Archive: Beetle Bailey

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The Lockhorns, 7/31/21

A fascinating thing about longstanding legacy comics is that many of their running jokes are built on cliches pulled from the broader culture at large, and then they keep on using those cliches for decades, even as they completely lose all real-world relevance. For instance, The Lockhorns posits a world where opera still holds a place in the cultural sphere that leads downwardly mobile middle-class suburbanites like Leroy and Loretta to occasionally attend, even if enjoyment of the form is strongly gendered for joke purposes. Maybe this was true in 1968 when this strip debuted, or maybe adults in 1968 had memories that this was true for their parents’ generation, but I would strongly disagree with anyone claiming this is true in the year 2021. Opera today is very niche, and I think its shrinking modern audience is probably a fairly specific slice of intellectual urbanites, and older ones at that, whereas Leroy and Loretta are are somewhere in the 30-50 range (that’s right, folks: with each passing day, Leroy and Loretta are more and more likely to be millennials).

Now, you could probably do a more realistic version of these jokes with “the philharmonic” rather than opera, but, you know what? The Lockhorns has been doing opera jokes for more than 50 years and it’s not going to stop now just because “no real-life version of Leroy or Loretta today would ever be caught dead at the opera” or whatever! And they’re not going to dumb it down for you, either! Did you know that Nabucco was a Verdi opera? I definitely did not! I definitely had to look it up! Is there any other way you would know that it’s opera specifically that Leroy is griping about in this panel, if you didn’t know that off the top of your head? Not as near as I can tell! They could’ve thrown us a bone and used Aida or The Ring Cycle or something ore obvious, but no, if you’re not intellectual enough to “get” this Lockhorns panel or do the research to bring yourself up to speed, then that’s your problem, friend.

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 7/31/21

“Ha ha! Overswept! But seriously, a child under our care has collapsed into exhausted unconsciousness because she’s done too much manual labor. That seems … not great?”

Beetle Bailey, 7/31/21

Sadly, that night an enemy unit was able to ambush the sleeping soldiers of Camp Swampy, killing most and capturing the rest. RIP Beetle Bailey, 1950-2021.

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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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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: