Saturday, July 18, 2009

Prickly City: I'd stop saying, "So this is where they filmed it!" unless you want a Buzz Aldrin knuckle sandwich, Winslow!!!

This comic is hilarious because liberals are moon-landing-denying conspiracy theorists who hate astronauts and America.

Luann: ...

This comic is hilarious because Toni and Brad are going to do the sex. Hijinks will ensue.

Family Circus: If the cavemen cooked a dinosaur they'd have leftovers for a year.

Just another wise aphorism from future cult leader Billy Keane.

Cleats: First sign of a bubble and I'm outta here!

This comic is hilarious because it's about farting.

9 Chickweed Lane: Allow me, sister...

This comic is hilarious because Thorax has a tremendous wang.

Herb & Jamaal: Cause busy souls have no time to be busybodies.

But they apparently do have time to be snide, judgmental assholes.

Blondie: Memoirs? You're five years old.

I did not know Elmo was five years old and would never have guessed as much. This is because he is the least realistic five year old ever.

Sally Forth: We have a team to slaughter.

This comic is hilarious because Ted is attempting to alleviate his sexual frustration through his daughter's softball team, which sounds quite a bit worse than it actually is, but no more pathetic.

In the next exciting installment of Sally Forth: It doesn't work.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pearls Before Swine and Farcus: The Great Chicken Rebellion

Animal uprisings are very popular in the comics section today. And why shouldn't they be? Animal uprisings are hilarious! Just ask George Orwell.

But the real raison d'etre of this post is to point out that single-panel cartoons face some pretty serious disadvantages as compared to multi-panel comic strips. Farcus and Pearls Before Swine are each employing the same gag here, but Pearls is funnier. Why? Because it has better defined characters and more space to lay out the joke.

Single-panel cartoons live and die by the absurd situations they illustrate. There's rarely enough space for them to do anything else. It doesn't have the advantage of being able to say funny things about those absurd situations or to have those absurd situations affect their characters. So for a single-panel cartoon to work, the situation has to be really absurd and inherently funny. It's tough to come up with a situation like that every day. And the result is that they tend to be pretty hit or miss.

It's similar to the difference between a sitcom and sketch comedy show. A show like The Office or Party Down can go a whole season without a bad episode, as each one did last year. But even the best sketch comedy shows are going to contain a lot of bad sketches. Even when everyone thinks it was better (which varies from person to person and depends almost entirely upon what era an individual grew up watching), the bad sketches on Saturday Night Live outweighed the good. The same is true of Monty Python and The State and The Kids in the Hall and Mr. Show with Bob and David. It's just really hard to come up with so many funny ideas. A lot of them are bound to fall flat.

Flying McCoys: Okay, Buddy, back on the sidewalk.

This cartoon is hilarious because driving a fuel-efficient car is a clear indication that you have a small penis and get beat up by girls.

Drabble: Every husband should take a little time to practice his faces!

This comic is hilarious because husbands lie to their wives.

Born Loser: Leave what message? You called me!

The third panel in this comic is completely unnecessary and in fact detracts from the quality of an already stupid joke. Were this comic to have stopped after the second panel, I would not have bothered to comment on it, as it would just be another example of a not very good comic strip. But instead the cartoonist felt the need to beat his audience over the head, because he feels his audience is very stupid and probably wouldn't have understood why the comic was supposed to be funny if he hadn't explained it very carefully.

So what I'm saying is that the third panel makes this comic worse and it should have stopped after the second panel. Since I'm not sure whether you understand my point, I'm just going to reiterate one more time very clearly, in very large letters that THIS COMIC PROBABLY SHOULD NOT HAVE THREE PANELS.

Do you understand what I'm getting at? Because if not, I can write some more and explain it better.

Family Circus: Mommy, you left my hot dog blank.

This cartoon is hilarious because Jeffy's too stupid to figure out how to use a ketchup bottle by himself.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Peanuts Minus Snoopy: Do you have any regrets, Charlie Brown?

Friend of the blog, or at least the Twitter feed, Alex brings word of Peanuts Minus Snoopy, which I guess was sort of inevitable in the wake of Garfield Minus Garfield. The genius of Garfield Minus Garfield, of course, is that it changes the focus of a terrible comic and in so doing makes it a pretty great comic.

In Garfield the focus is always on Garfield: Garfield likes lasagna; Garfield likes to crush spiders; Garfield likes to torture dogs; Garfield likes to mock his owner; Garfield thinks he's way funnier than he actually is; etc. Removing Garfield shifts the focus of the strip onto Jon Arbuckle, whose pathos had always been obscured by the wisecracking of his dumbass cat. And so the comic becomes something genuinely different and smarter and better.

Peanuts Minus Snoopy, on the other hand, takes a great strip and turns it into...something slightly less great.

Unlike Garfield, Snoopy isn't really the focus of his strip. Peanuts is an ensemble; Snoopy is an important player, but Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy and Sally are all just as important. And so removing Snoopy doesn't change the focus of the comic in the way that removing Garfield from his eponymous strip does. Peanuts is about the struggles of childhood. Peanuts Minus Snoopy is...about the struggles of childhood.

This isn't to say that Peanuts Minus Snoopy is a disaster or anything. Far from it. It's an interesting experiment. It puts a finer point on some of the non-Snoopy relationships. It provides some pretty decent surreal humor. But it isn't as good as the originals. More often than not, it just feels like a pretty good comic strip that's missing something.

Family Circus: If it's just a hop, skip and jump away, why are we takin' the car?

