Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Big C Strikes Back


Oooh, yippee! Back to the rollicking cancer-return storyline. Enough of those crazy kids hanging out at the mall, hooking up with cheerleaders, etc. Give us what we all turn to the funny pages for -- potential death at the hands of an insidious disease whose cure is as agonizing as the disease itself! Woo hoo!

Seriously, this conflicts me to no end. My biggest objection to Hi & Lois, Hagar, Family Circus, Dennis, et al is . .. well, my BIGGEST objection is that they're never funny, but second only to that is that NOTHING EVER HAPPENS. Nothing happens so actively that their attempts to sell us on the fact that they take place in present day are laughable. And Gah! They're just so PERFECT, and the women so slim, and the kids so gosh-darn cute, and blah blah blah blah!

So, here we have a strip where things DO happen. Where all is not always happiness and light. Where the artist attempts to mine some humor out of the darkest patches of life -- something we should all strive to do. All sounds good, right? And yet it . . . bothers me. There, I said it. This really shouldn't bother me. I should be thankful that SOMEONE is trying something different with this God-awful stuck-in-the-mud medium.

I am not a cancer survivor, nor am I am one-armed pregnant woman raising an Afghan war orphan while my husband fights in Iraq. Maybe the people in these groups really do appreciate seeing their lives portrayed in the funny pages. Lord knows, is there anyone out there who sees Blondie Bumstead and says, "Yep. I know how it is Blondie!"?

For all these reasons, I find it hard to outright criticize the artistic and creative choices being made in Funky Winkerbean, but . . . well, gosh, it just bugs the heck out of me to see such pathos in the funny pages. It's OK on TV, it's OK in the movies, it's OK in novels. Heck, it's even OK in small doses in the funnies -- B.D.'s war storyline in Doonesbury comes to mind immediately. But Funky can be so dark, so pessimistic, so often . . . it's too much for me. I can't explain it, and I guess I shouldn't have to.

Lighten up, Funky!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Rock, Paper, Kung Fu!

From Friday:



Heeeeeeyyyy . . . MY boss is a dentist and MY boss is going on a "CRUISE TO ALASKA THIS SUMMER." Coincidence??? I think not! And this is why I didn't post over the weekend -- when you think the comics are sending personal messages to you, it's time to take a break.

And from today, Rock, Paper, Scissors, as imagined by the Keanes:


The boys (and particularly Billy) have some Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-type Rock, Paper, Scissors moves. Seriously, what kind of R,P,S game is this? A Falun Gong version, that's what! Don't let General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, President of the People's Republic of China, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission Hu Jintao find out, he'll shut that shit down post haste.

And now that crazy Dolly thinks she actually needs these items to play the game. HA HA HA ZZZZzzzzzzz

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Misc. Comic Musings

Of course the "Norm Drabble As Incompetent Frozen Yogurt Server" storyline continues! Yippee! Here is the "punchline" (no, you don't need to see the first three panels, the setup is the same as it ever was -- customer requests an order Norm can't provide):



Oh HA HA! It's funnier now that instead of ice cream on his face and body, it's all piled up in a little bitty cup (and looks a little bit like a turd). ARRRGGGH! Oh so not funny. . . FOR THREE CONSECUTIVE DAYS! What, oh what, will happen to poor Norm tomorrow? Will someone ask for sprinkles?

Speaking of continuing storylines and "ARRRGGGH!," the "Dagwood Pimping His Sandwich Shop" storyline continues:



When Ye Olde Dagwood Sandwich Shoppes DO open, will the strip give us some info? A prompt to go visit one of these fine establishments? The longer this continues, the angrier I think it makes me. "Angry" is probably a strong word. It's a strip I already hate, so it's not like it can drop any further in my esteem. Still . . . using the strip to pimp the shop. That's weak, man.

In other news:


So, the high school hi-jinx continue. No pregnant war brides, orphaned Afghan toddlers, or metastasizing breast cancer to deal with. But is this as straightforward as it seems? Is this super hot cheerleader chick Jess all of a sudden hot for Darren? (Darren is his name, right?) Or is she setting him up for a big fall? Stay tuned . . .

