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Crankshaft, 7/20/09

Oh ho. Oh HO HO HO. Remember a few years ago, when beloved comic strip Funky Winkerbean killed off one of its main characters and then leapt pell-mell a decade into the future (of internal narrative space, not of absolute time)? Of course you do, because you’re all comics obsessives, but even if you weren’t, chances are you might have heard of it because there was actual coverage of this event by the legitimate media. And here today, in Funkyverse sister strip Crankshaft, we appear to have the exact same chronological discontinuity happening, which, as near as the Google can tell, has been mentioned exactly nowhere. Ha ha, Crankshaft, nobody likes you, just like nobody likes your title character!

You’ll forgive me for chortling just a little at the sight of Crankshaft’s slumped, broken form slouching semi-consciously in a wheelchair, kept alive by machines and underpaid but still perky nurse’s aides. Normally I’d only have the deepest sympathy for someone whose body and mind have been ravaged by time until they’re only a shell of their former self, but since Crankshaft is (a) a fictional character and (b) a colossal dick, I’m not feeling too guilty about my terrible glee.

Anyway, in the absence of any sort of Big Event-style coverage, I’m guessing that this is a temporary thing, a brief glimpse into the ’Shaft’s terrible future — or, if the middle panel is any indication, his future and his past, like Slaughterhouse Five with less firebombing and more groan-inducing puns. Eventually we’ll settle back on the present, in which Crankshaft is old and cranky but not senile or wheelchair-ridden. The journey will have made him more sympathetic to us, right up to the first time that he opens his mouth.

Gil Thorp, 7/20/09

Wait, are we sure that Shep Trumbo isn’t behind this? Because the sinister message on that baseball appears to be written in text-speak, and if there’s one thing I remember about the Shep Trumbo storyline despite my best efforts to purge it from my memory, it’s that it involved texting in some way. (Though I guess a full-on text-stalker-ball would read “U O M3.”)

Anyway, I just thought of someone else from the past who could be sinisterly stalking Gil: Brent Raptor! Or, better yet, Brent Raptor’s mom! Brent was a pudgy white kid who played baseball for Gil a few years ago and loved the rap music, thus earning the nickname “Rap-Dog,” which was probably meant to be insulting and/or ironic but he adopted it because it was the only affection anyone ever showed him. Brent’s life was made a living hell by his trashy, overbearing mother, out from under whose thumb Gil tried very hard to extract Brent, eventually succeeding by arranging for her to take a trip to Phoenix (really!). Anyway, since obviously nobody has ever done anything in return for a trip to Phoenix, I’m guessing Gil made a dark, secret promise to Mrs. Raptor, and now she’s come to collect … in blood. Or in off-brand corn chips and menthol cigarettes, which would seem more her style.

Mark Trail, 7/20/09

Jack Elrod knew he’d come under fire from religious and cultural conservatives for his latest work, Virgin Mar(k/y): Pieta. Fortunately, his editors at the syndicate knew that the newspaper comics were the last venue where uncompromising art like this could be showcased, and published it without fear of the consequences.

Archie, 7/20/09

The funniest thing about this Archie — other than Reggie getting punched in the face, obviously — is the lava lamp decorating the floor of Archie’s makeshift ashram in the first panel. Because meditation = the ’70s = lava lamps, obviously! Ha ha, the AJGLU 3000 has no idea what year it is.

Slylock Fox, 7/20/09

More proof that Shady Shrew is an unlovable loser: as his yellow bandana indicates, he was considered insufficiently cool to join either the Bloods or the Crips, and instead had to affiliate himself with a lesser gang, the “7th Avenue Insectivore Crew.”

Beetle Bailey, 7/20/09

Oh, Beetle, we know you yearn for Sarge’s abusive attentions, but you should really try being at least a little subtle about it.