Monday, February 28, 2005

Wouldn't it be better to get married on Christmas or July 4 or something?

Today's Drabble is another good illustration of its atrociousness.

Now, first, I will compliment Mr. Fagan (the illustrator) on getting in two "punchlines." The first occurs in the third panel, where we find out the reason the dad recommends his son get married on his wife's birthday is so he only gets in trouble once a year. HA HA HA! "Forgetting anniversary" humor never gets tiresome.

The second "joke" and the real "kicker" occurs in the fourth panel, when we discover that the reason the dad is giving the advice is because it seems he has forgotten his anniversary and now has to hide in the treehouse. HA HA HA! Wife kicking the husband out of the house for a minor provocation! Good one.

Here are some points. First, as I mentioned when I first complained about Drabble, the little kid is not there to roll his eyes or to laugh "with us" at his dad's idiocy. No, he's just there to listen to the great big idiot.

Second, "When you grow up and take a bride . . ." TAKE A BRIDE??? Who talks like this anymore? Is he trying to sound smarter/more sophisticated than he really is? Is this just illustrating his strange notions about relations with the opposite sex? Is he making the point that gay marriage could possibly be legal by the time the kid grows up, and he wants to make sure the kid gets a BRIDE not a FELLOW GROOM?

Third, his logic is faulty. His point is not that if you get married on your wife's birthday you will only have one day to remember. The point is that you will only get in trouble one day a year. He is assuming that his son will forget. Which, you know, way to ecourage your son to be a buffoon like you, idiot. Anyway, even though he would only get in trouble one day a year, wouldn't he be in MORE trouble for forgetting such an important day? If your wife is already the type to THROW YOU OUT OF THE HOUSE for forgetting an anniversary, what would she do if you forgot the anniversary/birthday? Castrate you?

Perhaps I am over-analyzing (you think?). What this strip boils down to is -- dad forgot wedding anniversary, mom threw him out of the house. Are there people out there who think that's funny? It's not even original.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

He Sits too Close to the TV.

I forgot to rate Drabble.

Creepy Clown rating: 4.5 Creepy Clowns (1 C.C. = awesome comic; 5 C.C. = it sucks).

I really hate Drabble. There's just no way around it. I briefly considered giving it 5 creepy clowns, but it doesn't ever seem to make me irate. There isn't spousal abuse of any sort going on, and the kids aren't too cutesy. Otherwise, it just sucks. I think I explained why I hate it well enough. Let's spend a few posts just examining it.



This one isn't particularly bad, but it'll do for now.

OK, it's just not very funny. The best comics mine humor from situations we all face --the attitude of teenagers, pointless bosses, endless bills, balancing home and work. Even some of the dumbest comics put our everyday problems in a different place and time -- so Hagar fights with his wife, Broom Hilda is scared of a doctor, and the cavemen in B.C. play baseball.

But what's this? Too many remotes? That's a problem we can relate to -- one for the DVD, one for the VCR, one for the TV, the universal remote is difficult to program. But that's NOT the problem here. The problem here is that they are all old and don't work. Why don't they work? I don't think of remotes as particularly fragile, so how has he broken so many of them? I count nine broken remotes. Can anyone relate to that? Are there a lot of people out there with an overabudance of broken remote controls?

Have the batteries all gone dead? Why don't they replace the batteries?

I think there are endless jokes about the inconvenience of too many remotes -- one for each device. They are no longer funny, but at least we can relate. Who can relate to NINE BROKEN REMOTE CONTROLS?

He says you can tape them all together and use them. Then why are they not taped together in the first panel? Every time he sits down, does he have to pull out the tape and attach all the remotes? Yeah, I know they aren't taped together in panel 1, because that would give away the "joke."

But . . . see the "joke" is just that this guy is so stupid. And I won't go into further detail about what makes stupid people funny, and what makes them annoying. This guy is annoying and it's just not funny.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Dumb Clowns and the People Who Fuck Them

Speaking of clowns (as I am wont to do), the Apprentice candidates are going to be dressing like clowns next week. Cool! And, when linking to yesterday's post, I re-read the phrase, "fucking the clown." Now, I'm not one to throw the f-bomb around in casual conversation, but I think I will make an exception for "fucking the clown." I will use it to mean "goofing off," although I'm sure it could have other uses; feel free to choose your own.

Editor-in-Chief: "Alethea, why haven't you finished proofreading the March issue?"
Big Al: "Well, I guess I've just been fucking the clown."

Odds of me actually saying "fucking the clown" out loud at work? Slimmer than Mary-Kate Olsen. RIMSHOT! (inappropriate eating disorder joke - subtract 5 points).

So, why haven't I moved on to discussing the horror and suck-i-tude that is Drabble? Yep, just fucking the clown.

Drabble sucks. According to its website, it started 20 years ago. So, sometime in the mid '80s, comic editors thought what the comic page needed was a "lighthearted family strip [which] chronicles the zany mishaps of his offbeat characters."Perhaps a voice of reason said, "That's already about ninety percent of the comic pages." But, not to be deterred, the comics editor said, "This one has a duck." And so now we have Drabble. Yay.

