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The Phantom, 7/13/18

Oh, hey, remember how the Phantom’s daughter Heloise is rooming with the daughter of her father’s archnemesis, the Nomad, at her fancy boarding school? Remember how the Phantom made his wife do a weird guessing game when he figured out the Nomad’s secret identity, rather than just coming right out and telling her who it was? Well, it looks like that’s the only way he likes telling the women in his family who the Nomad is, I guess! Anyway, I was given to understand that the Kids Today hate talking on the phone and only respond to texts, or possibly Instagram DMs, so I’m having a hard time buying Heloise just straight-up facetiming her dad in ladies room, though at least she got up and took the call in semi-private, rather than at the table where she’s, uh, having dinner with the Nomad, right now! I think this whole thing playing out as a text conversation at the table might’ve been more dramatically interesting, though probably somewhat harder to draw.

Pluggers, 7/13/18

I’m not sure if the point of this panel is “pluggers don’t throw away spoiled food because they’re poor” or “pluggers don’t throw away spoiled food because they have incipient dementia,” but either way you have to admit it’s pretty grim!

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Hey, everybody! I’m back from my voyages and ready to entertain you with my comics-mocking antics, once again! Let’s give a huge hand to Uncle Lumpy for his usual fill-in amazingness — Carl the Turtle is an instantly iconic character who I will treasure in my heart forever. And let’s also give a huge hand to the kind souls who contributed to the Summer 2018 fundraiser. I promise personal thank-yous this week, as well as solicitation of addresses for possible totebag-sending! You’re all the real heroes!

Meanwhile, let’s dive into the glory and pageantry of the comics page, with…

Funky Winkerbean, 7/12/18

Funky Winkerbean heading out to Comic-Con! This is a groundbreaking adventure for our characters, who have never before attended this pinnacle of pop culture and comics fand– [aide whispers in ear] Oh, huh, just last year, you say? Well, confidential to the Funky Winkerbean creative team: you don’t have to set a storyline at Comic-Con every year to write the costs of passes and travel off on your taxes. It’s literally your industry’s main trade show! The word “comic” is right there in the name! Anywhere, here’s hoping that, having foregone a paid tour guide, Les takes a wrong turn in the exotic, dangerous city of “San Diego” and ends up murdered in one of its seedy back alleys, like in an Old Navy or something.

Rex Morgan, M.D., 7/12/18

Meanwhile, Uncle Lumpy rightfully refused to keep you updated on Rex Morgan, M.D., which over the course of my absence stayed relentlessly focused on its insanely dull “middle-aged dude and his old dad drive around the country in an RV” plot. The strip could’ve at least broken up the monotony by cutting away to one of its other thrilling and unresolved storylines, like [checks notes] ah. Hmm. Anyway, If you thought “middle-aged dude and his old dad drive around the country in an RV” was boring, wait till you get a load of “middle-aged dude and his old dad drive around the country in a midsized SUV.”

Mark Trail, 7/12/18

“She gets totally obsessive about artifacts — almost as if she’s a dedicated researcher well versed in the latest techniques in our field and doing her best to help everyone understand the material culture of ancient societies! Me, I’m just in it for a quick buck. I know some real rich creeps who’d pay good money for Vampire Mister Potato Head here, especially if I spin ’em some story about how the temple I found it in seemed cursed or whatever. These pith helmets don’t pay for themselves!”

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Gil Thorp, 7/11/18

Hey, it’s Gil Thorp wrapup time, with Marjie Ducey! And if there’s a more callous, dismissive line of Gil Thorp B.S. than panel three there, I don’t ever want to hear it: “Kid gives me four years, to do what for him? Sometimes you just don’t like a kid, stuff happens, it is what it is! Things change; everything works out — for me anyway. Is that all? I gotta get home and grab some of that Pinot before Mimi drains the box.”

Zits, 7/11/18

This sets up the exact inverse of “Curtis is Humiliated Trying on Clothes”, and works just as well.

[The old-school draftsmanship in Zits — like Sherman’s Lagoon, Curtis, and Gasoline Alley — is usually impeccable. That’s why the missing corner of that banner in panel one sticks out: “SALF”?]

Funky Winkerbean, 7/11/18

I know both Josh and I go on about the wads of exposition in this strip: characters (“your father, John Darling”) are constantly reintroduced, events (“the coming reunion”) explained with every mention, and whole backstories laboriously introduced to set up … not much. Maybe the creators are trying to make the strip accessible to casual readers who don’t see it every day? Maybe they don’t realize they’re punishing people for paying attention?

Anyway, if you’re gonna expose, expose right: Eisner is justly famous for his comic books; his early, obscure strips all flamed out before 1939. And San Diego weather is delightful.

Luann, 7/11/18

Gunther’s not at all upset by the idea of his mother as a person independent from himself, with feelings and desires of her own. He just can’t shake the image of Mr. Gray in a leather mask, twirling a leopard-print Speedo over his head and hollering “COWABUNGA”!

Pluggers, 7/11/18

“I learned that from you, Boomer scum!”

Aaaaand that’s it for me, folks! Thank you for a lovely time, and for your generosity during the fundraiser. You guys are first-rate human beings and should all cut yourselves some extra slack today; tell ’em Carl told you so.

Josh will be back tomorrow with songs of the Auvergne, profuse thanks, and his usual slantwise take on comics of the day.


— Uncle Lumpy