Archive: For Better or for Worse

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Mark Trail, 11/15/08

As a special gift to all of us, because we’ve been so good, Mark Trail is extending the Magical Moment of Fisticuffs for us for another day’s worth of punchy bliss. In today’s panel one, we seem to be seeing the same frozen-in-amber post-punch moment depicted in yesterday’s panel three, but from a different angle; however, Mark’s bellowed dialog has gone from passably bad-ass (“DOES THIS CONVINCE YOU?”) to stilted run-through-the-automated-translator-from-who-knows-what (“THIS LITTLE CONTEST OF YOURS IS UNLAWFUL”). The question is: did Mark have time to shout both of these things at Mr. Rabbit (or whatever his name is) as he tumbled slowly back into the murky swamp water? Or did Rabbit pop back up like a Weeble-Wobble sometime between yesterday and today, giving Mark a chance to lay down another punch and get in another awkward little bon mot?

The rest is no less delightful for being par for the course: Mark admonishes the gathered off-camera yokels, who sit by and do nothing, then breaks Sneaky’s chains with his bare hands and carries him off to safety. For the sake of Mark’s ego, I hope that the adorable raccoon waits until they’re out his backwoods tormentors’ sight before launching his entirely unprovoked attack on Mark’s eyes.

(Psst! This is a perfect time for you to pick up some Fist O’ Justice stuff from the Comics Curmudgeon store!)

Herb and Jamaal, 11/15/08

You know, every once in a while I say to myself, “Oh, the Herb-and-Jamaal-is-hilariously-nonspecific bit is getting old,” but then the strip goes and gets even more hilariously nonspecific. In today’s panel one, Jamaal ensures that those reading this strip in an anthology published in the middle of the 21st century will be able to relate the joke to their own experiences during the Great Disco Revival of the 2030s.

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 11/15/08

Considering that this backwoods medico is asking our hero if he’s bothered by the sight of blood and advancing on him with what appears to be a scalpel, Snuffy Smith looks awfully chipper. My first guess was that the doctor assumes (correctly) that Snuffy would not be missed if he were to be sliced up and his organs harvested, but then I realized that nobody would want his moonshine-drenched kidneys or hog-fat-choked heart.

Apartment 3-G, 11/15/08

After a tragic romance with a brooding, no-talent, junkie urbanite, it’s not surprising that Lu Ann wants to hop into the arms of a fresh-faced Dakotan. Soon, though, she’ll learn that rural folk have drug problems too, with Cody addicted to trailer-made meth — or, as the locals call it, “prairie dope.”

For Better Or For Worse, 11/15/08

Yes, who said newspapers would become obsolete? Certainly nobody in the late ’70s, when this strip ostensibly takes place.

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Panels from For Better Or For Worse, 8/31/08

So I was mostly defeated by the FBOFW Wall o’ Text that greeted me on Sunday, but I feel I have to say something, so…

Thank God Deanna gave up on that pharmacist gig to finally get into an acceptable profession for an ovaries-bearing Canadian: sewing, and the sale of sewing accoutrements. Now at last a more qualified man can take her old job advising women on how to “accidentally” not take the pills he prescribes!

The “just for laughs” angle baffles me a little bit. Perhaps now that the Pattersons and their hangers on aren’t being monitored and controlled minutely by their Creator, they won’t be forced to end every interpersonal transaction with a terrible pun; but Deanna, in some form of Stockholm Syndrome, is no longer able to survive without the constant corny jokes.

But April, at least, got out. And got to get it on with a cowboy, whom she’ll presumably drop like a hot potato when she finds out that Gerald is getting divorced.

Anyway, Ces Marciuliano’s Medium Large today pretty much has the definitive statement on the subject.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 8/31/08

“For $10,000 to the clinic, she can write anything she wants!” Oh, Rex, you’re such a whore for humiliation. And for money.

I’m kind of in love with Rex’s little office-basketball move in panel four. “Check it out, everyone! I may not be a big yachting expert, but I’ve still got the athletic talents of my youth! I’m totally not going to cry like a little baby next week while clinging to the side of the boat and projectile vomiting!”

Slylock Fox, 8/31/08

In today’s puzzle, Slylock has gone back to his “Teach other creatures how to be meddling detectives” gig that we’ve seen before. You’d think that this would just produce competition for his own work as a freelance nosey detective, but maybe he gets the big bucks for these classes — especially in this case, in which he isn’t lecturing to kids but appears to be running some sort of adult education program. But the one who looks really anxious about obsolescence is Max, who is regarding that duck with the notepad suspiciously. “Wait — is a sidekick supposed to write things down? Oh, God, I’m going to be replaced! Please, don’t, Sly! I have no job skills!”

Panel from Marvin, 8/31/08

I kind of love this panel out of context. The joke is about terribly fiery grilling accidents, a trope that (and here’s a sentence I don’t think anyone has ever written before) is done better in Crankshaft; but in this panel on its own, with the parents regarding each other with heavy-lidded hostility and Marvin’s eyes wide with terror, it pretty much reads like a threat.

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Panel from Sally Forth, 8/24/08

If you squint very hard at this panel, you will see that Ted has in fact spent the better part of the afternoon reading this very site, and I must give a huge thanks to faithful reader and Sally Forth scribe Ces Marciuliano for the shout-out! This is the most explicit mention of this blog in a mainstream newspaper comic since Rick Detorie had me killed.

Ted’s sang-froid after spending many hours perusing this blog (and, presumably, the comments) proves that he doesn’t care a bit about all of the slurs on his masculinity. I’m not surprised he’s a fan, since my target demographic has always been the pop-culture-obsessed emotionally arrested man-child.

Panels from For Better Or For Worse, 8/24/08

The rest of today’s FBOFW was a nauseating vortex of schmaltz and teal, but, God help me, I actually laughed at this. John apparently has no interest in actually forming a personal relationship with Anthony (and really, who can blame him), but will be exploiting the marital tie to get services for free. If all the stuff that folks gave out of the goodness of their hearts for this wedding is any indication, this is actually the driving principle behind all Patterson social interaction.

Panels from Mary Worth, 8/24/08

“What’s the matter with me? I miss Ian already!” is perhaps the most cogent question that has ever been asked in this strip. And the second panel, in which our poor heroine realizes that she has betrayed the trophy wife code, and that her heart is being inexorably pulled down into her husband’s emotional gravity well, is definitely among this feature’s most harrowing moments.

Panel from the Phantom, 8/24/08

Criminals in Mawitaan had better watch out — when Black Orville Redenbacher is on the case!