I have emphasized repeatedly that I find the Brad-Toni relationship gross, but I do feel a need to mention now and again that I also find aspects of it — in particular, the weird ultra-chastity in practice underneath the layers of innuendo — baffling. Not necessarily because there aren’t young adults out there who for whatever reason hold back on the sexing, but because their relationship isn’t treated as unusually chaste; in fact, it’s treated as some kind of dangerous, smoldering time-bomb of lust that could destroy the world if not carefully monitored by Brad’s mother. Take Toni’s dialogue in the first panel today: “Don’t tell your mom I’m here! She’ll think I hang out!” Not … hanging out! Is there really a parent in America today whose adult offspring must hide the fact that his or her significant other is spending time at said offspring’s own house in what appears to be the middle of the day? Does Mrs. DeGroot expect that Brad and Toni will be interacting solely at church socials and via long, flowery letters up until the day they marry?
The thing is, I honestly don’t believe that anyone involved in the creation of the strip — not Greg Evans, and not his syndicate — thinks this is how humans in 21st century mainstream America behave. But there must be some kind of editorial edict handed down from on high that declares any mention or hint of sexuality between non-married people be completely verboten. But Evans seems to really want to do “Mrs. DeGroot is threatened by Toni’s sexual interest in Brad,” for some reason, which, taking those restrictions into account, ends up as “Mrs. DeGroot is threatened by any contact between Brad and Toni of any sort.” It just reads as … off, which is not really what you want in a comic strip, I don’t think.
Meanwhile, if we’re looking for things that are gross, let’s take note of the almost invisible musical “Hi honey” coming out of Brad’s phone in panel three.
Mark Trail, 3/10/10
And yet Mark Trail, of all strips, has no apparent qualms about depicting raw sexuality out in the country, with a sexy ranger and sexy backwoodsman’s daughter sexily sizing each other up, for sex. Buzz offers the most hilariously nonspecific and uninteresting explanation possible of his presence in her neck of the woods in panel three, and Jan’s reply that this mushy amalgam of vagueness “sounds interesting” indicates that she isn’t even listening to the blah blah coming out of his pretty mouth; she’s more interested in getting into those electric blue jeans and finding out if the carpet matches the drapes. (It doesn’t, if the eyebrows are any indication.)
Meanwhile, in the background, Mark appears to be on the verge of humping a Ski-Doo. Hey, man, whatever floats your boat! Literally!
Hagar the Horrible, 3/10/10
In other cartoon sex news, Hagar is supposed to be a sympathetic viewpoint character, despite his attempts to cheat on his long-suffering wife with ladies in Viking bars. The really weird aspect of this is that this is actually more or less a repeat of a four and a half year old joke, right down to the strip’s composition, and yet it’s been somewhat rewritten and apparently completely redrawn. Why not just take it to its logical conclusion and just run the damn thing again?