Saturday, June 27, 2009

Working Daze: Sure, right after I finish my vacation.

I've always suspected that Scott Roberts enjoys drawing the female characters in Working Daze just a little too much.

Family Circus:...forgive those who trespass against us. And leave us ninety-two temptations...

This cartoon is hilarious because there's no way the God of the Family Circus universe will tolerate this sort of error. So Jeffy's going straight to Hell.

Mark Trail: Mr. Trail, please, I'll have my brother meet with us tomorrow!

So instead of calling the cops on his belligerent, belittling ass like a normal human being, CEO lady defers to Mr. Trail and invites him out to dinner. Why? Because this is Lost Forest, and in Lost Forest women still act like the meek little things Jack Elrod is convinced they ought to be.

I can only hope that the second panel is an attempt at metaphorical foreshadowing in which Mark is the worm and CEO lady is the mother bird, and this so-called dinner is in fact a nefarious plot to lure Mark out to some remote location, murder him, dismember him, and feed his various parts to coyotes.

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith: Nighty-night an' goodnight, an' somethin', somethin', la-la-la...

This comic is hilarious because Snuffy is a bad father.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mark Trail: If you don't mind, I'll wait!

In the next exciting installment of Mark Trail: Mark gets arrested! And slapped with a restraining order!

Pluggers and One Big Happy: What's an outhouse? What's a couch-potato? What's a mother-in-law?

I really don't understand how a professional cartoonist could possibly have the gall to use a mother-in-law joke. It's the single most hackish joke in existence. So, of course, seeing it in Pluggers is not even remotely surprising.

The One Big Happy strip below is actually a send-up of mother-in-law jokes. So it's okay.

Monty: Mr. Crumpet, I command you...Eviscerate! Eviscerate!

Things that are funny about this cartoon, in order from least funny to most funny:
  1. That the dog is scared of the cat.
  2. That the dog is a shih tzu named Mr. Crumpet.
  3. That the dog's bow is identical to Master Sedgwick's bow tie.
  4. Eviscerate! Eviscerate!
  5. Disembowel! Disembowel!
  6. That the dog drinks kiwi-lemonade.
  7. That the dog drank too much kiwi-lemonade.
  8. That the dog is actually peeing in the third panel.

In the Bleachers: Uh-oh. They're bringing in the closer to secure the win.

Is there a joke to this cartoon? Or is it just supposed to be funny that the closer is a robot? Which is to say, why would that be funny?

For absurdity to work, it has to flow from some sort of logical starting point. I don't think this does, but it makes me feel like I'm missing something.

Family Circus: I CAN'T act my age if I don't know how my age is s'posed to act.

Despite certain lapses, cartoons such as this, which seem to depict flashes of actual brain functionality, clearly indicate that Billy is by far the smartest of the Keane children. And probably of the Keane clan in general, given that the adults have shown no such flashes.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pearls Before Swine: I've started studying rocks. This is my collection.

This is a less useful, more gratuitous silent panel. But it doesn't ruin the otherwise well-constructed joke. The punchline is still funny. Which is to say, of all the clich├ęs cartoonists use, the silent panel may be the one that bothers me the least. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Adam @ Home and Arlo and Janis: I need to get you some new trunks.

Here we see the immortal trope of the hot wife with the schlumpy husband in about as clear a contrast as the comics section will ever provide.

While I'm not a huge fan of Arlo and Janis, I've got to at least give it credit for not falling into this particular trap. Speaking of Arlo and Janis, in today's installment we again see a silent (though not penultimate) panel used effectively. So suck on that, silent panel haters.

Hagar the Horrible: Here you are--ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and a cherry!

The Internet tells me that Kurt Vonnegut once said that "any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae." That's probably true, and probably even more true when the loathed subject is not a novel but a daily comic strip.

And so I attack a lot of hot fudge sundaes around here. This is a very mean-spirited blog, on which I write a lot of awful things about the work of people I've never met, perhaps in an effort to redirect my frustration from my own inability to produce anything better. It is almost certainly preposterous. But so it goes, I guess. Because the thing of it is, attacking hot fudge sundaes is kind of fun.

