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Mark Trail, 12/13/09

The hilarious “Rusty in peril” plot dominating the weekday strips prove that Mark Trail has changed its core mission from “wildlife education” to “gleeful sadism.” Today’s installment offers further evidence, as Mark finally seems to acknowledge that Cherry needs to love, and to be loved, before abandoning her to have fun party times with Andy the dog. Much of the rest of the imagery in the strip is allegorical, with the ludicrously sad-eyed puppy in the middle bottom panel representing Cherry’s emotional devastation, and the terrifying devil-cat in the first panel representing her ever-growing rage.

The rightmost panel in the middle row, meanwhile, offers a unique in-fireplace perspective, and presumably stands in for the eternal punishment that awaits any wanna-be Santas who would give an unwanted animal as gift. Mark and Andy will be right there to watch you cast into the hellfire, animal abuser!

Blondie, 12/13/09

This may be the most unsettling Blondie yet produced. Those who don’t get to see the throwaway panels are missing the full effect, as Dithers creepily demands that Dagwood close his eyes as he approaches with his sinister doll — presumably so the tiny monster’s little face is the first thing he sees when he opens them again, and he can be more easily hypnotized. Dagwood’s stunned silence in the antepenultimate and penultimate panels are the behavior you’d expect from someone given an evil little homunculus, but the fact that he’s brought it home is evidence that he’s under its power. Soon it will tell him to kill.

Slylock Fox, 12/13/09

Also, Slylock and Max have been lurking outside that window for hours, watching Cassandra walking around in her little bathrobe, so if anything like that happened they would have noticed.