conclusion where the “cheesy music” plays in the next scene.

  57. Josh
    October 26th, 2009 at 12:57 pm [Reply]

    Wow. Jeffy looks absolutely brain-dead. How long have they been sitting in front of that tv?

    Maybe this is Jeff Keane’s way of… no, no, I don’t even want to think about it.

  58. Jumper
    October 26th, 2009 at 1:34 pm [Reply]

    The Snuffy Smith duality at Wikipedia led me to an article about Hillbillies, where various writers pretty much just guess where the expression comes from. At this point, however, I reached “hillbilly overload” and closed out that tab.

  59. Brian
    October 26th, 2009 at 4:51 pm [Reply]

    Ziggy got a lot more bitter when he tattooed “DNR” on his chest.

  60. Roger Langridge
    December 14th, 2009 at 7:18 am [Reply]

    On the subject of why there are two entries on Wiki for “Barney Google and Snuffy Smith” and for “Snuffy Smith” alone, it’s because they are for all intents and purposes two different strips – Barney Google was drawn from 1919 to 1942 by Billy DeBeck, with Snuffy Smith a supporting character only; when he died, his assistant Fred Lasswell dropped Barney Google from the story, changed format from continuity to gag-a-day, and made Snuffy Smith the main character. There’s virtually zero resemblance between the two strips, apart from a brief transitional period.

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