Funerals! Hip-hop! Hair!
I wish had something harrowing, impressive, or at least interesting to explain my lackadaisical posting pace, but alas I all I can say is “I didn’t get around do it.” Plus: my copy of the Baltimore Sun arrived today WITHOUT A COMICS SECTION! Am I the subject of some relentless persecution from the Powers That Be? Have the Illuminati, the Freemasons, and King Features Syndicate joined forces with the dude who delivers my paper in an attempt to silence me?
(These are the sort of paranoid thoughts that go through your head when you work at home, folks. Thank God for the Future Mrs. C. driving me to Target and such every few days or you’d be reading these words tapped out on a vintage mechanical typewriter, wrapped around a brick, and hurled through the window of the Sun’s offices. Well, actually, you probably wouldn’t be reading it at all, unless you worked for the Baltimore Police’s forensics department, but I digress.)
Anyway, due to the disruptions of my comics schedule, I’m going all crizzy-crazy in an attempt the catch up: three comics from two days today, and no Sunday comic (and yes, I read about Mim’s baby’s name, and no, I don’t want to know what sick sex thing they’ve got cooked up over at For Better Or For Worse).
Mary Worth, 4/29/05
My first introduction to Mary Worth was the now-infamous Smitty Smedlap storyline. I came in just after the beginning of a dinner out attended by Mary, Smitty, and other, lesser characters. It was obvious to me that Smitty was an unstomachable prick. But — did the author intend for us to see him as such? It was hard to tell, at first, since day after day, week after week, the strip just featured his irascible rantings, followed up by polite murmurings from his fellow diners.
The funeral of the late lamented nurse what’s-her-face may, I’m beginning to see, be destined to last as long as that fateful dinner with Smitty, and its creeping social awfulness may go unacknowledged verbally by any of the participants. Panel one, here, though, may rate among my favorite Mary Worth scenes ever. Momma Rita places a melodramatic hand on her forehead as she pours her heart out to Santa Royale’s first couple of nosiness. Mary’s face, though carefully composed to match the gravity of the situation, cannot mask her glee as all these deeply personal details are vomited forth for her delectation. “Yes,” she seems to be thinking, “Give me your grief, your pain! Dump it all out for me! Allow me to live vicariously through the highs and lows of your life! Then I shall dispense some time-worn aphorisms and YOU WILL BE MINE! MINE, YOU HEAR ME? MINE!”
Dr. Jeff’s facial express, meanwhile, I think can be summed up simply: “Oh, crap, how much longer until we can leave?”
Our flashback panel is worthy of interest in its own right. I’m particularly intrigued by Rita’s giraffe-like neck and long, serpentine limbs, along, of course, with that … gelatinous … thing on the plate she’s holding. Growing up in upstate New York, we learned a lot in school about the Iroquois Confederacy, and I seem to recall making a plasticine longhouse model that looked a lot like that. Except this one appears to be covered with human skin.
On a very different note, let’s take a look at what all the cool kids are doing over in Milford.
Gil Thorp, 4/29-30/05
I think that with these two strips, Gil Thorp may have surpassed Curtis in the race for Most Ham-Handed Comics Use of Contemporary Urban Slang. I myself have longed to blast the hip-hop in the valley with the south side, but I’m not “down” or “with it” or “crunk” or whatever the hell it is like these headband-sporting, grey-haired, IM-savvy white girls so clearly are. You can tell by the blissful look on the face of the not-Hadley girl in panel three that they are true members of Hip-Hop Nation. On Saturday, the strip takes a turn for the weirdly meta as the DJ uses possibly the most non-connective segue in the history of radio to launch into a Don Rickles-light tirade against Milford’s prominent teachers and their awful, awful hair. I suppose that it makes sense that, since everyone in this crappy little town is obsessed with Milford sports, the hairstyles of the school faculty might merit public derision at the hands of the Morning Zoo Crew. On the other hand, everyone in Milford is having the worst day hair day of their lives every day of their lives, so I would advise the listening audience not to laugh to loudly, lest the next laugh be on them. (Steve Luhm, I’m looking in your direction.) The whole thing is so ludicrous that Hutch Renfro’s radio has exploded into a miniature mushroom cloud in protest.