The Advanced Archive found 68 posts!

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Funky Winkerbean, 8/28/21

“Wait, you don’t have cancer? And here I thought you were coming on to me, you little tease!”

Judge Parker, 8/28/21

A Christmas Reunion

April watched her sigh dissolve in the icy air. The blur of life on the run, the breakup, all led her back here, to Cavelton. Her Dad needed her: the family business was on the rocks. Just one more job, he said, for Abby. Good money, done by Christmas, then Mallorca.

She crossed the square past the carolers, careful to stay within sightlines from the bank roof. In position on the Courthouse steps, right on time. Distract the mayor, five seconds tops, then run with the crowd.

The doors opened to reveal … Randy? But not the cringing loser she had abandoned: this man strode confidently, head high— like a Judge. Shocked and excited, she glanced up and purred, “Hey, you.” “April? Is it really you?” he replied, taking her hands just as the bullet from Norton’s rifle tore through his lung. “Bastard!” April thought, “Mallorca, my ass!”

Kneeling beside Randy on the now empty steps, she heard him whisper, “This … this is where we belong … together!” They embraced for the last time, as the Christmas music swelled and snow began to fall.

Mary Worth, 8/28/21

Where duels were illegal, duellists often settled their scores on boundary-river sandbars of uncertain jurisdiction. This is the precedent for Wilbur and Libby duking it out in the litter box.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 8/28/21

The Morgans return to their roots—getting free stuff, and deciding which free stuff they prefer to the other free stuff they get.

Oh, hi! I’m sitting in through Monday, September 6, while Josh visits friends and family back East. Reach me at with any site or comment issues.

Be sure to alert me if you have trouble reading this in Josh’s new ultra-convenient newsletter format—I’m new to it, and different platforms/email clients treat html differently.

— Uncle Lumpy

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Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 8/26/21

I’m a big believer that most comic-strip level gags should include exactly the amount of information they need to make the joke work and no more, which is why it drives me up the wall that this strip includes the name of Loweezy’s sister. It would be bad enough that she just named her sister (whom we’ve never see in the strip) for no reason, since it creates the nagging suspicion that this sister, as opposed to some other sister, is important to make the punchline work for some reason. But then they go and name her “Zoney!” “Loweezy” is the post-apocalyptic Hootin’ Holler newspeak for “Louisa,” but what the hell is “Zoney” derived from? Arizona? Does the vague memory of distant Arizona live on in Holler-adjacent onomastics? Gah, the fact that they added this name to her word balloon means that we ended up with two exclamation points alone on their own line! GAH!!!

Blondie, 8/26/21

One has to wonder who the “I” in Dagwood’s proposed social media clickbait headline is intended to be. It’s clearly not Dagwood, who is the star of the video. In fact, one wonders who’s filming this obviously staged scene in the first place, and what sad benefits Dagwood promised them for helping launch him to TikTok stardom.

Funky Winkerbean, 8/26/21

Oh, wow, sorry I said yesterday that this Funky Winkerbean development was going to be about sex, when in fact it’s about the most obvious plot twist anyone could imagine. Don’t worry, thought: Les still had an orgasm.

Mary Worth, 8/26/21




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Mary Worth, 8/24/21

Well, Libby sure didn’t ask for this war, but it seems she is determined to win it. We have every confidence that she will, of course. Mostly, I’m curious where Estelle is in all this. I think we can all agree that her defense of her cat has been somewhat half-hearted. Still, take a look at her facial expression as she goes to town on that rib:

Either she’s very pleased at the thought of two living beings fighting over her, or she’s glad that Libby will do what she can’t bring herself to do (expel Wilbur from her house, and her life, forever). I will also note that she has really filled that wine glass up to the rim, so clearly she’s expecting quite a show tonight.

Crock, 8/24/21

The sartorial choices of long-established Crock characters have at least some basis in reality: Maggot is wearing a miscolored but otherwise recognizable version of the kepi worn by members of the French Foreign Legion, while Grossie is similarly wearing a basically correct version of a niqab (a form of dress actually banned in Algeria today, but never mind that). But things get more dire when the strip needs to introduce somebody new. Like this lady, who’s coming to collect charity items: she’s a … witch? She’s wearing a witch’s hat? But she’s collecting stuff for charity, so she’s a good witch? I guess?

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Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 8/20/21

The residents Hootin’ Holler were vaguely aware that some catastrophe had caused the collapse of the flatlanders’ Newnited States government, but in truth they had been isolated so long that it made little difference when they were cut off from the outside world altogether. But the older folks did have some poignant and unsettling moments, like when they realized that their entertainers were now doing performances based on their vague memory of an earlier generation of entertainers who were in turn imitating someone else who had been forgotten entirely.

Crankshaft, 8/20/21

As if living in a city devastated by war weren’t bad enough, imagine how awful it must feel to pick through the shattered ruins of your home, looking for prized possessions or maybe your even your loved ones, and knowing that somewhere, thousands of miles away, Crankshaft is doing wordplay about it.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 8/20/21

“Oh yeah. I’m going to have to invite Buck, aren’t I? I can’t even remember if he and I have ever met in this strip, but this is a Rex Morgan plot so I guess I have to pretend I find him tolerable or interesting.”

Mary Worth, 8/20/21






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Six Chix, 8/19/21

Only I have the guts to say it: this is the worst couch anyone has ever seen in the comics. At first glance it looks kind of like it might be a futon, which would make its overall low-to-the-floor-ness make sense, but, no, check out the feet and the arm rest at our left! It’s a regular couch, a terrible, terrible regular couch, just couple inches off the floor, seemingly only having an arm on one end. It’s weird! It’s weird and bad and I don’t like it! It’s honestly worse than this lady’s flesh-eating monster-slippers or whatever they are!

Mary Worth, 8/19/21

You know what’s good, though? You know what’s not bad at all? Wilbur’s about to get straight up murdered by a cat, and everyone — the cops, animal control, his daughter, everyone — is gonne hear why and be like “Oh, yeah, he had it coming.”

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Mary Worth, 8/17/21

Ha ha, remember that time Wilbur got drunk and obnoxious on a double date with his Estelle and his ex and his ex’s new hot young boyfriend, and she dumped him but he and Mary bullied her into taking him back? Well, you’d think he’d have taken the romantic lesson that he’s on thin ice and should probably stop being an asshole, but I guess instead the lesson he learned was “I can be an asshole and Estelle doesn’t have other options and will still never leave me,” because here he is, angrily yelling at her cat for stealing his spotlight on Piano Date Night.

Beetle Bailey, 8/17/21

I genuinely love that Beetle Bailey, despite being in no actual physical danger, has gone “method” during this war game and decided that, if he were captured by an enemy unit, he would absolutely not do the thing where he only tells them his name, rank, and serial number, but instead would lead them back to his command post. (This is assuming, of course, that what were seeing is the sort of military training exercise where participants are split into “blue” and “red” teams, and not an actual civil war.)

Crankshaft, 8/17/21

I’m not sure Crankshaft has actual fans, but for regular readers like myself, the final panel of today’s strip, in which Crankshaft is emotionally ground down by his failing body and intrusive thoughts about his rapidly approaching death, is definitely “fan service!”

Gil Thorp, 8/17/21

Oh no! Carter has been ambushed and dragged before a secret meeting of the Council of the Red Polo Shirts! He will be shamed as the Council ritually strips him of his own red polo shirt, right before he’s executed for golfcrime.

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Mary Worth, 8/16/21

Oh, snap! Did Drew get emotional closure on the whole getting-dumped-by-Ashlee situation? Nope! Did we ever really find out why Ashlee skipped town, exactly? Not really! But too bad, we’ve spent all the time we can on Drew on his problems, because it’s been way too long since we spent some time on Wilbur motherfucking Weston and all his problems! Now, I know from this strip it looks like Wilbur doesn’t have any problems. Honestly, it looks like he doesn’t have a care in the world! But believe me, folks: this is a man with some problems, and we’re going to hear about them in gruesome detail.

Funky Winkerbean, 8/16/21

I’m not sure which possibility suggested by this strip is more hilarious to me: that the climactic “Les and Lisa discuss the disposal of Lisa’s cremains” scene of Lisa’s Story: The Movie was filmed on a tiny set in front of a greenscreen, or that they built that little bench as “fun” prop for this hot Hollywood party, to remind the cast and crew what it’s all really about (it’s about how Lisa died of cancer, and her husband is and has been extremely noble about it).

Beetle Bailey, 8/16/21

Like most Americans, I’m into gritty, “edgy” reboots of existing intellectual property. So obviously I was deeply disappointed that today’s Beetle Bailey didn’t pay off on the promise of the first panel, which implied that we’d see a story where the denizens of Camp Swampy wonder if Beetle Bailey committed suicide.

Gil Thorp, 8/16/21


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Daddy Daze, 8/11/21

I think we’re all well aware that the actual cat poster caption is “Hang In There, Baby,” which led to me read this strip and immediately wonder “Hmm, is the actual ‘Hang In There, Baby’ poster copyrighted, and is the copyright holder extremely litigious?” This in turn led me to the Wikipedia article about the poster, which was a whole journey, informing me that:

  • The photographer was Victor Baldwin, who had previous been best known for taking pics of Rat Pack celebs
  • The original version was this, a photo I was totally unfamiliar with
  • It was immediately ripped off and knockoff versions with different pictures proliferated, which explains why I was unfamiliar with the original
  • Baldwin sued the makers of all the knockoffs he could find, just on principle, almost never asking for more than his own court costs being covered, which I guess answered my original question
  • The first person to buy the poster was Meredith Wilson, composer of The Music Man
  • People sent copies of the poster to Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon during their respective scandals in the ’70s, urging them to hang on to office (it didn’t work)
  • “Victor Baldwin made approximately $700,000 from sales of the posters, much of which went to settle his divorce, which he was apparently happy to spend it on”
  • Based on their respective “See also” sections, Wikipedia apparently considers “Hang In There, Baby”‘s U.K. equivalent to be a a poster featuring a tennis player’s naked ass, based only on the fact that they were both wildly popular posters in the 1970s

Anyway! Comics can be truly educational, in the sense that they frequently irritate me into learning things despite myself.

Mary Worth, 8/11/21

Mary is starting to go through her highly regimented Meddle Protocol! Stage 1: Determine if the subject is capable of recognizing basic behavioral patterns!

Marvin, 8/11/21

JUNE 2021: Hmm, all the characters in Marvin are getting a little stale. Mostly they just are angry at Marvin all time time, and obviously you can’t blame them, but it gets old. What if we introduce a new — and topical — one: an Alex home assistant?

AUGUST 2021: We regret to inform you that the Alexa home assistant now mostly just gets angry at Marvin all the time.

Family Circus, 8/11/21

A fun fact about the Grand Canyon is that Colorado City, which is in the small sliver of Arizona north of the Grand Canyon, was for a long time a hotbed of rebel Mormon polygamists precisely because the state line protected them from Utah authorities and the Grand Canyon protected them from Arizona authorities, just putting that out there Billy

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Gil Thorp, 8/10/21

I’ve been making lots of jokes about not being able to understand any of the golf lingo in Gil Thorp, but guess what: I’ve been carefully analyzing these strips, trying to squeeze as much meaning out of them as my feeble non-golfing brain can understand, and with today’s strip I have cracked the code: Hendricks is a golf scammer! Specifically, he’s much better at golf than his handicap would indicate, hitting some great shots and then deliberately hitting terrible ones to lull everyone into a false sense of complacency (and keeping his handicap artificially high, or possibly low, however it works in golf). Anyway, I feel a little embarrassed to be as excited as I am about figuring this out, but at least I’m not excited about figuring out how much a golf ball costs after crawling around some field to find it.

