Archive: Barney Google & Snuffy Smith

Post Content

Dennis the Menace and Hi and Lois, 10/29/20

Truly, there’s nothing more menacing than a child who becomes extremely aware of their own ability to perform a sort of exaggerated pantomime of childhood antics. Look at Dennis’s sickeningly smug facial expression in panel two — it’s like he didn’t ruin the wall for the joy of it, but rather just so he could unleash this sub-Family Circusism on his poor mother. Dot, too, is really overdoing it; a child rejoicing in the suffering of a sibling is demonstrating a distasteful but natural human emotion, but she’s making such a big deal of her cruel mirth that it’s clearly meant for an audience, one that for the moment is withholding the attention she so obviously and pathetically craves.

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 10/29/20

Snuffy’s facial expression similarly seems wildly overdone, but I think we’re supposed to read it as genuine. See, he’s really depressed because he’s so poor and so deep in debt that he can’t afford to buy anything to eat, which is … the punchline to this strip, I guess?

Post Content

Family Circus, 10/27/20

I am extremely tickled that Dolly is standing on a stool in order to deliver this joke. I assume it’s a practical cartooning matter — if she were on the floor, she’d be cropped out by the circular border of the panel — but I’d like to imagine that she laboriously dragged the stool in in from the other room and climbed up on it so she could really get in her mother’s face with her latest nonsense, with Ma Keane refusing to make eye contact with her or acknowledge her in any way all the while.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 10/27/20

So it turns out the bad thing Sarah did was … that she gave her self a haircut, and not even in a comical or interesting way, and June was able to fix it without too much trouble, and even if she couldn’t, Sarah is like eight years old and does everything by Zoom right now, so who cares if her hair looks a little funny, you know? But that isn’t going to stop us from debriefing about it for days, and it won’t stop Rex — who, remember, is working in a COVID ward and the current strips are taking place in the initial wave of the pandemic so presumably he’s watching multiple people die daily despite his best medical efforts — from treating this as the biggest disappointment he’s encountered in his life to date. Rex says that he would’ve never thought to cut his own hair as a child, and it definitely tracks that he was boring as shit from the minute he was born.

Mark Trail, 10/27/20

Oh, huh, I see that Happy Trail Farms really is where various Mark clones are spawned using forbidden science, exactly as I predicted. Maybe we need to have a Crisis on Infinite Trails, with DoddTrail, ElrodTrail, and AllenTrail vanquished in combat, before RiveraTrail can thrive, to the extent that freelance writing in the clickbait era can be called “thriving.”

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 10/27/20

Ha ha, it’s funny because Hootin’ Holler is so impoverished and isolated that it cannot participate in the modern economy, which is built around the mass manufacturing of complex devices out of standardized and interchangeable components!

Post Content

Gasoline Alley, 10/1/20

A thing I often wonder when reading Gasoline Alley is, “Who is this for?” Like, are we meant to identify with its cast of stylized mid-century rustics and diner denizens? Are meant to laugh at them? Are we meant recognize them as a faint echo of a time almost gone from living memory now? Should we be reading the footnote in today’s second panel and thinking “Ah yes, I there was once a time when a real American would refuse a latinate word like instrument and instead simply call these music-producing boxes what they are, and that time was better than the corrupt era in which we now live”? Or are we supposed to be thinking “A music box is the thing with a ballet dancer on top that you wind up, what an absolute bunch of morons these guys are, I certainly hope they get sent back to prison?”

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 10/1/20

Meanwhile — and I say this not on the basis of any insider industry knowledge, just a gut feeling — Barney Google and Snuffy Smith feels, well, more established. More sure of itself. Who is Snuffy Smith for? Well, at some point it was for people who enjoyed the Depression-era vogue for cruel jokes about hillbillies, but those people are all dead now, so it’s actually just for people who enjoy, or at least cannot imagine a world without, Sniffy Smith. And so it gets to do what it wants. If it wants to do a strip about starving hillbilly babies turning to cannibalism, can it do it? Sure. Why not? It has nothing to prove and nothing to lose.