I may joke about Marmaduke as a monstrous demon-beast, but if you want real, honest-to-goodness terror in the comics, you’ve got to focus on the mundane slice-of-life strips that years ago wandered deep into the woods of misanthropy and nihilism. Funky Winkerbean is the most famous of these, of course, but it’s also self-consciously arty about its wallowing in misery. For my money, the most depressing are strips like Momma, which presents itself as a cheerful gag-a-day strip despite the fact that it’s about a monstrous mother and the children who loathe her. Today’s strip can barely even be said to contain a joke: mostly, it’s just about how neither Momma’s daughter-in-law nor (even more depressingly) her son have ever enjoyed talking to her, not even once.
On the bright side, I’m pretty sure this is the first Momma that’s lavished quite so much attention on Tina’s breasts.
Beetle Bailey, 3/16/11
This, on the other hand, actually strikes me as a pointed bit of character-driven comedy (to the extent that the cast members of Beetle Bailey have “characters”). Ha ha, poor, sweet Miss Buxley thinks General Halftrack is sad about his obsolescence, when in fact he’s just trying to sit perfectly still and interact with as few external objects or concepts as possible! Best case scenario, he’s massively hung over, but he’s probably just taking a not-at-all-well-deserved respite from thinking about anything in particular as he eagerly awaits the sweet death that never comes.
In other news, the publication date of this particular comic didn’t turn out to be horribly ill-timed at all!