Saturday, June 13, 2009

Born Loser: Mother is going to stop by for a visit this afternoon!

I'm really just sort of shocked there's a comic strip, or any piece of supposed entertainment in any medium in the world, that would actually be lazy enough to use this absurdly old joke in such a straight and unironic fashion.

And so, with that, The Born Loser has manage to undercut even my very lowest expectations. It's really kind of impressive, I guess.

Family Circus: Know what? Today is yesterday's tomorrow and it's tomorrow's yesterday.

This cartoon is hilarious because Billy's going to grow up to be a cult leader.

Shoe: What is the best thing about your mortuary business?

This is a very old joke, but it doesn't actually make a whole lot of sense. While the dead may not be able to complain, the relatives of the dead surely can.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Family Circus: But I don't know how to play it quiet.

This cartoon is hilarious because Thel was apparently unaware that drums are loud, suggesting that the stupidity so evident in her children is, in fact, a genetic condition.

Blondie: Bumstead's the only person in the office with a "Cheeseburger in Paradise" ringtone!!!

Nobody ever seems to believe me when I tell them that "Cheeseburger in Paradise" is actually a somewhat depressing song about existential longing. Look, the character in the song wants a cheeseburger. But he can't have it! He's stuck out on the ocean living off of sunflower seeds and carrot juice. And the song ends not with him actually reaching port and eating a cheeseburger, but with him crying out to God asking which way to steer, recalling nothing less than Christ on the cross demanding to know why his father has abandoned him. It's a song about how these things we wish for--heaven, salvation, cheeseburgers--are always just out of reach.

Dagwood relating so literally to the character and turning to the song as a form of wish-fulfillment is also somewhat depressing, so Blondie and Jimmy Buffet have that in common.

Something else they have in common, of course, is how much they suck. Which, for the record, is a lot.

Doonesbury: I know I'm pretty low on the food chain, but the truth is I do enable people to order unhealthy amounts of food.

Today's Doonesbury is just a good, solid example of the character-based humor that Gary Trudeau can do in his sleep. And this kind of thing is the reason the strip is so good. The political humor is fine, and I agree with most of it, but it's the impressively textured world that Trudeau has built that really makes the comic go.

It's also a nice piece of joke construction, with a lengthy, well-written set-up leading into a short, unexpected punchline.

Shoe: My ride cost over $250,000.

This comic is hilarious because public transportation is for poor people and godless city-dwellers and losers with small dicks, all of whom women hate.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Family Circus: The best way to get a hamster is to first ask for a pony.

This cartoon is hilarious because the Keane children are immoral and materialistic, perfectly willing to lie brazenly to manipulate their loved ones into buying them the things they want.

And have they ever been cuter?

Blondie: What do you put on your cheeseburgers?

Of course, as his facial expression in the final panel indicates, Dagwood talking about food on the internet is less like him logging onto Facebook and more like him logging into a chatroom wherein people share their fetishes with one another. That his children are watching him while he does this just adds to the, um, hilarity?

Marmaduke: My mom says even when Maramaduke was little, he wasn't little.

This cartoon is hilarious because Marmaduke is big.

Close to Home: On weekends when they were in the modd to party, the young cats would do power shots of mice.

This isn't a bad cartoon, exactly. But I feel like it would make more sense if the cats were sitting around getting high on catnip or something. Catnip to pot is a far better parallel than mice to beer.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Girls and Sports: Marshall, I've got a great new bar for us!

This comic is hilarious because Marshall and Bradley are going to contract gonorrhea and possibly die of AIDS.

Drabble: Their food prices are so cheap, I don't know how Bulk Club makes any money!

Actually, Bulk Club makes money by leveraging its suppliers into selling for very little. This, in turn, forces those suppliers to set up their manufacturing plants overseas. Meanwhile, other retail and grocery stores have to slash their prices so they can compete with Bulk Club. To do this, they cut their employees' wages. Even after they do this, many of them go out of business. Bulk Club then hires some of its suppliers' and competitors' former employees at reduced wages and hours. Those employees then can't afford to shop anywhere besides Bulk Club, the aisles of which they wander while wondering how it could make any money.

But, right, big bottle of antacid. It's funny cause it's true!

Get Fuzzy and Prickly City: Us geniuses don't get information. Us geniuses make information.

Bucky Katt: future Republican congressman.

Bucky Katt: Prickly City cartoonist.

Family Circus: Why do I hafta wash my HANDS? I'm eating with a knife and fork.

This cartoon is hilarious because Billy has been helping Jeffy bury bodies.

The Flying McCoys: My parents only said "don't accept rides from strangers," but I'm the one asking to go with YOU.

This cartoon is hilarious because it was taken from a collection of child molesters' fantasies.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Family Circus: Somebody better help me. My fingers are just holdin' on by their tippy-toes.

This cartoon is hilarious because Jeffy's a pathetic weakling.

Marmaduke: We spend a lot of money eating out, but look how much Marmaduke spends eating in!

Don't worry, kids. The Winslow house isn't going to fall down. It only looks that way because Marmaduke's so darn big that he's skewed the perspective of the entire cartoon!

Beetle Bailey: He's Sarge's dog, alright.

This cartoon is hilarious because both Sarge and Otto are alcoholics.

Ziggy: Assume the position.

This cartoon is hilarious because Ziggy has unwittingly stumbled into a gay snuff film.

Oh, and taxes. Ha.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pearls Before Swine: If he has all the daily struggles and worries that we do. And if so, what I could do to help him get rid of them.

I appreciate the utter bleakness of Stephan Pastis's vision. If Pearls Before Swine is never going to have the texture of Peanuts, at least it shares the same existential despair.

Brevity: King of Beepers

Considering the constraints of the single-panel cartoon, Brevity couldn't really have done this joke any better. Beyond the mere gag of nobody using beepers any more, it actually does a pretty good job of establishing the character, which is impressive considering it's not someone we've ever seen before or will ever see again.

Unfortunately, 30 Rock did its own variation on the exact same joke, and Brevity's version pales rather harshly in comparison.

Family Circus: I can't play with you 'till I'm finished workin' here in my cubicle.

This cartoon is hilarious because Bill and Thel are already preparing Dolly for a life of vague cartoon office humor.

Pickles: Not as fun as grandpas, but more fun than, say...filling out an income tax form.

Honestly, the gratuitousness of the tax humor here just makes it all the worse.

Baldo: When I was your age, I didn't waste time staring at the computer.

Only one exhausted trope? And no stupid pun? Baldo's got nothing on Betty.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Betty: If it helps, think of it as an app for your iBod.

While The Family Circus settles for combining just two tropes, Betty manages to riff lamely on three of them:
  1. Kids get bored easily,
  2. It's boring inside, but FUN FUN FUN outside, and
  3. These kids today with their computers and their iPods and their techhoozits!
Also, a lazy pun!

Family Circus: I don't have anything to do!

Not counting this post, I've written about the misadventures of the Keane clan 54 times, and have found the resulting cartoon moderately decent only once. Today's installment marks twice.

To be sure, it's still not good, exactly. The Family Circus is never good, exactly. The joke is older than time itself, and the execution is far from compelling. But it does what it's supposed to do, which is provide a nostalgic, slice-of-life childhood memory that might potentially make a reader smile. And while it's not for me--because, seriously, fuck Billy and his insipid daydreams--there's a place for this sort of thing in the comics section. It would just be nice the Keanes were capable of competence more often than two-fifty-fifths of the time.