Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hasta La Vista! (for at least a week)

I leave tomorrow for a week-long beach vacation. Yay! So, let's just take a snapshot of the "State of the Funnies" and I'll check back in a little over a week, and see what's what:

OH my! Elizabeth and Anthony! And he rattles her nerves. If you did not see this coming from the VERY MINUTE Liz decided to leave Mtigiwatsit . . . well, what the HELL is wrong with you??? More to the point, what the HELL is wrong with Liz?? Has she not seen her hot boyfriend the cop, Mr. Wright? Warren the hot helicopter pilot? Anthony?? The divorced, single-dad, milquetoast used car lot accountant with the push broom mustache and 1980s-era glasses? HOTTTT, Liz!

ARGGGH! More power to the powers-that-be behind Blondie if they are going to turn a quick buck on a chain of Dagwood Sandwich Shoppes. But, here we see the "art" "suffering" for the quick buck. Not that I will miss the diner jokes any more than I'd miss ANYTHING that ever happens in this strip. No more jokes about the cook's heart-burn inducing, ultra hot, pungent, and greasy foods? I think I can survive. But, geez, as stated before . . . I have a problem with the strip changing to service the sandwich shop. Hate it, in fact.

We leave Garfield with a major turn of events. A girl ACTUALLY LIKES JON! Jon, who is portrayed as such a loser in love that the only date I've ever seen him on is one with an amnesiac who thinks Jon has gone on space walks. Now, the long-time object of his desire seems to like him. And her name is . . . LIZ!

Lesson: If you appear in the comics, and your name is Liz, you will be attracted to dorks.

Yes! Child abuse storyline upcoming! Funky was getting too uplifting with the tennis-playing and teen-dating storylines. Now can we have some harrowing flashbacks to a childhood spent cowering from a belt-wielding, enraged, drunken father? Please?

So what is it, coach? She "underachieves," but she "has fun" AND is the "hardest worker." So . . . now what exactly is her problem? And what does it have to do with her interest in non-parent-coached sports? Is her underachieving part of a subconscious desire to not out-perform her parents? Well, Coaches Thorp . . . take a lesson from Funky Winkerbean: Beat Keri -- beat her senseless, until she, too, becomes a high school coach.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

More Garfield

So, there are indeed two obviously different women: Liz, the vet Jon has been crushing on for years, and amnesia woman who had gotten up to go to the bathroom. I find it mildly troubling, to say the least, that I can't follow the plot of a week's worth of Garfield without getting confused.

In my own defense, I'd like to point out that I missed this vital strip -- the strip upon which the whole Liz subplot rests:

But honestly? Had I seen this, I would have just assumed (as I did in the strips that appeared after this one) that amnesia chick had just forgotten who her date was. Are we really supposed to recognize Liz?

What's the deal here? A Garfield with a plot? A Garfield that expects us to follow along and remember what happened in previous days? All with an amnesiac playing a central role. Funny.

And . . . whoah: Panel 2 today: Liz really likes Jon? Since when? How? Whuh? Strange things are afoot in Garfield world, people. Strange things . . .

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Quartet

Hey, what do you know? A Garfield sans Garfield! Never thought it would happen. But, wait . . . doesn't Liz have amnesia? How does she recognize Jon in disguise and remember that his "social calendar was all booked up?" Logical inconsistencies are only acceptable when they improve the whole. This just doesn't make any sense. What's supposed to be funny here? That the guy is sitting right there? That Jon looks so ridiculous? More ridiculous than his normal plaid jacket/polka dot bow tie date ensemble?

Don't worry, Coach, we realize you aren't gay! Although . . . what in the world would make you think Les would ask you to rub sunscreen on the back of his neck? Can't Les easily reach back there himself? Is there any indication that Les can't reach the back of his OWN NECK?? Coach, methinks your imagination is running away with you, and that makes me start to question, just a little bit . . .

Cathy, do us all a favor: if it bothers you so much, why don't you try something a little more flattering and less revealing than that teeny tiny monstrosity? Can I again suggest WholesomeWear?

