Archive: One Big Happy

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One Big Happy, 8/27/09

You might think that my favorite One Big Happy character would be Ruthie, standing as she does on the knife’s edge between adorable high-spirited child and wild-eyed maniac. But I’m actually pretty partial to Joe’s moments in the spotlight, as it’s easy to see the belligerent and unemployed 25-year-old in his future. I thoroughly enjoy his third-panel soliloquy in particular, with its casual use of “do me one” and “aw right” (let’s ignore for the moment the fact that “don’t poke my eye in the bouncy house” sounds positively filthy); and I love the fact that whatever adult that retreating back in panel one belongs to has completely checked out by the end of the comic, leaving Joe to angrily berate a plastic penguin.

Mary Worth, 8/27/09

My goodness, is this the first evidence we’ve had that Mary is not, in fact, omniscient? Mary seems to think that all Delilah did was wander around the sterile Chartersone grounds for a bit ruminating on how great it was to be married to the bland, emotionally absent Lawrence; she apparently knows nothing about Delilah’s visit to Charley’s terrifying sex lair. Is Mary not perhaps the all-seeing, all-controlling puppetmaster that she seems to be? Or is she simply leaving out the most exciting part of this story because she fears that Tobey, too, will be tempted to test her devotion to her bearish Scottish spouse by checking out her neighbor’s art … of a kind?

Gil Thorp, 8/27/09

Well, this Gil Thorp summer storyline got dulled up real fast, with rage-maddened stalker Marty DeJong instantly finding personal fulfillment in coaching poor children. But the second panel is pretty poignant, with Marty saying that striking someone out — something he’ll never do again, since he blew his arm out under “Coach” Thorp’s “care” — is the best feeling a human being can experience. Presumably after dropping Casper off at home, Marty will go quietly hang himself from a tree in the Thorps’ front yard; it’s the sort of thing that would devastate Gil, if Gil were the type of guy who cared about things.

Apartment 3-G, 8/27/09

You know, if Margo or even Lu Ann were to tell some dapper gentleman “I want to thank you for last night,” she would mean “I want to thank you for the new heights of physical pleasure we reached together last night.” But this is Tommie, so she means “Thanks for the subtle unpaid grief counseling you offered to my much more interesting roommate last night,” obviously.

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Apartment 3-G, 8/3/09

Margo has already wept a single noble tear over Eric’s heroic death (or at least ostentatiously dabbed her eyes to imply said weeping); now, after having cycled through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief in record time, she has reached the little-known step that comes after acceptance: scratching one’s chin while scheming transparently. “Oh, I can think of some ways we can make my sacrifice worth it — er, I mean, ways you can be worthy of my sacrifice. Look, all the ‘Free Tibet’ hippies and ‘fear the ChiComs’ right-wingers back in the States are going to want to hear your story. I’m thinking instant book — don’t worry, I know a great ghostwriter — followed by a nationwide speaking tour. You’ll need a manager, of course. You know in the U.S. it’s traditional for a manager to take a 75 percent cut up front, right?”

Beetle Bailey, 8/3/09

I was so busy laughing uproariously at this send-up of an old man’s vanity that I almost missed the odd setting, which seems to involve Beetle holding U.S. soldiers at gunpoint. Could the military men at Camp Swampy, long ignored by the Pentagon hierarchy, have launched a coup? The most ill-conceived and incompetently run coup in history?

Cathy, 8/3/09

Why yes, now that Cathy has discovered the Facebook and publicly identified it as the theme of the eighteen million insufferable and near-identical jokes that it will be hammering home over the next six to fifteen weeks — jokes that will, as is typical of this strip, serve as a very thin veneer over a bubbling cauldron of terrifying anxiety about the most minute aspects of everyday social relations — life as I knew it is over forever, thanks for noticing. I and several hundred thousand other comics readers will be committing mass suicide in short order.

Crankshaft, 8/3/09

Even the most dedicated Crankshaft readers have traditionally regarded Crankshaft’s insufferable yuppie neighbor’s yappy little dog with vague irritation, if they were aware of him at all. But now that he has heroically saved Crankshaft from an agonizing death by snake venom, they’ll be even more irritated with him. If he was supposed to have been a hero, he should have gleefully urinated on the fallen, snakebitten ’Shaft while the hateful old man weakly cried for help.

(Seriously, though, little dogs dying in pain in the comics = NOT COOL, MAN. FBOFW at the height of its powers got away with it, barely. You, Crankshaft, are no FBOFW.)

(UPDATE: Faithful reader Chibigodzilla points out that the little dog belongs not to the ’Shaft’s annoying neighbor, but to his daughter’s annoying mother-in-law. I guess we should try to figure what the hell its deal is, now that it’s sacrificed itself.)

Momma, 8/3/09

Ignoring for the moment the wildly incorrect gibberish coming out of the mouths of Francis and not-Francis in this strip, I am sort of charmed by the setting: Francis and his bud hanging out in the woods, or maybe just in that copse of trees behind the gas station, drinking cheap beer out of cans and demonstrating their total ignorance of the North American Numbering Plan and the Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T)’s E.164 recommendation, which defines numbering plans for international telephony worldwide. Good times!

One Big Happy, 8/3/09

But wait, what would a guy do with a horse and a monkOH GOD OH GOD OH GOD

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Spider-Man, 12/10/08

For all the time I spend slamming on poor inept Spider-Man, there are occasional gems that keep me reading the thing day after day; indeed, today’s strip made me laugh louder than, say, any installment of Blondie, ever. Of all newspaper Spider-Man’s neglected and useless super-powers, his spider sense is the worst. It singularly failed to prevent him from, say, being clobbered by a lead-pipe-wielding butler or getting hit in the head with a brick. But finding a totally obvious piece of paper that’s just sitting out on a desk in plain sight, with the information Spidey needs written out in 72-point font? Oh, it’s going to tingle like crazy! I’m not sure how much use an actual spider would have for this kind of power, though, seeing as most of them are illiterate. I think a better name for it would be “convenience sense,” and he could use it around the house to find missing keys, misplaced cell phones, and, of course, the TV remote.

One Big Happy, 12/10/08

Now, obviously we all enjoy a good Oedipus joke now and then, and they obviously come to mind all the time, what with Sophocles’ great play-cycle being frequently restaged for television, with Oedipus played by some kind of cut-rate Jonas Brother wearing fingerless gloves for some reason. Still, I think I would have liked it better if this strip had starred, say, Joe and his dad, or Ruthie and her grandpa, or really just about any other possible character combination you could name, not least because of this.

Mark Trail, 12/10/08

Surely I can’t be the only one who read the narration box in the final panel of this strip and then spent a few minutes wondering what Mark smells like. My guess: pine needles, and fresh-pressed khaki, and whatever the opposite of pheromones is.