Archive: Crankshaft

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Mary Worth, 1/20/20

Well, Thyroid Awareness Month has wrapped up nicely, with Zak doubling down on his grim determination to be the most supportive boyfriend possible by buying Iris healthy food and not making her feel bad about doing less volunteer work so she can conserve her Hashimoto’s-sapped energy. Now we’re shifting gears: did you know that January is also There Are No Good Men Left Once You’re In Your 60s So Just Settle For Whoever Or You’ll Die Alone Awareness Month? It’s true! And Estelle and Wilbur are going to make you ever more aware of this over the coming weeks, as Estelle forces herself to laugh at Wilbur’s terrible jokes and tries to forget his appalling behavior and just generally unpleasant personality.

Gasoline Alley, 1/20/20

I’m not even going to bother bringing you up to speed on Gasoline Alley, but I am going to say this: if you’ve given one of your characters a “whimsical” name like “Baleen,” I think it’s kind of weird to milk laughs out of other characters finding it strange? I dunno, it just seems kind of overdetermined to me. Long story short, I hope our salty waitress has a long and serious talk with this young man about the difference between baleen whales, which use bony plates to filter food out of the water as it passes through their mouths, and toothed whales like the orca.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 1/20/20

Back in the days when Woody Wilson wrote this strip, people used to give the Morgans stuff all the time: free tickets to SeaWorld, steeply discounted vacation homes, and so on. But under Terry Beatty’s watch, the gravy train has been slowed somewhat. Sure, June and Rex scored some free toddlers a couple years back, but her best friend had to die to make that happen. Fortunately, the Morgans don’t care about other people’s well-being, really, so Aunt Tildy’s transparent hint that she’s gonna drop dead soon really ought to have June’s ears pricking up. What are they going to get in the will, do you suppose?

Crankshaft, 1/20/20

Man, I am mesmerized by whatever is in Crankshaft’s spoon here. Sure, he could easily make himself some kind of soggy off-brown slurry to eat at home for much less money, but then he wouldn’t be able to trade bon mots with his friends as he chokes the tasteless stuff down, you know?

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Mark Trail, 1/16/20

DRAMATIC MUSIC STING!!!!!! Much like Captain Ahab of literary fame, Dr. Camel has been on a single-minded mission of bloody vengeance ever since one of nature’s magnificent, savage creatures took his leg. And, sure, you’d think Mark or someone else would’ve noticed that Harvey has a prosthesis as they hiked together for miles through the foothills of the Himalayas, though maybe technology has advanced far enough that it isn’t really noticeable, making its revelation at this narratively opportune moment possible, or maybe Mark is so free of ableism that he noticed but didn’t find the fact remarkable so it never got worked into the strip’s narrative, who can say, but the point is that we now know how this is going to end: with Harvey’s corpse lashed to the yeti’s massive body, his arm seeming to beckon others to follow, and Genie, Mingma, and Pemba eagerly pursuing the monster into the forest while only Mark remains behind to write the tale, Ishmael-like, except unlike Ishmael he’ll be writing it for a glossy magazine with a fancy New York HQ, which will recompense him handsomely for his troubles.

Crankshaft, 1/16/20

Over in Crankshaft, we’re in the midst of a storyline where Ed and Lillian are in competition to see who can get more birds at their feeder, and today is the day we learn just how seriously Lillian takes this whole thing, since she’s clearly willing to sacrifice everything to win. Although perhaps she aims for a double victory: to escape by means of sweet death the unending sorrow of life in the Funkyverse, leaving Crankshaft, still alive and suffering, to watch the birds flock to his neighbor’s yard instead of his.

Crock, 1/16/20

We all know, of course, that Crock is in a twilight of endless reruns, and I have to assume that the same economic pressures that encourage syndicates to just rerun outdated comics instead of paying for new ones also preclude hiring much by way of editorial staff to supervise said reruns; perhaps the publication of old Crocks is entirely automated — I’m visualizing a robot arm pulling paper copies of strips out of a filing cabinet at random here. But let me gently suggest that it would be worth it to have someone to give these strips a once-over before they go out, if only to ensure that you don’t publish one where a punchline about some seemingly futuristic technology has now, a decade or two it was written, just become a straightforward description of a thing people do all the time.

Family Circus, 1/16/20

The Family Circus knows how to keep up with modern technology without much effort, simply replacing the earlier punchlines that ran with this panel (“See? I photocopied her” and “See? I bedoubled her once and then again, with the aid of my master, the Devil”) with something slightly more up-to-date.

Funky Winkerbean, 1/16/20

Oh, now I get why Les was withholding his emotional approval from this project: he was waiting for someone to explain that he could have more unearned praise heaped upon him, in the form of major awards, if it went forward! It’s a good thing that Mason doesn’t think the Oscars are a joke anymore, or, conversely, that he believes so firmly that they’re a joke that he thinks Lisa’s Story can win one, because it’s a sad story about a regular lady who died of cancer.

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Gentle readers! Welcome back to The Comics Curmudgeon! I hope you enjoyed the holiday break from the comics; as usual, I couldn’t keep away from my beloved continuity strips, so I’m offering a quick end-of-year roundup here. I sincerely hope that your Christmas was better than that experienced by the denizens of the Funkyverse. I mean, just look at these sad, sorry bastards.

Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft, 12/25/19

All us of course hope that our Christmas celebration will be as good as Mary Worth’s Christmas celebration…

Mary Worth, 12/25/19

…to which you’ll note that Wilbur, who Mary has been endlessly talking up as a suitable romantic partner, has not been invited. Ian has been invited to this thing, and Wilbur still didn’t make the cut. I love Dr. Jeff’s sweater, which is meant to make clear his constant joy at Wilbur’s absence.