Besides, who's to say a bad hot fudge sundae shouldn't be attacked, preposterous or not? If I were to produce even something as mundane as the above Hagar the Horrible, let alone as unspeakably hackish as this piece of crap, I would expect it to be attacked. Indeed, I'd almost be disappointed if it weren't. What good is an audience if it isn't demanding?

Family Circus: Happy times get even happier when they're shared.

But happy times come crashing to a soul-crushing halt when a Family Circus cartoon is shared.

You're welcome.

Doonesbury: And this is you in high-def.

The silent penultimate panel is an overused device--there was once even a blog dedicated to it--but I think Trudeau employs it quite nicely here.

Pluggers: A plugger's workout actually involves work.

Indeed. Pluggers don't need any of that elitist exercising--or, as they call it, elitercising. As their perfectly sculpted bodies indicate, pluggers get all the exercise they need from doing yard work.

(Of course, there are a few pluggers who jog, but they only do that because they're women who have to remain sexually attractive for their grossly overweight husbands.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Prickly City: Could...you...please...pass...the...salt?

I consider myself a pretty politically with it guy. I read Klein and Yglesias, The Plank and Obsidian Wings, The American Scene and Dreher, The Corner and Larison. I even read my local newspaper. But I honestly had no idea what the hell this series of Prickly City comics was supposed to be about until it finally dawned on me a few minutes after today's installment that it's based on the outdated (or so I thought) talking point that Obama can't speak without a TelePrompTer. It's just like all those times Doonesbury made fun of George Bush for speechifying with all the eloquence of a Keane child.

Except for two things. First, while I wasn't a big fan of them, Trudeau's jabs at least had some basis in reality. Bush really wasn't a great orator. Sure, there's something to be said for the way he was able to reduce complex issues to simplistic, easy to digest sound bites. This wasn't necessarily a good thing in terms of intelligent discourse, but it was nonetheless a very effective rhetorical tactic. That said, he had a distinctive and repeatedly demonstrated tendency to mangle language. The Obama-TelePrompTer thing, on the other hand, originated from a single Weekly Standard writer recounting an apparently not so great speech and really picked up steam with a report regarding an incident in Ireland. That Ireland report has since been convincingly debunked. And in the meantime Obama has spoken just fine without a TelePrompTer many times.

Second, even if that report hadn't been debunked, it would nevertheless remain a story that happened a long time ago that only gets talked about, and only really ever got talked about, in the far-right echo chamber. Making it somewhat obscure--far more obscure than Bushisms, which were omnipresent in the popular culture.

Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with obscurity. People generally use obscure references as markers to identify themselves as part of a group of like-minded individuals. In my Twitter feed this morning, for example, I referenced The Dirty Projectors, which is a band that, while not exceedingly unknown (such as, say, The Indelicates), is also not exceedingly well-known. By doing so, I indicated that I was a member of a certain crowd of folks who like the sort of music The Dirty Projectors make.

Likewise, Prickly City's reference to this far-right talking point acts as a marker identifying itself as a cartoon for the segment of the population that actually cares about this talking point. Which is fine, if that's what the cartoonist actually meant for his cartoon to convey. I'm not actually sure Scott Stantis meant to do that, though. While Stantis clearly prides himself on writing a conservative-leaning comic strip, I assume that he's also trying to write for the audience at large. If so, confusing the fuck out of everybody not a part of the Michelle Malkin fan club is probably not the way to do it.

Family Circus: When does PJ stop bein' a toddler and turn into a little boy?

You know what? This cartoon is not just decent. It's genuinely clever. It works in both the cartoon world as an obnoxious cute thing a little fuck imp like Jeffy would say and the real world as a meta-commentary on the way cartoon characters never age.

I never thought I'd write this and mean it, but well done, Keane Inc. Well done.

Doonesbury: Hold on. I'm mid-tweet.

