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Mark Trail, 12/6/10

Allow me to dabble in a little heresy here for a moment: could Kelly and Mark actually be perfect for one another? It’s been clear for some time that Cherry isn’t getting her needs met by her spouse: she expects “love” or “affection” or at least a husband who “understands” the “emotions” that motivate “humans.” On the other hand, Kelly, though ostensibly cast in the role of the strip’s sexpot, seems genuinely confused about why it would be inappropriate for her to walk into Mark’s hotel room while he’s showering and answer a phone call from his wife. I don’t think we’re intended to read her line in panel three as being delivered in some kind of sultry yet sarcastic mode; instead, she’s just gazing dumbfounded at the phone, wondering how something she said could possibly have caused such offense. You know who else demonstrates that sort of diagnosable inability to grasp the needs and inner lives of others? Mark Trail.

I’m sort of curious about exactly how Cherry’s posture translates into the massive SLAM we see in panel two. Did she suddenly go all faint at the thought of Kelly in Mark’s hotel room and lose her balance, with one hand catching herself on the table as she pitched forward and the other sending the phone careening back into the cradle almost by accident? Or did she firmly place right hand on the table for balance, so that she could smash the handset down with her left all the more vigorously?

Mary Worth, 12/6/10

A comic panel is, when you think about it, a curious way to convey narrative: although it’s tempting to think of it as a single frozen moment, panels with dialogue do depict a certain amount of time passing, and so each of the motionless characters must occupy a particular instant within the interval that the panel contains. In today’s panel two — which, I hope I don’t need to say, is the most wonderful thing anyone will show you today — Dr. Jeff still bears the beatific expression of a man in the midst of a good uninterrupted bloviation, whereas Mary and Adrian’s looks of stricken horror indicate that they’re living in the moment after Jill’s drunken interruption ruined everything good, forever.

I love virtually all of the details in today’s strips: Jill taking a big gulp of wine in panel one, for courage; the happy couple holding hands, oblivious to what’s about to happen; Mary bringing one hand up to her mouth in shock, while Adrian merely stares on dumbly, finally aware that the friend she’s coddled all this time really, truly doesn’t like any of this crap. But mostly I love Jill’s inexplicable rage, which I’ve loved from the moment it became apparent that it would be the driving force behind this storyline. Jill won’t put up with Jeff’s pablum. God? Don’t talk to Jill about God. Jill knows there’s no heaven above us, just a grid of hideous drop ceiling panels that never end.

Gil Thorp, 12/6/10

With Milford’s star player kicked off the team for dealing drugs, Gil needs to pull some clever coaching out of his coaching hat at the end of the season if he wants to salvage his playdown hopes. “They’ll be looking for the wildcat formation — but not this wildcat!” he says, revealing the the mountain lion he plans to release into his opponents’ backfield on key plays. “Who wants to volunteer to sneak into Valley Tech’s locker room and rub raw meat all over their jock straps?”