(By the way, if you want to express your joy, or anger, at 2019’s Mary Worth, be sure to vote in the Worthy Awards, the Mary Worth gala put on by faithful reader Wanders! Give your opinion on such important categories as “Outstanding Performance By An Inconsequential Character,” “Outstanding Representation Of Food,” and “Outstanding Floating Head.”)

Mary Worth, 12/26/19

I guess Estelle and Wilbur have decided to spend Christmas together at the karaoke bar instead. Gotta love Wilbur’s wild-eyed plunge into the barrel of music-related metaphors for how desperate he is for Estelle to spend time with him!

Curtis, 12/26/19

Curtis used to do extremely bonkers Kwanzaa storylines every year, featuring bat-winged bears and telepathic otters, but mostly the strip abandoned the concept, despite a few half-assed revivals. But I’m hoping that this year’s revival, starring a mysterious tween wearing a deeply unsettling wooden mask, will feature at least three-quarters of an ass’s worth of effort.

Funky Winkerbean, 12/28/19

Just a brief reminder that it isn’t just the Funkyverse characters we know who are tiresome beyond belief; everyone in this cursed plane of existence is exactly this terrible. It’s a wonder they haven’t all murdered each other.

Mark Trail, 12/28/19

Look, Mark, there’s just no way to earn respect within the cryptid investigator community unless you bring a hitherto legendary creature to New York and put him in chains for Broadway audiences to gawk at, OK? Mere regional theater just isn’t going to cut it!

Mary Worth, 12/28/19

My father was an alcoholism counselor for many years and he introduced me to the concept of a “dry drunk,” an addict who decides to stop using because they recognize their addiction as a barrier that stops them from getting things they want in life, but who never truly grapple with the root causes of their addictive behavior in the first place, and who therefore continue to act out in other ways. The canonical example of a dry drunk that he used was Jack Torrence, the father in The Shining who was played by Jack Nicholson in the movie version. Just putting that out there for Estelle to think about!

Dick Tracy, 12/29/19

The latest story of Splitface sure wrapped up quickly, and boringly, and Steve Roper and Mike Nomad went home, but good news: we’ve got a new story with a new villain: Mr. Roboto! Does Mr. Roboto appear to be some dude wearing the Mr. Roboto costume from Styx’s Kilroy Was Here rock opera? Yes. Is Mr. Robot possibly former Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung, who wore the costume on-stage, possibly because his acrimonious split with his bandmates has driven him to a life of crime? Let’s hope!

Mark Trail, 12/29/19

Mark Trail spent the final Sunday of 2019 reminding you that just because some socialist tried convince you that America belongs to its people, bears don’t buy that Marxist claptrap. Bears don’t believe in capitalism either, so we can’t even buy America from them. Nope, the only way to make their land our land is to defeat them in single combat. Or you could slowly back away from them, like a coward, if you’re OK with their rule!

Mary Worth, 12/29/19

“Only alcohol could encourage someone to take a risk with a potentially exciting payoff,” thinks Wilbur. “I guess that sort of thing is behind me, now that I don’t drink anymore. This attitude definitely won’t be setting me up for trouble further down the road!”

Dick Tracy, 12/30/19

Wow, I guess I assumed when a criminal comes up with a whole robot/Styx persona, he has something more exciting in mind for his crime spree than just … robbing banks? Seems kind of basic, to be honest. You could’ve done this in a ski mask just as effectively.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 12/30/19


Mary Worth, 12/31/19

“He didn’t offer you injections of the serum that has kept me ageless for more than three hundred years? I’m so sorry, my dear, I thought I put you on the list!”

Mark Trail, 1/1/20

Gosh, I guess Harvey Camel isn’t such a bad guy after all! Nope, it’s Genie who’s the money grubber we’re all going to have to keep an eye on! Poor Genie: she always knows how to count things — how many people live in Kathmandu, how many dollars a live yeti could be sold for on the black market — but she never knows the true worth of things, like a monopoly granted by the Nepalese government on all-inclusive tours to the yeti-rich Himalayan foothills, run by Dr. Camel and his trusted contractors.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 1/1/20

“I mean ‘golden’ pretty literally. Anyone called ‘the Count’ was probably quite rich, and it sounds like you might be one of this woman’s only heirs. Let’s start formulating a plan to make sure she still likes us but also maybe we subtly exacerbate any pre-existing medical conditions she might have.”

Curtis, 1/1/20

Oh hell yeah, mask-girl’s gonna melt some bad guy with her unmasked face. This will be the best Kwanzaa ever!

In 2020, keep coming back to this site for all the stuff you love, which I will keep doing, as well as any of the stuff you don’t like, because I’m pretty much not planning on changing anything! Though I will say that if one of the things you don’t like is the ads on the site, you can become a Comics Curmudgeon supporter for $3 a month and get an ad-free site and more! And if one of the things you love about the site is when I promote my live comedy shows, good news, because I’m going to keep doing that, too. Like, here’s a reminder: I’m doing an Internet Read Aloud show in Los Angeles this Friday, January 3rd, at 8 pm (Facebook event here):

AND I’ll be putting on a special version of the show at SF Sketchfest on Saturday, January 18, co-hosted by Conor Lastowka, and featuring Bill Corbett of MST3K/Rifftrax and Laser Malena-Webber of the Doubleclicks, among others!

Tickets are limited so buy some now!