Whereas most comics have been content to mock Twitter for merely being Twitter (seed of the demon Internet and destroyer of all that is good), Doonesbury has used it much more effectively. Because in Doonesbury Twitter is not just a funny-sounding social networking device that wants to kill newspapers. Instead, it is a funny-sounding social networking device that characters actually use in ways that tell us (largely unflattering) stuff about them.

Specifically, in this strip here, we see Roland Hedley using it in a way that suggests he is an arrogant, superficial ass. Hedley was an ass long before Twitter, of course, but Twitter allows him to be an ass in new and exciting ways. It also works as a pretty solid little satire of all the public figures who use Twitter in ways that suggest that they too are arrogant, superficial asses.

None of this is to argue that Gary Trudeau actually likes Twitter. On the contrary, he seems to have as much contempt for it as any other newspaper cartoonist. It's just that he knows the best way to satirize it is to actually take it seriously and integrate it into his fictional world. The barbs are more likely to stick that way.

Brewster Rockit: Now, imagine yourself flying!

The Yoda parody is fine, but what really makes this comic funny is Brewster's facial expressions.

Marmaduke: Anything else on your agenda today, Marm?

Don't worry about the house slowly and unevenly sinking into the ground, kids. It's just cause Marmaduke's so darn big!

Pluggers: A plugger's old high school football jersey still fits...without the pads, of course.

This comic his hilarious because pluggers are morbidly obese.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Marmaduke: You always take her side.

There's some seriously fucked up shit going on in this cartoon.

I'm not sure I have enough readers to actually do this, but I'm tempted to open these Marmaduke family shenanigans up to the floor for alternate captions, Dysfunctional Family Circus style. Any takers?

Family Circus: It's called a flower BED because that's where the flowers sleep at night.

This cartoon is hilarious because that is not, in fact, why it is called a flower BED.

There are three things in life which are certain...

The fourth thing in life that is certain is that Drabble will always suck, but that's not included here for obvious reasons.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Family Circus: If two wrongs don't make a right, how come two odds make an even?

This cartoon is hilarious because Billy's brain doesn't work properly.

And he showed such promise at one time.

Hi and Lois: Hey! Mom left her book.

How could Hi be so oblivious to the affair that's going to tear his marriage asunder? At least Chip seems to recognize that something's amiss.

This is, of course, what happens when women start working outside the home.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Family Circus and Frank and Ernest: Map of Oh-Pun Country

This cartoon is hilarious because it's a complete space-filler that's not even up to the incredibly low standards for which The Family Circus is known.

Given just how low a bar The Family Circus has set, it might come as a surprise to some that it's not actually the worst comic in the comics section. That honor instead goes to Frank and Ernest.

I never write about Frank and Ernest because there's not really a whole lot to say about it. Virtually every installment consists of one lame pun. Sometimes, for a change, the extra large Sunday strip will consist of a string of several lame puns, though that's not the case today. The art, as you can see, is terrible. The characters have no personality traits beyond stupidity--Frank is not distinguishable from Ernest in any meaningful way. It has no continuity. It rarely has a point. As such, it seems to exist merely to fill space. It's an embarrassment.

However bad The Family Circus might be (which is pretty fucking bad), it's not so bad I can't make fun of it. Frank and Ernest is.

The Fusco Brothers: I just worked out a payment plan wth the IRS.

This comic is hilarious because it's about taxation.

9 Chickweed Lane: I'll console myself with your great legs.

At this point, I think it's safe to say that 9 Chickweed Lane mostly exists to satisfy Brooke McEldowney's cartoon leg fetish.

Marmaduke: Marm! There isn't room for you in here, too!

This comic is hilarious because Marmaduke's so darn big he can't fit in a tent.

Adam @ Home: Don't tell me we're out of coffee.

Adam @ Home is far from the best comic in the comics section. But it probably does these goofy, old-fashioned gags better than any other domestic family sitcom strip around.

Herman: But that was a whole three months ago.

This comic is hilarious because women are shrews, men are inattentive, and marriage sucks.