Riya: you are a gymnast. Scar or not, they'd be staring at you during your routine. That's the point. If you are so worried about it, TRY ANOTHER SPORT! Besides, it's not your scar that bothers me, but your Ken-doll-like lower anatomy.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

SWF Seeks Cat Loving Man

This is actually kind of funny, in a sad kind of way. The "joke" of course, is that Jon continues to take advantage of this poor woman's amnesia, first by getting a date with her, and now, talking about his space mission. HA HA. But, really -- he brought his CAT with him on a DATE. And, Garfield is just sitting there, watching like he's at a tennis match. It's so absurd. So ridiculous. And yet, actually a teeny tiny bit funny.

I wonder if Jim Davis realized this? Or if, well, the strip is called "Garfield," so you can't have a strip without Garfield. It would be like watching an episode of House without Dr. House.

Or a Blondie strip with no Blondie:

Or a Luann with no Luann:

Or a Dilbert with no Dilbert:

Or a Funky Winkerbean with no Funky Winkerbean:

Or a Cathy with no Cathy:

Or a Gil Thorp with no Gil Thorp:

It just can't happen, so Garfield must always appear. And Jon doesn't get to go on a date sans cat. But wouldn't there have been some humor in the maitre'd trying to seat Garfield? In the woman's realization that her date BROUGHT HIS CAT? That could have been some funny stuff. But, no . . . the fact that a cat is in these absurd situations is not Garfield's humor niche. Although maybe it should be, because lame puns, making fun of amnesiacs, and "Beware of Dog" jokes just don't cut the mustard.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Swimsuit Issues

Oh, ho ho! In Cathy's world, men have body issues, too! Does this strip portend a week of bathing suit issues ahead? I certainly hope not! And please note, despite all of Cathy's agonizing over bathing suit choices, she does choose to sit poolside wrapped in a towel.

However, since it's likely that Cathy's bathing suit issues will NEVER be worked out, may I suggest WholesomeWear swimsuits? Here is an example of one of their "slimming styles" (click the link above for more lovely options available):

No, that's not a joke or a bogus site, as far as I can tell. According to the owner, these suits are designed to focus on the face. She considers her swimsuit wear a ministry for Christian people who love the Lord. More here.

Anyhoo, as I once posited, Cathy might really only be happy in a Taliban-type regime where she was forced to cover up all day long. But, really, I see she may be equally at ease in a Christian fundamentalist society. You men will have to wait. Apparently, WholesomeWear has not come up with a line of modest men's swimwear, sorry to say.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Meanwhile, in Crazy Town . . .

So, how do comic strips let you know when action is shifting from one location to another? Well, sometimes, they just make the background obvious. So, for instance, if Chip Flagston is in school in Panel 1, there's a blackboard and a teacher's desk and an apple, but if he's home by Panel 3, you see the Flagston's refrigerator, stove, and other home accoutrements. But what if you want to also give a sense of time? For instance, what if two important events are happening simultaneously? Then you use the very handy "Meanwhile . . ." For instance Tony Montoni and Funky Winkerbean are filming the pizza shop's Food Network spot, but MEANWHILE . . . Lisa Moore is praying to the porcelain god after a grueling round of chemo.

Now what if you are the ever-bizarre and inscrutable Gil Thorp? Well, you just sort of put your location and time indicators wherever the hell you damn well please:

Now, I could be wrong, but I don't see any change in time or place between Panels 1 and 2. In each, it looks to me that Keri and Riya are sitting in the park discussing that ho Hayley. But only Panel 2 tells us that the action is taking place "After Practice."

Was Panel 1 taking place "Before Practice?" I don't think so, because it was DURING practice that Hayley made the bitchy remark about the scar. Since I don't think Keri and Riya are seers, I don't think they could discuss the events of practice BEFORE practice.

Was Panel 1 taking place "During Practice?" Again, I don't think so, because they are gymnasts, and although I never was a gymnast myself, I gather that gymnastics practice does not take place sitting on your ass in the park.

