Dick Tracy, 1/28/09
I spent longer than I care to recount staring at the final panel of this cartoon, trying to figure out what Dick was getting at. Was there some other way to pronounce “perfume” that would cause this apparent play on words to make some sort of sense? “Especially because you’re making perfume for my wife. Or is it per-foom-ay? Just like your house went a-boom-ay? Wait, no, hold on a second…” Eventually, I figured out that the final word panel should be read as “Or is it perfume?” I don’t want to single out Dick Tracy, because Random Bolding Syndrome is an affliction that strikes virtually every comic ever created, though some more than others (*cough* Mark Trail *cough*). Here’s a helpful tip for comics artists: try reading your dialogue aloud, adding emphasis, before committing it to word balloons, OK?
I did not, however, have to think very long to figure out what Dick was getting at with “Just want to know you better” in the first panel; obviously it involves electrodes, sensitive body parts, pleas for mercy, etc.
Rex Morgan, M.D., 1/28/09
I can’t even begin to tell you how unsettled I am by panel two Rex, with his pursed, fleshy lips and suddenly beady and lizard-like eyes. Maybe he’s trying to cut his usual condescending tone to his wife by feigning a sympathetic and concerned facial expression, but he has no real idea what that would look like, so he’s just flexing his face muscles at random and hoping for the best. Meanwhile, in panel three, Rex and June look less like they’re discussing the abstract possibility of some little boy they don’t know being lost, and more like they’ve been given some terrible, devastating piece of personal news, like “Little Sarah didn’t get into that elite pre-school because they found her uncanny and creepy” or “Honcho Magazine no longer has home delivery.”
It’s good to know that the ’Shaft occasionally feels a frisson of remorse for his many monstrous crimes.
Apartment 3-G, 1/28/09
“Love! Happiness! The giddiness of a new relationship! I … I … does not compute! Should I just slit her throat now and make a run for it?”