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The Lockhorns, 7/23/04

Here’s part of what King Features has to say about The Lockhorns: “The award-winning Lockhorns panel gently spoofs the state of marital bliss … Their snappy repartee and witty banter has made them a perennial favorite.” This is for the most part accurate, if you were to change “gently spoofs” to “questions the very possibility of,” “snappy repartee and witty banter” to “passive-aggressive attempts to emotionally destroy one another,” and “perennial favorite” to “horrifying cautionary example.”

Today’s panel has Leroy and Loretta in their familiar places at the dinner table. I especially like suppertime at the Lockhorns, since that’s when they seem most filled with heavy-lidded despair. Usually (though not today) one of them has a puffed out cheek that makes it look as if they are eating crushed glass. Also, with Leroy in profile, we can see that his hair is actually just a series of horizontal lines, which I find quite charming. (Unfortunately, in the online version I’ve linked to here, this effect is somewhat ruined by the coloring job.)

I actually really enjoy The Lockhorns, though perhaps not in the spirit that its creators intend. It’s settled on a few themes (Leroy is lazy, doesn’t earn enough, and makes an ass of himself in social situations; Loretta can’t cook, can’t drive, and spends too much money — that’s about 90 percent of the comic’s content right there) and uses them to relentlessly hammer home the failure of the Lockhorns’ marriage. If, as King Features claims, “comics fans can’t help but see a little bit of themselves or someone they know in Leroy and Loretta Lockhorn,” then God help us all.

I’ve often wondered why, unlike most dysfunctional couples I know, the Lockhorns don’t have any children. Maybe at some level they realize that any child exposed to the venom that flows freely in their household will grow up to be terribly scarred emotionally. But it’s more likely that they just can’t bring themselves to have sex.