So, it is my assertion that Panel 1, like Panel 2 takes place "After Practice." But for some reason, the powers that be at Gil Thorp felt it necessary to clue us in before Panel 2 . . . just a friendly little reminder. While reading Panel 1, they believe we are sufficiently aware of the time and place of this conversation. But, they fear that in shifting our eyes an inch to the right to read Panel 2, we may have forgotten. So, voila! A reminder! My guess is that Panel 3 ALSO takes place "After Practice," for the same reasons as listed above for Panel 1 -- that they can't discuss the events of practice before practice and that gymnastics practice doesn't take place in the backseat of a car . . . despite what the teen boys likely try to tell poor Keri . . . they probably don't try to get Riya to practice gymnastics in the back of the car because of that God awful scar (which I would never even notice -- it just looks like crazy GT art). And how old are these girls supposed to be anyway? If they aren't even high schoolers, well, I will cease and desist with the backseat jokes.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

Thank goodness the News & Observer printed more comics snarkiness in today's paper, or I'd be at a loss as to what to post. I haven't read the comics since Monday. My hotel in Boston, oddly enough, delivered the New York Times. So, needless to say, I was totally out of sorts reading today's funnies. Hilary Forth and Goth friend Faye have had a musical "falling out?" Tony's Pizza is being featured in some sort of food network show? Drabble's back is better, and they are now hanging out at a ball game? Dennis spills the beans that Mr. Mitchell isn't a very good golfer? (Gotta watch what you say around the kiddies, eh?). Of course, I could use the magical Internet to look at the comics I missed, but I am too tired and lazy.

So, from today's News & Observer:

Donna, CIO contributor emeritus, writes: "I know I've really got to get a life when I start reading the funnies this closely, but hey -- it's summer.

"Apparently, the family in the Jump Start comic strip has a genius in its midst. In the Saturday strip
, the twins are getting their obligatory naked-baby photos taken. When the boy twin objects to this invasion of his privacy, his sister deviously plans to save the snap and show it to his prom date -- in 2018.

"Hello!" observes Donna in that annoying tone popular with today's youth, "it's 2006 right now. If this kid's going to the prom in 2018, he'll be a prodigy, graduating (and dating hot teenage girls) at the tender age of 12. Or do they have prom in sixth grade now?"

Might could.

That's one of two ways they age in the comics, Donna. Either a) not at all or b) at an accelerated rate. That's just the way it is.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


First, a little administrative note: This will probably be the last post until Friday at the earliest. As always, I will get to peruse the comics of another great American city; Boston in this case. Now I have to hope that my hotel isn't a USA Today hotel, or else I have to make a special effort to get the local paper.

Here's one that requires some splainin':

OK, now comment one (re: Americans not being shocked by cartoon characters anymore) I GET. I don't AGREE, but I UNDERSTAND. Why don't I agree? Well, it wasn't too, too long ago that newspapers pulled FBOFW strips when Lawrence (Laurence?) came out of the closet. Plus, at least once a month, my paper publishes a letter to the editor where someone is shocked (shocked!) by the Boondocks, by Doonesbury, by Get Fuzzy . . . And when we think about ANIMATED cartoon characters, aren't the Southpark boys whipping up a kerfluffle every other year or so? So, it seems to me that the "American People" CAN be "shocked by cartoon characters."

Now, the thought balloon "after having seen an actual conservative journalist" is what I don't get. I guess Mallard, the conservative journalist in question (or I see those are two different ducks? Or what? The one on the right has a green face.), is supposed to be so shocking (shocking!) to us (more shocking than lesbian superheroes, smart-mouthed suburban black kids, and foul-mouthed suburban white kids) that it shocks the shock right out of our system. Right, that's the joke, right?

So the joke is there is no such thing as a conservative journalist? Because what about Rush Limbaugh? Bill O'Reilly? Tucker Carlson? Do the talking heads not count as "journalists?" That would be fair, I suppose, but it's hard to tell the political leanings of the non-talking heads. Sure, they seem to do a lot of questioning and investigating of the current administration, but that is what journalists do: question those in power.

But maybe the joke is that there is no such thing as a conservative journalist cartoon character? But what about Doonesbury's Chase Talbot III? He's conservative. Gay, but conservative.

So, I'm not really sure what the deal is here.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Rob Wilco: Friend of Dorothy?

The News & Observer's Check It Out column was back to harping on the comics today. Good thing, because I'm not up to saying anything original about them myself. The crux of today's column: Is Get Fuzzy's Rob gay? Literally gay, not in the 7th-grade "He's so gay" sense.

Column here, and please let me know if the link doesn't work.

