Coming up at 11, “Crankshaft’s crimes against humanity: A look back”
Mary Worth, 3/21/13
Let me tell you a story about one of the origins of this blog. One day in 2002, I moved to Baltimore, and as was the style at the time, I subscribed to the print version of the local newspaper, the Baltimore Sun. In 2002 the Sun had four glorious pages of comics, among which were all the continuity strips that are my current mainstays. Mary Worth was in the midst of a storyline about balding crank Smitty Smedlap, who hated fish (or, as he called it, “feesh”) and didn’t care who knew it. When I first tuned in October of 2002, he was eating with Mary (and maybe some other people?) at the Bum Boat and complaining about its feesh-based menu. This went on for weeks. Everyone else just sat around uncomfortably, letting him rant. Was it supposed to be awkward? Were the strip writers aware of how socially aggravating Smitty was? I couldn’t tell, and I was riveted. Thus, whenever we hit an awkward meal in Mary Worth, I’m full of nostalgia and my love for the strip — for the whole genre — is renewed.
I’m particularly enjoying Mary and Tom’s facial expressions as they sit and watch the fun. Mary seems to be keeping her face deliberately neutral — she abhors conflict, of course, but she also enjoys the quick access to backstory this argument is giving her. Tom, meanwhile, looks increasingly agitated that he’ll be found out at as man who divorced his wife and subsequently torn limb from limb by the Kinleys, who will be relieved to at last have a common enemy.
“Coming up next on Channel 12 Action News: Hated local creep Ed Crankshaft has immobilized himself in an unprotected public space! 12 On Your Side reporter Harv Postman will give you information on angry mob staging points, where pitchforks and torches will be available, after these messages.”
Really, if every Spider-Man plot were about Spider-Man meeting other, cooler superheroes and being humiliated by how much better their powers were than his, I would be a happy guy.