Archive: Ballard Street

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Mark Trail, 9/11/10

Have you ever had a moment when something you’ve looked at every day, for years, suddenly reconfigures, and your entire worldview shatters and reforms with searing clarity? Well, that’s what happened when I read this Mark Trail, which reveals that “Mark,” “Cherry,” and “Rusty” are actually three adorably frolicking horses — horses that like to imagine what it would be like to be human. Everything is explained: the unnatural dialogue (based on the deliberately child-like and stilted speech that humans use when they talk to animals), the freakish morphing forms (can we really expect interspecies facial recognition to go off without a hitch?), the fact that human society as depicted has less and less basis in reality the further we get from Lost Forest. It’s sort of heartbreaking that the weirdly malformed humans we’ve spent so much time with are actually these beautiful galloping animals. Too bad Frank is going to lure them into his hunting pen and let his political buddies shoot them for sport.

Apartment 3-G, 9/11/10

Do you think that comics colorists simply have too much pride to admit when they make a mistake? I mean, technically there was no indication when Lu Ann appeared on Thursday what color her hair was supposed to be, so red was as good a guess as any. But now that we learn that Lu Ann’s hair is supposed to be a “rich brown,” and our colorists are refusing to take the hint. “No, damn you! The Lu Ann of my masturbatory fantasies is a redhead, and a redhead she will remain!”

Gil Thorp, 9/11/10

Ha ha, look at how happy Gil and Kaz look! It’s because they’ve once again found someone who, as a result of some gaping emotional wound, is willing to do their jobs for them. And before the first game is even played, too!

Luann, 9/11/10

After Dirk strangles the DeGroots, the strip’s narrative will (literally) violently change directions, as it gets renamed The Talented Mr. Dirk and follows its new title character’s unseemly adventures.

Ballard Street, 9/11/10

I only discuss Ballard Street here when its “insane lunatics doing baffling things” schtick crosses over from “bonkers” to “unsettling,” and I think today’s panel, which features a sour-faced old woman engaging in harrowing self-harm, more than qualifies.

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Funky Winkerbean and Gil Thorp, 6/19/10

I do bring up the concept “Chekhov’s Gun” a lot in this space — the Russian playwright once noted that “if in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired” — but only because it works so well conceptually with the the painful plotting of continuity comics, in which you always, always see the horror/delight coming. For instance, every cell in every character in Funky Winkerbean is tiny microscopic Chekhov’s Gun, just waiting to burst into glorious deadly cancer. The title character’s own simmering alcoholism serves a similar role, with the question not being if he would backslide into a hateful downward spiral of boozing but when. And now the answer to that when has been revealed to be “twenty minutes after he put his dad into a nursing home.”

But sometimes you don’t see these things coming, and that’s always a pleasant surprise, even if the results are unpleasant for the characters concerned. For instance, I would never have picked Coach Mrs. Coach Thorp as one to drown her sorrows at her coaching failures in booze (though the booze in question is a nice glass of red wine, because she is classy, and a lady). Still, it makes sense, as her husband is pretty much drunk all the time, which is why he doesn’t care that he hasn’t won a championship in any sport in years. He seems pretty happy, so why wouldn’t she follow his example?

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 6/19/10

Longtime readers of Snuffy Smith know that Parson Tuttle, Hootin’ Holler’s only clergyman, is a fraud who plays upon the simple hill folks’ earnest religious impulses to line his own pockets. Thus it should come as no surprise that the ministership of the local ramshackle church is actually a Tuttle clan sinecure, jealously kept within a single family whose members lost their faith generations ago, but refuse to give up a cushy gig.

Ballard Street, 6/19/10

It’s actually pretty rare for me to discuss Ballard Street, as it usually consists of insane people doing inscrutable things in a more or less amusing fashion, which doesn’t leave much room for commentary. As far as I can remember, it never, ever features talking animals of any sort, which makes today’s horror even harder to explain. The people in the comic sometimes dress up in elaborate costumes; are those meant to be people in cowsuits? If so, the business with the “udder” is even more nightmarish than what a plain reading of the strip would suggest.

Mark Trail, 6/19/10

When ordinary mortals lose a pet, they tape signs announcing the fact and the associated reward to lampposts throughout the area where the poor little critter might be. When Mark Trail loses a pet, the local daily paper runs an enormous picture and a two-column story about it in the A section. Why isn’t this on the front page? Was there a nuclear war or something?

Family Circus, 6/19/10

Big Daddy Keane will be using the crayons to depict himself as a member of a non-white ethnic group, so that he can look at the picture and pretend that he is not related to this gaggle of monsters.

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Apartment 3-G, 8/21/09

Oh, Margo, I know that talking about the good times helps the healing process along, but describing your and Eric’s sex life in vivid terms will only serve to make everyone uncomfortable.

Ballard Street, 8/21/09

As a rule, I only mention Ballard Street, which generally depicts lunatics doing inscrutable things, when it’s particularly insane, and I certainly think that today’s installment, in which the McCullys are apparently eating their dog, qualifies.

Marmaduke, 8/21/09

In an attempt to put a stop to the damage that Marmaduke is doing to His creation, God Himself is attempting to melt the demon-hound with His divine radiance, with only partial success.

Ziggy, 8/21/09

This chef is attempting to get Ziggy high, on Robitussin.