A friend wrote to tell me of her creepy experience with For Better or For Worse. I read it in my morning paper. Apparently, she reads it on the website, and today . . . their eyes move! Here is the link (although I'm not sure this link will work after today -- so make sure you click the 6/22 strip if you are checking this). Yeah, so check out panels 3 and 4 -- blinking eyes. Do they always do this in FBOFW?

And, just because:


HA! And I think the best part is the googly-eyed dog (which I am guessing is a doll of some sort) on the monitor! Hey, Doggy, stick your God-damned tongue back in your mouth!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Lots to Say

A few comments from today's strips, so let's just get right into it, shall we?

Norm Drabble is an idiot. That's the basis of this "joke," and the basis of every Norm-centered strip. Idiots can be funny (cf: Falstaff, Homer Simpson). But this just isn't funny. Those soft-serve ice cream machines are fairly easy to operate. In fact, they need no training to operate, and are often left to customers to use in some of your finer dining establishments -- cafeterias, Western Sizzlin' buffets and the like. So, ooh boy, he's an idiot. Funny, no? I guess the "funny" part of this is the visual of Norm having ice cream all over his face? OK, but it was the EXACT SAME "JOKE" yesterday, and it wasn't all that funny then. To "wit:"

Are we going to have to watch this joke all week?

Next:


But in the winter, it would be OK to scold them? Look, I see the "joke" here: at some point in time Jeffy has been scolded for sticking his tongue out. In his idiot/child brain, he thinks this also applies to the dogs. HA HA HA! But dogs stick their tongues out ALL THE TIME. Not just in the summer. So he's never noticed their tongues out before? Lest you think the "in the summer" bit is necessary to remind us that this strip is timely, and indeed takes place in summer, guess again. The shorts, tank tops, wagging tongues, and last, but not least, broiling-to-the-point-of-vibrating sun clue us in. Take "In the summer" out of the caption here, and you have the same, lame joke. At least make some sense, though, and follow some sort of internal logic. Jeffy sure is pissed at those dogs, though.

And then:



What's the joke here? Are carrots actually bad for the disposal? I put carrots down our disposal all the time and have never had a problem. Maybe the joke is that Alice has carefully chopped those carrots, and now Dennis is shoving her hard work down the drain to a steely death. That must be it. And it's just not funny. Is the sink stopped up? Why is there standing water in the sink? If he's running the disposal, the water should be draining along with the carrots. So, maybe he IS ruining the disposal with carrots?? I just don't know. But, Alice has a lovely shirt-dress with a beautiful print. Perfect for those little household chores like chopping carrots!

And then?:




Hagar has new lettering this week. Compare the lettering on today's strip (bottom) with one from last week (top). The lettering this week has been larger, and less closely spaced. I see that the creative team behind Hagar must have felt "Our comic is getting stale. The same characters doing the same things and making the same lame jokes all the time. How to fix? I've got it! New lettering!" And voila! Vive le difference! NBC execs take note: I know that since the loss of Friends, your primetime ratings have fallen into the toilet. Solution: better fonts on your promos.

Or could it possibly be that the biggest fans of Hagar need/want larger type? That they complained Hagar was getting too difficult to read? No, that couldn't be it.

Monday, June 19, 2006

I Like Big Butts and I Cannot Lie

Rhymes with Orange will probably never be noted for its artistic skill. But ask Scott Adams if that is necessary for a great strip. I don't know if I'd classify RWO as "great;" in fact, I probably wouldn't. That said, I think it is enjoyable, never cliche-ridden, sometimes groan-worthy, but in a good, Pearls Before Swine kind of way. Still, the quality of the drawing made today's strip funnier than it would have been otherwise:


Aw, yeah, a bubble-butt old white guy! Of course, it's really those padded-butt bike shorts, but what it looks like is some J-Lo quality curves.

Sir Mix-a-Lot needs to be rollin' up here right quick with some immortal words of wisdom: My anaconda don't want none unless you got buns, hon!

Even white boys got to shout: Baby got back!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day!

