The newspaper comic strip is an art form with a dilemma: each strip must, to a certain extent, stand on its own; but unless it’s a pure gag-a-day strip like the Far Side, it must also make use of a library of tropes, running gags, plots, and character elements to round out its world and live up to its full potential. But in doing so it risks confusing or alienating new readers. For instance, we all know that today’s strip is just the typical Crankshaft Has Built A Fire That Has Gotten Out Of Control gag that this strip loves, layered over with the usual inexplicable Funkyverse melancholy, but can you imagine if this were the first Crankshaft you ever read? “Oh my God!” you’d think. “That poor family! Their house is burning down! Maybe a loved one is trapped inside! Look at their stricken faces — they have nowhere else to go, and it’s so cold out!” Tomorrow’s inevitable cranky old man joke would leave you very confused indeed.
Beetle Bailey, 1/8/16
You know, even when laws change, it takes a long time for people’s attitudes about themselves to follow suit. In other words, even though Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed more than four years ago, Sgt. Snorkel is going to have to drink a lot of beer before he can really enjoy himself at this leather bar.
Rex Morgan, M.D., 1/8/16
No need to look so alarmed, Morgans! Welton Green may not be comfortable with sociopathic students, but it has no policy banning narcissists.