The main characters are the dumb dad and his equally dumb son. They are dumb, clueless as to their own stupidity, socially inept, and all around lazy, boring guys. Who better to build a strip around?

Now, I'm not saying a dumb, socially inept, lazy dad is necessarily a non-starter. Ever hear of a guy named Homer Simpson? What makes Homer so funny? Well, yes, it's his stupidity, laziness, drunkeness, et al. I think the reason it doesn't get tiresome, though, is that while watching The Simpsons, you aren't confronted with Homer's stupidity exclusively. Matt Groening has created other characters who are symbolically winking at you, the viewer. Bart's cooler, Lisa's smarter, Marge is more responsible. Homer's insensitivity etc. is funny on its own, but it's funnier when it's not being validated.

Same thing worked on Friends, where Joey was the designated dim-bulb. The rest of the Friends endured his idiocy with good humor. The Chandler character, with his snarky remarks and raised eyebrows was essentially the audience's (funny) proxy. His reactions to Joey in essence said to us, "Yeah, we know he's dumb, but isn't that funny?"

Remember "Doris," the secretary at my office? She's the dumbest person I've ever met. Last week she asked me what toofy was. She meant tofu. Last summer, she found out al-Qaeda is not a place. Yesterday she asked me where New Zealand was. I am sure you will not believe me, but she once asked me what country the French come from. She's so freaking frustrating. How can any adult human being be so dumb?? It makes me want to pull out my hair and scream. BUT, there's another co-worker of mine who also is driven to distraction by Doris' stupidity. When this co-worker is around, and Doris makes a particularly dumb remark, fellow snarky co-worker and I can make eye contact. Doris is no longer mind numbingly annoying, but suddenly funny.

The minor characters in Drabble don't do this. They don't make the stupidity funny. The mom and the two younger kids don't make regular appearances in the strip. When they do, they just seem put upon. They don't seem to really recognize the dad and older son's stupidity. The dad and son do nothing but fuck the clown, and the rest of the family doesn't seem to care. Frankly, stupid people annoy me. And if there isn't someone smart and mean around to share the pain of the stupid people -- even more annoying.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Nothing's as bad as the clown

I am doing some Get Fuzzy research, and found a fan site and a forum discussing the strip in question. They are as confused as we are, so no (fuzzy) dice. I did learn that the contact page on the Get Fuzzy page has been down for awhile, so maybe Darby Conley's been overwhelmed with "WTF?" comments. I mean, it's as bad as the creepy clown.

Of course, the difference is that here, I suspect the artist is making some sort of nuanced, hipper than thou joke that li'l ol' me don't get. In the case of the creepy clown, I just think . . . well, I still don't know what to think. Did you ever see that episode of CSI where the lady had a thing for clowns and ended up fucking the clown from her kid's birthday party? Yeah, weird. Clowns (creepy and otherwise) are just plain weird. John Wayne Gacy? Yeah.

Here we just have unexplained blank spots and then the old timey test pattern. Today's strip wasn't about television, so my theory that this is a "history of tv" week is shot. Will we ever know? I'll keep checking the forum, and I'll let you know what I hear.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

But I still don't get it.

We've gotten some interesting answers to yesterday's question:

1.) "That looks like some sort of Aztec sun god disc. It likely signifies human sacrifice. Since the cat and dog are talking about what species to eat ... draw your own conclusion! Human sacrifice and canibalism. Now you know why he couldn't come right out and say it."

Uh-huh. I wish they would come right out and say it! Discuss: which comic would the addition of human sacrifice most improve? Why? I'm gonna go with Beetle Bailey. You know, those military people are always doing crazy things like stacking naked prisoners in pyramids and attaching wires to their genitals. I think a human sacrifice or two is not too far-fetched for Sarge, Beetle and the gang.

2.) "Darby Conley is making a point that you can put any damn thing in the comics, and no one will complain -- as long as it isn't controversial. He probably just ran out of things to say in that strip, and figured -- who'll notice?"

Well, this makes sense regardless of what Panel #3 turns out to be. So, this may be Conley's point, but we still don't know what panel 3 is!

3.) "I think it's from a Parchesi board. "

I don't. Although, admittedly, I'm not much of a Parchesi paisan, so I don't have much of a leg to stand on here.

4.) "Isn't it an old TV test pattern when the station went off the air?"

Ooh. Now this would make sense, because the strip did basically experience some technical difficulties. So, a little research (Google rules!) proves that Laura is correct!

This is "the most famous American B&W test pattern -- the so-called "Indian Head" monoscope pattern. This pattern was originated by RCA in 1939; it was designed to be generated using a special tube called a monoscope, a CRT which had a metal plate target on which the pattern was printed. The black lines of the pattern would interrupt current flow as the pattern was scanned to provide the desired video output. These tubes could only handle black and white - no shades of gray hence they had to be simulated either with a halftone dot pattern or with patterns of fine lines."

That was easy.

This doesn't explain why it looks familiar to me. I do not own a time machine that allows me to watch television from the 1940s. That's not even a good era of TV. Is this pattern used elsewhere in an ironic fashion today? What's with the Indian head? Do they still have test patterns today? I remember the colored bars. I think test patterns have been replaced with infomercials.