This cartoon is hilarious because Dolly is overly literal.

Secret Asian Man: I showed Billy Mays some of my other ideas while we were shooting the Lunchkin ad. He was nothing but encouraging and helpful.

Shortly before his death, Secret Asian Man ran a series that included a pretty affectionate parody of Billy Mays. Considering that, it's nice to see the comic running a eulogy of sorts this week.

And say what you will about Vince Offer, but the Slap Chop really does work.

Hi and Lois: HROOP!

This comic is hilarious because Trixie doesn't understand euphemisms for vomiting.

And because: Look! Vomit!

And because the vomit is apparently clear.

And because that's some lazily drawn laundry Lois is carrying around.

Wizard of Id: Well, tell Braveheart he can keep his golf! But I'm still taking his freedom!

Wizard of Id: Now only 14 years behind the times!

The Phantom: Arrggg!!

If anyone ever asks you why they should read The Phantom, point them to this strip and say, "Because of realistic and stylish dialog like this."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pearls Before Swine: Me sell ranch to Bob. He say key to cheeken ranch is have axe. Show stoopid cheekin who boss.

I know a lot of people don't like the way the crocs in Pearls Before Swine talk, but I think it's an interesting attempt at dialect, which isn't something we see a whole lot of in the comics section anymore. Granted, Stephan Pastis occasionally uses it as a crutch, which is lamentable, but most of the time it's just a part of the crocs' identity. Characters should speak differently than one another. There are more subtle ways to achieve this than dialect, of course, but subtlety has never exactly been Pastis's specialty.

Also, more comics need axe murders.

Cleats: Peri, if Edith and I stay out here long enough, we're going to look like you.

This comic is hilarious because black people have darker skin than white people.

This joke was also hilarious in Luann a week ago.

Family Circus: My mommy's givin' me a bath, so maybe you can come back later?

This comic is hilarious because Jeffy's hitting on his mother's friends.

Red and Rover: Be a firefly for a night.

Like Brian Basset's other comic, Adam @ Home, Red and Rover is a very workmanlike comic strip. It basically does what it sets out to do and nothing more. It's not at all ambitious or original, and it's hardly ever especially funny, but it more often than not makes me wish I were a kid again. It's kind of like what The Family Circus would be if The Family Circus didn't suck so much.

Hi and Lois: even the birds are twittering...

This comic is hilarious because Chip has the worst Twitter feed ever.

Dennis the Menace: How can we get away from it all if we're takin' it all with us?

It's actually kind of impressive that Dennis has managed to memorize so many annoying clich├ęs at such a young age.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Moderately Confused: How long will your parents be living here?

This cartoon is hilarious because its author thinks that telling a hackish joke is okay as long as the characters in the joke are birds. Shoe disproved this theory years ago.

Big Nate: ...Not including comic books.

Shouldn't comic strip authors know better than to diss the literary cred of comic books?

Family Circus: Which am I supposed to do, "Go to my room" or "Have a timeout"?

This cartoon is hilarious because Billy has once again managed to outsmart and confound his mother.

Blondie: Boy, I hate it when he plays those stupid mind games at our meetings.

There are few things more disorienting than seeing a nonwhite character in Blondie.

Beetle Bailey: This may hurt a little.

This cartoon just proves what many have always known: while Miss Buxley may have her admirers, the real sex symbol in Beetle Bailey is General Halftrack.

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith: Stand by for an important message from the I.R.S.--

Considering that Snuffy and Loweezy appear to earn virtually no income, it is extremely unlikely that they would have to pay much in the way of federal taxes. But why let a little fact like that get in the way of a hilarious and original joke about how taxes are annoying?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Family Circus: Don't climb higher than me, Dolly. Some of the guys are watching.

This cartoon is hilarious because poor Billy believes that if he can just climb a little bit higher than his sister, some of the other kids might actually like him.

Adam @ Home and Betty: How did you marry someone as nice as Mom?

The actual answer is that this is a comic strip, and in the world of most comic strips all men are schlubby and all women are MILFs.*

*This is also true of many television worlds.

I actually kind of admire the way Betty defies this trend. Gerry Rasmussen seems pretty resolute about making all of his characters, male and female alike, as ugly as possible.

Marmaduke: My dad says Marmaduke is hybrid dog 'cause he runs on dog food and water.

This cartoon is hilarious because, unlike most dogs, Marmaduke drinks water and eats dog food. This makes him just like a hybrid car, because hybrid cars also drink water and eat dog food.

Pluggers: which was morning and which was night?

I hated this cartoon just as much a whole month and a half ago.

BC: I'm pretty sure they're working in shifts.

I liked this joke better when it was a Chuck Jones short.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Monty: Something tells me that was a fruit-globule person...

This installment of Monty kind of shocks me. I thought everyone was a fruit-globule person.

Baldo: Sonia Sotomayor's father was a tool-and-die worker with a third-grade education who did not speak English.

I'm not a huge Baldo fan, but I do really like the way it emphasizes Latino culture and issues. There's a lot of homogeneity in the comics section, and while Baldo isn't exactly breaking any new ground in the storytellling department, it is at least telling those stories from a different perspective.

Pluggers don't follow the path least taken...they create a new path.

And then, of course, pluggers have massive coronaries and die in the woods, on account of their morbid obesity.*

*Male pluggers, anyway.

Family Circus: Okay, it's gardening time!...Everybody works!

This comic is hilarious because Jeffy has a huge rake, Thel has a huge rack, and Bill is a huge asshole.