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One Big Happy, 2/7/06

Every time I decide that One Big Happy is just too precious for its current position on my mental comics map — just on the good side of the funny/not funny dividing line — it goes and keeps itself in my good graces. Today’s strip obviously didn’t wow me with its intensely lame punchline; rather, I was charmed by Joe, who’s usually overshadowed by his younger sister’s cranked up adorability. In this strip, the towheaded youngster is clearly determined to fight with every ounce of strength he has to preserve his own ignorance. I like his expression in panel one as he airily dismisses his mother’s attempt at expanding his knowledge base; but the real gem is panel three, as he silently fumes at being forced to learn something. The angry stare simultaneously conveys the fact that he (1) doesn’t know the answer, (2) is embarrassed that he doesn’t know the answer, (3) doesn’t really want to know the answer, and (4) deeply resents that he’s even having this conversation. It’s a facial expression that’s only going to get less attractive as Joe gets older, and yet I have a feeling that his family, classmates, transient girlfriends, and, sooner than later, the juvenile justice system will be seeing a lot more if it in the years to come. Frankly, if there were no fourth panel, this strip would be just about perfect.