Mary Worth, 8/10/21

Remember the time Mary, Jeff’s ostensible girlfriend, picked up a dude at his own mother’s funeral and he never noticed? Remember the time she spent an erotically charged week in New York with a handsome Broadway actor and he never noticed? Drew’s take on his dad’s romantic ineptitude checks out, is what I’m saying. At least he’ll get over it fast when Mary finally does finally leave him, right? (No, absolutely not, he will whine about it endlessly.)

Curtis, 8/10/21

All social media platforms, Tomaura? Even LinkedIn? I don’t think a video of Curtis getting mauled by a polar bear is going to do very good numbers on LinkedIn.

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Crankshaft, 8/9/21

You know, after many years in the comics-mocking biz, you get somewhat inured to the foibles of the daily strips. That’s why it’s good to get a fresh perspective sometimes, like when my wife saw this Crankshaft over my shoulder and said, in tones of increasing incredulity, “Wait, is that the joke? There’s no more to it? Like, there’s not another panel? He just said the wrong word? That’s the joke?” Yes! That is, in fact, the joke. But the thing that makes this a character-driven comic strip is how angry he looks while he says it, for no good reason. That’s our Crankshaft! He’s old, dumb, and mean!

Funky Winkerbean, 8/9/21

At least Crankshaft has a joke, though! Funky Winkerbean is a more story-driven strip, but it really is supposed to have punchlines. Maybe … something from Mason about “unwrapping” some surprise? Never thought I’d be over here demanding a smirk-accompanied sub-pun from Funky Winkerbean, but now I realize that’s the base level of effort I expect from the Funkyverse strips.

Mary Worth, 8/9/21

Mary Worth, of course, doesn’t need anything so vulgar as a “joke” or a “punchline” to be the most hilarious comic strip in the paper. Not sure what’s funnier: that Drew feels compelled to compliment Mary’s cooking even though he wasn’t able to tell exactly what kind of spherical starch blobs accompanied the lamb (“probably they’re … root vegetables? of some kind?”) or that Dr. Jeff is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice — using his highly trained surgeon’s hands to wash the dishes like he’s the help — just to make sure his son gets meddled properly.

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Mary Worth, 8/6/21

One of my favorite things in Mary Worth is when we cut away from the main action of the current plot to other characters, commenting cattily on the main action of the current plot. It’s more fun if the characters in the main plot are dipshits who deserve to be made fun of and, guess what, it’s Mary Worth so they almost always are. Dr. Drew is no Wilbur, but he’s dopey enough that I really enjoy Mary’s “They seemed to be very different people,” which if you’ve read enough Mary Worth like I have you immediately recognize as simultaneously one of the most savage and cutting things anybody has ever said but also not something explicit enough that she’s going to have to walk it back like Jeff will when Drew inevitably tracks Ashlee down and theatrically refuses to even consider a prenup.

Shoe, 8/6/21

This isn’t the first time I’ve said this, but I have boundless respect for the fact that the Shoe artistic team finds new ways every day to depict bird-men who are just crushingly depressed. Look at the Perfesser in that second panel! That’s not just a man (a bird-man, I guess) who’s being berated by his boss; that’s a man who’s been berated by his boss over and over again and it’s brought him into a profoundly dark mindset. I sincerely hope the artist is working from a place of boundless empathy for this character, but doesn’t find him too relatable, if you follow me!

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Funky Winkerbean, 8/2/21

“Hey,” you almost certainly are not thinking, “Wasn’t Mason trying to make a Lisa’s Story movie the right way, and they had gotten into filming but then there was a fire that burned huge swaths of Los Angeles to the ground? Whatever happened with that? Did they cancel the production because it’s so obviously cursed?” Sadly, they apparently continued to spit in the face of the gods and are determined to see this thing out to the end, and now they’re having a big-time Hollywood “wrap party”! Cayla has once again proved herself an unworthy partner to Les because the prospect of going to a fun, elite event is filling her with excitement, instead of the crushing ennui that is the only acceptable emotion to experience about anything in the Funkyverse.

Dick Tracy, 8/2/21

Look, actually making comics might not be very lucrative, but making them into games or collecting them is another story. I’m beginning to think this Dick Tracy storyline is a plea to comics creators to grasp the importance of ancillary revenue streams before it’s too late.

Mary Worth, 8/2/21

I know we’re supposed to think that Drew is thinking of his ex while trying and failing to concentrate on some poor doomed patient’s chart, but I for one very much hope that he’s walking around with a clipboard holding an 8 1/2 by 11 headshot of Ashlee — exactly the image in his thought balloon — and nothing else.

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The Phantom, 7/28/21

Given how completely superhero franchises have come to dominate pop culture, it’s kind of amazing to think about how relatively recent they are as a concept! For instance, the Phantom, who was created in 1936 — recently enough that he’s not even in the public domain! — is considered the transitional figure between superheroes and the pulp heroes of the previous generation; he was the first such heroic figure to wear the now-standard skintight costume, and the first wear a mask that somehow renders his pupils invisible. My point is that he’s important historically, and is both of our time and of the past, and it may sound old-fashioned when he starts quips with “To whom it may concern,” but that’s just how a generation much more accustomed to writing formal letters talked, okay?

Beetle Bailey, 7/28/21

Folks, it’s come to our attention that certain newspaper comic strips are getting unpleasantly horny. Well, at Walker-Browne Amalgamated Humor Industries LLC, we’re working hard to combat that trend, by establishing that all of our characters are terrified of sexual arousal, and also are possibly under 13 years year old. You’re welcome, America!

Mary Worth, 7/28/21

Speaking of removing any temptations to horniness, it looks like Ashlee’s big epiphany wasn’t that Drew is a kindhearted person who she could treat as a real partner, not just a mark, but that Drew is a kindhearted person who a strumpet like her doesn’t deserve. So she’s just going to slink off into the sunset, leaving Drew to find the sort of nice upper-class girl that he should be paired with Shauna, I guess?

Rex Morgan, M.D., 7/28/21

“That would be charming and funny in comic strip form, wouldn’t it? Those are definitely qualities you wouldn’t see here, so I’m just going to stare out at the readers all slack-jawed.”

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Mary Worth, 7/25/21

I guess, based on the quote from [checks Wikipedia] American philosopher Irwin Edman, that this is going to be the moment when Ashlee finally abandons her materialistic ways and loves Drew for who he is, rather than what he can buy her. But I dearly want her to explode in a jealous rage instead, shouting “I don’t care if she’s eight years old, no little bitch is going to get her hands on my man! Do you think he’s gonna Paypal you five grand, you skank? One hot coffee to the face, coming right up!”

Family Circus, 7/25/21

Oh, these “poor” little kids went on to do all sorts of amazing things, Billy — from serving in the military to making sweet music or beautiful art to working honest trades or even travelling into space. But the important thing to keep in mind is that no matter what they did in life, they’re all dead now, just like the school that nurtured them and was once full of life is now an empty ruin. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

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Mary Worth, 7/20/21

Folks, I feel like this is one of those Mary Worth image pairs that will go down in infamy. Just admire the contrast between base, trashy Ashlee, sourly painting her toes while consumed with thoughts of jealousy and her grift not panning out, and Drew, nobly applying CPR (?) with his eyes closed (???) while two other doctors or nurses or definitely scrub-wearing people of some kind frown meaningfully at him from several feet away. And well might they frown! That person on the bed is clearly dead and has bene for some time. This is a different kind of drama indeed, a drama where Drew fucks up and kills someone, again.

Funky Winkerbean, 7/20/21

Phil … Phil, you faked your death. You faked your death! Faking your death is definitely a kind of hoax, man.

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Marvin, 7/19/21

Almost ten years ago, my audiologist told me something that has really stuck with me: studies have shown that when someone gets a hearing aid, it noticeably improves their relationship with their spouse or partner, even if the hearing aid itself is ineffective. It turns out that, when your partner can’t hear you very well and always makes you repeat yourself or just tunes you out, that’s a constant stressor on a relationship, and just the fact that your partner tries to improve the situation often changes how you feel about them for the better. And because hearing loss is often (though not always!) associated with aging, opening a conversation about it can be very fraught! This is mostly to say that nobody in Marvin would ever get a hearing aid out of consideration for their spouse, because they’ve repeatedly shown that they all hate one another.

Funky Winkerbean, 7/19/21

Ha ha, holy crap, Phil Holt faked his death! Gotta admit, just when you think Funky Winkerbean has explored all the depressing ways death can affect us, it comes up with a new one (i.e., sometimes people who you think are dead really aren’t, and often they’re real assholes so it’s kind of a shame). Anyway, since we’ve already seen Phil as a ghost, talking to dead ghost Lisa about how Darrin auctioned off the valuable comic book covers Holt left Darrin in his will for charity, it seems like we’re going to learn some shocking truths about the theology of the Funkyverse afterlife, as well as some legal stuff about whether you can get back the stuff you leave people in your will if you fake your death.

Mary Worth, 7/19/21

We’ve all been thinking that Drew will be easily scammed by Ashlee because he’ll just automatically agree to whatever outrageous request he makes of her. But we weren’t counting on the layer of protection offered by his goldfish-like brain, which has been distracted from his bold promise to Ashlee by whatever shiny object he encountered next. I’m talking about a literal shiny object, possibly his watch. “Oh, hey, my watch is back!” he’ll say, noticing it on his wrist. “I wonder how that happened!”

Blondie, 7/19/21

You ever notice how young people today don’t appreciate proper grooming and instead like it when you look like a slob? It’s disgusting and I personally blame this corruption of the young on [checks notes] 57-year-old actor Brad Pitt.

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Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 7/16/21

Wow, I’m not sure if we’ve ever seen a Snuffy Smith before where Jughaid has doffed his coonskin hat, revealing his horrifyingly lumpy and be-stubbled noggin. I was thinking about searching my archive for previous examples, but then I realized that if I found them, I’d just have to look at more pictures of his weird, gross head. No thanks!!!

Mary Worth, 7/16/21

Wait, hold up, Drew just got to be a doctor because he was born a doctor’s son? Like, he didn’t have to go to … med school, or anything? This explains a lot, actually.

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Mary Worth, 7/14/21

It looks like Ashlee is really learning some important lessons here. Physical objects, like watches, can have emotional resonance for their owners, which makes you feel bad about stealing them. But money? Money’s totally fungible. Who’s gonna care about money? Ashlee’s about to grift Drew out of a bunch of money, is my point.

Dennis the Menace, 7/14/21

I like that this panel sets up a fun little mystery (why is Dennis being driven somewhere by the Wilsons?) and then immediately solves it (they’re taking him to prison, where he’ll pay for his many crimes).

Hi and Lois, 7/14/21

“Hey, you know how our baby loves staring directly into the sun? Well, I know you said we shouldn’t just let her spend hours crawling around on the floor next to the giant picture window without any supervision, but hear me out on this better idea I just came up with.”

