Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pluggers: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a hoot!

One might think that Gone with the Wind would be exactly the kind of movie pluggers would eat up, what with the way it romanticizes a bygone era and that era's retrograde views on pretty much everything.

But no. For one thing, it's far too long for the average plugger's drug-addled and disease-ridden mind. For another thing, it's far too high quality and well-respected, making it elitist. And for yet another thing, the language is just too coarse. Why can't those Hollywood liberals go back to making good, clean movies like they did in the 1800s?

Marmaduke: You don't have to blow out your candles, Dad. Marmaduke already sneezed on them.

Dottie appears to have actually been planning on serving the sneezed-on cake until her daughter went and revealed the snotty truth.

Given that all comic strip characters despise one anther, this isn't terribly surprising.

Mark Trail: I don't have a choice. I've got to find something to help free Rusty FAST!

A reader new to the badassery of Mark Fucking Trail might be confused as to how Mark managed to fit himself through that tiny, sharp and rather high up hole in the window.

Silly new readers.

Curtis: Well, if you saved it, you can print a new copy!

I am far more annoyed by this Curtis storyline than is probably reasonable. After all, it's Curtis, a strip for which no one should have high expectations. And, indeed, I don't expect much from it. But this storyline is just lazy to the point of hackishness.

Here's what happened. Ray Billingsly wanted to use the old trope of a character attempting to protect an important document. The problem is that personal computers have rendered this trope mostly obsolete. Billingsly either forgot about or chose to ignore this problem over this week's first few strips. And so Curtis has been running around trying to protect his report as though it's his only copy. Hilarity has ensued. But hanging over all of it was the problem. Until today, when Billingsly finally chose to address the problem.

Unfortunately, he chose to address the problem in what is probably the most annoying way possible. We learn that Curtis did, in fact, write his report on a computer. He just forgot that he could print out another copy! Ha ha! Now, Curtis has never been written as a particularly smart character. But this would make him literally the stupidest person in the world.

Even worse, the final panel here acts as the week's big punchline. You see, now that Curtis has been saved from his crippling retardation and directed to print out another copy, his computer has crashed! HA HA HA HA!!! All of this suggests that Billingsly did not merely forget or ignore the problem with using the document-in-peril trope, but in fact saw it is as just another hilarious part of the trope, easily reconcilable with his moronic character and sure to result in super-duper funniness when the computer doesn't work.

In other words, it's entirely possible that the storyline is not just lazy, but also indicative of a contempt on Billingsly's part for the central character of his own comic strip. Billingsly may have just played around with characterization to justify the poorly thought out use of a trope after the fact. If this is what happened, he shouldn't have bothered trying to justify it. Letting a poorly thought out story remain baffling is better than futzing with characterization. But he appears to have, in fact, actually planned to turn his character into a babbling idiot in service to an old trope and a series of punchlines. And that's not the sort of thing any author should do, even if you're just the author of a generally uninspiring comic strip.

Family Circus: Why are you crying, Grandma? Didn't you enjoy your visit?

This cartoon is hilarious because Jeffy doesn't realize that Grandma's crying over the realization that her grandson is a fucking idiot.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pluggers: Pluggers often ponder life's imponderable questions.

And so pluggers do not understand basic science.

This is not even remotely surprising.

Hi and Lois: Storage. Memory. Speed.

Indeed, if all your child wants for Christmas is a bit of space in the garage to store his recreational drugs, you should definitely count yourself lucky. It's that dread technology that you've really got to be concerned about.

Family Circus: But they HAFTA go home. Grandma wants to clean her OWN house for a change.

And so Dolly has finally decided to expand her tyrannical empire beyond the bounds of her own house.

This was entirely inevitable, and starting with her doddering grandparents seems like a very smart strategy. Before you know it, she'll be running all of Keaneville. And then the world! THE WORLD!!! [Insert evil, maniacal laugh here.]

Better Half: The government is offering Santa a bailout if he'll trade his sleigh for a hybrid and start hiring more tall people.