Was Darby Conley having technical difficulty? How does a cartoonist have technical difficulty? Did his pens run out of ink? Was he trying to be funny? Or cool? Was he just winking to those smart enough to know what he was talking about? Did he actually draw the test pattern, or was it some sort of clip art?

Today's strip is also about television -- is this week to be a "lesson in tv history?" Will we get to hear about Walter Cronkite? Milton Berle? Jackie Gleason? Jack Paar? We shall see.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Beef jerky, monkeys, COWS AND PIGS

I'm sure it's a big shock, but I'm going to have to sidetrack again. Drabble is next and will have to wait. That's too bad, actually, because I HATE Drabble, and I think it's more fun to rant and rave and moan over how lame, anachronistic, dumb, and generally annoying the sucky comics are. But, it's probably best for my blood pressure and general overall health that I don't have to do that every post.

My concern is today's Get Fuzzy. Get Fuzzy is generally one of my favorites -- Top 5 at least. It's very enjoyable, and I'll explain why I think so when its turn comes (if its turn ever does come, considering all my asides). Here's today's:
Eh? When I read this while waiting for my bus this morning, I thought there was a printing problem. You know how sometimes the paper will have double ink on a page, or a page that fades out, or a really deep crease on a page so that you sort of have to straighten it out in order to read your article? Well, when reading the first panel, I thought we had a fade problem with the N&O.

But, then in the second panel Satchel's comments are completely blank. I held the paper really close to my face, and, in my paper at least, there's NOTHING there. Curious. The third panel did absolutely NOTHING to help me out. I became convinced that there was something horrendous and horrible going on. Probably something to do with homosexuality and/or evolution, and therefore censored in my paper.

So, I got in to work, and looked on the Get Fuzzy website, and . . . same thing! What the heck is going on?? What in the world?

Let's go back to Panel #3 for a second. I think it's the key and I think that someone out there who is reading this will know what it's all about. PLEASE let me know. I'm dying to find out! You can comment or email (bigalscomicblog@yahoo.com). I must know.

The central disc and the 4 discs in the corner look very familiar -- like I've seen them somewhere before. And that's what's really bugging me. Is it a logo for something or is it some technical mark? What is it, and where have I seen this before? GAH! [Go to the Get Fuzzy website and click on the 2/22 panel to see even closer]

And, what's the joke going on here? OK, Rob is ordering dinner and asks what Satchel and Bucky want. Satchel gets excited and says Food! The joke here is that Satchel is the dumb one, and OF COURSE it's going to be food. Rob meant "what kind" of food, and he assumed that was already implied. Not the world's funniest or most original joke, but Darby Conley makes this joke in one half of one panel, where it might be the entire "joke" in many other strips.

Anyway, Bucky Katt then clarifies "Idiot - he meant what species." (Note that all you can really read clearly are "Idiot" and "Species." ) Again, another joke! See -- that's not how we humans talk about our food. When I cook dinner for my dear husband, and ask what he would prefer, I don't give the option in species. Although we say "fish" and "chicken," we don't say "cows" and "pigs." That's interesting, and not something I had considered before. Well, I sometimes say cows and pigs, but I'm not referring to my food. Cows and pigs! Cows and pigs! Cows and pigs! See, I just did it three times. Well, so the point is Conley gets two jokes into the first panel. Not bad.

Panel #2: Satchel says, "BLANK" Hmmm. Rob's response is "On the same monkey?" Now, if you are a Get Fuzzy follower you would know that Bucky (the cat) always talks about wanting to eat monkeys. So, has Satchel said something about a monkey in this panel? If so -- maybe it's something about evolution!!! (the word "species" was used in the first panel!) Bad, bad, bad. Evolution is a THEORY, people, so don't believe it! These are not the fossils you are looking for. You can go about your business. Move along.

Then we get the mysterious third panel, with the recognizable (to me) but unknown disks, and the Indian head. Does this have something to do with beef jerky? Is that Indian the logo for some brand of beef jerky? Pemmican? That's a brand of beef jerky, right? Or is Pemmican some sort of chewing tobacco?

We need dialogue on this, please -- before I go insane. I just need one person to say, "Big Al, you are so out of touch. That disc is clearly the logo used on all [name of current, non-1990s music artist here] CDs." or something. I don't care that I'm out of touch! I need to know what that is! If you have friends (and OF COURSE you do), show them and ask them. Ask that weird guy from your office that sort of scares you a little bit. I don't care! I want to know!

Friday, February 18, 2005

Luann - Finally

Time to get back on track -- analyzing and rating each comic in the Raleigh News & Observer. I get sidetracked rather easily, I realize, and sorry for that.

Luann is next. Luann is Zits for girls. Actually, Luann got started 10 years before Zits, so I think it's more precise to say that Zits is Luann for boys. The similarities are quite striking: They both have an angsty (but not too angsty) teen as the main character. Luann has two best friends - Bernice and Delta. Jeremy (Zits) has two best friends - Hector and Pierce. Even stranger, Luann's mom and dad look very much like Jeremy's mom and dad:



EEK! I enjoy both of these comics, but is this plagiarism or what?

