Six Chix, 2/1/17
I’ve always been fascinated by how cultural images become detached from their origins and eventually become just bits of iconic flotsam in our collective consciousness. Like, skeletons have been associated with death for most of human history, for obvious reasons, but then in the West we started putting a hooded cloak on our skeletal death-figure, and then we started forgetting that our skeletal death-figure had a full body beneath that cloak, as the skull-face faded out of his representation. So that’s how we get cartoons like this, where a dentist is staring into the empty void where a face should be, not seeing flesh or a skull or even the back of a hood, just an infinitely dark emptiness that goes on forever, a yawning portal into the not-life that awaits us after our demise. The dentist seems remarkably unfazed by it, to be honest! Dentists have seen some shit, man.
There are plenty of Pluggers panels that demonstrate that pluggers feel all the sorts of anxieties the rest of us do, from the financial to the familial to the creeping existential. I have to assume, then, that at some point in this joke’s history, the line was about “plugger performance anxiety.” Get it? Because usually that phrase involves inability to get an erection, but here it’s about peeing in a cup, because pluggers gave up on sex long ago. While usually I endorse complete freedom of expression in the comics, I can’t say I regret an editorial decision that spared innocent newspaper-reading Americans everywhere from thinking about the boners that these downwardly mobile exurban beast-men may or may not have.