Good day to all you fathers out there. This is another of those holidays that the funnies love to celebrate. Father's and Mother's Days are probably two of the funnies favorites, and my guess is that it's because, like Easter, they ALWAYS fall on a Sunday. Still, in many respects, it was a disappointing comics holiday. There were no hideous tie gifts in the News & Observer, and, just like on Mother's Day, no ruined, breakfast-in-bed-disastered kitchens. Kids today, I tell ya. The ruined kitchen on Mother's and/or Father's Day is an unfunny comic cliche that I count on. You know what it means when you can't count on the cliches? Well, it COULD mean that mothers-in-law are decent, fun people; bosses are understanding; doctors don't like to golf; children aren't cute . . . you get the picture.

Here's a Father's Day rundown (as seen in the Raleigh News & Observer):

FBOFW: April and Elly team up to give John a gym membership and a massage (no, not that kind of massage). So, this is a nice enough gift, a fairly original comics concept, nothing too FBOFW-treacly. Good deal.

Sally Forth: The Forths are sitting around with newspaper hats. No mention of Father's Day at all. Poor, overlooked Ted. This one is pretty funny, as the 4 consecutive panels of Forths in newspaper hats make them look 100% throw-away-the-key nutty.

FunkyWinkerbean: It features Les and Lisa, but no mention of Father's Day. Poor Les. Not to fear, after several weeks of high-school hijinx, it looks like we are back to the fun, fun cancer storyline! No mention of Becky and Wally, and Wally's impending fatherhood. IF he can make it back from Iraq alive! Maybe he won't, and when Lisa kicks it from the cancer return, Les and Becky can hook up.

FoxTrot: Father's Day is never mentioned, but Roger does get to go golfing, so maybe that was his gift. He's a terrible golfer, but we see, for the first time ever, perhaps a hint of where Jason's math geekiness comes from?

Hagar: No mention of Father's Day, but I don't think they had the holiday back in ancient Viking times, did they?

Luann: Luann's over preparation for the holiday leads the dad to say "No gifts necessary." Which was Luann's goal all along. Poor Brad with a stack of gifts. My guess? Brad comes out looking better than Luann in the end. That "your company is good enough," is about as true as "it's the thought that counts."

Cathy: Isn't Cathy's dad a great man? He's taught her songs, stories, jokes, etc. You know, they say a father's relationship with his daughter has a lot to do with her self-esteem, her view of the world, and her relationships with men. So, don't try to pull this "Cathy's dad was great" stunt. HE RAISED CATHY. He must have been one f'd up dad.

Zits: Another one that ignores the holiday. Poor Dr. Duncan.

Blondie: Also ignores the holiday. Poor Dagwood. At least he gets to play ball with Elmo. Elmo must have some really bad father if he has to play catch with Dagwood on Father's Day. Maybe it's Cathy's dad.

Hi & Lois: Ah, the infamous "job jar.' But, it's full of fun things for Hi to do, including GOLF, which we know is a big favorite of all men in the funnies.

Wizard of Id: The King threw his father in the dungeon years ago. Does this surprise us? Do we care? Is it funny? No. No. No.

Jump Start/Baby Blues: Again no mention of the holiday. WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON? These strips both center around the kids. Gah! And Jump Start has spent the last several weeks building up Marci's relationship with her step-dad. A wasted opportunity.

Non Sequitur: When Baby Blues ignores Father's Day, but Non Sequitur doesn't, that's some weird stuff going on. And, they celebrate Captain Eddie, who is NOT a father, which is the point of their celebration. OK.

Family Circus: Billy filling in today, and it's as lame and stupid as ever. My favorite bit was his drawing of "Ho, Ho!" With this kind of hoe, not this kind -- which would have been so much funnier.

B.C.: Tells us that Father's Day is just "a commercial ploy to sell greeting cards 'n' stuff." No duh.

Dennis the Menace: Mr. Mitchell does get a tie, but he calls it "lovely," so our one great chance for a terrible tie is missed.