My problem with Luann is the same problem I have with Zits: for a teenage-angst based strip, there's not enough angst. Luann does a little better. Delta had Hodgkins lymphoma. Bernice likes a guy in a wheelchair. Brad (Luann's brother) has a crush on a girl in an abusive relationship. So, there are some teenage issues, I guess -- although cancer, disability, and abuse certainly aren't TEEN-ONLY issues. Anyway, at least it's more than just "parents are dumb and embarrasing," "homework sucks," and young love is searing. I mean, all that's true of course -- homework DOES suck -- but there needs to be a little more than just that. I'm sure Laura Ingalls thought homework sucked and Pa sure could be embarrasing when he brought out the fiddle and called her "Half Pint," but you wouldn't exactly cite the Little House on the Prairie series as an example of teenage angst.

Creepy Clown rating: 2 Creepy Clowns (1 C.C. = awesome comic; 5 C.C. = it sucks)

I gave Zits 2.5 Creepy Clowns, and the truth is, I like Luann better. This is probably because it's from a teenage girl's perspective, and I was once a teenage girl myself. So it's not necessarily an objective rating, but well, what sort of rating system is completely objective?

But, in addition to being from a girl's point of view, it's just slightly more angsty, which was my major criticism of Zits. There are also more characters in Luann -- more friends, teachers, brother's friends, etc. So, that provides the variety I often harp on.

Finally, Luann never pisses me off (this is also true of Zits). The more I write about the comics, the more I see that as a good thing. So many of them are just so stupid and piss me off to no end. You get a higher rating just for keeping my blood pressure down.
++++++++
On a personal note, if any of my Navy friends are reading, and if any of you have heard about an inactive reservist muster, and if any of you have a clue why I'm being mustered -- drop me a line. Not that I am not proud of my (supposedly finished) service, and not that I won't be at my muster site bright and early -- it's just, well . . . you know I'm not a HUGE fan of the current administration, the War in Iraq, etc., etc., etc., and I don't have a great desire to be caught up in it. Any info is appreciated! And, sorry for clogging the comic blog with personal and political chit chat. No more.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

And don't forget to have a drink ready when he gets home!

Hey! Check it out! Tarheels going retro tonight! See, Dean Young, retro is OK. They aren't wearing the short shorts, though.

Also, check this little tidbit from the Dennis the Menace site: "Although often harried, flustered and provoked to tears, this trim and attractive mother of our short hero is loaded with patience, energy, logic and love to spare. She keeps her small house clean and tidy, always fresh-smelling, the perfect oasis of comfort and joy when her husband arrives from the office . . ."

Oh, barf! This sounds like some sort of joke, but I don't think it is. How nice for her that she keeps the house so perfect and is trim and attractive. Well, la de da!

I make no claims of being some sort of raving feminist or anything. Just a normal 21st Century woman, all right? And yet this sort of crap pisses me off. Just like the crappy marriages.

I think I need to quit blogging. Not because of the fact it drives me to drink. I'm not keeping up with my wifely duties. With exercising to stay slim AND all my beauty efforts to stay (become?) attractive I never have that much time to keep the house clean and tidy -- and I don't even have a darling little boy to look after. And fresh-smelling? What does that mean? Does she keep the windows open? Does she always have flowers out? Keep the toilets flushed? Take out the garbage? Keep dead animals from rotting under her ottoman? Sheesh.

My poor husband, the house is not an oasis of comfort when he returns home. If I am home before he is, I'm usually off running. Or on the computer. Or shoving comics in his face: "Why is this funny?" "Can you explain this to me?" "Do you get this?" My blogging contributes nothing to the oasis-like atmosphere of our home. His watching basketball and shouting at the referees doesn't help the oasis, either. Then again, he's the man, and if he wants to yell that Coach K is a "rat faced bastard" I guess that's OK, as long as I keep our home fresh smelling!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Brenda Walsh was a bitch, but Kelly Taylor . . .what? It's 2005? Oh.

Hope everyone had a nice Valentine’s Day! My co-worker, Doris, did not, and she told me some intimate and scary details I won’t repeat here. I will just say that the word “hard’ was spoken, and I don’t believe she meant “difficult.” I also discovered this morning that my cubicle does not have an escape hatch or trap door of any sort. Also, I have no powers of invisibility. Egads; I was stuck! Yes, she does have a comic strip marriage.

I, on the other hand, had a perfectly lovely evening, with nice gifts from my husband, including a bouquet of tulips and several packs of baseball cards. No, I do not kid. I have weird interests. Pitchers and catchers report Thursday!!! Go Braves!!! Ahem . . . On topic:

So what’s the deal? Or, more precisely, when’s the deal? Blondie actually states it’s 2005. Dean Young claims to update the strip. Somehow I’m dubious. And it’s not just the bridge club or the reference to silent film stars, although they are two of the latest curiosities. I think Dean Young TRIES to update the strip, but quite frankly, he’s stuck in a past decade, and can’t do the updating.

