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Hagar the Horrible and Wizard of Id, 12/15/15

Most comic strips begin their existence as the singular creation of an artist or artist-writer pair; but once it runs for long enough, it becomes an institution, and often hired hands are brought in to do the actual day-to-day work on the strip. The personnel decisions that happen behind the scenes — at Walker-Browne Amalgamated Humor Industries LLC, say, or the lesser known Parker Hart & Associated Anachronistic Whimsy Professionals responsible for the unholy B.C.-Wizard of Id-Crock trinity — are opaque to us, and all we’re left with, if we’re regular comics readers, is the occasional disquieting realization that “the strip looks different.” Which is a long way of saying that Hagar the Horrible and Wizard of Id look different to me this week. Is this true for anyone else? Anyone? At least we can take solace in the evidence that the writing of the strips is staying true to their original vision: to put references to contemporary issues in imagined versions of our brutish past, in order to show that our present remains just as violent beneath its thin veneer of civilization.

Dennis the Menace, 12/15/15

Dennis is self-aware enough to know that he’s constitutionally incapable of pleasing a monotheistic God who judges humans against some absolute morality, or even of currying favor with a watered-down version like Santa. He’ll be happy to make a deal with a much older form of folk spirit, one with an agenda at once more opaque and easier to accommodate. The tooth fairy doesn’t care if you’ve been bad or good; the tooth fairy operates on a plane entirely removed from whatever ethical system you use to define those terms. The tooth fairy just wants your teeth.