Rhymes with Orange: Dad is grilling hot dogs, son is grilling cocktail wieners. Cute.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Pimpin' the Deli Meat

I did not know that Dagwood's Ye Olde Sandwich Shoppe would stir up such a hornet's nest of controversy and opinions! Let it be known that I had no idea there was to be such a thing. I just thought the strip had gone a little haywire. So, thank you Anonymous #1 for sharing the truth behind the strip. Truth be told: I am not a comics expert, do not keep up with the latest news in comic-stripping and syndication, have no involvement whatsoever. I'm just someone who reads the comics every day and have appointed myself to write this blog. I also sit on the couch and drink coffee almost every day, but haven't felt the urge to do a "Sitting on the Couch Drinking Coffee" blog . . . yet! Stand by, because that sounds like a WINNER!

Temporarily at least, Dean Young has turned his strip into a shill for a chain of sandwich shops. They will convince me to eat at a sandwich shop because it appears in a lame comic strip? I do not like this manipulation one bit! You know, Mattel did the exact same thing to my little brother in 1984. They made this tv show, He Man, which convinced him to go out and buy (well, technically, my parents to go out and buy) He Man action figures. They manipulated him! (Mattel, not my parents.) Of course, in 1984, my little brother was 7. It's 2006, I'm 33, and I do NOT like being manipulated in this way.

I should point out that He Man action figures came two years before the show, so really the show was conceived as a shill for the toys. What we've got here is a long-running (and we all know it's been 75 years thanks to last year's big anniversary hoo-hah) creative enterprise being used (and perhaps repurposed somewhat -- although until he actually starts a shop, I will hold out hope) to shill the product. Yep, it's good, old-fashioned capitalism, but the creative enterprise should come first, any possible commercialism second.

I firmly believe these legacy strips are around for the sole purpose of making money through the sale of greeting cards, mugs, and other tscotchkes. Peanuts greeting cards, Cathy panties (good lord, Ianscot, can this be true??), Dagwood sliced meats, Marmaduke dog toys . . . it's all well and good. If I could make a mint selling Big Al's Comic Blog mousepads I'd be on that like Garfield on a pan of lasagne, like Hagar on a flagon of beer, like Elly Patterson on some words of wisdom, like Gil Thorpe . . . can't stop . . .

See, if Dagwood opens his own sandwich shop, how can we live without strips like these:



I mean, really. He's so freaking lazy at work. And he runs to his boss to get his Internet access back up . . .so he can play poker online. HA HA HA! Can you live without this brand of "Dagwood is a horrid employee" humor? Of course, if Dagwood DOES open a sandwich shop, he can have his own horrid employee, and the tables will be turned! But then we lose the "tech support"/"messing around on the computer at work" aspect . . . and no more Mr. Dithers??? Except as a possible customer? All in the name of a quick buck at a sandwich franchise that's not exactly needed. Boo.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Will Jared Become a Regular Character?


He's been mentioning this possible future sandwich shop for awhile now, so I think it's time to mention it here, too. What is going on? Will he quit his job with Mr. J.C. Dithers? Will he really open this shop? If so, it would be a sea change in the life of Dagwood Bumstead. Even more importantly, a sea change in the daily enjoyment of comic readers everywhere. Or those that get daily enjoyment from Blondie, whoever they may be (yeah, yeah, all you sick pervs who think 1940s hairstyles on top of a great rack on top of a tiny waist are HOTT!)

If Dagwood does indeed quit his job to open a sandwich shop, does that mean the end of the "Dagwood is lazy/sleeping on the job" jokes? The end of Mr. Dithers threatening to fire him? The end of his lunches at the greasy spoon diner? The end of his carpool? The end of "Dagwood made the carpool late" jokes? The end of Dagwood rushing out the door smack dab into the mailman? (Who has a mailman, Whoops I do beg your pardon, post person, come that early?)

How can this be? How can Blondie function without those staples? Without them, we are left with: Dagwood taking a bath and Elmo interrupting him; Herb borrowing Dagwood's tools and not returning them; Dagwood needing a bite to eat in the middle of the night; Dagwood hovering over a plumber or other repair person; Dagwood and Blondie making witty remarks in front of their TV; Dagwood sharing old Bumstead family stories with Alexander and Cookie . . .

OK, so there are still other "humor" options in the strip, even if Dagwood quits his job to open the sandwich shop. I still think it is an odd choice to make. Blondie already runs a catering outfit, so the "pissy customers/life as a small business owner/member of the service economy" jokes are already covered. So are the food prep jokes. So, what's the point of him opening a sandwich shop? How does this expand the horizons of Blondie? Now if he retired, or became a male nurse, or a high school coach . . . but what's the point of him quitting his job to do THE EXACT SAME THING Blondie already does??

