Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cow and Boy: Is all this cuz I said Ariel was prettier than Princess Jasmine?

It seems to me that this is a much better version of the whole Mary-Ann or Ginger argument (Mary-Ann, obviously). The only problem is that I go back and forth on it. In the end, I probably have to go with Jasmine, on account of her movie being better. But if you ask me again in a couple minutes, I might answer differently.

All of this is peripheral to the comic at hand, of course, which is very clever and much more subtle than the punchline would indicate, specifically in the way that the entire construction of the comic goes to undermining virtually everything Boy says. Except, maybe, for that last part.

La Cucaracha: The global climate debate continues despite a winter full of strange weather.

This comic is hilarious because the talking cockroach doesn't understand how global warming works.

Family Circus: Row, row, row your boat gently down then scream!...

Today's Family Circus cartoon brought to you by the unspeakably horrifying nightmares inside my head.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Curtis: Z

As bizarre as Ray Billingsly's annual Kwanzaa interludes are, he does deserve credit for being willing to change up the format of his strip, even on a regularly scheduled and temporary basis. Considering that the comics section is plagued by endless mediocre repetition, I wish more cartoonists were willing to take even a modicum of risk to tell a different sort of story every now and then.

Billingsly also deserves credit for being willing to poke fun at himself for those bizarre Kwanzaa interludes, as he does in today's comic. Today's comic also has the advantage of immediately reestablishing Curtis's major character traits, thus preparing us for another year of standard-issue Curtis. Until the next bizarre Kwanzaa interlude rolls around, that is, for which nothing could really prepare us.

Mutts: Little pink sock.

I have a weakness for comics (or anything, really) that depict animals behaving like actual animals. While cats generally don't read clocks, they do often lay around all day playing with socks, sometimes becoming so engrossed in them that they forget its dinnertime. Also, while cats don't sing, if they did, they would definitely sing songs like the one in the first panel. All of which is to say that while the cat in this comic displays human capabilities that actual cats don't possess, the cartoonist is employing those capabilities to highlight actual feline characteristics.

In other words, Mooch is not just a human in a cat's body like most comic strip animals usually are. He's a cat who talks as a stylistic device that only serves to highlight his cattiness.

Pluggers: In cold weather, pluggers prefer to do all their thinking inside the box.

This cartoon is hilarious because pluggers apparently believe that they are generally such out-of-the-box sorts.

Mark Trail: Mark, a writer for Woods and Wildlife Magazine, spends much of his time traveling to research new stories.

And judging by the comic strip, none of his time actually writing them.

Garfield: We wanna watch you and Liz.

This comic is hilarious because Garfield and Odie have been waiting 30 years to live vicariously through their pathetic owner, and they're not going to pass up the chance to masturbate to his fumbling sexual antics now.

Family Circus: ...sounds like she needs to get some glasses.

Seriously, Dolly, how lame do you have to be to spend all your time belittling fictional characters?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cul de Sac: Hi, Petey Potterpoop!

This is the finest artistic representation of mortification that I've ever seen. It helps that the comic is a continuous long shot, with Petey situated in such a way that he almost seems to be a part of the background. Viola, by contrast, seems enormous, which is how she must seem to Petey as well.

Mark Trail: I just don't want to share you with anyone else!

Which is hotter: (a) Mark Trail desperately attempting to pull his head away as Cherry grabs his neck with her horribly disfigured hand and tries to jam her tongue down his throat or (b) bran flakes?

If you choose to answer, justification is expected. And there is no (c).

Family Circus: Step right up, Mommy! We saved you a seat on the 50-yard line.

While Dolly may be devious and cruel, the one thing she may have trouble besting her mother at is achieving a tinier, more unrealistic waistline.

Better Half: It's an old TV show where Fred MacMurray is raising a trio of dysfunctional boys. It's called "My Three Stooges."

This cartoon is hilarious because the guy with the big nose is confused and has conflated My Three Sons with The Three Stooges.