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Funky Winkerbean, 7/10/21

Hey, do you guys remember Phil Holt, who was (I guess?) a thinly veiled stand-in for Jack Kirby, and who Darrin met at a children’s party once, and then he died and left his valuable comics to Darrin, then took up residence in the same spectral hell-dimension that Lisa haunts? Well, he and Flash Freeman had some bad blood, which I guess is supposed to mirror some real-life comic book drama from the Good Old Days, but one of my constant positions is that I love newspaper comics and am extremely lukewarm on comic books, and that was true in 2004 when I started this blog and remains true today in 2021 when comic book franchises have swallowed all other media, so I refuse to do the research as to what the real-life analogue of the “subterranean” is. The point is that this is setting up the real identity of the figure who’s mysteriously interested in Flash and Ruby’s Hall of Fame induction. Do you think it’s supposed to be Phil Holt? Do you think that everyone involved in making Funky Winkerbean forgot that he was dead, or maybe assumed even ghosts needs some kind of pass to get on the Comic-Con floor?

Mary Worth, 7/10/21

Wait, hold on, I had always assumed that, what with her substance abuse problems and her legal issues, Shauna had in fact been the dumpee in her relationship with Drew, which led her to strut her way back into his life looking her best (?) in an attempt to win back his heart. But no, she left him! This is delicious. No wonder Ashlee is so determined to hold onto Drew, this is a guy who will absolutely stick around while you extract all the emotional and financial value from him that you can.

Gil Thorp, 7/10/21

Ugh, it’s a bad idea because the labor necessary to pull this off represents a huge new expense, and you wouldn’t make the money back because libraries don’t charge people! Honestly, Abel, I know this is (hopefully) the last day of it but it’s like you’ve forgotten what your entire deal in this storyline is.

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Mary Worth, 7/4/21

Not too much to say about Shauna vs. Ashlee: The Rumble At The Clinic For Drew’s Love except that the art here genuinely delights me. The dynamism of the hair-pulling in the middle row, the striking series of symmetries in the bottom row — it’s all great. I’m very sad that readers who don’t get the throwaway panels are missing out on the extreme Shauna closeup and quote from Yungblud (definitely an artist that I, a cool young person, had heard of and didn’t have to look up on Wikipedia to learn that he and Halsey broke up because they “worked better as friends”). Anyway, the next time this strip spends another six months on “dogs are good, actually,” we’ll have this moment to reflect back on and sustain us.

Hi and Lois, 7/4/21

I’m absolutely dying for an insight into whatever editorial process within King Features and/or Walker Brown Amalgamated Humor Industries LLC led to notorious local drunk Thirsty Thurston pointing to a box full of obviously illegal fireworks and calling them “legal fireworks.” Honestly the only way this would be funnier would be if Thirsty were doing an exaggerated wink at the reader when he said it, or if he blew several fingers off in the final panel.

Panel from Slylock Fox, 7/4/21

I’m not even going to bother with today’s dumb “mystery” and instead want to draw your attention to the Frankenstein-style monster looming in the bathroom doorway. It’s truly tragic that Count Weirdly, one of the last living humans in this animal-dominated world, is so lonely that he’s stitched together a shambolic golem out of the no doubt numerous human corpses available and animated it using forbidden science, just to have a friend.

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Funky Winkerbean, 7/3/21

You might recall (or you might not, because why would you, honestly) that “Flash Freeman” and “Ruby Lith” are two unjustly forgotten (fictional) figures from the Golden Age of Comics (or honestly maybe the Silver Age, I don’t have a firm grasp on either when the various Comics Ages were or where the current Funky Winkerbean timeline stands relative to actually historical dates) who came back to work at Batom Comics with Darrin and Mopey Pete. Anyway, the good new is that now they’re being recognized more and more, and honestly it’s an extremely Funky Winkerbean thing to make up a character out of whole cloth and then try to spin approbation they receive as a feel-good triumph-of-the-underdog story. It’s also an extremely Funky Winkerbean thing for that approbation to attract sinister, unwanted attention, so I assume that’s what’s going on here.

The Lockhorns, 7/3/21

Well, it looks like they finally imprisoned the Lockhorns in that plastic jail where they put Magneto in the first X-Men movie, just like I’ve been urging all this time!

Mary Worth, 7/3/21

Yes! That’s right, ladies! Don’t attack each other! FIGHT THE REAL ENEMY

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Six Chix, 7/1/21

Man, I don’t want to contradict this extremely confident-looking woman, but I’m not sure I’d refer to a wound that’s quite clearly gushing blood and radiating a crown of pain as a “teeny-weeny paper cut.” But maybe that’s the point? Maybe the point is that you too can overcome any injury, no matter how dire, simply by refusing to acknowledge it and focusing your mind totally on how you, and not your weak, contemptible body, shall be the ultimate victor. This will help you achieve true greatness, at least until you pass out from blood loss.

The Phantom, 7/1/21

Longtime readers of this blog and/or Phantom trufans remember Savarna, the vigilante anti-pirate sea captain with whom our hero had a flirtation during a stretch when the evil Chatu tricked the Ghost-Who-Is-Strictly-Monogamous into believing that his beloved wife was dead. Anyway, turns out she’s been imprisoned in Rhodia’s notorious Gravelines prison for a little light assassination of Rhodian military leaders, so the Phantom’s off to rescue her! You might remember Gravelines as the very same prison where he assisted a jailbreak just a few months ago, that time freeing a pal who works in Mexican law enforcement. Everyone else in there, though? They’re going to have to wait on an Amnesty International letter-writing campaign, which with any luck could lead to a strongly worded U.N. Security Council resolution. Hang tight, guys! Colonel Worubu’s working on it!

Mary Worth, 7/1/21

I’m retracting my previously stated concerns about Drew’s coffees. This is a much better use of them than trying to get him to drink them and appreciate it or whatever, please proceed.

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Rex Morgan, M.D., 6/30/21

“Yes, full of surprises. Like remember when we made her start taking the bus to school so she’d get hit by a car and the resulting head injury would cleanse her brain of all memories and creative ambitions? Well, it looks like that didn’t work, so you’d better go find the trepanation drill.”

Mary Worth, 6/30/21

But … what about Drew’s coffees? I don’t have eyes on them but surely all this slapping can’t be good for keeping them upright! Ladies, please, be careful! Drew needs his morning java!

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Hagar the Horrible, 6/29/21

The most unsettling thing about today’s extremely gross Hagar the Horrible is Hagar’s eager smile in the final panel. I’m not sure which possibility is worse: that Hagar is intrigued by this new an thoroughly repulsive weapon that Lucky Eddie has just added to the Viking band’s arsenal, or if he’s just excited and maybe a little aroused to watch someone barf.

Judge Parker, 6/29/21

Folks, it looks like Neddy is finally going to be forced by her circumstances to truly go out on her own and make it as a responsible adult! Fortunately, by the look of panel two, she’s prepared herself for this potentially difficult conversation by getting extremely high first.

Gil Thorp, 6/29/21

Swordfights? More like accidental suicide pacts, kid! Surprisingly, it seems like someone maybe hasn’t been spending enough time at the library.

Mary Worth, 6/29/21

“OK, we’ve established that these two attractive women are uncouth and sexually aggressive. Now they’re going to compete for Dr. Drew’s love. What are their tactics? Showing up at his work with coffee for him, right?” –the Mary Worth creative team, apparently (LOVE U GUYS, PLEASE DON’T EVER CHANGE)

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Beetle Bailey, 6/25/21

Say, have you ever spotted a uniformed member of military out in public and been tempted to go up and thank them for their service? Well, Beetle Bailey, America’s only widely syndicated military-themed comic strip, would urge you to think twice: it turns out they might be a real lazy piece of shit. You just don’t know! Why take that chance?

Family Circus, 6/25/21

Honestly, why is the second-generation leadership of Walker-Browne Amalgamated Humor Industries LLC disrespecting the troops, when they could be using their legacy comic strip for good, by depicting one of their number as a child eagerly grabbing for a pair of swim trunks as their pants fall down to their ankles in a panel destined to be hung on refrigerators by smiling grandmas everywhere?

Mary Worth, 6/25/21

Me yesterday: “Is [Drew] going to be pulled in two, literally, as a metaphor? Let’s hope! Let’s hope it gets weird as hell!”

Me today:

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Mary Worth, 6/24/21

Look, folks, some of you are getting a little riled up and need to have your expectations set properly, OK? First of all, there’s never going to be a Drew-Shauna-Ashlee threeway. It’s not going to happen. It’s Mary Worth! There isn’t even going to be a Drew-Shauna-Ashlee threeway in this psychedelic Drew dream sequence. I mean look at everyone’s facial expression in panel one. Does it look like sex is going to be had? It does not! If we’re lucky, though, this dream sequence is going to get hilariously metaphorical very quickly. Remember the boxing Wilburbabies? Of course you do. That’s the energy we deserve out of Drew’s dream. Is he going to be pulled in two, literally, as a metaphor? Let’s hope! Let’s hope it gets weird as hell!

Rex Morgan, M.D., 6/24/21

Welp, it looks like it’s the beginning of Sarah Morgan Is A Genius II: The Geniusing. And despite the fact that we could’ve had a juicy plagiarism storyline, everything’s going to be on the up and up, thanks to Buck acting as an intermediary. Remember before, when Sarah got acclaim and material rewards thanks to her patroness, an actual mob boss? Well, this time around it’ll be thanks to Buck, and scientists have yet to come up with a number that can capture how much of a downgrade that is.

Judge Parker, 6/24/21

If you want a vision of the future of Judge Parker, imagine a pissy human face yelling at its wife — forever.

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Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 6/22/21

Look, I thought we had a consensus here: Cartoonists draw the people and animals in their strips in all sorts of whimsical, silly ways that look funny on paper and we think it’s cute, even though if we actually saw a being in the flesh with those proportions, we’d recoil in horror and disgust. But when the actual cartoon character acknowledges his freakish, unnatural form, it quite frankly breaks the spell and forces us to imagine these nightmare beings. Like, can you imagine a horse with no neck? Horses are all neck! Their long, muscular necks are one of the defining features of their body plan! But try visualizing a horse — not a cute cartoon horse, but a real flesh-and-blood thoroughbred — with its head just jammed onto its shoulders. What a nightmare, right? It’s real sick shit, and I’m mad at Barney Google and Snuffy Smith just for making me think about it.

Mother Goose and Grimm, 6/22/21

You know some real sick shit I’m not mad thinking about? Mother Goose (specifically the title character from the popular syndicated newspaper strip Mother Goose and Grimm, to be clear, not just the generic folklore character) down at the blood bank, just wheeze-coughing into blood bags while the nurses there desperately try to get her to stop. Call me mercurial, I guess, but that’s the sort of thing I sincerely enjoy!

Crankshaft, 6/22/21

Another thing I’m enjoying today is Crankshaft’s emotional journey in this strip. “Christmas? In June?” he seems to be thinking in panel two. “Did they move it? Is nothing sacred now that the damn libs are in charge again?” But then in panel three, he’s like, “Ohh, I get it now. It’s wordplay! I love wordplay!”