Monday, July 03, 2006

I Heart Dilbert

From late 1999 through mid-2002 I worked at a job where my colleagues and I would read, discuss, and obsess over the Washington Post. This included the front page primarily, but also sports, the wedding section, the crime blotter, the crossword puzzle, and the comics. This is where my daily comics reading passed from mild interest to obsessive compulsion.

One of my favorite pastimes back in the day was to cut out a nonsensical Broom Hilda strip, and label the characters with people from around the office. You often see this with a particularly funny Far Side, or a spot-0n Dilbert skewering of workplace dynamics. Obviously, it makes little sense with a Broom Hilda that didn't make sense in the first place. Visitors to my cubicle would stare at the Broom Hilda. They'd perhaps wonder why my cubemate had been labeled as Nerwin, and the Commander upstairs had been labeled as Gaylord the Vulture. Especially when Broomie, Nerwin, and Gaylord were arguing over who gets around the Enchanted Forest the best. Every so often, a visitor would chuckle, pretending to "get" the joke, and that always made it worth it. Plus, I could decide right away that the visitor was a sycophant, and I wasn't even worth sucking up to!

What brings on all this nostalgia? WELL! We also had a boss who went for runs at lunch. He would shower afterwards, of course, but he would also wear the same running clothes every day for a week. These he would store in a locker in his office. Boy, it could get riiipe! His name? Well, let's just say we had a nickname for him, and here it is:

HA HA HA HA HA!!! See, now, THIS we could have cut out and put up in a cubicle, and it would have made total sense! (FYI, before we figured out where the stink was coming from, we had building services come in and check our vents and air filters for rot and mold!) Ahhhhh . . . excellent. Rarely is there a comic that speaks to me so directly. I mean, yes, when Dagwood goes to Herb's house to get his tools back, OF COURSE. And when Dolly utters yet another malapropism. And, well, OK, when Garfield smashes a spider. But don't those incidents speak to all of us? Stinky Pete? He is like a little Valentine to me and to my former colleagues.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Baseball -- Gil Thorp Style

Gah! Gil Thorp -- why do you continue to vex and haunt me so?? Let us recap the events of the past week, shall we?

As you may know, New Thayer enters the game against Milford with an unsullied record. No team in the conference has ever run the table, and obviously, Coach Thorp and the gang want to play spoiler to the New Thayer juggernaut. Let's check in during the 6th inning:

A bold move indeed from Coach Thorp! A suicide squeeze to tie the score at 2. Baseball is the game of second guessing, and you wonder if they may have had a bigger inning if Coach had allowed "Big Trey Davis" to swing away. Davis is in an 0-for-the-season slump, so probably a wise move on Coach's part. Will it pay off?

We go to the 7th (which in many high school leagues is the last inning). The tension is palpable:

New Thayer scores a run in the top of the inning to take the lead, 3-2. Can Milford pull off the upset in the bottom of the inning? A single by Hughes and a double by the incomparable Rap Dawg Brent Raptor puts runners on second and third with only one out. A deep fly ball should easily score the tying run, but it looks like Bernal's fly is only hit to medium right. Can Jimmy Hughes tag and score?

A collision at the plate! Complete with bright light and a secret force field around the players! The umpire has yet to make a call, and Brent Raptor rounds third -- the potential winning run! What will the call be? Is Jimmy Hughes the third -- and game ending -- out, or is he the tying run?

HE IS OUTTA THERE!!! Big brother hangs on to the ball after little brother's crushing blow at the plate . .. it's like an anti-League of Their Own.

And, New Thayer's perfect season continues, as they defeat Milford by the final score of 2-1!!!! Now, of course, the score to begin the half inning was 3-2, but as you know, in baseball, when there is a play at the plate to end the game, each team loses a run. Or something. Why did the score change? Why did each team LOSE a run? I do not understand. Were those runs nullified earlier? Is this how New Thayer wins all its games? By some hoodoo voodoo over the scoreboard?

Gah! Gil Thorp -- Gah! And where the HELL is Brick House? You KNOW he'd have the score straight, and since baseball is the sport of Sabermetricians and stat geeks, don't you think Brick could provide some useful insight? Or at least keep the damn score straight!!! GAH! GAH!