Archive: Dennis the Menace

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Blondie, 7/6/24

I can’t believe I’ve lived long enough to become the kind of nostalgist who says things like, “Remember when this legacy comic was only 75 years into its run and still had a spark of whimsy in it, unlike today when it’s 95 years in and every panel lacks any joy whatsoever?”, but: remember when this comic used to give its ancillary characters fun names like “Glambaster?” Whereas now everyone is just named the most on-the-nose thing you can think of. Oh, is “Barbie Babewelder” a beautiful woman, like a Barbie doll brought to life? Is Hank Hunkerman a big, hunky man, guaranteed to delight any woman who looks his way when he has his shirt off? To be fair, today’s strip does show that Blondie is continuing to provide the valuable service of giving non-senior-citizens insight into what boomers are up to online. It’s unsettling that the answer is “using neighborhood drama Facebook groups to get horny,” but sometimes the truth is disturbing and we need to face it.

Gasoline Alley, 7/6/24

Speaking of legacy comic strips and how old they are, Gasoline Alley is so old that it has a recurring rude salesman character based on the recurring rude salesman character from the Jack Benny Show that Frank Nelson played in the 1940s and ’50s. This is a character that I, a 49-year-old man, was only able to identify because The Simpsons parodied him 25 years ago. This comic strip is real old, in other words! So I guess this raises the question of: who is this running bit for, exactly? Well, I guess it’s for me, and most of you, if you’re reading this, so let’s just enjoy it.

Dennis the Menace, 7/6/24

Speaking of legacy comic strips, and how old they are, remember when you could have a whole character who’s big deal was “Imagine if a family moved to the suburbs … and they were Italian! Pretty crazy, huh?” Some of you would say “You couldn’t do that today, because the PC police would stop you from making a big deal about Italians living in the suburbs, and also lots of Italians live in the suburbs now,” but check it out! Dennis the Menace is still doing it, literally today!

Beetle Bailey, 7/6/24

[Reads panel one] So they’re going into town for a chili cook-off. Cookie probably made the chili, so that’s why he’s going, but what’s Sarge’s role in all this? [Reads panel two] Ah, he’s one of the judges. That makes sense. Now to move on to the third and final panel for the punchline. [Sees there’s no panel three] Huh. Huh.

Mary Worth, 7/6/24

Wilbur’s Google search history for the past few minutes:

fish DNA
clone fish
clone fish by mail
do clones remember you
clone fish illegal
how to erase google search history

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Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 6/15/24

Today’s Barney Google and Snuffy Smith punchline isn’t bad exactly. It’s a perfectly serviceable newspaper comic strip gag. There’s no shame in writing it, or in publishing it. But it’s not good, either, and it definitely doesn’t merit the insanely smug expression Jughaid is aiming at us through the fourth wall in the final panel. Settle down kid, it’s just a grape joke. Nobody’s gonna remember it tomorrow, but they are going to remember how off-putting you’re being.

Dennis the Menace, 6/15/24

Honestly, a little kid not just agreeing to look at old pictures with an old person but actually asking to do it seems like it would be an absolute dream scenario for said old person. The fact that Mr. Wilson is so firmly rejecting this offer really tells you a lot about the hell on Earth that is his Dennis-adjacent lifestyle.

Hi and Lois, 6/15/24

The project of reclaiming Thirsty’s original characterization as the neighborhood drunk has been getting grimmer for some time, and has entered a truly dark phase now, as his wife begs him to seek counseling, for her sake if not for his own, and he refuses in an incredibly dickish bait-and-switch designed to briefly give her hope that her awful home life might someday improve. What really makes this strip to me is the first panel, where you can see that Thirsty initially planned to just do a shot, but then changed his mind and decided to fill up a tumbler instead, so that he could really linger over that XXX-brand brown liquor flavor.

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Dennis the Menace, 6/8/24

“Dennis shit-talks his mother’s cooking” isn’t my favorite trope in this strip, but I feel you at least have to respect the form: he should either be poking sullenly at his food, glowering at everyone, absolutely ruining the energy of the family meal, or he should be making some witty quip that emotionally devastates Alice while Henry barely conceals a smirk. But while the dialogue here works, the art is all off: Dennis looks extremely pleased by the high-nutrition meal that’s been prepared for him, and his parents are all smiles. This frankly is so un-menacing that it loops all the way around to menacing again because it’s so deeply uncanny.

Judge Parker, 6/8/24

OK, since I’m embracing being a cranky old man who hates change, I’m just going to say it: “eloping” is supposed to mean that you sneak off and get married without telling any of your friends and family, often without even being formally engaged first. But more and more people are just using it to mean “We’re going have a small wedding, actually, even though we told some people we were planning to have a big one at some point in the future,” and I hate it! The secrecy is the point! You don’t just wander in and announce it while your fiancee is in the middle of a Zoom call with her mother!

Blondie, 6/8/24