Important correction to yesterday’s Mary Worth post: When Shauna said that she was working at Santa Roymart, I assumed this was the supermarket where Tommy and Brandy also worked. In fact, as several faithful readers pointed out, those two work at Freda’s, Santa Royale’s upscale market with a personal touch. Santa Roymart is a big box store where Tommy refused to work, possibly because it was the scene of a botched drug raid. Is Shauna in league with the drug dealers who use Santa Roymart’s warehouse as their HQ? Keep reading this blog to find out!

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Mary Worth, 6/21/21

Wait, Santa Roymart? Isn’t that where Tommy and Brandy work? Does Shauna know Tommy? Do Shauna and Tommy go to 12-step meetings together? Does Tommy found himself drawn to Shauna do their shared experiences on the tough road to recovery? Will Shauna finally be able to find a man who she’ll successfully be able to steal away from his woman? Remember, the only thing Santa Roymart is better known for than low, low prices and giving a chance to those who are committed to overcoming their addictions is hilariously public romantic drama amongst the staff.

Shoe, 6/21/21

“And then eat it! We’re birds, remember — small lizards are one of the main things we eat!”

Sam and Silo, 6/21/21

I don’t really talk about Sam and Silo that much, so you probably have a number of questions about it, like “What’s it’s deal, exactly? Is it any good? Which one is Sam and which one is Silo? Is the extremely dated vibe it puts out because it’s actually in reruns, or is this still being produced today and yet it’s somehow still like this? Are the characters all terribly depressed?” Well, today you’re getting answers to two of those questions.

Dustin, 6/21/21

Here’s a fun story for you: When I first moved to LA, I really thought that the restaurants here all kept their lights aggressively dim to set a mood because I kept having to pull out my phone flashlight in order to read the menus, and this went on for literally years before I figured out that actually I had just hit the stage in my life where I needed reading glasses. Anyway, my point is that I’ve finally found a character in Dustin I can identify with.

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Mary Worth, 6/18/21

Ah, yes, Shauna and Ashlee “ran in the same circles,” definitely a phrase that someone who ran in those circles would use! Also they ran in those circles as teens, which leads me to ask: how old are they supposed to be now? Like, Drew, a successful doctor, has to be in his mid 30s at least, right? But if these ladies’ minds are still dominated by high school drama, they’re probably … a lot younger than that, which adds another data point to how we should think about Drew’s whole romantic deal, I guess! Just rescuing sexy 23-year-old bad girl after sexy 23-year-old bad girl with his love, surely one of them will be different when she’s with him, he’s just got to find her, darn it.

Dustin, 6/18/21

One of the things Dustin gets very wrong about young people is that it seems to believe they spend a lot of time looking for love at fern bars. Because its older characters are married and settled down, we get less of a look at their outside-the-family social life, but apparently the strip believes that older people spend time at bars wearing suits, drinking wine or liquor, and talking shit about young people? Gonna go ahead and say that seems moderately more accurate.

Hi and Lois, 6/18/21

I guess it’s probably for the best that neither Chip nor Mr. Waverling knows that “bucket list” is a list of things you do before you “kick the bucket,” i.e., die, because otherwise the question “Say, old man, got any plans for your few remaining years of life?” might seem kind of rude. Also, based on his cruel yet triumphant expression in the final panel, Mr. Waverling’s “barrel list” involves a barrel of sarin gas and a plan to have his revenge on the world that never appreciated his genius.

Judge Parker, 6/18/21

In its quest to stay relevant for the emerging Zoomer generation, Judge Parker is pivoting from “brooding, wealthy men of action” to “hot sad girls” and, you know what, as near as I can tell that’s a smart move, score one for Judge Parker.

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Slylock Fox, 6/16/21

A human can outrun all of these animals … over a short distance, yes. But what if the animals started thinking in the long term? What if they created their own society, and laws, and hired a fox detective who uses steely logic and will never give up in pursuit of his targets? This particular human is right to look scared at the prospect. He doesn’t know the true face of terror, not yet.

UPDATE: Ha ha, whooops, I misread this, apologies, I have been eaten by a bear

Mary Worth, 6/16/21

Sorry I talk so much about comic book time on here, but darn it, just keeps getting more and more relevant the more years I keep doing this blog, in which I talk about comic strip characters who never grow any older! A somewhat underdiscussed corollary of this phenomenon is that since said characters stay the same age, we have to assume that all the wild adventures we’ve watched them have take place when they’re that age, which is to say within a fairly compressed period of time. Take, for instance, Dr. Drew’s brief, ill-fated romance with his coworker Liza, which took place in 2011, or his even more ill-fated relationship with Dawn, which took place four years before that. Since everyone involved was the same age then as they are now, does that mean that, in the world of the strip, they all ended about a year ago, give or take? Did Shauna pickpocket her way into Drew’s heart before or after all that? Are we meant to understand that Drew and Shauna were engaged in hot, dysfunctional action somewhere in the background while we were forced to endure the endless Saul/Eve thing? Because that would be a true betrayal of the compact between reader and comics creator, in my opinion.

Blondie, 6/16/21

Speaking of comic book time, a thing that I like to occasionally dwell on is that in the origins of this strip, Blondie was a notorious flapper and Dagwood the heir to a family fortune who was slumming in the same scenes as her in the roaring ’20s, but he gave his inheritance up when he married her and since then they’ve slowly become generic middle-class suburbanites, their histories forgotten. I always think it’d be fun to call back to that now and then, though obviously due to the passage of time that specific history now no longer makes sense, so here’s my proposal for a reboot: occasional flashbacks to Blondie and Dagwood, drug-addled New York City club kids in the late ’80s/early ’90s, you’re welcome everybody. Oh, and Dagwood was fucking Blondie’s roommate behind her back, I guess.

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Blondie, 6/15/21

I continue to respect Blondie’s decision to acknowledge the coronavirus pandemic maybe once a month or so, but even with that context Dagwood is right to be confused: we have for the most part stopped doing temperature checks, because it turns out most people early in a coronavirus infection don’t have fevers, so it’s not a particularly good screen, plus Dagwood is coming home to his wife, who he lives with, and it’s not like he’s going to suddenly become infected and infectious in the eight hours he was at work anyway. Based on the narrative turn things seem to take in the final panel, I must regretfully come to the conclusion that this is a sex thing.

Dennis the Menace, 6/15/21

Why on earth would you ostentatiously refer to wife as “boss” so loudly and repeatedly during a phone call that your baffled coworker would interrupt your conversation to remark on it? I must again conclude this is some sort of sex thing, and Henry is attempting to humiliate himself in as many ways as possible during the run-up to the act itself, for sex-thing reasons.

Mary Worth, 6/15/21

Ha ha, wait, did Drew already fill in Ashlee on all the hot gossip vis-à-vis his ex, or do they already know each other somehow, or did their instincts just immediately kick in upon sighting one another and each of them realized she had to do battle to secure her position as the alpha skank? Anyway, I’m sure this is a sex thing for some of you, but please don’t feel obliged to leave the lurid details in the comments.

Funky Winkerbean, 6/15/21

I think we’re all real familiar with how depressing the average day is at Montoni’s for the people who hang out there, so dwell for a minute on the fact that its regular denizens found it even more depressing when the were forbidden to hang out there by the health department. Also, unrelated, but I dearly hope that the final panel isn’t a sex thing for anyone, anywhere.

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Mary Worth, 6/14/21

Oh hell yeah, it’s Shauna, everybody! Surely you’ve remembered Jeff’s little story about Drew’s ex Shauna, who was wild and demanding and also liked to steal stuff. Now she’s standing in front of the People’s Clinic bold as brass, looking all sexy in an … off the shoulder … sweatshirt? … and two tone bike shorts? … anyway, it’s simultaneously completely insane and also makes Ashlee look like a God-damned nun. Do you think that Shauna is here to provide a good role model to Ashlee of a grifter who truly commits to the bit? I hope so! Shauna went to jail, Ashlee! If she finds out you returned Drew’s watch because you felt bad about his dead mom, she’ll laugh in your face.

Shoe, 6/14/21

One thing you gotta respect about Shoe is that its cast of bird-people is just obviously crushingly depressed at all times, whether they’re slouching in front of the TV or getting out into nature in an attempt get some fresh air and maybe to feel something. Anyway, the good news is that if the Perfesser and his nephew ultimately die of exposure, the meat in their backpacks will rot before their flesh, so they won’t be too decomposed when the dogs find their bodies.

Family Circus, 6/14/21

I was about to be outraged by this blatant anti-American parody, but then I realized Jeffy wasn’t pledging allegiance to the Stars and Stripes at all, but rather to the Thin Black Line flag, which honors our referees, umpires, and other sporting officials, so I guess I can’t complain too much.

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Gil Thorp, 6/11/21

I guess what’s going on here is that each of the Coaches Thorp is sitting with their own student-athlete in the teen vs. teen’s girlfriend’s dad library board interview competition, and “we’re all rooting for the library” is some kind of statement of neutrality, like “We may disagree on the details but I’m sure whoever wins will do a great job for this institution that we all respect, so let’s all just go out there do our best.” That’d be a lot more believable if Katy’s dad’s whole platform wasn’t literally defunding the library. Anyway, I assume that weird hand position in panel three is Coach Mrs. Coach Thorp getting ready to throw up some really exaggerated chef’s kiss gestures when Katy’s dad loses.

Pluggers, 6/11/21

You know what hour a plugger is happiest? When they manage to doze off, their troubles and cares briefly annihilated by blessed unconsciousness. It’s only an hour, though, when they pass out in their chair from pure exhaustion; presumably they spend the night tossing and turning in bed due to their various anxieties and disappointments. “Lots of pluggers everywhere” wrote in with this one!

Mary Worth, 6/11/21

God damn it, Ashlee, don’t you dare go soft on me, returning sad Drew’s precious Rolex from his dead mom! The only acceptable thing happening here is that you’ve realized the Coreys have generational wealth and you need to be working on a much more ambitious grift.

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Hi and Lois, 6/10/21

I was going to go on a riff here about how women are forced to do this carefully calibrated gender performance where if they don’t get into to male-coded pursuits they’re too “girly” and not worth paying attention to, and if they get too into them then they’re scorned as “not feminine enough,” but you know what? Diane is definitely taking things too far, by dressing in a baseball uniform and wearing a hat and eye black to school, a thing that nobody of any gender should do.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 6/10/21

Ahh, looks like Rex Morgan might be getting a little sexy…

[everyone’s interest is piqued]

…in a character’s childhood bedroom, while he goes on and on about all the nerd shit he used to have in there…

[everyone clicks away in disgust]

Mary Worth, 6/10/21

Gotta love how Ashlee is settling in on the couch with a snack to really dig into the most reading she’s done in months.

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Mary Worth, 6/8/21

An important aspect of the Ashlee plot is that Ashlee didn’t just grow up with bad parents; she’s also currently poor and living in squalor. Her reaction today is an interesting twist, because it shows she literally just thinks Drew, as a rich doctor, has an infinite amount of money so it doesn’t matter if she steals stuff from him or not. Anyway, she’s about to learn the hard way that objects don’t just have monetary value: they also have emotional value, especially if they’re associated with your loving parents. Of course, Ashlee isn’t going to be able to relate to the concept of “loving parents” either, so maybe she’s just “Oh, no”-ing because she now realizes that Drew’s mom was also rich, but she died too soon for Ashlee to steal her stuff.