Oh, those wacky "liberals" with their goofy "preventing economic collapse" and silly "caring about the environment" and bizarre emphasis on "nondiscrimination." Ha ha ha.

9 Chickweed Lane: Oh, Bill.

This comic is hilarious because women are overly emotional and therefore incapable of working with men without falling in love with them.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ziggy: ...Do you mind? I can't spawn with people watching!

This cartoon is hilarious because Ziggy is attempting to masturbate to fish porn, but he's so pathetic that the fish pornographers won't let him.

At least he'll always have his cereal.

Family Circus: Since Grandma has been here we haven't sent Daddy out for fried chicken or burgers even ONCE!

Just because Dolly's not willing to cede her own power to her grandparents doesn't mean she's not perfectly happy to partake in the humiliation of her mother for the sake of making old people happy. But there's a lot more going on here than just another one of Dolly's power plays.

On a superficial level, this cartoon is a simple mother-in-law joke. If you don't immediately recognize it as such, it's because it's told from the daughter-in-law's point of view, which is a fair amount rarer than the mother-in-law joke told from the son-in-law's point of view. Underlying the latter variety is just hack misogyny: "Aren't women annoying! Ha ha!" But underlying the former kind of mother-in-law joke is a more complex social critique, which this particular Family Circus cartoon really brings to the fore.

On a basic level, these jokes are about generational conflicts and what should be expected of women within the family and culture more broadly. The cartoon above lays out the dichotomy pretty distinctly. In the foreground, we have the new generation, while in the background, we have the old generation. The new generation wears pants; the old generation wears a dress. The new generation looks harried, despite only being responsible for a single dish; the old generation looks serene, despite having a whole table in front of her. The new generation struggles to control her child; the old generation is in control of the entire table, a symbol for the whole family. And as per the dialog, the new generation often abdicates her wifely duty of cooking dinner for her family every night and forces her husband to perform menial tasks for her, like pick up food from a restaurant; the old generation never does, not even ONCE!*

*(My favorite touch is easily Grandpa standing off to the side reading the paper, just like it's supposed to be. The old generation would certainly never think or dare to interrupt her spouse's hard-earned leisure time.)

This trope generally sides with the younger generation, acknowledging that the world is different now and that the older generation never actually found everything as easy as it tends to claim in the first place. I don't think that's the case here. On the contrary, it seems pretty clear that, despite not being entirely unsympathetic to the younger generation, Keane Inc. is still on the older generation's side. Which, of course, is exactly what should be expected.

The most bizarre thing about all of this is that Thel Keane is the stand-in for the younger generation. Would that be the same Thel Keane who has never had a career of any kind, is generally held up as the perfect stay-at-home mom, and pumps out babies seemingly every year? Yep, that would be the one.

Edge City: I'm working on a playlist for when I DJ the temple Hanukkah ball.

I know it makes me a dirty hippie, but I enjoy seeing diversity in the largely ethnically homogeneous comics section. Are there any other comic strips besides Edge City that feature prominent Jewish characters?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ziggy: ...You'd think they'd start in ENGLISH!

This cartoon is hilarious because Ziggy is stoking nativist fears.*

*Considering his other political proclivities, this is not surprising.

Family Circus: But you don't have to see my test paper 'cause Grandma already signed it.

My faith in Billy's genius remains undeterred. Einstein struggled in school, too. This test means nothing! Nothing!

Better Half: I guess I believe in global warming after all. I burned my tongue catching a snowflake!

This cartoon is hilarious because the guy with the big nose continues to not understand how global warming works, but at least he believes in it now, so yay?

Curtis: Koff! Koff! Oops!

The only way this comic would make any sense is if Curtis does all of his schoolwork on a typewriter.

This would be somewhat surprising, but easily explained by his family's (apparently even more severe and hilarious!) financial troubles.

Beetle Bailey: Have you ever thought about being a fashion model?

This cartoon is hilarious because it's the first step in Mort Walker Inc.'s plan to finally start up that pornographic paysite and cash in on all those sad, lonely men who find my blog by searching for things like "Miss Buxley fucks dog."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Family Circus: Mommy! Will you come here and show Grandma how to cut our oranges?

