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Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 7/31/11

Today’s Snuffy Smith demonstrates how complicated it can be using visual signifiers in a strip that’s nearly a century old and that takes place in some difficult-to-pin-down time and place. Obviously the joke here is that our rustic hillbillies are living a lifestyle that very modern environmental and local-food advocates would endorse. And yet the only way the strip can depict someone as a fancy city-dwelling type is to dress them up in clothes that seem to date from roughly the Coolidge Administration, a time during which a flatlander would be much more likely to head up into the hills looking for precious coal to strip mine, not researching sustainable agriculture. Of course, it’s wholly possible that there’s a Brooklyn subculture of young lefty hipsters for whom bow ties, suspenders, and straw hats are the height of fashion, so maybe I’m just not with it enough to get what’s happening here.

As a side note, I’m pretty impressed that the strip managed to sneak in a joke about mule farts in the middle there.

Mary Worth, 7/31/11

I love that Mary has to consciously remind herself not to stiff the waitress on the tip. “Normally I assume that the trampy young women the waitressing lifestyle attracts just spend all their free cash on prophylactics and reefer, so I leave them nothing. But this one gets the full 10 percent!”

Phantom, 7/31/11

High-tech superhero lairs sure seemed a lot cooler before the Internet, didn’t they? It’s not as exciting to see the Phantom get a crucial piece of information from a Google News alert.