Daddy Daze, 6/8/21

Psst. Hey. Hey kid. They’re dancing around the question here but the answer is that they had sex with each other, and now it’s like a year and a half later and they’re broken up so it was probably wasn’t great!

Beetle Bailey, 6/8/21

The sad thing is that you can see how this could’ve very easily become a joke about NFTs, if anyone involved in Beetle Bailey knew what NFTs were. Instead, it’s taking on the hot concept of “copyrights,” which were the NFTs of the 18th century.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 6/8/21

One of my favorite villains from Doctor Who are the Silence, a creepy alien race who nobody can remember exists unless they’re actually looking at them. Anyway, even thought I gripe about Buck a lot on this blog, I promise he’s the equivalent of that, for me: unlike, say, every minor Mary Worth or Gil Thorp character, Buck occupies exactly zero of my brain cells when I’m not actively reading or writing about Rex Morgan, M.D. That’s not the case for the other Rex Morgan, M.D., characters, though. They apparently think about Buck all the time! He’s a constant, looming presence in their lives. Sounds real depressing, honestly. Welp, time to finish this sentence and then have exactly zero thoughts or opinions about Buck until tomorrow!

Curtis, 6/8/21


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Mark Trail, 6/7/21

Mark is off battling influencers, and Cherry is about to do battle with an HOA over native plants, so where does that leave Rusty? Well, Rusty is about to have a sleepover pizza party with Oscar winner Robert Shaw! What do you think they’re going to talk about? Jaws or The Sting would be the obvious choice, but you never know: Rusty might want to hear stories about his time in the ’50s doing Shakespeare at the Old Vic. He’s not a baby, after all!

Mary Worth, 6/7/21

Oh, dear, it looks like we’re getting to that time in a great Mary Worth storyline where I just post every strip! Anyway, today Ashlee asks Drew if he’s bummed about killing someone on the operating table but it turns out he’s just sad about his fancy watch, which she stole, and I challenge anyone working in comedy today to come up with something funnier than this. You can’t, it’s the peak of humor and we’ll be talking about this day for years to come. (Drew did kill someone on the operating table, of course, but he stopped feeling anything about that sort of thing years ago.)

Marvin, 6/7/21

Speaking of people feeling things, Marvin’s grandfather’s stunned facial expression in the final panel here is wholly appropriate. “Gee,” he’s thinking, “I thought we were best friends, but I never guessed how bleak and loveless his marriage was! I suppose you truly never can know another person.”

Crankshaft, 6/7/21

Wow, pretty rude of Crankshaft and his girlfriend to be going on and on about how great drive-in theaters are just days after his own grandson’s movie theater closed due to lack of customers. On the other hand, maybe it was a sign of respect that Crankshaft never went and had sex and/or made terrible puns in Max’s place of business.

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Baby Blues, 6/5/21

Imagine that you were on the verge of experiencing some marital intimacy with your husband, when suddenly you realized your cheek was resting on his huge, fleshy proboscis, which is longer as his arm and twice as thick. Truly harrowing. You too would find whatever way you could to short-circuit the romantic moment as quickly as possible.

Crankshaft, 6/5/21

Were you worried that Max and Hannah (I accidentally called her Mindy the other day, apologies, Mindy is his sister with straight blonde hair and Hannah is his wife with wavy blonde hair, we regret the error) weren’t going to stay horny for one another now that their business has gone under and their dream has been crushed and they’ve been forced to move in with Max’s parents and his terrible grandfather, Crankshaft? Well, don’t worry. They’re still horny for each other! Funkyverse characters do not get less horny when confronted with despair, because otherwise their world would’ve been depopulated generations ago. If anything, the gloom just eggs them on!

Mary Worth, 6/5/21

A fun thing about Mary Worth is that it wants to depict Ashlee’s upbringing as unspeakably depraved and the reason why she’s a broken, amoral grifter, but it’s a newspaper comic strip and can’t get too dark so instead her dad just got arrested for unspecified reasons and her mom had a job where she had to bare her midriff to serve chicken wings to bronies. Seems perfectly wholesome, honestly!

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The Lockhorns, 6/4/21

Having done this blog for many years, I can tell you that there is definitely a weekly rhythm to many of the comics. Hopefully if you’re a reader of this blog, you are aware of enough comics “inside baseball” knowledge that you know that individual comics aren’t each written the day before they’re published or anything like that. They’re submitted weeks in advance, in Monday-through-Saturday chunks (Sunday strips are submitted separately and have to be sent in even earlier). And while I’m sure most cartoonists don’t sit down and power through six comics in one sitting, as you get towards the end of the week you definitely start to get some “I’m almost done with this, fuck it” vibes. I feel strongly that today’s Lockhorns, where Leroy assures Loretta that alcoholism is fine, actually, and he’s not sure why it gets such a bad rap, fits that bill, and yet (because I contain multitudes) I also think it’s pretty great, because sometimes you want that energy on a Friday, you know?

Rex Morgan, M.D., 6/4/21

You know what absolutely has not been phoned in, though? Today’s Rex Morgan, M.D. Just a symphony of incredible facial expressions from two guys who know they’re not supposed to find their kids incredibly irritating and so they won’t say that they’re incredibly irritating but they absolutely find all their little antics insufferable and can’t wait until they’re off at college or whatever. “He can’t see the face I’m making, so he probably assumes I actually love my kid, even though every moment I spend with them is a chore,” both men are thinking.

Mary Worth, 6/4/21

You know what would really help out Rex and Buck? If there were like a pane of thick, soundproof glass between them and their kids, and there was a phone that ostensibly let you talk to the person on the other side, but the phone wasn’t attached to anything, so it didn’t work. Ideally it would be the kid on the jail side of the glass, of course.

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Six Chix, 6/2/21

Sorry, folks, I can’t even deal with the ostensible joke here because of the bird’s use of “peeps” to refer to fellow birds, which is both not really related to the punchline of the strip and frankly too cute by half. There’s an old bit of comedy jargon that calls this sort of thing, where two unrelated jokes distract from each other, “putting a hat on a hat.” You should generally remove whichever one of the jokes is less funny, which I realize is hard to do in scenarios where neither is funny, but I think this strip is good evidence the leaving both in isn’t helping.

Gil Thorp, 6/2/21

Wait a minute, the library board isn’t an elective body or even appointed by elected officials, but is just a self-selecting oligarchy where current members choose new members based on their own self-serving and inscrutable criteria? That’s it, my mind’s totally changed on this whole library situation, Abel Brito needs to force his way onto this board by whatever means necessary and end this medieval institution by burning it to the ground.

Mary Worth, 6/2/21

Oh, sorry, it looks like before Ashlee sashays out of Drew’s life, expensive Rolex in hand, she’s going to get together with him for one last lunch for old time’s sake and absolutely roast him for his many personal failings.

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Mary Worth, 6/1/21

Wow, huh, if you had asked me how this was going to go, I would’ve guessed, at various points over the course of this storyline, first “Ashlee becomes emotionally/sexually obsessed with Drew, who quickly tires of her”, then “Ashley becomes enraged at Drew when he fails to make her Instagram famous,” then finally “Ashlee hooks Drew for the long con.” But nope, it turns out that what Ashlee meant when she told Drew that “I recognize that face!” was that she had seen his Instagram feed and caught sight of his fancy Rolex in one of his selfies, so she used his pics and geotags to figure out where he might regularly stop to eat, got a job there to arrange the meeting, seduced him and set up a photoshoot, and casually nabbed the watch while he was distracted. Mission accomplished! The whole elaborate scheme was about the acquisition of a single expensive watch! Gotta say, I always appreciate it when Mary Worth zigs when I expect it to zag.

Judge Parker, 6/1/21

So there was a long stretch in this strip where Sophie’s whole deal was that she had PTSD due to her kidnapping and she couldn’t decide if she wanted to go to college, much to Abbey’s consternation, so she just hung around Cavelton and ran some failing mayoral campaigns instead. But now it’s Randy’s turn to be kidnapped, Sam’s hung up on it, and apparently Sophie’s been away at college for … months? And seems to be doing fine. “Wow,” she’s clearly thinking in panel two, “Maybe I should look into getting a job on campus during semester breaks from here on out.”

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Mary Worth, 5/30/21

Remembrer, folks: if you’re an attractive older woman who’s hit it off with an age-appropriate man you meet online, that man is definitely a fake account set up to catfish you. And if you’re a charming bald middle-aged American and you’re romanced by a statuesque Colombian beauty, it’s 100% certain you’re being sex-grifted. And if you’re a handsome young doctor with a reasonably high-profile Instagram and you fall into a hot fling with a sexy young waitress? Well, you’d better believe you’re about to have your watch stolen. Sorry, Drew, that’s just what you get for allowing yourself to feel sexual arousal! Why can’t you be more like your dad and Mary, who barely spend any time together, or Toby and Ian, who absolutely can’t stand one another?

Crankshaft, 5/30/21

In today’s Crankshaft, the title character spends the entire strip writhing wordlessly in pain. Yes, his daughter feels a need to step in and take on the family wordplay duties, but please don’t let that distract you from this strip’s central pleasure.

Family Circus, 5/30/21

Wow, looks like the Keane tradition of having adult men in the family is over, huh? That’s all in the past. The future is just weird, ugly little kids as far as the eye can see.

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Mary Worth, 5/27/21

We all frankly know that the intertwined personal and (aspirationally, on both parts) professional relationship between Drew and Ashlee is going to hilariously unravel into unhinged acrimony at some point. The delicious narrative tension arises from the question of how, exactly, this will go down. Personally, based on panel one here, in which Ashlee’s limbs are splayed in random directions and her mouth twisted into a rictus grin, my bet is that Drew is going to post a bunch of these pictures to his Instagram and they will be terrible, just laughably bad, thoroughly humiliating Ashlee online and producing a ragestorm that will make her public meltdown from a few weeks ago seem like a calm and rational conversation about a misunderstood scheduling conflict.

Anyway, this panel has delighted me like few others in recent memory, and while I’m not sure I have the energy to run a formal contest, per se, along the lines of the ones I did for self-clubbing Tyler in Gil Thorp and Rex and June’s funeral facial contortions, I certainly wouldn’t object if anyone were to attempt to reproduce Ashlee’s pose/outfit/whole vibe here, photograph themselves in the process, and email the results to me at, and I would definitely post any photos I received on this very blog!

Beetle Bailey, 5/27/21

Hey, guess what year the sale of leaded gasoline for personal vehicle use was fully phased out in the United States? 1996! Guess what the average age of a private in the U.S. Army is? Less than 20! If you think those two numbers seem at odds, maybe contemplate what the average age of a Beetle Bailey reader is instead.

Mother Goose and Grimm, 5/27/21

I am a squeamish indoor kid who does not like bugs, so I am experiencing zero regrets about the fact that I no longer live in Baltimore, which is currently ankle deep in screaming cicadas, according to all my friends there. Anyway, each of those cicadas now befouling lawns across the Mid-Atlantic was laid as an egg 17 years ago, it’s fun to think of them as “teens” to whom you would not loan your car, just like regular teens! That’s because every single neuron in their tiny brains is focused on fucking and then dying, just like regular teens.