It is also hilarious because the woman with the big nose has never heard of either My Three Sons or The Three Stooges and needs the very complicated premise explained to her.

Beetle Bailey: How come your pants fell down and your shorts stayed up?

Judging by his disappointed expression, the tragedy of Sarge continues apace.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pluggers: Good boy ... Now, slide over!

Apparently "lots of pluggers everywhere" use what I can only take to be their children's naked bodies as seat warmers.

Lola: What are you grinning at, Cap'n? You haven't had a promotion in 45 years.

The most interesting thing about Lola is that it purports to be a comic strip about an old lady, but is in fact a comic strip about a grouchy, middle-aged man trapped in the body of an old lady. The problem is that Lola rarely displays any traits that could be described as the traits of an old lady, and to the extent that she does, it is usually limited to the occasional drooping boob joke. She does, however, behave very much like the lead characters in Drabble and The Born Loser (except with drooping boobs), as we can see in the above comic. This is, presumably, the big jokey premise of the strip--as in, ha ha, it's an old lady who acts like a man!--but it suffers from not being particularly funny, even upon the first encounter.

It is, in fact, mostly lazy and cynical, as making the lead character an old lady in appearance only allows the cartoonist to write Lola just like any number of other hacky domestic sitcoms, while at the same time marketing it as different from those strips because the lead character is an old lady. In other words, he can market it as substantially different even though the writing reveals it to be only superficially different. This makes it, in many ways, as safe a bet for moderate success as the medium allows, and thus exactly the sort of thing a syndicate would want.

It also makes it, to my eyes, one of the most frustrating comics in the comic section. Not because of its extremely limited ambition--it has no ambition, but there are tons of equally unambitious comics--and not because of its general terribleness--while it is one of the more terrible comics there are others that are worse--but because of the false promise of the uncommon point of view its title suggests.

There aren't a lot of comics where the lead character is female. Blondie is, for example, titled after the female lead, but the strip's point of view is clearly Dagwood's, so it doesn't count. Luann, Cathy, Stone Soup, Betty and--most distinctively--Sylvia are a few that, whatever their problems, do fit the bill. The only comic specifically about an elderly lady is Momma, which is truly dreadful, and the only other comics that sometimes offer an elderly woman's point of view are Pickles and Grand Avenue.* As its told almost entirely from the lead character's perspective, Lola would make a nice addition to this group, if only she were actually written as an old lady.

Alas, it would not be at all surprising to open the paper one morning and find Lola heading down to the doctor's office for a prostate exam. Which would be hilarious because old ladies don't have prostates. Just like today's comic is hilarious because old ladies don't sit around demanding their women fix them meals.

*Of all the comics mentioned, it's worth pointing out that only Cathy, Stone Soup and Sylvia are actually written by women.

Family Circus: Mommy! PJ's playing "beach" in the kitty litter again!

Perhaps only just now realizing that they had made PJ far too sympathetic a character, and thus rousing in the audience a negative reaction to all the torment he receives from his siblings, Keane Inc. has apparently begun the process of turning PJ into a contemptible moron not unlike his mentally challenged brother Jeffy.

What better way, after all, to turn the audience against a character than by suggesting that he enjoys playing in sand-coated feces and clumps of cat urine?

Curtis: Suddenly, Rabi found he was in his own bed with Tangi and Hare by his side.

This comic is hilarious because we are apparently supposed to understand something.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mark Trail: I forgot to tell you, Mark, an old friend of yours, Tim Moore, wanted you to call him!

Mark is apparently so stupid that he doesn't know who his old friends are unless Cherry explicitly reminds him.

This is not surprising, given Mark's less than stellar people skills.

Luann: C'mon, you can watch.

This comic is hilarious because Toni is going to have sex with Brad's car while Brad masturbates.

Lola: Where's my warming, Al Gore?

This comic is hilarious because Lola does not understand how global warming works.

Garfield: I finally nailed it back down!

