Mark Trail, 9/30/14
My goodness guys, it has been a while since Mark has seen his family, but sure, why not stop by Washington, D.C., on his way home and do a little testifying about animal poaching and then hobnob with actual congressman Trey Gowdy, who’s taking valuable time away from his job of chairing the House Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi to do a little rhino-horn chat! Why are real elected humans appearing in this strip all of the sudden, instead of random fake baldheaded senators? Well, it’s possible that Trey Gowdy is desperate to woo environmentalist constituents and overcome his extremely low scores from the League of Conservation Voters, and so has paid good money to appear in this tree-hugger comic strip. But Mark’s cutting aside about getting proper funding for any conservation effort probably means that isn’t the case, since Congressman Gowdy is super not in favor of the government spending money. So I have to assume that his carefully rendered face and somewhat too blond hair are appearing here primarily because “Gowdy” is an objectively hilarious name.
Funky Winkerbean, 9/30/14
“The inevitable march towards death, I mean? Our fate approaches us, like an onrushing train?” The leaf hurtling to earth behind Les is a nice touch.
Reminder: When you see daily comics in color, those colors haven’t been selected by the artists, who generally submit their strips in black and white; instead, there’s a separate staff of colorists, paid by the syndicates, who add color for those contexts where color versions of the strip appear. I’m never afraid to mock these poor underpaid drones when their work results in weirdness or blatant historical errors, so I’m willing to give them kudos when they do the best they can with what they have to work with! Would a normally green cactus that loses its needles as part of a joke about it being “fall” in the desert turn orange, the way green leaves of deciduous trees turn orange before falling of their branches? Maybe! Does having the cactus be orange in the beginning ruin the joke? Trick question: this is Crock, and Crock jokes cannot be “ruined.”
Mary Worth, 9/29/14
It turns out that the real problem with Hanna Dingdon (side note: HAHAHA “DINGDON”) isn’t that her failing eyesight makes her a dangerous driver, it’s that her daughter just uses her as a personal babysitting services at the last minute, without any advance notice! Hanna has had it up to here with this inconsiderate treatment, and so she’s getting revenge the only way she knows how: by letting her grandson watch the most horrifying children’s programming you can imagine, starring monkey-faced rat-things bearing the logo of a literal broken heart on their chests, so that after every visit he’ll return to his mother a traumatized emotional wreck.
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, 9/28/14
Say what you will about the grotesquely stylized hillbilly characters in Snuffy Smith, but their mostly fabricated dialect certain does include some striking turns of phrase! Take, for instance, “’xpectin’ a li’l stranger.” Have you ever heard a pregnancy described in more philosophically melancholy terms. “Sure, th’ li’l tater will be flesh an’ blood to hub and me. But in th’ end, ain’t we all strangers t’each other? Can we ever see into th’ heart of another?”
The throwaway panels, meanwhile, are a bit more straightforwardly depressing. “Th’ good news: No more dietin’ fer you! Th’ bad news: infant moratality in Hootin’ Holler is seven times th’ national average!”
The throwaway panels here — “Oh, can’t find one of your beloved possessions, son? Your father may have hocked it, because we’re constantly teetering on the edge of financial ruin!” — may be one of the grimmest things I’ve seen in the comics pages in a while. The rest of the strip fills in the details of the story, though: dad is suffering from a traumatic brain injury, so obviously he can’t be expected to hold down a steady job.
Hi and Lois, 9/28/14
Running through a checklist and then concluding with an eerily contraction-less “I think we are ready”? Spending time during the game quantifying all aspects of the current seasons? Haha, the Flagstons aren’t aliens wearing meatsack disguises and trying to blend into human society at all!