Now, I’m not criticizing being stuck in a past decade. If that were a bad thing, I wouldn’t be listening to the Cranberries’ everybody else is doing it, so why can’t we? CD at this VERY INSTANT. I’d be listening to . . . well, see . . . I don’t even know . . .Hoobastank? Kanye West? I wouldn’t be confused when I watch Lost. Why do they keep calling the Hobbit guy “Charlie?” Can’t they see “Charlie” is RIGHT THERE? The doctor guy? The one they keep calling “Jack?” Is Charlie. And were Bailey, Julia, Claudia, and Owen all killed in the plane crash? Very tragic family, the Salingers.

Yes, it can be very hard (meaning “difficult,” not what Doris was referring to this morning) to act up-to-date when you are not actually up-to-date. Why do I criticize Dean Young for something that also gives me difficulty? Well, see, where Dean Young and I are different (one of the many ways we are different, I would imagine), is that I do not create a daily "entertainment" for an audience of millions!! It’s OK for me to be stuck in the 1990s, because, well, who gives a damn? Dean Young, though, is read by over 250 million readers, in 2,000 newspapers, in 55 countries.

As I see it, Dean Young has two choices: 1) Do a better job updating his strip, or 2) Stop even trying. Set Blondie in the 1950s and let it be. It would be less confusing, and, hey, retro works. It worked for Happy Days and Grease and That 70’s Show. Nick at Nite, eBay, and vintage clothing stores everywhere are in business because of retro. Retro is fine, just don't try to say you are "up-to-date" then make your characters watch a TV which is in a huge wooden console sitting on the floor. I don't buy it.

It's been brought to my attention that my use of the word "porn" in an earlier post is now indexed in Google. Can I game the system by mentioning things people search for a lot? can't hurt can it?
-- Michael Jackson
-- Steroids
-- Social security refrom
-- Paris Hilton
-- Edie Brickell
(rats. forgot about trying to be up-to-date, already).

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Final Word?



This was January 3's Blondie. Is this the answer? Does this strip REALLY take place in 2005? Is it possible that Dean Young is some sort of hermit who has only a marginal idea about what life in 2005 is actually like? He knows that we use computers (see also to the left of Blondie here), but he doesn't realize that people under the age of 75 aren't in bridge clubs anymore?

And, let me again refer to the looks of lady comic strip people. Blondie's hot! Why aren't there any hot men in the comics? And why do people complain about Barbie being an example of an unhealthy body image for women, and yet never mention Blondie?

I left out the third (punchline) panel of this strip. It said, "I have to hold my hands like this so that everyone can enjoy my huge knockers!"

Not really. It said, "Screw Teri Hatcher! Mine are REAL and they're SPECTACULAR!"

Again, not really. What it really said was "2005?? Are you kidding me? And I'm still married to some fool who parts his hair down the middle??"

No, it had a picture of Blondie's (also hot) friend, and Blondie said, "Now let's all get out there and do our best." See, the joke is there really is only one staff member for Blondie to be making this Knute Rockne (see, I can make old timey references, too) speech to. HA HA. Yeah, whatever.

Message from "Sara S., Las Vegas, NV"

OK, not really. It's from Laura (and good thing we have someone with an actual masters in actual forensic science to show us how this is done.) Her message follows:

On the comic pages, unfunny offenses are considered especially heinous. In Raleigh, NC, the dedicated detective who investigates these vicious felonies is a member of an elite squad known as the Comic BLOG. These are her stories

[CHUH-CHING!!!!!!!!!]

People’s Evidence 1A submitted 13 FEB 05:
There is a discussion of an example of Dagwood receiving a memo from his boss.

The example was cited in the REFERENCES as Young, Dean, and Denis Lebrun. (January 2002, select "The Cartoonist") Blondie. n. pag. Online. Internet. 24 January 2002.

If the information cited in this example is correct, then he is currently living in the present age. Good gravy, it was actually used in a communications journal; next thing you know we’ll start having college classes about celebrities like Drew Barrymore and about programs like American Idol…

People’s Evidence 2A submitted 13 FEB 05:
http://www.drake.org/Stan/CarPro86/Article.html

Now keep in mind this interview was in the late 80’s, but this guy thinks he is continually updating the daggone comic!! So according to Dean Young, it is contemporary!!! I wonder if he has been getting “senior moments” and forgetting which era he is currently living in.

People’s Evidence 3A submitted 13 FEB 05:
“Produced today under the direction of the creator's son, Dean Young, the strip has continued to keep up with the times. And although Dagwood forsook his millionaire's inheritance long ago, he's been happy ever since. So has Blondie. And so have millions and millions of fans.”

From- http://kingfeatures.com/features/comics/blondie/aboutMaina.php
I think this write up was done by Dean Young!!!

You honor, the people rest.
Sincerely,
Laura K. C., CSI

Thanks, Laura! Who are the "millions and millions of fans," I wonder? Just because millions and millions of people READ it everyday doesn't make them fans! I "listen" to my alarm clock every morning, but I am NOT a fan of it!

