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Sam and Silo, 9/9/22

In their book Engineering Happiness, economists Rakesh Sarin and Manel Baucells define the “fundamental question” of wellbeing as Happiness = Reality – Expectations. Here, Sam and Silo illustrate the special case when you can’t do the math.

Six Chix, 9/9/22

This strip about a mess is the tidiest artwork we’ve seen in Six Chix all week.

Dick Tracy, 9/9/22

Dick Tracy babies enter the world under a cloud of schtick. “Attitude” here was named for Eddie Tude, a rando pizza delivery driver who drove mom Gertie to the maternity hospital in 2011. We’re informed he (Attitude) is ugly, but never see his face. He has an owl pet/mimic/familiar. He throws things at his dad B.O., though without enough force to actually kill the annoying old coot. He is a disappointment to Dick Tracy fans in every possible way.

Sally Forth, 9/9/22

Sally, you’re in H.R. You’ll be plenty busy once the restructuring gets rolling, followed by plenty of time off.

Well, time to pack things up around here and wipe the bourbon off the console for Josh’s triumphant return. Thanks for a delightful time!

–Uncle Lumpy

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Mark Trail, 9/8/22

New Mark Trail introduces new characters and subplots at such a pace it’s easy for readers to get lost. The entire “Jimmy Songbird geese stopover” seems to have been engineered solely to slip the ridiculous word “keytar” into the strip as often as possible. Collegial hint to fellow author: “Keytar! Keytar! Keytar!” You’re welcome.

Still, it’s a little unsettling when the characters themselves lose their places and start going off at cross-purposes. So here’s a helpful guide:

Character Should be doing Is doing
Diana Daggers–Producer/Director Organizing an interview that entertains and makes Rex look good Pissing off the interviewee, risking cancellation of the entire project
Tess Tigress–Spa Owner/Interviewee Upgrading the “Tiger Touch” brand from “Roadside Attraction” to “Spa.” Throwing out the Producer/Director at risk to the interview and brand
Rex Scorpius–Celebrity Interviewer Conducting an entertaining interview with his subject Putting his personal therapeutic needs before his audience
Mark Trail–Wildlife Reporter Reporting the interview for readers of Teen Sparkle Going all fanboy on Rex Scorpius, making Cherry jealous

Get on track, you guys! Don’t make me come back there!

Judge Parker, 9/8/22

I hurt my brain trying to figure out what Abbey is mad about here: “Sam, I threw you out of the house because you didn’t tell me about (then-) Deputy Mayor Stewart’s false accusations and fabricated evidence that I committed arson.” [OK: poor communications on Sam’s part and condescension that Abbey couldn’t handle the news, but this is a marriage-breaker? Nobody who has ever been married would think so.] “Now, [I believe that] you have released news of Deputy Mayor Stewart’s perfidy to the press, proving to one and all that I have not committed arson; therefore I am angry at you because ….” [AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUGH!]

All of the drama in Judge Parker—every last bit— is now Who Said What to Whom and How Dare They. It’s like watching two fourteen-year-old girls slash each other up in text messages. Panel-two Abbey really embraces the role. Though in fairness, Sam is a skank, Marie never did like him anyway, and how dare he call Abbey “unhinged”!

Crankshaft, 9/8/22

One thing a cartoonist—or a second-string comics curmudgeon—learns early is this: if you’re on deadline and can’t deliver an actual joke, string together a series of evocative phrases even if on closer inspection they make no actual sense: maybe nobody will notice! See yesterday’s Luann post for a recent example. Pretty lame stuff!

So Mason, if people already don’t know who you are, why do you need to buy a failed theater to enjoy the experience? Unless “talking to Ed Crankshaft” is your idea of “fun in the dark,” in which case Cindy would like a word.

Phew—made deadline again! I’m on a roll!

–Uncle Lumpy

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Slylock Fox, 9/7/22 (panel)

Well, you could find all the S-words. Alternatively, you could assign names beginning with the letter S to all the elements: Siamese, sycamore, stratus, sun, starling, shack: try it!

Slylock‘s original premise seems rooted in the ancient gnostic belief that knowing the “true names” of things and beings confers power over them. You could give that a try, too, and maybe acquire godlike power over the stuff in today’s episode of Slylock Fox and Comics for Kids. For which, congratulations, I guess.

Gil Thorp, 9/7/22

Wow, the plot developments in the new Gil Thorp are coming thick and fast. Here we learn that the Thorps’ impending divorce has less to do with Gil’s roving eye or frequent absences and more with Mimi’s long-suppressed LPGA dreams. Which I could really get into, except Mimi’s Mom is wearing Gil’s face and it’s creeping me out.

Luann, 9/7/22

It’s an iron law in comics that nothing must ever change. Calvin and Dennis must stay five forever; Marvin never leave his diaper; Charlie Brown never grow up. When a cartoonist slips up in the name of “progress” or “development,” all hell breaks loose. Characters in real-time strips like For Better or for Worse or Gasoline Alley age out of their cute zones into boring adults or, eventually, horrifying rattletraps like century-and-change Walt Wallet. The famous time-skip in Funky Winkerbean tried to shift focus to sons and daughters, failed, and went back to its increasingly creaky main cast.

So it is with Luann‘s post-graduation stories. A few characters got cashiered outright: Knute, Crystal, Mr. Fogarty. But with some obvious substitutions—ethnic ciphers Dez and Bets for ethnic ciphers Delta and Rosa—the cast and plots are the same, except for Tiffany here. She literally grew out of her “shallow, pretty cheerleader” role when she gained weight “dealing with depression” in 2017. So, in classic Darwinian fashion, here comes Stef to occupy her niche. The strip is now working hard to throw her a lifeline with a “poor little rich girl” role. Hold onto it, Tiff—hold on for dear life. The shadow of Walt Wallet looms large.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 9/7/22

Buck! Buck! All is forgiven! Come back Buck, please! Buuuuuuuuuuuuck!

–Uncle Lumpy