Archive: Dennis the Menace

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Rex Morgan, M.D., 3/14/19

For a long time, one of my literary pet peeves was when someone spells “trooper” the way panel one does here; in the sense of the phrase as Rex means it, it’s supposed to be “trouper,” as in an acting troupe, and the implication is supposed to be more of an actor’s “the show must go on come what may” than soldierly doggedness. But it’s something I’ve eased up on of late, given that troupe and troop are doublets, the same French word borrowed into English twice three centuries apart, and anyway it’s not like the two senses are that far apart. Anyway, I think we can all agree that throughout this process, Brayden has shown neither a warrior’s courage nor a performer’s flair, so he deserves neither spelling.

Six Chix, 3/14/19

Do you suppose the diagonal squiggly line down the middle of this is supposed to be a panel marker, indicating that our protagonist is devouring all of this stale candy minutes after her dialogue, or the edge of a thought bubble, indicating that she fantasizes doing the same? Either way, I think I think it falls short of the set-up’s potential: we should see her dumping all this chocolate down her gullet right in front of her interlocutors, and we would rightly laud her as a hero for it.

Dennis the Menace, 3/14/19

Mr. Wilson alone dares to speak the shocking truth of the comic-strip reality all of these characters share: no matter how much time passes, they will never age or change, their essential Dennis-ness and Alice-ness and Mr. Wilson-ness and so on set in stone forever. Notice that they don’t even bother putting candles on Dennis’s cake. Dennis … will always be Dennis.

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Crankshaft, 3/10/19

I’m ashamed to admit to Not Remembering A Thing about comics, but … wasn’t there a period of years in this strip where Lena was always off-panel, the unseen butt of everyone’s grousing over her terrible coffee/brownies/etc.? This helped develop the idea of her as a true, legendary monster, but at some point, this pointless running gag stopped running and Lena was revealed to be a perfectly nice person to whom all the other characters are mean for no good reason. Like, today! Where everyone is clearly going to go bowling and they’re making up a transparent excuse to have her not go with her, because they don’t like her! I know the core gag of Crankshaft is “All these people are assholes” but it’s pretty rare that it’s done so explicitly.

Dennis the Menace, 3/10/19

At first I looked at this strip and saw this car rambling down a winding dirt road in the isolated countryside with Dennis, not in a child seat or even a seat belt, lounging in the back seat, and I assumed this was part of Henry’s plan to get rid of his menacing son once and for all in a terrible “accident.” But then I noticed Henry isn’t belted in either! That means we’re looking at the last tender moment before a murder-suicide, which is pretty dark even for this strip.

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Beetle Bailey, 3/9/19

Wow, the physical abuse Sarge routinely pours onto Beetle has never before been so clearly linked to the sexual advances from Miss Buxley that Beetle seems so eager to avoid. Shoutout to Beetle Bailey for keeping it fresh when it comes to the dark network of perversity underlying the relationships among its characters.

The Lockhorns, 3/9/19

I honestly kind of like the Lockhorns panels that are clearly just an excuse to use some joke the writer heard or thought up rather than one rising organically from the title characters’ mutual distain, and I appreciate that care is taken to place the gag in the proper Lockhorns context of marital misanthropy. Sure, this is a cute little joke of the sort that might make a long-married couple giggle together at the back of a church during the wedding of an acquaintance. Loretta’s withering glare reminds us that the Lockhorns are not that kind of a couple.

Dennis the Menace, 3/9/19

I don’t know why but I’m very fixated on why Henry’s hair is mussed and shirt untucked? Maybe I’m missing something very obvious but I don’t get it! Like, was he pacing the house flailing his arms around and tearing his hair out because their guests were so late, growling “Ugh, they’re so late and I’m so mad about it but the rules of politeness dictate that I not mention their lateness when they arrive! I certainly hope nobody spills the beans about how upset I am at them!”