Saturday, June 20, 2009

Preteena: Let's talk more about this later!

This is a very effective tonal shift.

Get Fuzzy: pwned

I'm not entirely convinced that Bucky knows how to use the Internet, but assuming he does, this past week of comics strongly suggests that he spends a great deal of time chatting on 4chan. Which would make a whole lot of sense, actually.

Family Circus: Mommy helping Daddy get ready for church.

This cartoon is hilarious because little Billy's parents are constantly fighting and, in general, awful human beings.

Shoe: Coach? Who bats after Skyler.

This comic is hilarious because Skyler's coach is pointlessly cruel.

Mutts: I bark therefore I am.

Patrick McDonnell may have been going for something cuter here, but this installment of Mutts contains an almost indescribably sad subtext, suggesting as it does that the dog's only consistent companion is its own voice.

Born Loser: When I was kid, my dad would make me clean the fish we caught.

This comic is hilarious because Brutus thinks his son is an idiot because he doesn't intuitively understand that cleaning a fish involves slicing it open and ripping its guts out.

Close to Home: Your wife has "Irritable Yowl Syndrome," Mr. Cromwell.

This cartoon is hilarious because women are shrews.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Baby Blues: This is going to be the best show and tell ever!

I never would have thought to apply the standard Keane family perversions to Baby Blues, but I'm starting to get concerned.

I suppose it's nice that Hammie's proud of his mother's naked body?

Garfield: It's a lasagna-shaped cake!

Help me out here. With the exception of the round ones, aren't all cakes lasagna-shaped?

Family Circus: Daddy on the golf course shooting out of the rough.

This comic is hilarious because Bill is teaching little Billy how to be an ethical human being.

The Phantom: No one is "watching over us," girl! We're on our own.

This comic is hilarious because the gratuitous midriff in the first panel is supposed to be sexy and the dialogue in the third panel is supposed to sound like a tough, ethnic dialect. At least, I think it is. And even if it isn't, it's still hilarious.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Garfield: You're counting cake slices, aren't you?

That's today's Garfield. It is hilarious because Garfield likes to eat.

As bad as the comic strip is, though, it's nothing compared to what Jim Davis has let happen with the various Garfield tie-in projects. Take this, for example:

(via Batrock)

Stuff like the above might lead one to believe that Davis is a talentless hack who's only in cartooning for the money. And that's probably mostly true. But every once in a while he's capable of doing something good. To wit, this strip from just last week displays a remarkably solid understanding of animal behavior:

It was, of course, sandwiched between yet more "Garfield likes food" gags, so it reads as something of a fluke. Indeed, it's entirely possible that it's supposed to be a mere "Odie is an idiot" joke. But the fact remains that the comic is a perfect illustration of positive reinforcement. It would be nice if Davis focused more of his attention on similarly sharp observations, as Garfield is almost always at its strongest when Davis is treating his characters as animals, rather than as furry people.

For something better yet, take a look at this famous sequence of comics from 1989, in which we discover Garfield is dying or some such equally bizarre thing. It's really sort of brilliant and daring for a newspaper comic strip.

Of course, it would be more brilliant and daring if it weren't a direct rip-off of this far more impressive and moving Italian cartoon. (While Davis insists he hasn't seen the cartoon in question, that seems unlikely).

But, as this post here indicates, Davis has done other daring things with the Garfield character in a book called Garfield: His 9 Lives. I haven't actually gotten a chance to read the book, so I can't exactly attest to its quality, but Garfield apparently kills an old lady in it. So that's something.

Now that I'm at the end of it, I realize that this post is mostly just rambling nonsense. So in an attempt to retroactively add a vaguely positive thesis, I'll say this: I don't really like it when authors are overly precious about their work. Whatever else one might say about Davis, at least he doesn't have that problem.

Family Circus: Daddy showing me how to use my skateboard.

This cartoon is hilarious because little Billy has grabbed the skateboard out from underneath his father and is taking great pleasure in the pain he has inflicted. While this might seem sociopathic, it's hard for me to be too judgmental given what we have learned about the Keane parents over the past two days.

An even more disturbing possibility, of course, is that those last couple of cartoons were nothing more than anti-Bill and Thel propaganda designed to turn the audience against them and curry favor for little Billy's sadistic "revenge." At this point, nothing would surprise me.

Candorville: I like cheese.

Candorville is another one of those politically oriented comic strips that's at its best when it's not actually focusing on politics. Today's installment is funny because it has a well constructed joke that plays off of established character traits and relationships. While I'm not averse to cartoonists using their strip as a platform to give voice to their opinions, they really need to keep those opinions ancillary to the more narratively useful elements.

Baby Blues: Oh, she touched it all right!

I am unsure what to make of Hammie's reaction to seeing his mother naked.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Family Circus: Daddy fixing the Snack Machine that didn't work.

You know, I've made a lot of jokes about how fucked up the Keane family appears to be. But until little Billy started offering up his own perspective, I don't think anyone realized just how dire and terrifying the situation really is.

Shoe: How'd your garage sale go?

