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Sherman’s Lagoon, 5/16/13

Lead characters Sherman the shark and Fillmore the sea turtle have been furloughed from Sherman’s Lagoon due to sequestration budget cuts, leaving Hawthorne the annoying crab and Ernest the generic fish to pick up the slack. Now when I type “Sherman’s Lagoon site:” (just before adding “” obviously), the Google helpfully completes it as “Sherman’s Lagoon site down”, so maybe Ernest made good on his implied threat to crash the servers?

Anyway, I’m not sure Sherman’s Lagoon will be improved by laying off its main characters, but a lot of other comic strips sure would: imagine 9 Chickweed Lane with Solange the cat free of the other characters’ insufferable yammering, or Mark Trail relaunched as a suave urban romance between Bill Ellis and Kelly Welly — stiff competition for Apartment 3-G, I bet!

It could happen: after all, Snuffy Smith elbowed Barney Google out of his own strip long ago, and Funky Winkerbean‘s eponymous “hero” isn’t much more than an overweight, depressed walk-on anymore. Likewise, Blondie has pretty much morphed into Dagwood, and Sally Forth into Ted.

Badass pirate-fighter Savarna could easily replace the Phantom, who is frankly turning out to be a real wuss. And who wouldn’t prefer reading Terrible Actress Mary Jane Parker to The Amazing Spider-Man? Rebooting Crankshaft as Pam and Jeff could show us the tender rebirth of marital love after the deaths of hated, intrusive parents. Crime-fighting gardener Carlos Alora in Charterstone Confidential could document the seedy underside of America’s retirement communities without some old bat second-guessing his every anguished, ethically dubious move. Helga the Wïdöw could inspire us with the daily struggles of a proud, resourceful woman against the murderous oppressive Viking patriarchy. And finally, clearing all the characters out of Crock (retitled Empty Sahara) would give us a welcome visual and mental break every day.

Hi and Lois, 5/16/13

Awe-struck by the miracle of Creation, Ditto Flagston professes his atheism.

Apartment 3-G, 5/16/13

The Governor of New York is a desperate stalker who talks like a six-year-old and doesn’t need to be in Albany for anything important, no siree. Lu Ann will be right down.

Judge Parker, 5/16/13

Ah, wars interest Sophie (and judging by her jacket she’s backing Team Mali) — but money interests Sam. And he seems pretty darn upset that sometimes it takes months to work out a ransom! Surely a smart lawyer should be able to fix that — think, Sam! There must be a way to accelerate ransom negotiation and delivery to increase hostage-inventory turns and drive up cash flow. Reverse-auction Web portal? Third-party escrow service? Exchange-tradable ransom futures?

All that seems like far, far too much effort to our Sam. No doubt he’ll just fall back on the strip’s traditions and have secretary Gloria Sanchez draft a letter: “Dear Kidnappers — I am Sam Driver of Spencer Farms, Parkerville ST. I have not yet received from you a large suitcase filled with cash, for no reason. Please correct this situation at once! Sincerely, Sam Driver, Esq. PS. My pal Randy Parker says hi and thanks you for his cash.”

“Fedex that tonight, Gloria. Phew, that was a lot of work — Hey Abby, is dinner on yet, or do I have time for another nip of that Shiraz?”

— Uncle Lumpy