Man, too bad I didn't have this blog when I was working on my master's! I could have gotten a lot more research done with people like Laura doing the leg work!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

There are Others Like Us!

Thanks, Laura, for sending this link about Cathy's wedding. There are others like us, people! The anti-suck-ass-comic revolution is brewing!

From Laura: "I found this website in a google search trying to find other stories about Cathy’s wedding. "
http://www.websnark.com/archives/2005/02/despite_the_fac.html

Now, Laura, see if you can find some other info about Dagwood. We now know he has old-timey golf clubs (thanks, John) and a seemingly teenaged daughter who is older than Emily's mom. I am assuming Emily is NOT a toddler or infant, so that her mom is actually older than a teenager. He also has a nice 21st century computer. Hmmmmmm...

Friday, February 11, 2005

Cathy Nuptials

This from the Washington Post is a good read on comics and Cathy's wedding. Man, how have I written so much and not touched on Cathy?? She'll have to wait. I'm still working on carbon dating Dagwood.

Call up Grissom! We're huntin' evidence.

All right. Luann is going to have to wait, because we are going to get sidetracked by Blondie. I'll go back to discussing the N&O comics a little later. But for now, we are going to collect evidence about what era Dagwood and Blondie live in.

Emily posted a link to the last post. Now, I couldn't get the link to work, but I think that she is referring to this (correct me if I'm wrong, Emily):


Now, this is just confusing on so many levels. Who the heck is Adolph Valentino? I am guessing that that is the "joke." That Dagwood actually means Rudolph Valentino. So I did a Google search for "Adolph Valentino," and Google said, "Did you mean: "Rudolph Valentino"?" And, yes, I think I did, and I think Dagwood did, too.

Of course it's not funny. And, the fact that the name he accidentally uses is "Adolph" is a bit disturbing. Not to say:
1) Everyone named Adolph is/was a genocidal Nazi murdering freak.
2) You have to be 80 to know who Rudolph Valentino was.

It's just weird. Now, the issue here isn't whether Dagwood's a neo-Nazi (which I don't think is the case). The issue is: When do they live? Yes, I think I could make a reference to Rudolph Valentino and people of my age (and younger) would know that I am talking about the silent film star of the NINETEEN TEENS and TWENTIES!!! But I probably wouldn't make such a reference unless I was intentionally trying to be retro. But Dagwood doing it seems rather Now-tro (TM A Mighty Wind).

So, did the creator use this reference to confuse us? Here are ways it could be updated to a more-recent era.
"I know ... sometimes I'm a regular Garry Grant, Mark Gable, John Connery, Don Cruise, Ken Affleck ..."

So why did they choose a guy who did SILENT FILMS and died in 1926?? Are D&B even older than my grandmother??

This strip started in 1930, but according to the website, "Produced today under the direction of the creator's son, Dean Young, the strip has continued to keep up with the times." To which I ask, how exactly?

Folks, we are looking for evidence -- post here or email me at bigalscomicblog@yahoo.com. Let me know if you see things that are evidence they live in current times, or in the 1920s (like here) or the 1950s (like Blondie's bridge club).

And I know I don't have Blondie's bridge club posted, but she and Dagwood are sitting in the EXACT SAME location in their living room with Daisy (the Dog) also in the exact same spot as they are in this one. Is that sort of like their retro-area? And whenever the creator wants to remember the good old days of . . . uhm, silent movies and bridge clubs . . . Dagwood and Blondie sit in their living room?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

They've probably got Wi-Fi and Hi-Fi in their bomb shelter

Next in the News & Observer is Luann, but we have to wait awhile for that, because I have something else to point out -- something I was just mentioning.

OK, the online Blondies ("Online Blondies!" That sounds like a porn site . . . maybe I will get more traffic.). Anyway, the Online Blondies (heh heh) are about 2 weeks behind, so I can't post today's strip, but I will explain it (or you can just look in your daily paper).

SCENE: Blondie and Dagwood are sitting in their living room.
DAGWOOD: How was your bridge club?
BLONDIE: We spent the morning talking about Milly Crabknackle leaving her husband for some drummer.
DAGWOOD: Who is Milly Crabknackle?
BLONDIE: I have no idea, and she's got a lot of nerve monopolizing our bridge club conversation!

So, let me ask, how old are Dagwood and Blondie, and what era does this comic strip take place in?? Do you know anyone in a BRIDGE CLUB?? I do. My grandmother and also my great aunt. They're in their early 80s. Are Dagwood and Blondie elderly? They don't look like it. As others have pointed out, Blondie's got quite a rack, and if she's old, well, let's all call up her implant surgeon and make appointments, shall we? Their kids seem like teenagers so B&D are probably in their 40s. I'm not saying that young people can't be or aren't in bridge clubs, I'm just saying I don't know of any, and, quite frankly, it would surprise me. It would be like a bunch of 13 year olds getting together to play Frogger.

