In search of lost time
Daily continuity strips have to fiddle with time to tell their stories. And anybody with an idle hour, a links page or utility and a refreshing beverage can figure out how they manage it. Let’s give it a go!
Judge Parker, 6/19/2008
It’s morning in Judge Parker! This strip moves so slowly, characters could sit on the porch and watch continents drift by. Here’s the chronology since the last appearance of the Esteemed Eponym himself — on November 28, 2006:
1/1/2007 — Goodbye, Abbey and Neddy!
2/5/2007 — Off to school, Neddy!
6/18/2007 — Off to California, Sophie and Sam!
8/6/2007 — Mornin’, Trudi!
10/29/2007 — ‘Bye, Rusty!
1/7/2008 — Mornin’ Abbey!
3/24/2008 — Off to work, Steve!
6/16/2008 — Elvira in the news!
Did I miss any? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. At a little over two months per day, those evenings with Abbey (or Trudi, or Rusty, or — God help us — Rachel) come waaaaay too far apart — but they last a good long time. Not that any of that makes the slightest difference to Sam.
Mary Worth, 7/5/2006
To measure glaciers’ progress, climatologists poke sticks in them, then return to see
a pile of wet sticks on the ground. how far they’ve moved. But to meter the agonizing peristalsis of Mary Worth, we must employ prunes.
Above, Mary prunes in a scene of regularity and contentment. Her life is as it has always been: quiet, refined, her presumptuous intrusions into the lives of others unchallenged, out of her victims’ stark terror. A new conquest waits in the shadows, but like a spider she bides her time.
Mary Worth, 6/19/2008
Less than two years later, as a second prune struggles its way to the light, so much has changed. As evidenced by her distress in the right panel, Mary’s life has become irregular, pinched, beset with ructions! Her disastrous rejection of Aldo’s simple affection, her meddling outshone by Ella Byrd’s clairvoyance, her contributions reduced to improving the lot of stray dogs, the public humiliation of her long-time partner — Mary’s life is falling apart. She stands at the brink, and only the tissue of her self-deception keeps her from the abyss.
Karen Moy! Give her a nudge, won’t you? Just a little one? For us? We love you, you know! And we’re quite sure you’ll feel much better afterwards!
Funky Winkerbean, 6/19/2008
OK, Tom Batiuk’s time management skills lead this pack. He slow-paces a set of characters (high-schoolers, young adults) until he outgrows them, then “leaps” — or rather, sheds the time discrepancy that’s built up. Except that this most recent leap has been a muddle — characters age inconsistently, and sad-sack author-proxy Les, here, seems hell-bent on living in multiple pasts: his nightmare adolescence, his absurdly, hilariously tragic marriage. Get it together, pal — one more leap and you’re Crankshaft.
For Better or For Worse, 6/19/2008
I throw up my hands (and oh, so much else) trying to figure out what this strip is trying to do. Last year, they announced and then utterly botched a “freeze” (sort of the antithesis of Batiuk’s leaps). This year, they’re mixing messages about hybrids, weddings, August, September. I would stop paying attention except for the nagging suspicion that despite the near-undetectable pulse of this strip, it’s going to outlive us all.
Maman, may I have my cup of tea now? And one of those little shell cookies? S’il-vous plaît?
— Uncle Lumpy