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Gil Thorp, 2/24/17

Today’s Gil Thorp doesn’t necessarily offer a thematically unified big laugh, but is full of little hilarious details that come together to show why I love this strip so much:

  • The Freezy Bomb Boys couldn’t wait to shower or change after practice before bursting into Coach Thorp’s office with their latest half-baked theory
  • Coach Thorp apparently thinks Inspector Gadget is a good go-to insulting reference when it comes to amateur detective work, even when said detectives are not, in the poetic words of the Wikipedia article on the subject, “clumsy, dim-witted cyborgs”
  • Coach Thorp has misremembered Inspector Gadget’s name, and thus may have forgotten much else about him, like the fact that he’s a cyborg, and has to be smugly corrected by Coach Kaz
  • Coach Kaz is wearing a black shirt and white tie like he’s the keyboardist for a middlingly derivative 80s new wave band
  • This whole thing hinges on Aaron’s basketball ability being tied to … his mother’s pay schedule, maybe?
  • Final planel: BAM, a classic Gil Thorp smash cut to something semi-comprehensible happening somewhere else, in this case Aaron and Molly nuzzling at a rave, where NOTHING ELSE MATTERS

Anyway! I very much look forward to this all being resolved in a wholly unrealistic fashion soon, and then the Mudlarks subsequently failing to make the playoffs.

Funky Winkerbean, 2/24/17

Do you guys think that the cop in panel two is meant to be expressing genuine love for Montoni’s, or that he’s just being extremely sarcastic as he writes Funky a ticket he definitely deserves? It’s hard to tell with this strip. I mean, either would be good, because both involve Funky being humiliated, but I feel like I want to better understand the texture of the schadenfreude I’m experiencing here.

Judge Parker, 2/24/17

Shoutout to this Judge Parker flashback for doing a pretty good job of depicting Abbey and Neddy in the Harold LeDoux era. I find the third panel pretty puzzling, though. The kids have already been let go! How are the kidnappers going to do anything with them? Unless … I was right, and “Sophie” really is a replicant replacement? As are the other supposedly free children? And this is the first step towards replacing the entire universe of Judge Parker with a better, cleaner race of beings, i.e., cyborgs? That still doesn’t seem like much of a money-making scheme, to be honest.

Mark Trail, 2/24/17

I’m not sure how often customs agents in foreign countries ask Americans travelling to America what their purpose for traveling to America is, but it sure gives Chris “Dirty” “Smith” a chance to answer in a Transparently Evil fashion! It’s not going to be very “sporting” when Mark punches Dirty’s eyepatch right off, but he’s going to have to learn the limits of his hunting abilities himself, I guess.

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Pluggers, 2/23/17

I’ve been doing this job (if making fun of Pluggers is a job, and I would argue that it is, and an important one at that) for more than a decade, which is enough time to see broad swaths of the culture change. Still, with a comic like Pluggers, which is focused largely on down-home country folks who suspect that maybe things used to be better than they are today, you expect a certain amount of small-c conservatism. You expect stability. You expect that it’ll be more or less the same, in almost a comforting way. You don’t expect it to be about tits, and you don’t expect the joke to basically be a slightly updated version of this classic Playtex ad from 1982. You don’t expect that you’ll spend time staring at a Pluggers panel thinking “Did the artist pick entry this because he was excited to draw a ‘plugger gal’ exemplifying the ‘lift and separate’ catchphrase, or did he run out of usable suggestions and decide, ‘Welp, it’s come to this’”? You don’t expect a lot of things in this life, but if you live long enough, you end up encountering almost all of them.

Mark Trail, 2/23/17

Ahahah, ladies, always whining about how they can’t find a man, but when a perfectly good one with terrible facial scarring and a dumb self-applied nickname that he makes everyone use walks right into them at the airport, somehow they can’t seal the deal, because they talk too much about themselves or whatever! Probably this is feminism’s fault. If you’re serious about getting married and having kids before your biological clock stops ticking, you need to check out my new self-help book, Play Dirty: How To Turn Your Back On Misguided Gender ‘Equality’ And Snag A One-Eyed Man Who Will Pull You Into His Violent Revenge Plot.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 2/23/17

God damn it, Horrible Hank in Rex Morgan isn’t dead after all. We now return you to thrilling tales of dehydration and old-man naps, already in interminable progress.

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Funky Winkerbean, 2/22/17

The great wave of Prestige Television Dramas that started in the late ’00s often presented us with morally compromised antiheroes, like Don Draper or Walter White. These gave rise to a wave of thinkpieces on the topic of “Hmm, Rooting For These Popular Television Characters Is Actually Problematic”, followed by smug counterthinkpieces that informed us that “Oh, Were You Rooting For The Protagonists Of These TV Shows? That’s Not What The Writers Want You To Do”. The problem is that the way these narratives are structured makes it difficult for you not to root for them, no matter how bad they are as people: individual episodes and season-long arcs are about the protagonists trying to overcome obstacles; they serve as our viewpoint characters in the show’s world, and so it’s almost impossible to not want to see them succeed, if for no other reason that failure might mean an end to the pleasure of watching the show.

Anyway, anyone who wants to really work at writing an antihero protagonist that their audience will eventually turn on could do worse than read the last couple weeks of Funky Winkerbean. The title character is up against the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, perhaps the easiest bureaucracy to use as a punching bag, and yet in every single conflict he encounters, he comes off looking worse than the dead-eyed functionaries who oppose him.

Mark Trail, 2/22/17

Oh snap, it looks like Chris is travelling back to the U.S. to do a little hunting of his own … hunting the most dangerous game, i.e., Mark Trail. Since we spent all last week learning how trophy hunting in Africa is Actually Good, I’m sure we’ll see an even-handed description of how, while the majestic, wily Mark Trail is much beloved, he can be a danger to humans living near his territory and must be occasionally culled to preserve ecological balance.

Mary Worth, 2/22/17

AHHHHH PICTURE OF YOUNG MARY WITH LONG HAIR AND HOOP EARRINGS AND HER HUSBAND AHHHH! AND POSSIBLY A PICTURE OF YOUNG MARY WITH BELL-BOTTOMED JEANS ON THE NEXT PAGE??? Remember, Mary is canonically 60-something, which means that she spent her young womanhood in the 1970s, presumably smoking weed and listening to Led Zeppelin, which in turn means that you — yes, you — are impossibly old. Sorry, I don’t make the rules!

Dick Tracy, 2/22/17

Is your special plan to give it back to the people who the Brush and his accomplice tried to steal it from? Much as I would love to see Dick and the Spirit suddenly become dirty cops, that … that probably should be the special plan.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 2/22/17

Oh no! I shouldn’t have said that an old man dozing off on a plane was boring! I didn’t want it to end like this! I didn’t want any of this!

Pluggers, 2/22/17

Now that you can’t smoke indoors anymore, pluggers have had to work harder and harder at committing suicide slowly.