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I am in the midst of packing up my entire life for my impending move to California, and I have a sad story to tell. Earlier this year, a faithful reader asked for my mailing address and promised to send me a mysterious art project. Several weeks later, a box appeared at my house, literally hours before I was to leave on a trip, and rather than opening it, I stuck it in our storage room downstairs, intending to check it out later. Did I remember to do so when I got home? Dear reader, I did not.

This box was rediscovered just as we were figuring out what was in every room in our house to see what we can keep and what we need to give away. And then I rediscovered the box, and opened it, and … oh my. It was a Spider-Man themed work of art called “Cage of Loneliness,” based on this strip, and it was amazing, and sadly because we are so space-constrained in our new place (HEY GUYS THE LOS ANGELES RENTAL MARKET IS VERY EXPENSIVE WHO KNEW) it cannot make the voyage with us. I know of a local Curmudgeon-friendly home for it, though, so it will be in good hands. But! Then, to compound my error, I could not find the email of the person who sent it to me in the first place! And so, I now thank them publicly, if anonymously, and ask them to take a bow, and email me with their particulars and I’ll even post a link to the page or project of their choice!

AT ANY RATE. Among the packing I’ve ALSO been keeping an eye on your hilarious comments, and though it was difficult I have selected this one as best:

Interesting kid. He loves football, but differently from his dad. While his dad would prefer to yell at the players to relieve some of the stress and powerlessness in his own life, this kid would rather try to hit other people as hard as he can until he hears a wet crunch. Same game, different ways of loving it. Interesting.” –Chareth Cutestory

These runners up are also hilarious!

“What does it mean when Heathcliff sticks a fork in a shark? It means he’s sick and tired of all the hype surrounding ‘Shark Week’ and is sending the network suits a message that ‘Shark Week’ is done. Hopefully next year they will replace it with a theme week that is newer, hipper, and more in tune to what the people want: ‘GARBAGE APE WEEK.'” –gelded wildebeeste

“Usually Funky Winkerbean is just a steaming pile… but this one had a chance to approach being a joke. All it would take would be the person we’ll call The Neck in the last panel saying ‘Talk to the talent again and you’re out of here.'” –Dr. Mabuse

“Solution two: Slylock is counting himself as a thief as well as a platypus, because he charged an exorbitant fee, plus airfare and lodging, to come to Australia to ‘work’, under the guise of providing ‘Specialized Investigation’ services to these local rubes who have never ventured beyond the border of their province. He suspects the platypus as well because the platypus is always brought up as a ‘wacky’ Australian wildlife example and because it’s really hard to work the Coriolis Effect into a single panel cartoon about Australia even though that was your original idea.” –Mikey

“Dennis isn’t really scolding Mr. Wilson so much as he is fascinated by him. ‘All you ever do is nap or eat cookies… You… you can DO that?’ It looks as though the young lad has just had his eyes opened to the possibility of a new decadent lifestyle, and I expect his future actions to become extremely menacing, as he does whatever it takes to keep up a supply of those sweet, sweet chocolate chips and pillows.” –Brad

“‘Dumpty’s Big Fall’ is how the media refers to the scandal that erupted after the it was discovered that the band uses pre-recorded backing tracks at their live shows. Their instruments aren’t even plugged in!” –Guts Dozier

“So now we know where Heathcliff gets all his money for fish and unicycles and hot-air balloons: on weekends he shills for the American Egg Board with his band, playing songs about how HDL cholesterol is actually good for you and might even reduce the chance of coronary problems.” –pugfuggly

“This sequence is one of the most beautifully meta-level Judge Parker conversations ever! Sam’s actual law practice has been abstracted away and the readers have been invited to assume that it was churning along in the background, ready to spit out a new plot development if needed. Sam handles the California winery’s legal needs when Trudi’s jutting proves incapable of smoothing out their business problems (is Sam even bar admitted in California? Who cares!), handles real estate and basic contract work for Rocky Ledge while giving him informal marriage advice, and ignores every rule of legal ethics to leap to the assistance of a criminal defendant when Randy can’t handle the first and only court session he’s held as the new Judge Parker. He also had vague but grandiose plans to shift his entire practice to boutique environmental law in order to facilitate sustainable industry on the advice of his pre-teen adopted daughter.

But now, we learn (apparently at the same moment that Sam does as well) that he has no clients and no real work. Sam looks rather stunned to learn that his entire law practice has been a fiction and he does nothing professionally except collect obscene fees for performing odd jobs and mismanaging Abbey’s investments.

And remember hiring Steve Shannon? Steve agreed to work essentially without regular pay until he had ‘proven’ himself to Sam, despite caring for his sick and elderly mother and dealing with his own handicap and crippling PTSD? Has Steve been busily stealing all of Sam’s old, anonymous clients over the last few years by providing the prompt, courteous, and legally impeccable services that they never received from Driver & Parker and now feels himself ready to abandon his nominal boss, or has he just been boffing Gloria on Sam’s desk all day for the last few years and relying on his military pension and health benefits to keep up? I guess that’s the part of JAG work that they don’t tell you about…

And the great thing about all of this is that Sam looks precisely as confused about these questions as we are. ‘You mean that all this time while I was being stalked by murderous strippers in Phoenix and getting implausible deals from murderous pot growers and Hollywood producers, no one was actually running my practice? I thought we had just abstracted the legal stuff out of this comic to focus on people giving me money and how amazing retired Judge Alan Parker actually is. No one told me that unless I practiced law on panel, it didn’t happen!’ I look forward to the personal crisis of identity and self-worth that Sam is about to suffer as he wonders why he bothered with Harvard Law instead of art school and finds that his evening bottle of wine is no longer enough to keep at bay the terrible shallowness and graveyard of wasted potential that his life has somehow become.

And you may find yourself living in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, and you may ask yourself, well — how did I get here?” –Master Softheart


so career

much crisis

wow” –Chyron HR

“So is this fantasy sequence running parallel to events that are actually happening, or is Les just furtively masturbating on set?” –Bunivasal

“Looks like the sequel to Blackfish is going to have a lot more awkward flirting and, improbably, be even more disturbing and depressing.” –Shoe Substitutes

“Is Pluggers even TRYING to be funny? Or are they just randomly quoting the owners’ manual from their car?” –Briane Pagel

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