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Sally Forth and Marvin, 7/26/09

Hey, guess who’s a fancy intellectual elitist book-readin’ guy in addition to the writer of a suburban middle-American comic strip? Ces Marculiano, that’s who! The opening lines of today’s Sally Forth are also the opening lines of Thomas Pynchon’s 760-page modernist classic Gravity’s Rainbow, and a tiny bit of high culture is slipped under the skin of comics readers everywhere.

But really, does Hillary’s soliloquy (good name for a band: “Hillary’s Soliloquy”) really challenge our settled, comfortable mindset the way Pynchon’s novel did? Consider this: despite the myriad kaleidescoping themes covered by the book, if you ask most people who were assigned to read it in college English what they remember about it, the first thing they’ll come up with will probably be the shit-eating. And what strip spends more time contemplating the symbolic meaning of poop than Marvin? Today’s installment is a particularly fine example, in which the title character, an absolutist on the subject of free will, insists that one can only truly demonstrate maximum personal autonomy by walking around with so much putrefying feces in one’s pants that it attracts swarms of flies. So, sorry Ces, but I think you’ll have to push the boundaries your art further if you plan to smash bourgeois sensibilities.

Mary Worth, 7/26/09

Two word-pairs you probably never anticipated seeing in juxtaposition: “Mary Worth” and “booty call.” I particularly marvel at the one-word-per-panel thought-ballooning sequence that serves as this strip’s centerpiece. Is it just an attempt to stretch limited action out over a longer Sunday strip? Does it instead represent Delilah’s grim determination to find succor in the worst way possible? Or does it simply indicate that she thinks … very … slowly?