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Like most of you, I have some New Year’s traditions. Of course, yours probably involve some kind of self-improvement resolutions, which would be unnecessary for me because of my extreme awesomeness. Instead, I generally take the first post of the year to catch up on the action in my beloved continuity strips.

Panel from Dick Tracy, 12/24/09

Let’s start with Dick Tracy, which appears to be as unfamiliar with the social and economic realities of early 21st century classical music as it is with pretty much any other kind of realities you could name.

Panel from Rex Morgan, M.D., 12/26/09

Over in Rex Morgan, the visit of June’s slobbish thieving white-trash cousin has driven this upper-middle-class family to the breaking point. Rex can absorb a lot of punishment, but for God’s sake don’t interfere with his precious, precious breakfast!

Panels from Apartment 3-G, 12/27/09

Against all expectations, Margo managed to enter a church without bursting into flame and crumbling into dust. This can only mean that, while we were wasting our time with the Professor’s boring love life, Margo beat God in a fight off panel.

Funky Winkerbean, 1/3/10

In Funky Winkerbean, the reformed alcoholic title character gazed at a bottle of champagne with more tenderness and affection than he’s ever shown any of his family or friends.

Judge Parker, 1/3/10

Just hours after acting as an unlicensed private investigator, Sam is ready to act as an unlicensed marriage therapist to violent rage maniac Rocky Ledge. One of Rocky’s employees, familiar with the man’s temperament, suggests that Sam will need protective gear before beginning the session.

Mark Trail, 12/28/09

In Mark Trail, Mark and Rusty managed to survive only because this gentle small-town sheriff was too much of a wimp to shoot an unarmed man in the back. I was all excited when it seemed like only Rusty’s head would be saved, leaving him a malformed skull in a jar that Mark would have to tote from place to place…

Mark Trail, 12/31/09

…but instead he just hobbled out of the doctor’s office Tiny Tim-style. His extreme cheerfulness in the face of his crippling is a testament to the powerful painkillers this rural medico has prescribed him.

Oh, and hey, what’s up with Gil Thorp? The Thorps typically celebrate Christmas Day by posing in a family tableau for our entertainment — see for example the entries from 2006, 2007, and 2008. But there’s a little something missing from this year’s installment, isn’t there?

Gil Thorp, 12/25/09

Yes, the holidays do come early when you somehow do away with your children, don’t they, Mimi? Presumably one of the pictures on the mantle there in panel two is of the two young Thorplings, off in their faraway boarding school or Bangladeshi garment factory or shallow grave or wherever they’ve been sent to give the Thorps senior more time to give each other presents and get romantical.

And speaking of presents, the strip give me a little gift last week; as it occasionally does, it brought back a wacky character from the past who only true obsessives like me will remember.

Gil Thorp, 12/28/09 and 12/30/09

In this case, it’s Steve Luhm, who was the protagonist in one of the very first Gil Thorp storylines I read, which was probably the one that got me to fall in love with the strip. Steve was assigned to romance women’s rights agitator Hadley V. Baxendale to keep her from disrupting the Milford patriarchy with her feminism; but instead, he ended up joining Hadley in her political activism, fighting for equal treatment for the girl’s basketball team. As you can see from that old strip, his hair used to be the most beautifully awful thing you’ve ever seen. Steve would later pop up with some hilariously misguided attempts to talk “street”. He got a better haircut and glasses after he went to college, but has not apparently improved his socioeconomic standing. Will this storyline be a biting commentary on the usefulness of a Women’s Studies degree in the post-collegiate world?

Spider-Man, 12/25/09 and 12/30/09

Spider-Man also celebrated Christmas, by having a fat, sweaty man stick a gun in our face. It’s like being robbed by Santa! Later, in keeping with the strip’s traditions, the storyline’s villain was defeated by one of his henchmen while Spider-Man stood by and watched.

But the crown the jewel of the past week or so has been the hot, hot illegitimate son action in Mary Worth.

Mary Worth, 12/25/09

On Christmas Day, Wilbur paused to look back to the past: when he had hair, a flat belly, and the same terrible taste in clothes, and his beloved became the first person in history to pair a belly shirt and an Easter bonnet.

Mary Worth, 12/28/09

But wait! It looks like the fruit of Wilbur’s youthful indiscretion has arrived! And he’s some sort of disheveled hobo!

Mary Worth, 12/29/09

Don’t worry, though: Wilbur can see the beautiful lady beneath the grime and stubble.

Mary Worth, 12/31/09 and 1/1/10

These two strips on either side of the transition to 2010 promise that we’ll be seeing father and son teaming up to become a pair of demon hunters, purging the earth of sinister supernatural forces once and for all.

Mary Worth, 1/3/10

Dawn, meanwhile, keeps her eye on the prize, the prize being Wilbur’s money. “Dad, the last thing you should be doing now is taking responsibility for your actions, especially when it could affect me! We can afford two hideous purple shirts a month for me now. I won’t settle for less than that! I won’t!” Wilbur’s so agitated that he appears to be attempting to chew off his own lower lip.

Yesterday I sent an email to my mother (who has become quite the Mary Worth reader, thanks to my site) asking if she thought this Kurt Evans character was really Wilbur’s son, and this is what she said:

It’s kind of hard to imagine anyone (especially that pretty blond) wanting to have sex with Wilbur!! Maybe he looked better back then. But what are these “demons” that he needs to lay to rest??!! And when does Mary pop in again?? It’s a puzzlement!

It is a puzzlement! A glorious puzzlement that we’ll all enjoy in the coming weeks, which makes me glad to be back in the blogging saddle. PLUS: When will the Curtis Kwanzaa story finally go completely bonkers, as we know it eventually will? We’ll find out as 2010 unfolds!