Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 8/14/23
Recessions are grim in a barter economy. As scarce goods are consumed or worn out, folks commence to hoardin’, losing opportunities for mutually advantageous exchange. Service exchanges could rise to fill the gap, but in a semi-literate society with poor communications infrastructure it’s hard for folks to find anyone who both can do what they want and wants what they can do (there’s an exception, but ew).
Despite his brave little smile, Snuffy is hard-hit. He is shif’less, owns nothing of value, and has no talents besides cheatin’, thievin’, an’ feudin’. King Features even took away his moonshine business! In an economic downturn, when people stop gambling, keep a closer eye on (or move in with) their chickens, and start conserving ammunition, he’s stuck. So he commandeers the Hootin’ Holler Lost’N’Found, hoping that a) someone will misplace an item of value, b) someone else will return it, and c) he can use or trade it. A precarious value chain, to be sure!
In reality, kind-hearted neighbors use the “Lost’N’Found” ruse to bring him “lost” clothing and food items—even the occasional chicken—to help the Smifs keep their heads above water, and their pride. Heartwarming, really. Everyone in the holler hopes things will get better soon, at which point Snuffy will go back to cheating, robbing, and shooting them.
Aaaaaaaand jump-cut from “Pool Party” to “Gun and Bets on the Road.” Doesn’t look like they sprung for the Subaru engine conversion, does it? But hey, those rollup flatbeds charge by the mile: how far did you two get—downtown? Second base?
Are newspaper comics rushing autumn all of a sudden? First Tuesday Chik gets her pumpkin ready for Halloween and now Blondie here is hawking its precious spice. Is August so terrible? Sure it’s hot (“Dog Days,” duh) and doesn’t have any holidays, but the corn and watermelon are ripe, and it’s a great time for a lake vacation. I think these strips could learn to live a little more in the moment, is all.
Perestroika (перестройка) was Mikhail Gorbachev’s largely ineffective restructuring of the Soviet economy and bureaucracy. It started in May, 1985 and petered out around 1987—the first year of publication for the largely ineffective comic strip Crankshaft.
Well, that’s it for me! Stay tuned for Josh’s Triumphant Return—the elephants, trumpeters, and palanquin bearers are already warming up, and the largesse pots are brimming. I had a good time; thanks, everybody!