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Luann, 9/20/04

Sally Forth, 9/20/04

To my mind, there are two kinds of comics in the daily paper: joke-a-day strips and soap opera strips. In latter, things happen extremely slowly; in the former, nothing ever happens at all. Oh, sure, hijinks and tomfoolery happen in joke-a-day strips, but nothing happens that makes the characters lives’ any different: Charlie Brown never left grade school, Garfield will never have to be put down, and the TVA will never bring modern technology to wherever the hell it is that Snuffy Smith lives.

Lately, though, a few joke-a-day strips have been inching towards introducing some major changes. The big news of the whole year (in an extremely limited sense of the phrase “big news”) is of course Cathy getting married. But here are two other strips that are also making tentative moves towards exciting new things (in an extremely limited sense of the word “exciting”).

Luann of Luann was 12 for essentially my entire adolescence, and then suddenly became 16 and has stayed there ever since. Around the same time, Brad stopped being just an annoying foil for Luann and started to become a interesting character in his own right, which made it kind of unfortunate that his noggin looks more or less like Mr. Potato Head. The Brad-Toni-Dirk love triangle started out interesting for me and then got old, and the latest escalation into out-and-out violence really ought to bring it to some sort of resolution or I’ll be pretty peeved. Incidentally, how old are all these people supposed to be? I pegged the “older kids” in the strip to be in the 18-20 range; if that’s true, it makes it all the more embarrassing that alleged tough guy Dirk skeddadles so fast when Brad’s mom shows up.

On a lighter note (assuming that, like I do, you find corporate back stabbing funnier than domestic violence), Sally Forth has been suffering under the heel of her blustering boss Ralph since Scott Adams had a real job, but that may all be ending soon enough: the savvy, young, possibly gay (lime green pants? pink polka-dotted tie? no straight man could pull that outfit off!) new VP has it in for the old middle manager from hell. It looks like Sally could be in for a promotion over there doing … um … whatever it is she does. (“Nice job on the Underwood account!” Does anyone outside the weirdly nonspecific white-color world of comics and sitcoms ever say things like that?) Will the name of the strip change to Sally Forth, Vice President for Strategic Operations? I hear senior execs get snooty about their titles.

Bonus observations: I like the way the word “Gasp” is rising wispily over Brad’s head, unfettered by any word balloon, in the second panel of Luann. Also, in the first panel of Sally Forth, either Ralph is standing in a weird way that makes his butt stick out, or he has an oddly protruding rear end. Ha, ha, Ralph! Your big ass is fired!