Slylock Fox, 9/2/13
Despite his unnatural skin tone, I’ve more or less accepted Count Weirdly as one of Planet Slylock’s few remaining humans. But his “cousin” Creepy seems significantly genetically divergent, and not just in superficial areas like coloring. Was Weirdly performing illegal genetic experiments not just on the animals that ended up rising up to seize control of the planet, but on his own kin? Or does he grow mutated clones of himself in rows of ghastly tanks, deep beneath his castle-lair? Creepy might suffer from physical abnormalities, but his unnaturally large head and today’s little drama implies that he may actually benefit from enhanced intelligence: he’s already packed and ready to get out of town before yet another classically pointless Weirdly caper ends in failure. “High five, cuz, we did it! I, uh, gotta go.”
The huge majority of comic strips exist in “comic strip time,” in which their characters all remain the same age relative to each other for years or decades and unmoored in absolute time, which gives rise to unsettling results like Ted Forth being the same age as my dad when I was a kid but then wearing a Sonic Youth t-shirt several decades later. You also have strips like Doonesbury and pre-time-freeze For Better Or For Worse in which characters would age a year for every calendar year of real time.
Then you have the strips that go through a sort of comics punctuated equilibrium, with long periods of stasis and then sudden leaps forwards. The most famous example of this is of course Funky Winkerbean and its various time jumps, but Luann seems to be in this boat as well. Luann was in junior high for the first 14 years or so of the strip’s existence, then was suddenly aged into high school in 1999. Now, another 14 years later, we learn that she’s actually starting her senior year. The question is: are we ready for a world where Luann is in college? Am I? Are you? Is she? I’m not sure any of us are.
Meanwhile, one strip that has zero continuity or aging or narrative advancement for its characters is Momma, which is why today’s installment is especially bizarre, seeing as it contains a major life change for one of its characters and nothing that could be even vaguely construed as a “joke.” Will Momma suddenly be transformed into MaryLou, That Dizzy Dame Of The Skies, now that strip management has finally looked at the results of the 1973 focus group showing that flight attendants are more appealing to audiences than controlling, passive-aggressive mothers and their unlikeable children?