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Rex Morgan, M.D., 5/26/21

So Sarah’s been writing this very long fan letter to Kitty Cop scribe and noted local writer’s block sufferer Kyle Vidpa for a while now, and Rex has done nothing but make fun of her for it. I had naturally assumed this was primarily because Rex likes making people in general and his children in particular feel bad for experiencing enthusiasm, but let’s not forget that Rex may be projecting a bit because he also sincerely dislikes being on the receiving end of enthusiasm, even from people who owe their lives to his doctoring skills. As far as Rex is concerned, the only way to demonstrate your positive feelings for someone is to send them a tiny envelope that is exactly large enough to include a check and nothing else. Please do not write “thanks!” on the memo line.

Mary Worth, 5/26/21

A key thing to remember about this storyline is that that Ashlee chose Drew as her photographer because of his Instagram account, which in turn earned a decent following not because he actually takes portraits of people, but because he takes nature pics. But gosh darn if the good Dr. Corey the Younger isn’t going to throw his all into this assignment, by dressing Ashlee in an extremely cringeworthy fringed two-piece and yelling things at her that he’s probably half-remembering from the sequences in Austin Powers where Austin is going undercover as a fashion photographer.

Pardon My Planet, 5/26/21

“Aw man, I guess if this joke is going to be contemporary, it should reference Netflix, not normal television. Netflix has season lineups, right?”

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Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 5/21/21

Ha ha! It’s funny because Orville in his grief has been forced to part with his ancestral home, his one asset that can raise cash in his crushingly poor community thanks to the interest of a relatively wealthy outsider, but now he’s about to be fleeced of all his money from that outsider’s friend!

Hagar the Horrible, 5/21/21

I’d like to imagine that this strip as originally submitted featured Lucky Eddie sitting astride his centaur steed, but the syndicate editors deemed that “too horny” and demanded that it be redrawn. The revised version, with Eddie riding demurely sidesaddle, is just horny enough.

Mary Worth, 5/21/21

Jeff, you want to live, don’t you? You want to keep on living on this Earth? Then I’m going to need you to choose your next words very carefully.

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Mary Worth, 5/19/21

“I certainly would not have formed a romantic liaison with this family had I known about the lapses in judgement lurking in your bloodline!” [throws on life jacket, pinches nose, pitches backwards out of the boat and into the sea]

Gil Thorp, 5/19/21

You ever think that the staff of the Milford Star, a non-student newspaper produced and read by adults, are a little too up-to-date on what the local teenagers are up to?

Pluggers, 5/19/21

Sure, it would make a plugger’s life easier in some ways if he allowed himself to form professional or personal relationships with people with non-Anglo-Saxon surnames. But a man has to have a code, you know?

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 5/19/21



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Mary Worth, 5/18/21

Look, I don’t ask for much in this life, and maybe I’m being greedy for wanting anything beyond Jeff hearing Mary’s story and reacting with “Whoa, sounds like a real psycho! She was a looker, right?” But I truly want the rest of this week to consist of Jeff describing in graphic detail all the hot crazy girls who stop by Chez Cory and have loud sex with Drew upstairs why Jeff enjoys a hearty bowl of stew down in the kitchen, chuckling softly to himself.

Sam and Silo, 5/18/21

Ah, remember Sam and Silo, the low-stakes strip about two incompetent small-town cops? Well, I regret to inform you that Sam and Silo have launched a violent coup against the town’s legitimate elected government.

Hi and Lois, 5/18/21

Congrats to Hi and Lois for coming up with an extremely wholesome act of badass rebellion for its protagonist to throw in the face of his cruel boss, I guess?

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Mary Worth, 5/15/21

When’s the last time Mary had the mission of actually nipping a relationship in the bud? I don’t know if she ever has! Once, long ago, a lady confessed to Mary she was thinking of pursuing a married old flame and Mary was like “Sure, go for it.” I guess there was the case of Estelle and Arthur Z, but that turned out to be a catfish so I don’t know if it counts. But Dr. Drew is too close to home, literally, in that he’s Mary’s boyfriend’s son who also seems to live with him, and Mary definitely doesn’t want to have to interact with his unpleasant new “friend” when she drops by to deliver an enormous bowl of stew, so it looks like it’s time to cut Ashlee off at the pass! She’s going to work up to the big task ahead by ostracizing whoever’s coffee just got put at the far corner of her tray in panel two there. Sorry for the emotional trauma, dear, but Mary has to get limber!

Family Circus, 5/15/21

Look, Jeffy, the rule of the Keane Kompound is that if you ask whose tiny grave Daddy is digging, the next tiny grave will be for you.

Pluggers, 5/15/21

Physically exhausted? Clinically depressed? Pluggers know you don’t have to choose!

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Beetle Bailey, 5/11/21

As recently noted, Zero’s one-dimensional characterization has in the past decade or so shifted from “is very stupid” to “is a very stupid farm boy”. I for one am excited about the next stage in his evolution, to “is a very stupid farm boy who is also a deadly accurate sniper, just pumping bullet after bullet into the skulls of his enemies while maintaining that same vacant, aw-shucks grin.”

Hi and Lois, 5/11/21

Not sure why (beyond basic sexism) “humorless scold” is a common attribute assigned to little girls in comics (see also: Dolly Keane, Margaret from Dennis the Menace) but I feel like Dot has been really leaning hard into it lately, to the extent that it stops being annoying and starts being funny again. “You’re a drunk, mom, and your boring friends are all drunks” is a fine addition to Hi and Lois’s exploration of suburbia’s alcohol problem.

Mary Worth, 5/11/21

I know everything about Ashlee has been a forest of red flags so far, but today she appears to be about to eat a slice of pizza sideways, clear evidence of utter madness. She needs to be locked up in that plastic prison where they put Magneto in the first X-Men movie and studied by scientists to see what makes her tick.

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Rex Morgan, M.D., 5/10/21

As the world’s greatest newspaper comics strip blogger and also a narcissist, I often just kind of assume that stuff in the comics is about me! I mean, sometimes it absolutely is, but more often than not it probably isn’t. So, yes, those of you with long memories might remember that my Kickstarted book The Enthusiast was released, uh, several years after my originally promised publish date. But then it came out and everyone liked it! (If this is all news to you, you should definitely buy my book.) Anyway, in probably unrelated news it turns out that beloved Kitty Cop creator Kyle Vidpa, despite being too busy to answer or even read his fan mail, is having a little bit of a writer’s block problem as he tries to churn out the next entry in his wildly successful book series. And I relate! It’s hard to do anything else when you know you’ve got a big project to finish that you’re stuck on! Frankly, this lady (his wife? assistant?) needs to back off with the passive aggression! Maybe she should spend some time forging his signature on some replies to fans, huh? That would actually be helpful!

Mary Worth, 5/10/21

My favorite thing here is that Ashlee apparently hasn’t stopped crying or didn’t bother to wipe her smeared mascara off her face for the entire duration of their trip from the hospital to Tony’s. My second favorite thing is that Drew expects her to believe that he couldn’t skip work in order to help her build her Instagram brand even though he can obviously just clock out and enjoy a leisurely pizza lunch whenever some deranged lady he’s met exactly once shows up at his workplace weeping hysterically.

Dick Tracy, 5/10/21

Hey, remember Sam Catchem’s dumb hat? The one that makes him look like a leprechaun, even though he’s canonically Jewish? Well, it’s apparently strong enough to block a sniper’s bullet blow-dart! Or maybe Abner’s dart gun just isn’t powerful enough to penetrate an ordinary hat. That’s much lamer and therefore probably closer to the truth.

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Dennis the Menace, 5/7/21

Hello, everyone! Did you know today is No Pants Day, a day when we’re all urged to donate unwanted clothes, or give to a charity that helps people who need clothes? I myself did not, but today’s syndicated comics are here to raise awareness! Honestly the strip that does the best job is Dennis the Menace, which gives you the details you need to know while also doing a joke that may be about how Dennis hopes to see Mr. Wilson with no pants, or may be about that his hope that Mr. Wilson knows it’s completely legit for him and Joey to be wandering the neighborhood fully nude from the waist down. Either possibility is pretty disturbing, and disturbing is a kind of menacing, I guess.

Marvin, 5/7/21

Marvin, meanwhile, doesn’t really bother to explain the concept of this new (?) holiday, as it’s far too eager to depict its title character’s ass crack.

The Lockhorns, Dick Tracy, and Hi and Lois, 5/7/21

Other strips, meanwhile, aren’t even mentioning the day by name, but are just taking the opportunity to depict some middle-aged men standing around in their underwear. And who can blame them? Hubba hubba!

Mary Worth, 5/7/21

Wow, seems Ashlee went full-on Fatal Attraction a lot sooner than anyone expected, huh? Anyway, Mary Worth may not be doing an explicit No Pants Day tribute, but make no mistake: based on his facial expression, Drew has definitely shat himself, and will be in the nearest linen closet changing into whatever scrubs he can find in his size in short order.

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Mary Worth, 5/5/21

Say what you will about this “Drew the dissatisfied Instadoc” storyline, but it’s been hard to predict its twists and turns! Like, is Drew going to be bamboozled? Seduced? Will Ashlee actually become the next Bella Hadid, with Drew as her svengali along for the ride? Anyway, based on today’s strip I’m foreseeing an extremely exciting sequence of events, where Drew has to cancel because of a work thing, and then Ashlee gets miffed and passive aggressively fails to follow up to schedule a new photoshoot and eventually quietly unfollows him, and then like three months later Drew thinks, “Wow, remember Ashlee? She was pretty but I guess some things aren’t meant to be.” This will take eight to eleven months.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 5/5/21

What sort of wonderful surprises can increasingly unavoidable Rex Morgan recurring character Buck Wise deliver to our heroes? Could he, say, use his industry connections to arrange a meeting between Sarah and her favorite author? Ha ha, no, of course not. That would be absurd. He could make sure her fan letter gets actually read, though! Or at least he could tell her that it would get actually read, which from her point of view would probably end up amounting to the same thing.

Shoe, 5/5/21

I’ve spent more time than I care to admit trying to figure out the whole deal with Skyler and the Perfesser’s relationship, which I now regret as today’s strip makes it pretty clear that relationship is entirely transactional.

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Mary Worth, 5/2/21

I am honestly not sure where this is going, by which I mean that I am honestly not sure how stupid we’re supposed to think Dr. Drew is! Like, is this a transparent flirtation, with the unlikely “Oh, your amateur photography will be like your medical mission!” pitch just the flimsiest possible pretext to exchange phone numbers as a prelude to boning? Juliette Binoche’s quote up top seems to imply this! On the other hand, Drew is quite dumb, so it’s possible that he’s taken Ashlee’s words to heart and now thinks that there’s more than one way to heal: you can do it with a scalpel, or with a camera and the full set of Instagram filters. This will lull him into a false sense of complacency when Ashlee lures him to the remote, picturesque waterfall where her accomplices will harvest his organs, which will allow him to heal a number of fabulously wealthy Russian oligarchs and/or Gulf emirs, when you think about it.

Marvin, 5/2/21

Wow, Marvin just had the craziest, most unlikely dream: his family wanted to spend time with him! Oh, and he also violated various copyrights held by Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc., I guess.

