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Family Circus, 7/29-30/05

Jeffy, Jeffy, Jeffy Keane: always the observer in the cavalcade of family dysfunction. Check out the little tyke’s blank, uncomprehending expression in these two panels. In the first, he doesn’t seem to pick up on the significance of the Cathy-style sweatballs flying off of Billy’s head as the elder brother faces maternal wrath for some unidentified and arbitrary slight. Will his literal-minded interpretation of Mom’s cruel threat save Billy from the threatened punishment — or make it that much worse, when the time comes? We’re left to wonder. In the second panel, Billy looks on passively as Dolly uses his presence as an excuse to cruelly remind Grandma of her washed-up, pre-technological, ice-floe-ready status. All this ambient hate and rage doesn’t register on the surface, of course, but you just know the seeds of deep subconscious trauma have been planted. Both these panels have the feel of someone looking back and saying, “Oh, yeah, so that’s why I am the way I am.”