Mark Trail, 7/15/14
“Call me Dirty, Mark, like my good friends do! You like me, Dirty, don’t you? I sure like it when you talk to me: Dirty. And I will be Dirty for you any time and any way you want!”
In Carson McCullers’ novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, people constantly confide their deepest feelings in a character who is utterly incapable of understanding or helping them in any way. Mark Trail is exactly like that, but with more elephants and no actual hunting.
One of the paradoxes of experimental psychology is that the paradigm for secondary reinforcement, which increases the frequency of a behavior, is identical to the paradigm for frustration, which decreases it. Both paradigms present stimuli associated with a primary reinforcer such as, oh, say, sexual release, but withhold the primary reinforcer itself. Archie, of course, has been dining out on that association for a long time – start with a stereotypically porny setup like oiling up your mostly-naked girlfriend by the pool in front of her angry but impotent father, but then cut to some dumb pratfall. Readers know it won’t deliver — it hasn’t for 72 years, and never will. I guess I’m just asking why anybody reads Archie, since it’s not porn.
It didn’t occur to me before seeing this panel today that Leroy and Loretta Lockhorn are never shown in casual daywear — check it out. Apparently in the absence of any sort of emotional connection they had been relying on deeply-ingrained but meaningless rituals to keep their lives from flying apart: parties, dress codes, weekly visits with Dr. Pullman, and other mechanisms to sustain their empty, endless charade of a marriage. It worked, too, right up until the instant Loretta said, “We’re not staying together for the sake of appearances — any more.”
Judge Parker, 7/15/14
OK, I’m posting this partly because the dialog doesn’t make any sense – it’s like the authors pasted in speech-bubbles left over from other strips so they could make a tee time:
“What do you know about the fashion business?”
“Lots! Remember Jules? He didn’t know anything about business!”
“We met at an institute design class! That has nothing to do with business either!”
“But Jules was into shoes! Are we even talking about business any more?”
“That’s what design classes are for … to spark a passion! For shoes! Or Jules! Certainly not business — or design, whatever that is!”
But I mostly want to express my irritation that we are probably headed for a do-over of one of the most grindingly dull Judge Parker stories of all time, justly ignored in Josh’s retrospective: Mopey Eurotrash Jules and Sam the Man with a Business Plan. Spoiler: Sam winds up with a million-dollar stake in Jules’ business just because.
— Uncle Lumpy