This Garfield, as usual, would be better without Garfield. But even with Garfield, it's pretty good, mostly because it manages a degree of subtlety that Paws Inc. rarely attempts. The funny part of the comic is Jon's bandaged hand. Garfield's cheap punchline is mostly just a distraction.

Family Circus: Could I have one for Billy, one for Dolly, and one for PJ?

Clearly, Jeffy is a fucking idiot. But it seems to me that it would behoove Thel to look beyond her son's glaring stupidity and see that he has, for once, done something rather thoughtful in requesting lollipops for his siblings.

Sadly, Thel is most likely incapable of doing such a thing and, already seething with rage, will probably commence with Jeffy's beating as soon they get out the door.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ziggy: ...You bought an off-brand, didn't you?

While Ziggy will probably let his bird continue thinking that out of shame, the reality is most likely far more disturbing.

Pluggers: Come to think of it, some things weren't better in the good ol' days.

I'm pretty sure that this is the sort of thing that gets your face plastered all over the telephone poles in Pluggerville.

Anne Jones of Arlington, Texas should probably be watching her back, as well.

Mark Trail: Oh, I forgot, I caught MORE fish than Mark!

Ha ha! Yes, that is definitely the lesson a human being would take from that series of events! You keep it up, Alien-Robot-Rusty thing! Those pathetic humans will never suspect a thing!

Archie and Garfield: 44usa

These stamps are hilarious because they feature characters from comic strips.

In all seriousness, both Archie and Garfield have made substantial marks on popular culture and deserve whatever enshrinement they get. So congratulations to Jim Davis and all the folks who have been involved with the various Archie series over the years.

All that said, the Internet indicates that the last time the Post Office put out stamps with comic strips on them was 1995, in their Comic Strip Classics collection, which was limited to strips that debuted before 1950. Pogo, which debuted in 1941 and was therefore eligible, was for some reason nevertheless not included. And it has now been displaced by Garfield. Which, again, is not to say that Garfield doesn't deserve to be honored for its immense commercial success and all the fans it has brought to the comics section. But Pogo has a legitimate claim to being the greatest comic strip ever produced. Something's amiss here.

UPDATE: As Jaime Weinman notes in the comments, Calvin and Hobbes, Beetle Bailey and Dennis the Menace are all getting honored with commemorative stamps this year as well.* Still no Pogo, though.

Calvin is obviously very deserving, and though it might not be so obvious now, so is Dennis, both for its cultural impact and for Hank Ketcham's artwork. I concur with Jaime that Beetle Bailey is less deserving, though I don't really think it's any less deserving than Garfield is. Jim Davis has done more with various corporate tie-ins, but Mort Walker probably deserves some sort of recognition for all the popular comics he's created over the years and that, for better or worse, continue to fill up the comics section to this day. There are other comics, even other than Pogo, that I would have chosen in their place, but I can't necessarily complain about either of them receiving an honor.

It's probably also worth mentioning that Bill Mauldin is getting a stamp, too. Beetle Bailey doesn't hold up very well when compared to something like this.

*How I managed to spend half an hour scouring the Internet for prior instances of comic strip stamps without learning this information I have no idea.

Family Circus: I forgot to give this to you and Daddy. I made it at school before Christmas.

This cartoon is hilarious because Billy really doesn't like his parents very much. And who could blame him?

F Minus: I wonder what cats think about.

This F Minus is basically the opposite of every comic strip or cartoon or book or movie about animals ever, which are always about how animals are Just Like Us. And that's why it's funny. It subverts our expectations.

It's also funny because it's true. Animals are not, in fact, Just Like Us.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Family Circus: ...

It appears that Dolly's attempt to control the natural environment has been thus far unsuccessful.


Apologies for the lack of blogging around here lately. I might be able to get some stuff up today, but regardless The Comics Section will return in full force starting tomorrow.

Sadly, I fear that nothing will ever be able to top last month's Mark Trail story.