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Funky Winkerbean, 10/4/07

I suppose I’m expected to say something about this, right? God damn, you know, I got into this gig to make jokes about Rex Morgan’s sex life and stuff. Well, if I had to sum it up, I’d have to say:

I don’t hate it.

I don’t hate it on principle, for starters. I don’t believe that the comics, or the newspaper comics in particular, should be a all-fun death-free zone. And, to touch on a specific aspect that seems to have pressed a lot of buttons: I’m a big proponent of quality-of-life decisions in medical care. I think that, if given the option of adding a few extra months to your life at the price of constant pain, “no” is a legitimate answer.

In a bigger sense, as I noted in a quote in a newspaper story whose author was nice enough to solicit my opinion like I’m some kind of expert, I’m in favor of comics artists deciding to do things that are kind of ambitious. Whatever my thoughts are on the execution of this, my esteem for it is boosted by its context: it sits in the middle of a section of the paper full of “legacy” strips now produced by committee, whose tired punchlines seem quite often to be literally phoned in. This series was undeniably trying at something a little grander.

As for the execution of the storyline, to me it was kind of hit and miss: some of it was really affecting, and some was pretty tin-eared. That quality has been on ample display over the past few weeks. There was a lot of this final sequence that I found quite moving, but then, hey! It’s weird cheesy Phantom of the Opera/“Puttin’ on the Ritz” guy! It kind of, um, spoiled the mood for me a bit.

But in the end, the decision for this storyline to go the way it did didn’t shock or upset me because of the other context it exists in, namely Funky Winkerbean itself. Honestly, this is the strip with the missing arms and the alcoholism and the murdered fathers and the infertility and the hey hey. You want to know what FW plot really pissed me off? Harry Dinkle going deaf. Because in real life, people get cancer, people get second bouts of cancer, and people die from it, all for no good reason. But when you get ironic, O. Henry style afflictions — well, that just seems needlessly cruel.

That’s all just my opinion, of course. And one thing I do appreciate is all of you commentors who have been sharing your opinions — and your really touching and harrowing stories — over the past little while. The comments on yesterday’s post are particularly worth reading. Whether you think this outpouring is because of the strip or in spite of it, I’m touched that you chose my blog as a place to share this stuff.

For Better Or For Worse, 10/4/07

Meanwhile, Grandpa Jim: totally not dead, FYI. Ha ha, old man, you thought it’d be easy to get out of this strip? You were wrong — dead wrong!

But you’re not dead. Just to make that clear.

Crock, 10/4/07

This is the first Crock I’ve genuinely and non-ironically laughed at in about ever. It’s about the fact that Crock only shows the slightest bit of consideration towards other living things if it somehow forwards his interests or his appetites; as a bonus, there’s an undertone of cannibalism. I began to worry that I might be kind of mean spirited.

Marvin, 10/4/07

But then I was appalled at this comic, which is about putting babies in prison, so I felt better about myself.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 10/4/07

That final panel isn’t artsy visual narrative, or a metaphor for Rex’s dual nature, or anything like that. It’s actually offering us a look into Rex Morgan’s head, wherein lies … another, slightly smaller, Rex Morgan head. And what’s inside that Rex Morgan head? You’ve got it: yet another Rex Morgan head. It’s like those damn nesting Russian dolls, only with Rex Morgan heads.

Oh, and they can all talk, apparently. Damn creepy.

Herb and Jamaal, 10/4/07

Actually, Herb, he’s a 16th century writer, but what’s 1,200 years in the grand scheme of things? We shouldn’t let minor details detract from your achievement: you just managed to use an entirely irrelevant quotation that you got out of Bartlett’s to justify to yourself the fact that you’re a crappy friend. Bravo!