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Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois, 7/16/09

Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois may share the same offices over at Walker-Browne Amalgamated Humor Industries LLC (in a low-slung business park, just off the interstate), but that doesn’t mean that they march in creative lockstep! That’s particularly clear today. Beetle Bailey uses Otto, the strip’s most intelligent and self-reflective character, to contemplate serious philosophical questions. Since he’s a dog, one could say that he was put into this world to bark; yet, like so many of us, he suffers a crisis of identity, a belief that even the actions that reflect his innermost nature are ultimately unrewarding and unrewarded. One is reminded of Arjuna expressing his doubts in the Bhagavad Gita, before going into battle; however, whereas Arjuna had Krishna to explain to him the spiritual importance of fulfilling one’s dharma, or duty, Otto has no teacher or framework to show him the essential value of barking. In this way he is like us, who toil away in alienated post-capitalism, unsure of the larger connection between what we do and the world we would like ideally to help build.

Hi and Lois, meanwhile, takes a different tack. Did you know that vomiting is funny, and that babies are prone to vomiting? The first panel is a little crude artistically, but seeing as it’s probably the first point-of-view depiction in a nationally syndicated comic strip of what it’s like to have someone puke into your face, we should probably cut it a little slack.

Phantom, 7/16/09

Oh, hey, what’s going on over in the Phantom, where we’re being shown how the first two lady Jungle Patrolpersons are fitting in to this elite paramilitary unit? Well, the lady cop patrolhuman has been enlisted for her helicoptering skills, and has picked up the Unknown Commander from an urban location, from whence he had unceremoniously nabbed a suspect out of his own home. Now she’s dropped them off in an isolated rural area, where, without any wimpy liberal niceties like a trial, he will presumably be viciously attacked by a wolf or just shot in the back of the head. And our heroine’s main goal throughout has been to get a look at this human rights abuser’s handsome face. Ha ha, women, am I right, people?

Rex Morgan, M.D., 7/16/09

Hey, remember how the new Rex Morgan, M.D., plot was going to be some sexy story about adultery? In classic bait-and-switch fashion, it turns out that the promise of extramarital relations and the drama they cause was just to lure you into reading about something much more important, and depressing, namely the poor care that people with Alzheimer’s receive. Becka has been shocked — shocked! — to find that a private clinic is interested in cutting costs, even if that means lowering the quality of medical attention given to its paying customers! As we learn in today’s strips, the clinic’s revenue-generating ideas push the boundaries of medical ethics: they’ve set up an “Alzheimer’s enclosure” at the zoo, near the primate house, where members of the public can buy tickets to come and gawk.