Also, "Milly?" Milly is an old lady name if I've ever heard one. I mean, women of my MOM's generation aren't even named Milly (my mom's generation are named Nancy, Peggy, Betty ...) HOW OLD ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO BE, AND WHY WOULD AN ELDERLY LADY RUN OFF WITH A DRUMMER? (although, if Milly is indeed elderly, and did indeed run off with a drummer, then GO MILLY!). And Crabknackle? Oy. It's probably why she left her husband in the first place -- what a crappy last name; if she weren't an old lady she could teach on the Simpsons or something.

Now, the easy answer to all this is that the strip takes place sometime in the 195os or perhaps early 1960s. At that time, my grandmother was the age that Dagwood and Blondie appear to be, and she was in bridge clubs back then, too. But look:

Here Dagwood seems to have a pretty modern looking computer. So, you know, the strip must take place in the present time. They update by giving Dagwood a computer, but Blondie is still in a freakin’ bridge club???? Next week: B&D’s daughter texts her friends at the sock hop! Read what I said in my last post – a computer does not an up-to-date strip make.

My grandmother has a computer, and she uses it primarily for . . . Wanna guess? Playing bridge. Blondie should consider that.

The (other) sad thing is that it’s not that funny. Oh yeah, and ANOTHER sad thing is that you could just remove the word “bridge” from this strip, replace it with “book,” and have the EXACT same strip, just as non-humorous and lame, but at least it’s something that would occur in the 21st century (or the 1990s, or 1980s, or 1970s . . .)

WHEN THE HELL DO THE BUMSTEADS LIVE? (no that’s not a typo).

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Rose is Rose is cool is sweet is fine with Big Al

Rose is Rose is next. Rose is Rose is . . . a little different. Just a very little, but enough. It's a mom, dad, cute kid, and cute pet. Only the mom sometimes morphs into this alter ego who wears leather pants and chains and looks all biker chick. The kid has a guardian angel which would be twee and cheesy except sometimes the angel morphs into like a huge giant with a sword -- all very Old Testament fire and brimstone scary. When the kid sleeps, you see him flying around dreamworld in a spaceship. It's all very conceptual, and drawn in an angular non-fluffy sort of way.

Oh yeah, the mom and dad still seem to be really in love and attracted to each other! They kiss for no reason! Leave each other love notes! Hug! Make out! I mean, our KIDS ARE EXPOSED TO THIS!!! People MAKING OUT in the comic pages! My eyes! My eyes! I thought married people were supposed to hate each other in the comics. My mistake. Go Rose is Rose, people! Just because you're married to someone doesn't mean you have to despise them.

Also, the cat does cute things that reminds me of our cats: it hides out in cabinets, gets all goofy over socks, sits in people's seats as soon as they get up. I get all warm and fuzzy and "AWWWWW" from time to time over the cute cat. See, it's humorous, because it reminds me of things I deal with every day. Unlike Garfield. (My cats have NEVER come walking up on two legs holding out a hot dog bun. That would FREAK ME OUT.)

See, I don't have to be all hateful about a cutesy, happy family comic. It can't be stale golf/borrowing neighbors/crappy cooking/kids say the darndest thing humor, though. Most of the comics seem to be stuck in the 1950s, and the only way you know they aren't is that the artists have updated the family by giving them something "modern" like a cordless phone, video cassette recorder, or personal computer (so modern! You can keep one of these newfangled things right in your house!) The family comic needs an update, and Rose is Rose does the updating pretty well.

Creepy Clown rating: 2 Creepy Clowns
(1 C.C. = awesome comic; 5 C.C. = it sucks)

Rose is Rose is pretty cool. The mom and dad still really loving each other so much really cheers me (the bad marriages had me looking into the possibilty of personal Oxycontin addiction). It doesn't get a top grade though, because it's never downright funny. It's cute without being annoying. Traditional family without being '50s. Conceptually cool without being over the top. Just never HA HA funny.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Sadly, Even Jerry Orbach is Replaceable

OK, next on our list is Peanuts. Peanuts is an American touchstone. Can you imagine a world without the Charlie Brown Christmas? Without Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin? Without the "WA WA WAWAWA" sound the adults make? Except, those are all from the animated holiday specials. What I'm talking about is actually called Classic Peanuts -- it's what's on the comics every day.

Why "Classic?" It's not like Coke. It's not like Charles M. Schulz came up with a New Peanuts that sucked and tasted more like Pepsi and everyone wanted the old Peanuts back except now it was called Classic Peanuts. Nope. It's called Classic Peanuts because it's all re-runs. See, in some other comics (Family Circus to name one), the creator teaches his son or brother or someone to do his strips. How sad is that, that you can teach someone else to draw and ink and make crappy jokes just like you so that no one can even TELL THE DIFFERENCE?

Anyway, Schulz had some pride, and when he went, the comic went with him. Sort of. Not really. See, the comic page editors were all, "ARGH! No Peanuts! Whatever are we to do?" Someone got the bright idea to just rerun old ones, and see, even though there are some great things about Peanuts (which I will get to), it isn't so bland that you can't just run some from, I don't know, 20 years ago, and no one will know the difference.