Monday, June 12, 2006

Hate hate and more hate

Feeling a little uncreative (is that even a word?) lately, but I had time to post, so figured I'd better.



Now THIS is timely! Those politically correct feminazis, wanting us to change everything from "policeman" to "fireman" to "history" (should be herstory, natch). Let's make fun of that trend! Did the P.C. folks go too far? Do womyn sit to pee? Is it still funny? No, it is not.

Besides, isn't the correct term "mail carrier"? I've never heard "postperson" in my life. Yes, "postman" I have heard of, but I think "mailman" is more typical. Does Fred Basset take place in the UK? Seriously . . . I don't follow it at all. Does he always think in such a fancy font?

While we're on the subject of politically correct, here are some "Politically Correct" cartoons. According to the home page, the are "political" and "correct" (i.e., conservative). The one currently on the home page equates hating Bush with hating soldiers. Hey . . . I hate Bush, so I guess I hate soldiers, which is weird because I have a handful of friends in Iraq, and I don't hate any of them. But, I guess actually I do. And I don't hate my husband, and he's in the reserves, but maybe I DO hate him? Thanks for setting me straight, conservative cartoon! Although, technically, I don't "hate" Bush. I've never even met him!

Hey, speaking of hate, poor Cathy has really been bashed in the last few days. The full entries are here, but let's see . . . she's died as the result of an infected face transplant, died providing sexual favors to Mr. Pinkley, been eaten by a shark, had her husband run off with her boss, been pulled from every U.S. newspaper, and. . . grown a nose "and suddenly realizes she stinks." HA! Poor Cathy . . .

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Dog Gone Funny? Not Funny. Not True?


Marc gave the head's up on this yesterday. Since I don't get the Sunday funnies until, well, Sunday . . . I had to wait and see, but here it is! Miriam Murdock of Chapel Hill has sent her dog gone "funny" story to Marmaduke.

I guess it's sort of cute -- not really laugh out loud funny -- and begs the question: who sends these in? And for that matter, how do the powers that be at Marmaduke decide which ones to publish? How many get sent in every week? Is there any sort of verification procedure? How do we know this so-called "Miriam Murdock" actually exists?? I don't have a dog, but I sure as heck could sit here and think up a funnier story ABOUT a dog than this one Miriam submitted.

(Although, probably, according to the judges at Marmaduke, I couldn't. Which reminds me of the time Mr. Big Al and I attempted to make some big bucks from Reader's Digest. They have these columns where readers can send in funny stories and earn up to $300!!! One of the columns is "Humor in Uniform." And the "jokes" or "funny" stories are . . . AWFUL! I mean, this may be where Mort Walker goes when he desperately needs an idea for Beetle Bailey. Well, since the hubby and I have 21 years combined "in uniform," and since we both pride ourselves on our keen wits and sharp senses of humor, we saw dollar signs! Of COURSE we could tell funnier stories than the lame ones Reader's Digest publishes. . . wrong! Although we stuck to purely PG stories . . . not a single one chosen, and every time I read "Humor" in Uniform, I gag a little. "Humor" my ass! Some of them are clearly recycled jokes we've all heard 100 times before. Damn you, Reader's Digest!)

So, no, I won't be attempting to get published in Marmaduke's "Dog Gone Funny," with a fake "funny" story about my fake dog. But, really, how do we know this Miriam is for real? Does she REALLY have a cocker spaniel named Taffy? Did this alleged incident of the "no leash" actually ever happen? When Marmaduke picks your story to publish, do they send people out to verify that the incident ever actually occurred? Do they interview you, your neighbors, potential witnesses? Do they at least require you send a picture of your so-called dog?

I don't trust "Dog Gone Funny." No, not one bit.

Speaking of made up stories, let's hear it: What terrible things do you want to happen to Cathy?

