Archive: Barney Google & Snuffy Smith

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Panels from Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 5/27/18

To be somewhat serious for a minute: when I joke about the grinding rural poverty in Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, which I do a lot, I hope I’m making it clear that my intention is make fun of the callous contrast between actual rural poverty, which is still very real and very grinding in the year 2018, and the weird “funny” play-acting version of rural poverty in Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, much of the iconography of which was developed during the vogue of hillbilly humor that was at its peak when this strip’s action pivoted from the big city to Hootin’ Holler in 1934. The characters are for the most part relatively untroubled by their circumstances, and, in a tradition that goes back through Sanford and Son all the way to ancient Greek comedies, are often depicted as being wiser and more content than their more sophisticated and less impoverished contemporaries, when they occasionally encounter them. Every once in a while, though, in some of the incidental background gags of the strip, you get a glimpse of something really depressing, like the fact that the Smiths live in a single-room shack with different ad-hoc living spaces created by patched curtains hanging from the ceiling. Or today, where the “joke” of the throwaway panels is that the Smith home has a leaky roof and so on rainy days their children are wet and miserable, even when they’re inside. That’s not a joke at all! It’s actually incredibly sad!

Mary Worth, 5/27/18

[earlier that week, in Mary’s apartment, Ian and Toby are reading off of scripts Mary has provided]

TOBY [haltingly]: Congratulations. We love … reading your work.

IAN [extremely sarcastic]: Fabulous news, my friend. I especially like your “Success Stories.”

TOBY: And I…

MARY [interrupting]: No, Ian, it’s “Survival Stories,” not “Success Stories.” We have to make him believe you actually read it. Do you want him to throw himself off a cliff?

IAN: Honestly, I’m of two minds about that, Mary…

MARY: Zip it. You’re going through this charade or I post to the local Nextdoor everything you’ve confided in me over the years. Capisce?

[sullen silence]

MARY: OK, take it from the top. And it wouldn’t hurt to smile a little.

TOBY [way too loudly]: Congratulation! We love reading your work!

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Crock, 5/23/18

A “favorite” joke format in Crock is “the troopers are getting so young,” which I guess is supposed to just be about how when you get older people come into the workforce who are themselves adults but who seem like children to you because the age gap between them and you is so big, but has the (I hope) unintentional effect of implying that France, beset by manpower shortages in its horrific and failing colonial war in the Maghreb, has been forced to deploy child soldiers. Fortunately, since e-mail has been a widespread and indeed in some contexts primary means of communication for 20 years, today’s strip is here to let us know that the Legion is now fully manned with adult recruits of prime military age.

Shoe, 5/23/18

“You know, Foster’s has a really effective advertising campaign in the States as ‘Australian for beer,’ but in fact it’s not particularly popular in Australia. No, my parents were really into beers like Carlton Draught and Tooheys New.”

“Is Foster’s a kind of beer? I was saying that the state put you in a foster home, because your parents were drunks.”

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 5/23/18

“I dug up his grave in th’ dead of night, cracked open his coffin, and cut off his beard for Jughaid t’ wear. He’s frownin’ on account of th’ smell!”

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Crock, 5/18/18

Since I started the week saying nice things about some legacy strips, I might as well end it the same way: I genuinely laughed at the intended joke in today’s Crock, of all things. On the unintended humor tip, I like the dark rings around Captain Preppie’s eyes; I’m assuming that’s just supposed to represent how furious he is at the indignities he’s suffering, but it kind of looks like these horny, crazed women have been punching him in the face, the better to strip his clothes off while he’s stunned from their blows.

Mary Worth, 5/18/18

Good news, everybody! Wilbur went to therapy once and now his cancelled column has been restored. I guess good things really do happen when you do the hard work on yourself!

Barney Google and Snuff Smith, 5/18/18

“And my supper! And my lonch tomorrow! And so on for the next several days! The nearest movie theater is a perilous journey, spanning many miles on foot down treacherous unpaved mountain roads!”

Shoe, 5/18/18

But when you ‘buy,’ you should jump right in without asking questions! (The content in today’s Shoe is presented in partnership with the National Automobile Dealers Association.)