The characters on Peanuts are what makes it great. How finely realized art such folks as Charlie and Sally Brown? Linus and Lucy? Pigpen, Marcy, Peppermint Patty, Snoopy? Lucy (the original bitchy little girl) selling psychiatric advice for 5 cents is pretty clever. Linus and his blanket? Schroeder the Beethoven playing little kid? These are great character vignettes.

You know who else was pretty funny, witty, original, and a titan in his field? Johnny Carson, who now shares another trait with Schulz -- both are dead. Carson was fan-fuckin-tastic. But, when I turn the TV to NBC at 11:30 at night, I don't want to see a Carson re-run from the '70s (like, I'm not interested in Watergate humor or Lee Majors or whatever); I wanna see . . . well, I don't really care all that much for Leno, but I mean, that's who I want to see before turning over to Letterman.

Now, folks may say, "What about the children?" Snoopy, Woodstock, Charlie Brown et al are American icons, and how can our children grow up without seeing them every day? Well, Howdy Doody was an icon, and I grew up just fine without seeing him every day (or ever, for that matter). Instead, I watched Mr. Rogers. My hypothetical future kids will have something else.

I think it just goes to show how absolutely stagnant the comic pages are that it is the one popular entertainment forum where we don't let what was once a brilliant character-driven strip die a dignified death. Let's just keep flogging it until everyone realizes that you can't tell one from the next. Screw you comic page editors!

Creepy Clown Rating: 2.5 Creepy Clowns
(1 C.C. = awesome comic; 5 C.C. = it sucks)

It gains creepy clowns for the fact that what I see on Peanuts every day is so bland that I can't tell if it's one I've even seen before, or if it was from before I was born or before I could read or what. However, I cannot hold it against the strip that the editors keep running it (so it doesn't get as many c.c.'s as it could). It loses creepy clowns for the fact that it's characters are pretty great, and a world without Pigpen is a sad world indeed.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Burnouts, Stoners, Druggies, Rejects: Is Jeremy Duncan One?

Next is Zits. Zits is all right. I don't love it or hate it. I like that we see the Dad doing household chores like the laundry and dishes -- and it's not a big deal or a joke or anything! It's just life in the Duncan household (although the main character, Jeremy makes fun of the dad for it). The dad is an orthdontist. Hey, the dad in FBOFW is ALSO a dentist!! [and now a note from Big Al's crazy alter ego Celestia: "Coincidence???? I think the dentists are taking over the comics! Big Al, you work at a dental school! The comics are sending you a message!!" Big Al: "Shut Up. Go back to watching your X-Files DVDs. Tell me if Mulder and Scully ever hook up."]

Hey, for those of you who don't really know me, I really don't have a second personality. [Celestia: "Or does she??"]

Like real life, these people seem to love and respect each other (the Duncans in Zits, not me and my fake alter ego), despite getting on each other's nerves from time to time. So, that's also good (I first typed, "that's all good." Ugh. Hate that little phrase).

Oh yeah, I also like that Jeremy's friend with all the piercings is named "Pierce." Hee hee. See, comic writers?? It really does take very little to humor me.

The problem I have with Zits is the old one joke problem: teenage angst. The characters don't age (or change their clothes, interestingly enough), so it's going to be this teenage angst ad infinitum. It's pretty clever now, but ask again in another 10 years when these guys are making the same jokes over and over.

Also, for all the teenage angst, it's not very edgy -- no drugs, alcohol, sex, homosexuality, etc. Now, I will say that these aren't the sorts of thing I want to see on the comics (although peripheral characters in FBOW have dealt with these issues). I mean, I realize that even though it would be funny if we saw Pierce drop into a K Hole, it's just not appropriate for the funny pages. Same thing if Jeremy and his girlfriend, Sara had oral sex because they don't think it's "real sex." I mean, come on! That's definitely inappropriate! Save it for MTV, buddy!

All's I'm saying is that if your whole comic is about teenage angst, it should be angstier than it is. I mean, I graduated from high school in 1991, and my high school experience was a lot less white bread than theirs! They don't even go to parties where alcohol is being served! (Jeremy could turn it down, but to be tempted by it -- that's interesting!)

I think Zits is funny, but it presents the view of teenagers as held by parents who aren't entirely sure what their kids are up to.

And now, I present the latest feature. The creepy clown rating. For those who are new, the creepy clown is why I started this blog in the first place. I will give each comic a rating from 1 to 5 creepy clowns. 5 creepy clowns means the comic sucks; 1 creepy clown means it's awesome.

I give Zits 2.5 creepy clowns. It gains points for being moderately humorous and never sexist. It loses points for having only one joke (being/raising a teenager -- OK, that's 2 jokes). It also loses points because the characters always wear the same clothes. What in the world is up with that? Can he only draw those clothes? Oh, yeah, also, it concerns me that Jeremy doesn't seem to participate in any after-school activities. He has a band, but he doesn't seem to play in band or orchestra at school, and I don't believe he does any sports or clubs, and he doesn't seem to attend sporting events. At my high school, we called people like that "burnouts."

Final: 2.5 creepy clowns. Feel free to disagree and explain why. You can now contact me at bigalscomicblog@yahoo.com (I'd put that somewhere more prominent, but haven't figured out how).