Shoe, 5/2/21






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Mary Worth, 4/29/21

There’s a lot of suspension of disbelief that goes into enjoying a comic strip like Mary Worth, and sometimes I can pull it off and sometimes I can’t. For instance, I absolutely refuse to believe that Drew has managed to become mildly Instagram famous without ever letting slip in one of his captions that he’s a doctor, and yet immediately upon being presented with his meal blurted out “It looks better than the hospital cafeteria food that I’m very familiar with because of all the time I spend in a hospital — and not as a patient! [wink wink]” That sandwich looks like shit, by the way, and also the side of slaw Ashlee so grandly announced is nowhere to be seen, so I’m assuming Northview’s cafeteria is of particularly low quality.

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 4/29/21

If you know me, you know that few things exercise my deranged mind like trying to figure out the socioeconomic/political situation of Hootin’ Holler, so today I’m less interested in Uriah unicycling the mail all over the region than I am in the fact that Silas, who is not a government official but the proprietor of the town’s only store, is paying for his transportation. My current theory: the Post Office was violently ejected from the town decades ago, possibly in reaction to its attempt to impose the “number of the beast” in the form of zip codes. Silas, who needs to maintain a connection to the outside world in order to keep his store of manufactured goods stocked, is the only person still receiving mail, and he’s set Uriah up as his private delivery man, charging townsfolk outrageous markup over regular postage rates. For legal reasons, he refers to his delivery service as the “Newnited States Post Office.”

The Phantom, 4/29/21

I make fun of soap strips all the time when they’re inadvertently funny, so I feel obligated to point out when they’re successfully funny on purpose, like when Heloise begins a Heloise-centric storyline by describing her dad as “off somewhere punching a guy,” an incident I hope we never hear any more details on.

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Mary Worth, 4/27/21

Oh man, I honestly don’t know where this is going exactly but I’m very excited about it. I think every soap strip should do a storyline about social media influencers, because I want to find out what all of them think social media influencers are! Anyway, this strip is chock full of things I love, including but not limited to (a) Ashlee responding to Drew asking her if she takes photos by specifying that she takes selfies and then (b) immediately showing him a picture that is obviously not a selfie (side note, I’ve been obsessed with a Buzzfeed article I read last month about the theory that many influencers’ “mirror selfies” are actually just pictures of them taken by someone else while they hold up their phone, but Ashlee isn’t even doing that level of pretense), and (c) Drew says “You certainly have the looks to be one!” only after seeing the picture of her, even though he’s been looking at her IRL all this time. Anyway, I certainly hope that Ashlee initiates a torrid sexual relationship with Dr. Drew in hopes that he’ll post some of her selfies to his high-profile account and in so doing boost her Instagram following, which is probably the saddest reason to sleep with someone that I can possibly imagine.

Judge Parker, 4/27/21

Judge Parker isn’t doing a social media plot, but a storyline where Sam Driver gets punched in the face is almost as good.

Gil Thorp, 4/27/21

After blowing up a perfectly nice dinner, Abel Brito has been presented with a choice: either he drops the subject of libraries, or he works to join the library board and implement his vision of transforming money-losing libraries via a public-private partnership into profitable Amazon Reading Centers™ that are free to enter for all Prime subscribers.

Pluggers, 4/27/21

With all the shit I give Pluggers on this blog, you might be surprised to learn that some days it moves me and spurs me to make a difference in my life. For instance, today’s panel moved me to finally text our plumber to come deal with the toilet handle, after I tried and failed to fix it several weeks ago. Congratulations, Pluggers, on providing this call to action. I thank you, and more importantly, my wife thanks you.

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Crock, 4/24/21

Man, I really respect how tired they made Maggot look in the final panel here. “Won’t beer cans explode? [extremely heavy sigh] Get it? Because I don’t know how to cook, and I’m an alcoholic? [long, awkward silence] Masculinity is a crushing prison.”

Dick Tracy, 4/24/21

I also respect how utterly disgusted Dick looks in his final panel today. Keep one of these deformed criminal freaks alive? That’s exactly the opposite of everything Dick stands for.

Hi and Lois, 4/24/21

Hi, your infant daughter is on the floor eating out of the dog’s bowl. I don’t think your kids would be doing significantly worse with Chip in charge, so why not go play golf, you know?

Mary Worth, 4/21/21

Oh, look, it’s an attractive blonde whose pupils are dilated with arousal at the mere sight of Dr. Drew! Could his life get any more dissatisfying?

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Judge Parker, 4/20/21

Hey, kids, it’s 4/20, and you know what that means: time to get high (IF THAT’S LEGAL IN YOUR JURISDICTION, CAN’T EMPHASIZE THAT ENOUGH, DEFINITELY NOT ENCOURAGING ANYONE TO DO CRIMES HERE) and think to yourself “Whoa, dude, what’s going on in, like, Judge Parker?” Last we checked in, you might recall that Randy was having a meltdown because his daughter reported to him that she had spotted her mother April (estranged from Randy, ex-assassin on the lam) lurking outside. But now April is in the house, insisting that that other, lurking April isn’t the real April, but their daughter insists that this April, the one in the house yelling at Randy, isn’t her real mother! Who is right? Will we see some red-hot real-April-on-fake-April fisticuffs? If you’re already high and are thinking “Whoa, dude, I can’t follow any of this,” let me reassure you that I’m not high at all and I can’t really follow it either.

Funky Winkerbean, 4/20/21

Speaking of stoners, probably we’re not supposed to think of this kid at Funky’s pandemic-swollen AA meeting as a stoner, I guess? Just dumb, like all of today’s dumb kids who take video games seriously. I honestly kind of love that he’s specifically put here to point out the fact that the first name “Funky” would in fact sound insane to a normal person, but as soon as he was assigned the “knows about video games” attribute he immediately had to be rendered as a slack-jawed dope, those are just the rules of the Funkyverse, maybe go research the differences between Golden and Silver Age Flash comics if you want to better yourself, buddy.

Mary Worth, 4/20/21

Oh hell yes, Dr. Drew is an Instagram influencer and I am extremely here for it! I certainly hope that his handle is “tha__naturedoc” and all the pictures he posts tomorrow consist of a few California wildflowers that you can see here and there if you look to the side of his prominent shirtless torso.

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Mary Worth, 4/19/21

Oh, wow, I don’t think we’ve ever seen Dr. Jeff’s distinguished McMansion before, have we? Generally, Mary prefers her cozy condo to the echoing, (emotionally) empty halls of Chez Cory; she might occasionally stop by with an enormous bowl of brown nutrient goo to ensure that her beau doesn’t starve to death before she deigns to go to the Bum Boat with him ten to fifteen business days hence, but my guess is she tends not to linger.

Anyway, is Dr. Drew also just briefly stopping by to make sure his father hasn’t fallen and broken his hip, or are we meant to understand that he still lives with his dad, despite being well into his 30s? That might explain his dissatisfaction, considering that if he tried to bring home one of the ladies who’s smitten with him for a little action, Dr. Jeff would probably be there in the kitchen, smiling and offering to ladle out some “delicious” “turkey” “stew” for her.

Funky Winkerbean, 4/19/21

Among the other things that the coronavirus pandemic destroyed is the barely comprehensible logic of the time gap between Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft. It’s simple, really: the events in the current Crankshaft strips are definitely taking place ten years before the events of Funky Winkerbean, except that both strips are emerging from the pandemic at the same time. Makes a ton of sense! Maybe we’re meant to understand that Funky Winkerbean takes place ten years from now after an even worse plague that’s displaced coronavirus from our discourse as “the [unnamed] pandemic.” Anyway, whatever’s going on over there, it’s sure making everyone miserable!

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Mary Worth, 4/16/21

Oh, now we’re getting to what Dr. Jeff really means when he says Dr. Drew seems “dissatisfied with life” even though he hasn’t actually expressed any dissatisfaction: he’s not safely paired up in a monogamous heterosexual relationship, the way his happily married sister Adrian is. You remember Adrian, right? She used to occasionally get the romantic sad-sack storylines to take some of the burden off Dawn once in a while. She was engaged to a con artist at one point, then was in love with a cop but couldn’t commit to loving him until he was gunned down during a drug raid, so she agreed to marry him on what she assumed was his death bed, but he survived so she had to go through with it. Later, her bitter man-hating best friend Jill pulled out all the stops to ruin their wedding until Mary fixed her emotional problems. And then we really haven’t heard much from Adrian since! Maybe the reason Dr. Drew isn’t so eager to be married is that he knows that means banishment to a drama-free life, which in turn means he’ll never take center stage in this strip again. Or maybe it’s the endless casual sexual possibilities currently open to him as a handsome young doctor, who can say.

Hi and Lois, 4/16/21

Anyway, marriage leads to parenthood and parenthood leads to disillusionment and disillusionment leads to telling your kid, who still thinks that love and beauty are possible and enduring, that vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

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Mary Worth, 4/14/21

Ahh, I love to savor the early days of a new Mary Worth storyline, when it’s still full of promise and potential and we can fool ourselves that it isn’t going to spend literally weeks showing us two old people blandly emotionally processing things at the mall food court. Admittedly, we’re starting off with, uh, two old people blandly emotionally processing things in a hospital cafeteria, but, look, just let me have my dreams, OK? Anyway, it seems like the story is that Drew, a facile dipshit who’s long on good looks and short on introspection, is doing great, but what his father worries is: should he be doing great? Shouldn’t he be growing more dissatisfied under the crushing burdens of life’s disappointments? Mary seems resistant, but eventually she will be sent to pester him, and will plant the feeling of deep unease in his soul that is humanity’s birthright.

Dick Tracy, 4/14/21

Oh, right, I forgot that Rikki Mortis was an associate of notorious corpse-criminal Abner Kadaver, and that she got narc’d out to the cops by her fellow goth Dethany from On The Fastrack in one of the weird comics crossovers in the last decade. And by “associate” I mean “girlfriend,” obviously, so get ready to learn how creaky, shambling living corpses display physical affection for one another.

Dustin, 4/14/21

Much as I feel generalized disdain for everyone involved here, I do have to respect Dustin escalating his long-running war with his father to “Mom’s gonna cuck you, old man” levels.

Family Circus, 4/14/21

Man, somehow I feel like I don’t spend enough time on this blog emphasizing that the Keane Kids really are just canonically some of the stupidest people alive, you know?

Hi and Lois, 4/14/21

Wait, did I say stupid? Sorry, I meant “non-conformist.”

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Mary Worth, 4/12/21

Finally, finally, we are blessedly moving on from Saul and Eve’s emotional process and starting a new storyline in Mary Worth, and hell yeah it involves Dr. Drew Corey, the son Mary’s semi-boyfriend Dr. Jeff Corey! You may best remember Dr. Drew from that time Dawn decided to romance him, and he was receptive but also happened to be dating another lady at the same time, which earned him a thorough slapping that haunted him literally for years. He seemed like he had learned some valuable lessons from that episode and we haven’t heard much from him since, so it’s exciting to learn that he’s still kind of a dick. “Every day brings an interesting mix of ills! Get it, dad? Because they all have some terrible disease, poor bastards. Good thing Dr. Drew is here to help them! Or not, whatever, I get paid either way, it turns out.”

