With no easy way to represent a full day every day in just three or four panels, continuity comics develop little collections of stalls and skips. Since most of them are stuck in the doldrums right now (thanks, comics!), let’s take a look at how they do it.
Judge Parker, 3/10/11
Judge Parker lards on peripheral characters and extraneous plot elements until the whole toddering edifice collapses, then just sorta walks away whistling.
Here, the MIT graduate student Rasta chauffeur who reviews all the books for a prestigious publisher argues with the perky but stiffly formal PR genius coed intern he’s known from childhood, whose first boss died in a bus crash, whose “other boss” is giving birth, and who apparently maintains a valuable baseball card collection, about whether he should tell the firm’s owner to let the intern keep doing the thing the owner has no idea she is doing in the first place. The outcome of their discussion is of absolutely no consequence to the “main action”, which consists of the Judge sitting at a table behind a “Meet the Author” sign in a Borders that hasn’t got the word yet. So I’m on the edge of my frickin’ seat, yo.
Hey, remember the buxom multilingual “former” CIA operative who’s going to introduce the shoe-designer’s not-girlfriend to some friends at the World Bank? The one who’s dating the gun-totin’ Junior Judge and being followed by the mysterious shadowy guy, except maybe he’s really following the Judge? Yeah, neither does anybody else. And that was yesterday. That’s just how Judge Parker rolls.
Rex Morgan, M.D., 3/10/11
Rex Morgan freezes time the way some Eastern mystics do, by practiced, sustained, focused, utter inactivity. Rex and June never do anything — they follow along only to observe, sometimes disappearing for months on end with no appreciable impact on the, um, “action.” In the current story, they’ve subcontracted what passes for a plot to “irresistible force” shrieking hysteric Berna and “immovable object” belligerent loser Dex, who bicker about lottery winnings that are distinctly not in evidence. There’s as much chance this plot will move off the dime as this pair will ever see one.
Gasoline Alley, 3/10/11
Gasoline Alley has aged its characters pretty much continuously since the end of the First World War: check out its timeline. Patriarch Walt — now the sole living U.S. veteran of that war — will be 111 by the end of this month. But the strip still manages to find time for long narratives about the family’s even more distant past, which it gradually wearies of, then abruptly drops. It’s almost as though
Apartment 3-G, 3/10/11
Apartment 3-G stops time by having someone ask about Tommie’s love life — always good for a week or two of slack-jawed staring, and maybe a bonus couple days of weeping.
— Uncle Lumpy