This comic is hilarious because it's about garage sales, and everything about garage sales is just inherently funny.

Adam @ Home: What does "Joanie Loves Chachi" mean?

It means that Adam has disguised his vintage porn collection poorly.

Beetle Bailey: They're keeping her overnight for observation.

This comic is hilarious because Miss Buxley is nothing more than a sex object for the soldiers to lecherously ogle.

Dog Eat Doug: CLICK!!!

Okay, see. I say nice things about Dog Eat Doug, and then we get this the very next day.

From now on this blog will consist of nothing but unrestrained vitriol and venomous barbs.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Family Circus: Mommy and Daddy talking about money.

This cartoon is hilarious because little Billy is emotionally scarred by his parents' violent arguments.

Mark Trail: These are just pictures of a lot of drums...why are you saying they belong to my company?

The second panel clearly indicates that Mark is capable of telepathy. This must be how he is able to emphasize the first letter in each of the words in Williams Chemical Company.

It's also nice of him to spell it all out so clearly so the woman can understand. She may be the president of a company, but her inferior sex is surely consistent with a deficient intellect.

Pearls Before Swine: Pig, Pig, Pig...Dinosaurs and humans never lived together. Their existence was separated by millions of years.

Goat has clearly never been to the Creation Museum.

In all seriousness, that place looks like the greatest satire of creationism ever. If only it were satire.

Shoe: Theater Review

This comic is hilarious because pluggers have short attention spans and hate anything that has artistic merit.

Pluggers: There are more takeoffs and landings in plugger's backyard than at the local airport.

This cartoon is hilarious because pluggers like birds.

Dog Eat Doug: They were singing?

I'm kind of impressed that Brian Anderson would introduce these ant characters, follow them around for a week, and then kill them off so arbitrarily.

But, then, Dog Eat Doug has been impressing me a fair amount lately. It's a good comic.

The Phantom: A criminal stops to help an injured motorist? No way!

Because, of course, Bad People like criminals are incapable of even occasionally doing good things, just as Good People are incapable of ever doing bad things.

Dennis the Menace: Could ya make us a b'loney san-wich, an' cut it in three halves?

This cartoon is hilarious because Dennis is bad at math.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Drabble: I'm beginning to understand why women live longer than men!

Ha ha! Spousal abuse!

Candorville: *@$% yeah, I'm feelin' Lost.

Today's Candorville takes the old trope of men understanding each other through grunts and tics, and undermines it by having Lemont and Clyde misunderstand each other. It's clever.

Too Much Coffee Man: You're very nice but I'm still going to eat you.

Last week's Too Much Coffee Man was good. But the repetition of the dialogue in this week's makes both comics quite a bit better.

Lola and Strange Brew: Hey, pal! Could you keep it down?

I completely understand a cartoonist's desire to drop in the occasional homage to a great work of art. But does it always have to be the same damn one?

*Lola from June 14, 2009.

Family Circus: Little Billy fills in with his observations while Daddy takes the week off.

This cartoon is hilarious because a seven-year-old could author The Family Circus and the difference would be negligible.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Big Nate: ...I guess first I'd have to have a cell phone!

While it's nice that Lincoln Pierce is interested in providing his comic strip with a fairly large and diverse world, that's an awfully long set-up for such a tentatively related, throw-away punchline.

Baldo and Luann: OK, the TV stays off.

Here's the thing. It's not actually the case that television is an inherently inferior medium as compared to all other media. And it's hardly the case that Lost is an inferior narrative as compared to Gone with the Wind. It's not even the case that reading a book is an anymore inherently valuable activity as compared to other activities. There are lots of books that are every bit as trashy as Desperate Housewives. Gone with the Wind might even be one of them.

But all these assumptions do make for easy jokes, so you see this kind of thing a lot.

Brewster Rockit and Monty: I think your machine is malfunctioning.

Both of these comics rely on fairly subtle, mostly image-based set-ups, and therefore actually require the reader to pay attention in order to completely get the jokes. This is an unfortunately rare occurrence in the comics section.

On another note, I've been meaning to write about Monty for a while now, but it's such an efficient, low-key sort of comic that it's often hard to find anything particularly interesting to say about it. But it's one of the better comic strips around, and you should probably read it.

Garfield: We're the things you have to look forward to!

Garfield: taking anthropomorphism to new and annoying heights.

Family Circus: Daa-dee! Kiss!

This cartoon is hilarious because it is terrifying and disgusting?

Rudy Park and Non Sequitur: You may commence with not bothering to twitter or learn anything more about it.

I know it's an easy joke and exists on the demon Internet and is solely responsible for the decline of civilization and all that, but one would think that newspaper cartoonists would be more hesitant to mock Twitter given that the medium in which they work is defined in large part by its stringent length limitations.

*Non Sequitur from June 13, 2009.

Frazz: The problem with daydreaming yourself to another time and place is that when you get to summer, it keeps happening!

The shift from detailed background to blank white background is a nice effect and does a good job of illustrating Caulfield's dilemma.