Only Dolly, the most powerful Keane, could get away with expressing any sort of even marginally critical view such as this of the old people in her midst. Any of the other characters would be immediately struck down by Keane Inc. for risking the alienation of the old person audience. But not even Keane Inc. has control of Dolly. She's the Sarah Palin to Keane Inc.'s Republican Party.

Stone Soup: The Spacebook thing.

This is apparently the week for annoying comic strip characters to spout hilarious cliches about cleverly named Facebook proxies.

As it happens, I'm the only person of my generation to not actually have joined Facebook. And now I don't have to, as the comics above prove it's either dead or should be.

Pluggers: A plugger's ottoman has a wet nose and a tail.

This cartoon is hilarious because pluggers enslave other pluggers and use them as furniture.

Monty: This is like a sequel to "The Terminator," if you went back in time and had James Cameron write the screenplay when he was twelve...

Actually, it's a lot like Minority Report. Which was a pretty good movie! Why you hating on Philip K. Dick, Monty?

Better Half: If global warming can melt a million-ton glacier, why can't it melt two inches of snow off our front sidewalk?

This cartoon is hilarious because the guy with the big nose doesn't understand how global warming works.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ziggy: Adult Cereal

In the Ziggyverse, people apparently masturbate to bran flakes.

This is not surprising.

Rose is Rose: Making a new friend in a virtual world devoid of human contact or emotion...

I am usually a skeptic about progressive notions of technology eternally improving our lives, as I fear the imminent Cylon menace. But if future technology can turn Rose is Rose into a cynical shell of its formerly rainbow-happy self, I will consider it a win, even if it does involve a Cylon-induced apocalypse.


I would like this final panel to be tacked on to every comic strip I read. There is literally no comic strip that it could not make funnier.

For example:
Of course, it has to be asked, what's Mark Fucking Trail need a jack for anyway? Can't he lift the car with his bare hands?

Also, getting crushed by a car in the Elrodverse apparently results in your body melting. This is useful information.

Family Circus: How did we get to know Grandma and Granddad

I believe that this cartoon is taking place inside the mind of one Jeffy Keane. What else could explain the vast expanse of nothingness that separates the characters or the bizarre imagery of Dolly riding her floating grandfather across the empty pink ground-thing? There is precedence for this theory, as Keane Inc. has given us the childrens' point-of-view before, with equally horrifying results.

Also, this cartoon is hilarious because Jeffy does not understand the concept of "family."

The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee: For one thing, you've put an 85-year-old couple in the same house as Aerosmith.

I'm confused as to why a couple of 85-year-olds would object to being in the same house as a group of other 85-year-olds.*


9 Chickweed Lane: They were just a bunch of boys missing their families, with no idea what was happening at home.

I've been pretty harshly critical of this 9 Chickweed Lane storyline, but it's definitely had its good moments. Today's comic, in particular, is very well done.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Pluggers: You're a plugger if you know all the words to every song on "The Lawrence Welk Show."

I'm actually rather fond of this installment of Pluggers, mostly because of the horrified look on Chicken Lady's face, as it would seem to suggest that even genuine pluggers find other pluggers appalling.

Farcus: Give it up, Morty. It isn't worth it.

Ha ha! Fat people.

Candorville: Dunno, I have a pretty full day, Susan.

To adjust this comic so that it accurately describes my life, just replace all references to Superman and 12-year-olds with comic strips and cartoonists.

9 Chickweed Lane: This requires expert defusing skill.

This comic is hilarious because women's moods are driven entirely by their irrational lady parts.

Betty: Hockey season's greetings.

This comic is hilarious because it's written in Canadian.

Family Circus: This little pig went to market...

This comic is hilarious because the Keane children all have Oedipal foot fetishes.

Boondocks: The sun could never be a punk. He always come out. He'll sit right there. Even if you pull your gun out he could never run out.

I am perfectly willing to entertain the notion that Ghostface Killah is a better--or at least less boring--poet than Robert Frost.