Archive: Dennis the Menace

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Funky Winkerbean, 1/26/21

“Man,” thought Harry Dinkle, “I remember back in the day, these conferences used to be fun! People had a sense of humor, liked to joke around. Now they’re a bunch of stick-in-the-muds who’ll bite your head off for no reason. Also, totally unrelated, it used to be a lot easier to find someone who had cocaine.”

Mother Goose and Grimm, 1/26/21

Strips like Mother Goose and Grimm really veer back and forth between “These characters are basically humans who happen to look like animals” and “These characters are animals with animal-like traits,” and I want to make clear that I fully recognize that this is in fact part of the fun of the strip, not a “goof” or a “mistake” or whatever. Still, I think the veering back and forth can sometimes veer into unintentionally awkward territory, like today, when the joke is supposed to be “Ha ha, Attila is a character in this strip who talks and thinks like a person but is also a cat,” but the execution, especially the whisper and look of panic on the sales lady’s face, really gives off a strong “please help me escape from this abusive relationship” vibe.

Dennis the Menace, 1/26/21

Speaking of which, I don’t usually look at a Dennis the Menace punchline and say “Jeez, I hope this is a sex thing,” but for the sake of Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, I sincerely hope this is a sex thing.

Pluggers, 1/26/21

Fun fact for those of us rapidly aging into the plugger demographic: the “More Cowbell” sketch first aired in 2000! Can you imagine! Anyway, a better caption here would be “It’s been about 20 years since pluggers have been able to stay awake late enough to watch SNL.

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Blondie, 1/20/21

Much as I would like to live in a world where, even in bland suburban communities like the one where the Bumsteads live, there are standalone storefronts that cater entirely to readers of niche publications like Vinyl and Fish and Giants Fan, I feel I must point out that even full-service bookstores are having a hard time staying afloat in the age of Amazon, so I am forced to describe the setting of today’s Blondie as “wholly unrealistic.” I’m trying to imagine the sequence of decisions that led to the creation of today’s strip, and while it makes sense that the writer of a legacy newspaper strip would imagine a paradise where print media still ruled, I think it’s more likely that they came up with a magazine joke first and were trying to figure out where to set it and thought “magazine … store?” and decided to call it a day at that point.

Dennis the Menace, 1/20/21

Gina has long been one of the less interesting characters in Dennis the Menace, since her whole deal seems to be “a girl, but less annoying than Margaret.” But she’s certainly shot to the top of the menacing charts with her new project, the Neighborhood Racial Purity Census.

Hi and Lois, 1/20/21

Dawg’s dead, everyone. Dawg’s dead and he’s in heaven now. Pour one out for Dawg, the beloved dog character from the syndicated newspaper comic Hi and Lois!

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Gil Thorp, 1/18/21

As a man born in 1974 and thus smack in the middle of the Gen X cohort, I have been mostly safe during the raging Millennial vs. Boomer wars, and have thus been able to take a sort of detached view of them. One of the conclusions I’ve come to is that we’re way too free and easy with generational essentialism when we should just be engaging in basic agism. To put it another way, a lot of the stereotypes about how “Millennials suck” or “Boomers suck” are actually just ways in which young people and old people suck, respectively, and how they’ve always sucked no matter what year they were born, and in fact many of the ways Boomers suck now are the ways in which Millennials will suck in 30 years or so.

Anyway, a particularly pernicious habit of the agèd is the belief that their fondly remembered youth in particular is not just particularly vivid in their mind because that was when they were young and their life was full of promise, but because it was in fact the most important historical moment during which anyone could ever have been young, and young people today should get into all the pop culture signifiers today’s old people remember so fondly. This is fully universal and mostly harmless: like almost everybody, for instance, I am very convinced that our civilization’s music just happened to hit the peak of its creativity when I was between 18 and 25 years old.

Because most newspaper comics are written by and for Baby Boomers, you get a version of this in which every adult was a hippie as a teenager and went to discos as a young adult and no subsequent cultural trends are worth talking about, really. But if we Gen Xers are going to resist the siren song of pluggerdom, we really need to watch ourselves from falling into this same trap. Like, the last time I really followed basketball was the in the era under discussion here, and though my favs were the lovable, goonish Oakley-Ewing-Starks-Mason-era Knicks, “Joe Duuu-mars” is definitely like one of Proust’s madeleines to me. But, like, I’m given to understand that today’s NBA is a vibrant, beloved league that has its own set of superstars and characters and hangers-on. If I met an actual teen who was fixated on early the early ’90s NBA, I would feel mingled amusement and pity, and if I were writing a teen character and thought “I’m gonna have this kid be obsessed with things from when I was a kid,” I would hope someone would talk me out of it.

Shoe, 1/18/21

Way back when the New York Times first experimented with a paywall, back in the late ’00s, they kept their news coverage free but you had to pay to read their opinion columnists. This struck me as an insane choice, both in terms of what the market valued and how much labor went into each product — even back then it was obvious that investigative journalism took a lot of resources to produce whereas literally any asshole on the internet, yours truly included, is more than willing to offer semi-informed opinions for free — so I have always assumed that the decision actually reflected the internal hierarchy at the paper, in which columnists are better paid and have more prestige despite doing less work because they’re considered “thought leaders” or whatever. Anyway, Shoe may be a longstanding legacy comics about clinically depressed talking birds, but I’ll take my pointed media analysis where I can get it. (The Times eventually figured out what people will really shell out for: recipes and the crossword puzzle.)

Mark Trail, 1/18/21

Since we last checked in with Mark Trail, he stole his dad’s manatee-harming speedboat and got into some fisticuffs with Trail family henchmen (?). But now he has to face an existential dilemma: does he get into a speedboat chase with the police? Seems unlikely, but remember, Mark absolutely punched a cop in the face one time, and sure, that was just to rescue Rusty, who was stuck under a car, but it’s a slippery slope, and I think we can all agree that manatees are much cuter than Rusty.

Daddy Daze, 1/18/21

I think I speak for all of us when I say I want to hear a lot less about the Daddy Daze baby and his secret langage of “ba”s and a lot more about the Daddy Daze daddy’s divorce. I’m gonna bet it was pretty wild!

Dennis the Menace, 1/18/21

Ha ha, it’s funny because Mr. Wilson wants to kill Dennis with poison gas!