Friday, June 09, 2006

When Awful Things Happen to Awful People

Like a phoning-it-in comic strip artist, I'm not even going to bother coming up with original material for this post. Instead, a suggestion from Braniff, which I repeat verbatim:

Has anyone posted a Top Ten list of bad things they want to have happen to Cathy? (Such as being bitten by her dog with rabies, finding out that her new husband is having an affair with Charlene, who is HIV-positive, etc.) That could be lots of fun!

And already one entry, from Nick:

Cathy is mauled by her dog [Big Al says: I believe that would be Elektra] and her face is horribly disfigured. She undergoes a face transplant, which includes a NOSE! Unsure what this new organ does, Cathy is unprepared when hay fever season hits. She drips snot all over her new transplant, which becomes infected. The infection spreads to her brain and she dies.

Don't have enough hatred for a cartoon character to wish ill will on her? Well, I do. And if you don't, here are some more observations to help you out:

AACK! Just when I think she can't be any more vain and self-obssessed.


More proof that Irving's never actually seen her naked. I mean, he knows what she's going to look like in that thing, right? Apparently not, because he's never seen her naked. Ah, poor body image and low self esteem, two components of a rockin' sex life.

No wonder, as suggested by Braniff, Irving may have had a little sumthin' sumthin' going on with Charlene.

So go ahead, what's the worst thing that can happen to Cathy? You know you hate her, let's hear it!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

It's Satan's Day!

That's right everyone, it's 6/6/06! Spoooookkky! Do you all think any strip in my paper recognized this event? Well . . . only one did and it is none other than that Christ-centered cartoon ministry, B.C.:


OK, so I've never heard it referred to as "The Devil's Trademark" before. I've heard it called Satan's Mark, The Mark of the Beast, The Number of the Beast, Devil's Mark ... just never "Trademark . . ." as though the Devil had gone out and taken a patent! Ha ha. Which is exactly the joke B.C. is making! So, it's a stretch that they had to use a lame phrase like "The Devil's Trademark" to make this joke work, but . . . it's kind of funny. And the fact that he says "Hell, no!" Ha ha!

Mark it down: 06/06/06 the day I found B.C. moderately funny. If that's not a sign of the devil's work, I don't know what is. Well, Harry Potter -- duh. And homosexuals, of course . . . you knew that (first time readers: I am KIDDING).

Hey, speaking of fighting the devil . . . did you know Pat Robertson can leg press 2,000 pounds??? Yeah, apparently, that breaks the all-time Florida State record by over 500 lbs -- and when the guy at FSU set HIS record, he burst all the capillaries in his eyes!! Read about Pat here and here. Hey, when you are fighting for Jesus Christ . . .Jesus gives you strength. Look out Hugo Chavez!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Shut Your Trap, You Whiny Broad!

Memorial Day has come and gone, which means that summer is here! Ah, summer . . . it's a time of late afternoon thunderstorms, long days, baseball on the radio, dripping ice cream cones, and, of course:

Cathy buying bathing suits!



So, in case you've avoided Cathy for decades (and, if you have -- SMART MOVE!) here's the joke: Fashionable bathing suits are skimpy and unflattering, especially under the harsh lights of department store fitting rooms. Cathy's annual bathing suit shopping trip shatters her self esteem and makes her question, once again, her body image. Often these results are chalked up to the unfairness of life as a woman. Men don't have to go through this ordeal! If women were in charge, bathing suits would be more flattering!!

No, that's not the explanation of this week's bathing suit jokes. That sums up all Cathy bathing suit jokes, EVER. So, some questions:

Why does Cathy need a new bathing suit EVERY YEAR? We rarely see her at the pool or beach. She doesn't seem to need a new one every year.

Has she not heard of Lands' End? They have a wide selection of suits meant to flatter every body type.

Why does she stick with the skimpiest, trendiest suits? They ARE unflattering to her! Cathy -- stop beating your head against the wall!

Go to LandsEnd.com, and find a suit that flatters you! They have a generous return policy. If you are intent on only wearing the skimpiest suits, then get thee to a gymnasium. Stop your whining and complaining and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Good lord, woman, I am tired of your carping!

Take charge, Cathy! Year after year after year after year you experience this same EXACT problem. And yet, year after year you do nothing about it. Put up or shut up, and stop bugging me with your shit.