Dick Tracy, 4/12/21

Speaking of new storylines, we’re finally done with Dick Tracy’s hippie nonsense and have moved onto a new storyline here as well, which seems to involve a prisoner who, based on her pallor and catchy nickname, is clearly deceased. I guess it’s no surprise that in the carceral Neo-Chicago police state, not even death can keep you out of the clutches of the punitive justice system.

Crankshaft, 4/12/21

Wow, after some vaguely pandemic-presaging strips a few weeks ago, it looks like Crankshaft is going to leapfrog over the last year-plus of our lives entirely and just skip to “gosh, remember the pandemic, that was crazy,” huh? I’m of two minds about this: it could’ve really brightened my 2020 if I had been constantly wondering who in Crankshaft’s friend group of terrible old people was going to die of COVID, though I ultimately would’ve been bitterly disappointed when the answer turned out to be “none of them.”

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Rex Morgan, M.D., 4/6/21

Sarah may have forgotten all her magical art skills due to her amnesia, but at least she still has the vague notion that artists use paint and brushes in their day-to-day work. Despite being a doctor’s daughter, the quotidian details of medicine are apparently unfamiliar to her. Doctors punch people, right? That’s how they get them to stop complaining about their various ailments? By knocking them unconscious with a fist to the jaw?

Mark Trail, 4/6/21

Over in Mark Trail, Mark’s offhand remark to Rusty that “crickets are land shrimp” went viral on Rusty’s TikTok BikBok, and so he’s flown to LA to do a hip-hop video with Reptiliannaire, a reptile-themed rapper. However, because I know a lot of people read Mark Trail for accurate information about flora and fauna, I find today’s strip irresponsible: I can assure you that you are not likely to step out of LAX and encounter an iguana in the backseat of the first car you enter in the “California reality.” (You will instead get into a Lyft that smells like weed.)

Mary Worth, 4/6/21

Hey, remember when Saul first showed up in Charterstone, and he was a rude jerk to everyone, and then then his dog died, and he was emotionally devastated, and also it turned out that many years ago his family forced him to give up his true love in order to marry someone else, and he literally fled in terror when Mary tried to get him to talk about his feelings, so eventually she just forced him to adopt a dog against his will? Well, he’s never been to therapy! What could he possibly gain from it? It’s for girls, mostly.

Blondie, 4/6/21

You ever look at some particularly weird character design choice in a legacy comic and think to yourself, “Enh, that’s just the ossified memory of some decades-old artistic style that sort of made sense in a former aesthetic and is too closely tied to the character to ditch now, it’s probably not worth thinking about.” Well, I regret to inform you that those design choices are very real and literal in the universe of the strip, and they make other characters in the strip horny. They are absolutely a sex thing. Huge apologies for breaking this to you like this, but I don’t believe in letting my readers live in a world of comforting lies.

Pluggers, 4/6/21

“Oh well,” you’re probably thinking after that one, “at least I don’t know much about pluggers’ peeing and pooping situation.” Well, I’ve got bad news on that front too.

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Dennis the Menace, 4/5/21

I like that these two kids and their moms have similar facial expressions, as if both pairs were mirror images of one another. In particular, I’d like to imagine that, while Dennis is cracking wise about this kid living a life no better than a dog’s, the leashèd child is saying, “Look, mommy, that boy is experiencing freedom! Horrible, horrible freedom!”

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 4/5/21

When I first saw this strip today, I assumed that it was maybe the anniversary of the first Mary Worth strip or something and there’d be tributes to our favorite gal all across the King Features comics pages today! But no, apparently all that happened was that someone in the Snuffy Smith creative team thought up this pun and declared “Tarnation, fellers, that there’s good synergy!” (For this bit, I’m assuming that a requirement for working on Snuffy Smith is that you have to talk in the fake and borderline offensive Snuffy Smith hillbilly patois at all times when you’re on the clock.)

Mary Worth, 4/5/21

Anyway, Mary has plenty of time to appear in other comics because, even though we all assumed that this storyline had finally, blessedly reach its natural conclusion and we’d need her back to set up the next one, it turns out that’s not true, at all! In fact, it’s never going to end and this is our hell, just two old people half-heartedly flirting by talking about how great dogs and forgiveness are.

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Panel from Slylock Fox, 4/4/21

This is not the first time that Slylock Fox has done a strip where the “solution” is “fans don’t actually lower temperature, so I guess all this wax is going to melt, oh well.” But the previous iteration of this story was just in some bird’s dumb candle store, whereas the stakes here are much higher. This museum is a repository of priceless cultural heritage from the pre-animalpocalypse Before Times, and it’s sad but all too typical that these dim-witted animals that took over our civilization can’t maintain the HVAC systems needed to hold it together.

Mary Worth, 4/4/21

You might recall that way back at the beginning of this interminable storyline, Saul asked Eve if she wanted to go get lunch at the mall. Everything that’s come after has proved that he’s a man who’ll go to any length, including helping an abused woman reach emotional closure and finding a lost dog in the process, to get that food court date. Everyone loves eating at Arby’s and Wetzel’s Pretzels, but you can’t expect Saul to go by himself like some kind of weirdo, can you?

Rex Morgan, M.D., 4/4/21

You ever see a narration box beg for its own annihilation? Truly, wonders on the comics page never cease.

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Hagar the Horrible, 4/1/21

Happy April Fool’s Day, everyone! Say, were you concerned that the creative team behind today’s Hagar the Horrible believed that an olive tree might realistically grow out of an olive left floating in a martini glass over a single evening? Well, rest assured: that little sign being held by a tentacle is here to let you know that this is just a seasonally appropriate jest, and we’ll be getting back to this strip’s ultra-realistic medieval Norse setting tomorrow. (The creative team also knows that squid and octopuses do not hold signs this way; the tentacle is itself a secondary April Fool’s joke.)

Crankshaft, 4/1/21

These two twins have been volunteering to help Lillian with the unpermitted bookstore she runs over her garage for years now, and they’ve finally won her trust enough that they can start scamming her. And good for them!

Mary Worth, 4/1/21

Well, now that we’ve established that dogs are good, I guess we can finally move forward to the next storyline, and … OH NO SAUL DID YOU LET HER SEE A HEADLESS BESUITED MANNEQUIN, this is going to trigger another panic attack and at least another six weeks of this plotline, please, we had almost made it out of this one

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Rex Morgan, M.D., 3/17/21

“Butch Belluso” is of course, Rene Belluso, who once upon a time was Sarah’s art teacher, hired by the mob queenpin who had taken Sarah under her wing and also employed Rene for a little light art forgery. Since he parted company from his erstwhile employers, he’s engaged in a number of scams, like comics fraud and new age flim-flammery and even a little light COVID grifting, so he’s definitely a guy not into “the law” or whatever, but he’s never exactly struck me as the type who’d kidnap anyone, or go out in a blaze of glory in a shootout with the cops, no matter what literary genre he’s situated in. Then again, this is Sarah’s fantasy, so maybe despite her amnesia her subconscious remembers that he once got to order her around, and now she wants him dead from multiple gunshots to the face.

Hi and Lois, 3/17/21

As a fan of Thirsty sticking to his canonical role as this strip’s alcoholic, I’m not troubled by his declaration that he’s “on the wagon” today: his rumpled appearance and his immediate substitution of another chemical fix for his troubles (the raw uncut sugar in Lucky Charms marshmallows) tells me that this isn’t a serious stab at recovery, but rather just another move in his roller-coaster life of hilarious drunkery.

Mary Worth, 3/17/21

Guys, there are few bigger fans of dogs and the work they do than me, but … this is a lot, right? I’m beginning to think that a dog, or maybe a top-flight content marketing agency hired by all dogs everywhere, wrote this.

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Crankshaft, 3/11/21

OK, so we’ve been having a bit of fun with “The current run of Crankshaft strips were probably written in the early days of the pandemic, with somewhat amusing results.” But I think we can all agree that it’s a little uncanny that, in the year-ago writing strategy sessions, Funkyco decided that by March 2021 necessary post-pandemic fiscal stimulus would be held up by partisan legislative wrangling. Like, it wouldn’t have been impossible to predict, but I’m honestly pretty impressed — impressed enough that I was going to forgive today’s strip for neglecting to actually include a joke, until I remembered that mixing together two common and semantically related turns of phrase counts as a “joke” in Crankshaft.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 3/11/21

God, think about how sad it is to have a little kid visualize her dad wearing vaguely old-timey clothes while talking to his boring-ass real-life friends vague acquaintances, and saying that represents her “imagination run[ning] wild.” Guess that head injury was even worse than we thought, huh?

Mary Worth, 3/11/21

In other news, I’ve figured out what the absolute grossest phrase you can use while flirting is, and it’s “The dogs are chowing down … and now it’s our turn!”

Pluggers, 3/11/21

TIRED: Pluggers represent the “forgotten man” (and woman), the ones who keep their heads down and keep this country running despite tough times and the disdain of the elites.

WIRED: Pluggers have mastered the technology to send their enemies to the Phantom Zone. They experimented on their own parents to hone this weapon and will surely show us no mercy!

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Mary Worth, 3/5/21

Good news, everyone! Max got scared in a thunderstorm and ran away but Saul and Eve went to look for him and found him more or less immediately, with no real drama of any kind. They only got slightly rained on for their troub[squints at panel] ah, actually, they remained dry and comfortable throughout the ordeal as well. The overall lesson of this storyline is that dogs are good, and also pretty easy to find.

Family Circus, 3/5/21

Though cruelly slamming on the Family Circus is one of the oldest traditions of online comics-mocking, predating even this blog, you have to give the strip credit where it’s due, especially when it comes to “can you believe this fucking shit” facial expressions from the Keane parents. Thel is sporting a doozy today, and with very good reason! I myself am having a hard time believing this fucking shit.

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 3/5/21

“You mean which superhero do I most want to have sex with, right? It’s Wonder Wo– [sees wife coming] I mean, Superman. I want to have sex with Superman. Whew, dodged a bullet there.”

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Funky Winkerbean, 3/2/21

Oh, boy, it looks like the early coronavirus pandemic echoes in Funkyverse strips that were probably written a year ago have reached the mothership, everybody! It’s funny that Crankshaft used the opportunity to do some zany jokes about hand sanitizer and whatnot, whereas in Funky Winkerbean itself the key question is “How can we make this global pandemic, which is particularly dangerous to the immunocompromised, all about Les — specifically, how can we show that Les is the real hero in Lisa’s cancer story, and is also unpleasantly neurotic?”

Crankshaft, 3/2/21

Meanwhile, Crankshaft is just riffing on headlines like “How a superspreader at choir practice sickened 52 people with COVID-19” with bits like “Wouldn’t it be funny if in the middle of a choral performance, the old lady playing the organ just straight-up dropped dead? Right there in church? In front of everybody?”

Mary Worth, 3/2/21

Look, it’s all fun and games to claim, without evidence, that your dog is a “champion tracker” when you never go hunting and there are no real stakes to it, especially when your dog is a tiny dachsund with a comically large snout! How much tracking does anyone’s pet dog do on a regular basis, anyway? Hardly none, right? But just know that if you say this sort of thing enough, you might eventually be called upon to render actual tracking services, and that can get real awkward real fast.